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Recording of Sonny McHalsie


Ed Henderson, composer

Naxaxalhts'i (Sonny McHalsie), text



Henderson Sche'i-l excerpt.jpg

Sche’í:l (sounds Sitch–eel)

A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Sxwōxwiyám (story)
told by Naxaxalhts’i (Sonny McHalsie)

Premiered 25 October 2015, at the Stó:lō Resource Centre

The Stó:lō stories I have read are transformation stories where, in most cases, a human is transformed by Xexa:ls (the creator) into a rock or a mountain and set permanently into their surrounding territory.  S’i’lix (also known as Siwash Rock) in Stanley Park is one well known transformation site.  Seen together, these transformation sites create what former BC Lieutenant Governor Steven Point (a Stó:lō man) calls Stó:lō teachings.  These teachings spread across the landscape, they are teachings for the people to see, to remember, and to learn from: wisdom and teaching embedded into the natural world.


When reading through all the stories presented to musica intima and myself by Naxaxalhts’i, for this commission, the most compelling to me was this one- compelling because it speaks to the Stó:lō views of ceremony and tradition, to their connection with the natural world, to their fine sense of justice and punishment and, of their relationship with The Salmon People and The River.


Sche’i:l’s children were starving and what would any parent do when their children have no food: find some way, any way, to feed them and for this act she suffered not from judgements the elders made (they never did get around to passing judgement) but from the spirit world - the creator turned Sche’i:l into stone and dropped her into the river.  I find this story of justice very provocative and it makes me question my own peoples concepts of justice and punishment.


Other than a recording of Sonny McHalsie’s voice, everything is performed live by musica intima. (EH)

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