Tara Willard’s video, Setétkwe (Ancient River Song), filmed by Wapikoni, was requested to be shown on Earth Day by the Canadian embassy in China. (Wapikoni image)

Tara Willard’s video, Setétkwe (Ancient River Song), filmed by Wapikoni, was requested to be shown on Earth Day by the Canadian embassy in China. (Wapikoni image)

Secwépemc artist’s musical message shared by Canadian embassy in China for Earth Day

Indigenous education worker Tara Willard received melody for song during outing with family

What began as a melody received at the bank of a local river that receded long ago has rippled into an opportunity to share Secwépemc culture and values overseas on Earth Day.

About 12 hours before School District 83 Indigenous education worker Tara Willard was recognizing Earth Day (April 22) with students in the Shuswap, a video of her singing on the banks of the Adams River was being played at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing, China.

Titled Setétkwe (Ancient River Song), the video was requested by the embassy to help mark Earth Day there.

The request was a surprise and an honour for Willard, who was happy to share the song and its message.

“It contains a message for the environment and about water…, it contains a message about Indigenous culture and land and environmental issues,” said Willard. “It’s going to another place in the world which is quite amazing.”

Video: All ages rally in Salmon Arm to demand climate action

Willard said she received the melody for the song about 10 years ago, when she was out with her children, roaming the silt cliffs near her home along the South Thompson River. In the process, she explained there was a moment when she looked down at her house and the river below, and at river rock immediately below her feet, and recognized how big the river once was while recalling the oral histories of her Secwépemc elders of the last ice age.

“I was standing there with this ‘Aha!’ moment, when all your observations come to this one little point,” recounted Willard. “It was really quiet and one little river rock jumped up in the silence. And after that rock landed this melody was in my mind.

“I call it the River Song because this is the background story of what it was, from observations of how ancient the water, the earth, everything is, and how connected we all are to it.”

Willard said the song evolved over time with the words, sung in Secwepemctsin, added later.

Later, Willard would share the song with Sue Whitehead and Bev Dewitt’s Grade 6-7 students. After learning the song, the students were encouraged to create their own lyrics. The students entered their art and the song in a contest with Waterlution, a global network focusing on the importance of water, and won.

Following that experience, through Splatsin family connections in Enderby she was able to connect with Wapikoni, a mobile film studio that travels to Indigenous communities to help develop artistic, social and professional skills through the use of audiovisual technologies. Wapikoni filmed Setétkwe, featuring Willard in Tsútswecw Provincial Park. The video synopsis describes the song as “an ancient melody of gratitude, respect and remembrance of Sacred Water and our connection and responsibility to the source of all life.”

Read more: Salmon Arm students win province-wide Great Waters Challenge

Read more: Video: All ages rally in Salmon Arm to demand climate action

In addition to appearing on the Wapikoni website and on Vimeo, Willard said it was requested for a showing at a Canadian film festival.

“The latest request came in last week from the distributor; in a respectful way they called me and told me the video had been requested to be shown at the Canadian embassy in China… And I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing! Yes, I agree,” said Willard, who views the opportunity as another ripple caused by that rock above the South Thompson River.

“There are songs and some of us, maybe a lot of us, can hear these songs,” said Willard. “There’s lots more out there if we listen to the water, if we get quiet and listen to the trees. Anywhere, any time, if we’re out in nature, they’re out there. And anybody that’s tuned in can start singing.”

Setétkwe from Wapikoni mobile on Vimeo.


lachlan@saobserver.net
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

General

#Salmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Citizens Patrol volunteers, from left, Deb McDonald, Denise Thompson and Paula Weir patrol the Mall at Piccadilly parking lot on Saturday, May 1, 2021 checking licence plates. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Citizens Patrol volunteers save motorists a quick $100

Drivers in Salmon Arm receive reminders in parking lot rather than tickets

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

(File photo)
Ex-Vernon man’s escorted-leave ‘beyond disappointing’: murder victim’s mother

Shane Ertmoed was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2000 death of 10-year-old Heather Thomas

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Most Read