Speqmic is the Secwepemc word for swan. I chose this to be my first Secwepemc Geographic blog because there seem to be a lot of natural connections. First, the photograph I took of swans was about a year ago during the coldest time of the year. Second, it’s my moms favourite bird. And lastly, there are a lot of Secwepemc connections to the swan, the least of which is that my community’s principal village was called “pellspeqmic”.
The pair of swans in the photograph are Trumpeter swans. The picture was taken on the Thompson River where the North and South Thompson rivers meet. Trumpeter swans were once on track to extinction back in the day, but have since made a come back. There are now estimated to be up to 400 Trumpeter swans on the South Thompson which is remarkable considering they were once extirpated from this region of BC. It speaks to the resilience of our land and wildlife. There are also Tundra swans on the South Thompson. They are seemingly identical except that Tundra swans have a small yellow dot on their beak below their eyes. There are estimated to be up to 600 Tundra swans. They spend their winter on the South Thompson because it provides excellent habitat. It’s relatively ice free and there are a lot of plants available to eat because it’s a slow moving river. Cottonwood and shrub riparian habitat are very important to their survival. Riparian habitat is being lost to bank erosion due to high speed boating on the river.
As I mentioned earlier, Pellspeqmic is the name of Canim Lake Band’s historic principle village. Teit says it was located approximately 6 miles from the head of Canim Lake on the south side. This would place it near the McNeil Ranch and Roserim Beach. Teit also states that the Lake was originally called Kolila. I’m not sure what it means, but there was a Chief of Tkemlups who had a similar name, Kwolila. He was the Chief who negotiated the Fish Lake Accord between the Secwepemc and Okanagan Nations. Teit says there were three principle villages, one of which is near where the current reserve is, and would actually be where the Canim Lake Ranch currently is. There was a third one Teit writes as Pelta’laxen. I’m not sure what this means. The current name, Canim Lake, comes from the Chinook jargon word for Canoe.
This blog is based off of some of my personal adventures – by no means authoritative or academic. In the future it will be a mix of some of the places I’ve traveled, a bit about the land/animals, and a bit about our history. I would love to know your thoughts. Did you like this blog? Is there something you would like me to write about?
Carl has been actively involved in re-imagining nation building. He has travelled extensively throughout Secwepemc territory and is fluent in Secwepemctsin.