Every Thursday in August the Seyem’ Qwantlen Business Group has hosted a free walking tour, teaching as much history about the Kwantlen people as an hour will allow. The walking tour begins at 7:00pm at Lelem Arts and Cultural Café. The route is approximately 1km over the Bedford Channel and onto McMillan Island.
Last Thursday I made sure to head over to Lelem to catch one of the tours. Now first I must gush about this cafe a little bit. I know Erin already mentioned this café in one of her Langley Project posts but I have to mention it again. I arrived early to have a bite to eat before the walk. First of all the location of Lelem is just beautiful, it is right on the river and the café itself has large doors that open, allowing for a very open, airy feel. They have a lovely patio area set up as well, which is perfect for these late summer days. I ordered a butternut squash soup and a coffee (both were delicious) and had a seat inside to enjoy.
Closer to 7pm a crowd started to gather outside. Apparently word had spread since this was the largest group so far for the walking tour. Our guide, Fern, began by introducing herself in her language and in English. Fern explained to us that her ancestral name is sesmelət which means spunky one, and that was chosen for her by her Aunt. She then told us a bit about her family and their history on this land. She was so full of information and interesting stories, it was clear that everyone in the group was engrossed in what she was saying from the beginning. We made our way over the Bedford Channel, and Fern taught us about the river and how their people have relied on it for as long as they have been around. She told us all about the different fish that come out of the river and sustain them. We then moved a bit farther down the road to the Sqwalets Channel to finish the tour. Fern did such a wonderful job, when 8pm rolled around I don’t think anyone wanted to leave. Fern was kind enough to keep telling us stories and answering our questions for quite some time. She then hung around and answered individual questions and continued to the whole walk back to Lelem. She was a wonderful guide, so much so, that I asked if she changed the tours slightly every week, so I could go again the following week! Lucky for me she said yes, so I will be there again for the last tour on August 28th.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn some of the history of the Kwantlen people. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who is able to attend! The history shared is so interesting, and Fern did a fabulous job of keeping her audience engaged. I don’t think there was a single person who found the information Fern shared with us to be dry or boring. She did a great job intertwining stories that had been passed down to her in amongst the historical information and made it all very fascinating! The last tour will be on August 28th at 7:00pm. If you have the time, do yourself a favour and attend!