The bronze map on the monument at Sumas Pioneer Park shows a pre-drainge Semá:th Xó:tsa (Sumas Lake) surrounded by Stó:lō lands, contrasted with a post-drainage map showing the impact of colonization on the environment.
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.
Join The Reach at Abbotsford Berry Fest on July 16, 2022 from 12 to 8pm for the Semá:th Xó:tsa: Sts’ólemeqwelh Sx̱ó:tsa (Sumas Lake: Great Gramma’s Lake) story walk and to create your own Skwó:wech (Sturgeon) puppet at The Reach booth. Both the storywalk and Reach booth will be located on north Montrose Avenue.