TRAVELLER I LOCAL VIBE
‘AMBASSADORS’ ON DISPLAY
One of the most common comments from visitors to Whistler’s
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) is that guests enjoyed
connecting with the hard-working Indigenous staff, whose job is to
share their passion for the vibrant cultures of the coastal Squamish
(Skwxwú7mesh) and interior Lil’wat (Lil’wat7ul) peoples who have
called this region home for thousands of years.
The spirit of sharing — involving both the passing on of the nations’
traditional practices from elders to youth and the staff’s interactions
with guests — helped inspire “Ambassadors,” an exhibit that
includes photos and artifacts created by some of the 50-or-so staff
who work at the centre, says Mandy Rousseau, SLCC manager of
marketing and communications.
“The exhibit is a snapshot of our team who has been working at
the centre over the past season,” Rousseau says. “We spoke to the
staff before we began this project … and we found there’s a strong
feeling of home that’s shared by those who come to work here.”
Most SLCC staff members come from one of the two nations who
have been living peacefully alongside one another for centuries,
regularly coming to the Whistler Valley to pick berries, hunt and
experience “vision quests.” Squamish and Lil’wat elders, who
are experts in the creation of cultural artifacts including regalia
(ceremonial clothing), wool and cedar bark weaving, regularly
share their knowledge with their younger counterparts, including
participants in the Indigenous Youth Ambassador program.
The exhibit’s images, shot by local photographer Logan Swayze, are
complemented by regalia, wool and inner cedar bark pieces created
by staff members after the elders shared their knowledge. Some
staff members have even become apprentices in their chosen crafts,
running workshops for the centre’s guests. The “Ambassadors”
exhibit runs at the centre until March 2020.
For more information, visit slcc.ca.
LOCAL ANIMAL - BOBCAT
Like all felines, bobcats are stealthy animals who tend to shy away
from humans while quietly stalking their prey; but they take up a lot
of screen time on Michael Allen’s remote wildlife tracking camera
footage. Allen, who has been involved in wildlife (especially bear)
research in the Sea to Sky Corridor for more than two decades, says
bobcats seem to be attracted to the same areas as black and grizzly
bears, and they’re not at all camera-shy.
“Being a cat, they’re pretty secretive, but when I started using remote
cameras to get footage of bears, I started to see bobcat after bobcat,”
About 2 ½ times the size of a house cat, bobcats are often mistaken
for lynx. In fact, the two are in the same family — the bobcat is one
of the world’s four major species of lynx. But the Canadian lynx has
broader feet and longer legs than the bobcat, allowing lynx to stalk
their prey (mostly snowshoe hares) in deep snow. Lynx also have long
(up to two inches) black tufts at the ends of their ears, while bobcats
either have short ear tufts or none and a short or “bobbed” tail.
Bobcats are more adaptable, thriving in lower-elevation forests, and
are therefore more plentiful (and more often seen by humans) than
lynx in the region, Allen says. Their diets are much more diverse: Allen
calls the bobcat a “No. 1 scavenger” that often comes along once
large carnivores such as bears, wolves and cougars have eaten most
of a kill.
“The bobcat has a really small stomach. They don’t have to eat a lot at
once, so they eat a lot of small rodents; and they’re not large enough
to take down anything bigger,” he says. Some of Allen’s footage shows
bobcats diving into streams to fish for salmon.
“They’ll perch on a log and just pounce on an 80-centimetre salmon,
and then they’ll drag it away somewhere, eat some and bury the rest
in the snow,” Allen says.
Bobcat attacks on humans are rare. If you see one, the Resort
Municipality of Whistler advises people not to approach, keep
pets on a leash and small children at a safe distance, keep your
group together and back away slowly. Report sightings to the B.C.
Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 or 604-905-BEAR.
STORIES BY DAVID BURKE - IMAGES BY JOERN ROHDE