For millennia, a vast lake existed between Sumas and Vedder mountains in the unceded territory of the Stó:lō people, in what is now known as the Fraser Valley. Teeming with ecological abundance, Semá:th Xó:tsa (Sumas Lake) was central to cultural, spiritual, and physical wellbeing of the Séma:th people (Sumas First Nation) and surrounding Indigenous communities. Between 1919 and 1924, settlers in the region lobbied government to drain the lake, thereby enhancing the agricultural capacity of the region with devastating consequences for Stó:lō people.
Through a partnership between The Reach Gallery Museum, and representatives from Semá:th and Cheam First Nations and Indigenous knowledge-keepers, a children’s book, videos and driving tour recall a time when the lake was thriving, using memory and story to allow the lake to live on today. The project is illustrated by Carrielynn Victor and co-authored by Chris Silver, Carrielynn Victor, Kris Foulds, and Laura Schneider.