‘Spirit of reconciliation’: Landmark at Salmon Arm wharf creates awareness of Secwépemc presence

From left, Ron Tomma, Rod Tomma and Tilkotmes Tomma stand with the Sxwesméllp Landmark after it was unveiled following a celebration and ceremony on June 25, 2022 in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm. Rod and his son Tilkotmes Tomma were the main carvers of Coyote Rock, while Rod’s cousin Ron helped them finish off the sculpture. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)From left, Ron Tomma, Rod Tomma and Tilkotmes Tomma stand with the Sxwesméllp Landmark after it was unveiled following a celebration and ceremony on June 25, 2022 in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm. Rod and his son Tilkotmes Tomma were the main carvers of Coyote Rock, while Rod’s cousin Ron helped them finish off the sculpture. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Artist Eric Kutschker, who did the metalwork portion of the Landmark, said his work, which features salmon and soopalallie, was guided by Elders and their knowledge of the land. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Artist Eric Kutschker, who did the metalwork portion of the Landmark, said his work, which features salmon and soopalallie, was guided by Elders and their knowledge of the land. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Vern Clemah from Splatsin takes a photo of the Landmark on June 25 following the unveiling. He led the youth carving workshops with Hop You when students carved Trailhead posts as part of the Secwépemc Landmarks Project. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Vern Clemah from Splatsin takes a photo of the Landmark on June 25 following the unveiling. He led the youth carving workshops with Hop You when students carved Trailhead posts as part of the Secwépemc Landmarks Project. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Adams Lake councillor (Tk’wemi’ple7) Shelley Witzky, who has taken a lead role in the Secwépemc Landmarks Project, was MC at the Sxwesméllp Secwépemc Landmark Sculpture Unveiling on June 25, 2022. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Adams Lake councillor (Tk’wemi’ple7) Shelley Witzky, who has taken a lead role in the Secwépemc Landmarks Project, was MC at the Sxwesméllp Secwépemc Landmark Sculpture Unveiling on June 25, 2022. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
People who have worked on the Secwépemc Landmarks Project include, from left, project coordinator Libby Chisholm, Qwelminte Secwepemc intern Mackenzie Creasser, storyboard assistant Dorry William, Qwelminte Secwepemc intern Devin Doss, Shuswap Trail Alliance executive director Jen Bellhouse, project lead and director Shelley Witzky and artist/carvers Rod Tomma, Ron Tomma and Tilkotmes Tomma. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)People who have worked on the Secwépemc Landmarks Project include, from left, project coordinator Libby Chisholm, Qwelminte Secwepemc intern Mackenzie Creasser, storyboard assistant Dorry William, Qwelminte Secwepemc intern Devin Doss, Shuswap Trail Alliance executive director Jen Bellhouse, project lead and director Shelley Witzky and artist/carvers Rod Tomma, Ron Tomma and Tilkotmes Tomma. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Micky Tomma, with her brother Dale Tomma, is a youth from Little Shuswap who was a research assistant for the project and helped with the Elders meetings. She went to some of the first Elders meetings and shared her perspective as a youth on the project. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Micky Tomma, with her brother Dale Tomma, is a youth from Little Shuswap who was a research assistant for the project and helped with the Elders meetings. She went to some of the first Elders meetings and shared her perspective as a youth on the project. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Elder Marion Lee brought well wishes from Splatsin to the Landmark Unveiling on June 25, 2022. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Elder Marion Lee brought well wishes from Splatsin to the Landmark Unveiling on June 25, 2022. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Adams Lake Kukpi7 Lynn Kenoras-Duck Chief shares a laugh with project coordinator Libby Chisholm as she receives a gift, as all the speakers did, at the Landmark Unveiling in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm where project lead and director Adams Lake Councillor Shelley Witzky was MC. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Adams Lake Kukpi7 Lynn Kenoras-Duck Chief shares a laugh with project coordinator Libby Chisholm as she receives a gift, as all the speakers did, at the Landmark Unveiling in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm where project lead and director Adams Lake Councillor Shelley Witzky was MC. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
A sign at the wharf next to the Sxwesméllp Landmark at Marine Peace Park explains the background and history of the Secwépemc Landmarks Project. The has a QR code so visitors can hear name pronunciations by Secwépemc language speakers. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)A sign at the wharf next to the Sxwesméllp Landmark at Marine Peace Park explains the background and history of the Secwépemc Landmarks Project. The has a QR code so visitors can hear name pronunciations by Secwépemc language speakers. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Little Shuswap Lake Kukpi7 James Tomma was one of three chiefs who spoke at the Landmark Unveiling on June 25, 2022 in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Little Shuswap Lake Kukpi7 James Tomma was one of three chiefs who spoke at the Landmark Unveiling on June 25, 2022 in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Elders, whose knowledge guided the Secwépemc Landmarks Project, and others, gathered at Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm for the Sxwesméllp Secwépemc Landmark Sculpture Unveiling on June 25, 2022. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Elders, whose knowledge guided the Secwépemc Landmarks Project, and others, gathered at Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm for the Sxwesméllp Secwépemc Landmark Sculpture Unveiling on June 25, 2022. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Neskonlith Kukpi7 Judy Wilson was one of three chiefs who spoke at the Landmark Unveiling on June 25, 2022 in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)Neskonlith Kukpi7 Judy Wilson was one of three chiefs who spoke at the Landmark Unveiling on June 25, 2022 in Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

