Secwepemc knowledge holder and story-teller
March 6, 2021 – a free webinar, to learn from Kenthen Thomas, Secwepemc storyteller and performer.
A Roots and Blues Festival veteran, Kenthen Thomas’ past performances have also included stints with Secwepemc Native Theatre, Dreamweaver Theatre (Simon Fraser University), Senclip Native Theatre, Caravan Farm Theatre and Shuswap Theatre. He also appeared in voice on the CBC’s legends series that appeared nationwide in 2006. He now teaches full time with SD 73, as an Aboriginal Resource Teacher.
As a First Nations performer, Kenthen captivates audiences with his fascinating retellings of legends of the Secwepemc, his family land for more than 10,000 years. This is where his late grandmother, respected and even legendary Secwepemc elder, the late Dr. Mary Thomas, taught him the traditional art of storytelling. Storytelling for the Shuswap people brought entertainment to the families during long winter nights. It was also a way to keep the history alive, tell important lessons, and share amusing anecdotes about all the creatures found on this land. Kenthen heard from his Grandmother, Mary, how a bear and a coyote found out how to create a balance between night and day. There are also stories about how trusting the advice of Coyote (Seklep) caused Bear to lose his once long and lovely tail. Tricky Coyote features in many Secwepemc legends and is often the example of how NOT to behave. Other legends that have been passed down through Kenthen’s family for generations feature the animals, birds and fish and that were once integral to the lives of the original residents of this region. Their language, Secwepemctsin, and these stories have become marginalized and even endangered because of the predominance and ethnocentrism of English language and culture in Canada.
This event was part of the Indigenous Speaker Series organized and sponsored by OCFA, the Okanagan College Faculty Association.