The unveiling of the Sxwesméllp Landmark at Marine Peace Park in Salmon Arm brought a solid, tangible and beautiful component to reconciliation.

Smiles and a smattering of tears accompanied the celebrations and ceremony on Saturday, June 25, when the large rose-granite sculpture described as Coyote Rock, which stands circled by a metalwork sculpture depicting soopalallie berry bushes and salmon, was unveiled.

Secwépemc artists Rod Tomma and his son Tilkotmes were the main carvers of Coyote Rock, while Rod’s cousin Ron helped them finish off the sculpture. Eric Kutschker, a settler artist, did the metalwork porti0n of the Landmark.

Both Rod Tomma and Kutschker spoke about the Landmark, Tomma explaining the many details included in Coyote Rock from children in residential schools to the eagles at the top.

In speaking about the metalwork, which follows after the rock, just as settlers on the land followed Indigenous people, Kutschker noted mysteriously that a fish which isn’t a salmon is included.

Although Trailhead markers have already been positioned throughout the area, this was the first Landmark sculpture in the Secwépemc Landmarks Project.

Adams Lake councillor Shelley Witzky, who took the lead on the project, said it began in 2018.

Elders had pointed out that when they travelled through the Secwépemc Nation from Chase to Golden while engaged with a highways project, there was no signage that showed a traveller they were within Secwépemc traditional territory.

In discussions with contributor Sutra Brett, the idea of having viewing portals, just as the Swiss do for various mountains in the Alps, was born and incorporated in the Landmark. The sign near the Landmark has a QR code so visitors can hear the name pronunciations by Secwépemc language speakers.

Read more: Secwépemc Elders guide stories, bless sites for Shuswap Landmarks project

Witzky pointed out that the Secwepemc Lakes Elders Advisory Committee was instrumental in guiding and providing the information about the Landmarks.

The ‘Sxwesméllp’ in Sxwesméllp Landmark is also known as Switsmalph or Switzmalph.

It means ‘soopolallie bush’ in the Secwépemc language (Secwepemctsin) and refers to the area around the confluence of the Salmon River and Shuswap Lake.

The celebrations Saturday included many speakers and many gifts for the many people who contributed to the project. Among those invited to speak were Adams Lake Kukpi7 (chief) Lynn Kenoras-Duck Chief, Neskonlith Kukpi7 Judy Wilson and Little Shuswap Lake Kukpi7 James Tomma. Representing Splatsin was Elder Marion Lee.

Witzky said Adams Lake was the project lead and partner. Kukpi7 Kenoras-Duck Chief said it was a wonderful day, being able to celebrate the beautiful landmark.

“I’d like to express my heartfelt joy and appreciation for Councillor Shelley for being one of the leaders with respect to this landmark, and of course to her team and all the neighbouring communities, allies and friends.”

She also thanked the “wonderful artists.”

Thanks from Witzky kept coming and included all the sponsors, the municipal, provincial and federal politicians, the carvers, the Elders and the youth (Micky Tomma, Mackenzie Creasser, Devin Doss), the Shuswap Trail Alliance and more.

Three more Landmarks are currently planned for the region, one at R.J. Haney Heritage Village & Museum, one at Little Mountain and one in Chase.

Read more: Indigenous history in Shuswap recognized with unveiling of first Trailhead post



martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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