Meet Sliammon Elder Elsie Paul and discover her stories, family history, and teachings – ʔəms tɑʔɑw – in a multimedia, online book that captures the wit and wisdom of her storytelling.
Raised by her grandparents on their ancestral territory on the Sunshine Coast, Elsie Paul of the Tla’amin Nation spent most of her childhood surrounded by the ways, teachings, and stories of her people. As her adult life unfolded against a backdrop of colonialism and racism, she drew strength and guidance from the teachings she had learned. In As I Remember It, she shares this traditional knowledge with a new generation in an engaging style and innovative format.
With this immersive online publication adapted from Written as I Remember It, readers can learn about the Sliammon language, listen to Elsie tell her stories, and watch short animations of legends and events. They can navigate by theme – Territory, Colonialism, Community, Wellness – explore the contents through interactive maps, browse the audio and visual galleries, or make use of the instructional materials designed for teachers and students.
This media-rich, multi-path book offers a rare glimpse into the life of a Coast Salish woman and the history and lifeways of her people. It stands as a model for collaborative research and digital storytelling. Accessible and engaging, it will be a welcome resource for anyone learning about the legacy of colonialism in Canada, the resilience of First Nations people, the possibilities of reconciliation, and the importance of sharing and listening.
2020 Finalist – Vancouver User Experience Awards (UX for Good)
“The publication of Elsie Paul’s life history in an expressive digital format invites engagement through sound, language, and visualizations. Elsie Paul brings great emotion, sensitivity, pain, and humour to the events and moments that have marked her life – it is an honour to engage with her story in this way. As I Remember It is an eloquent and powerful work that highlights the possibilities of transformational listening and immersive digital storytelling.”
—Susan Roy, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Waterloo
“Grounded in cultural criticism and acts of healing and resurgence, this book redefines digital communication and multimodal scholarship through the agency of Elsie Paul’s stories, the Sliammon language, and Sliammon teachings and knowledge.”
—Jentery Sayers, Associate Professor of English, University of Victoria
“As a digital book, As I Remember It leads by example. It shares and situates the teachings of Sliammon Elder Elsie Paul, about land, relationships, healing, and the impacts of – and resistances to – colonialism. In both its content and form, the text challenges colonial conceptions of knowledge and it asks us to think about how we engage with Indigenous knowledge and where meaning unfolds in our relationships with text and digital media. As I Remember It is an exceptional resource for a broad range of audiences.”
—David Gaertner, Assistant Professor, Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia
“This multimedia book provides a rich glimpse into the oral teachings of the ɬaʔamɩn people… It is an excellent resource that will be invaluable to teachers for many years to come.”
—Gail Blaney, First Nations Coordinator, School District 47 (Powell River)
“As a teacher, I love how this digital book allows us to hear Elsie Paul tell stories in her own voice. The interactive maps are a very informative way to learn about the areas that surround us, and the Protocol at the very beginning is interesting and powerful, as we learn about the need to receive permission to interact with – rather than just take – content about cultural knowledge and heritage.”
—Roseann Dupuis, social studies and history teacher, Brooks Secondary School
About the Authors
ELSIE PAUL is an Elder of the ɬaʔamɩn people and a mother-tongue speaker of the Sliammon language. She is the recipient of the Canadian Historical Association’s Lifetime Achievement award and received an honorary doctorate degree from Vancouver Island University in 2010 in recognition of a lifetime of effort dedicated to supporting First Nations well-being.
DAVIS MCKENZIE of the Tla’amin Nation is Elsie Paul’s grandson. He holds a BA in sociology/anthropology from Simon Fraser University and an MA in communication management from McMaster University. He serves as executive director of communications and public affairs at the First Nations Health Authority.
PAIGE RAIBMON is a mother and scholar of settler descent. She lives as an uninvited guest on the unceded ancestral territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm people, where she was born and raised. She is professor of history at the University of British Columbia, co-editor of BC Studies, Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and the author of and co-author of several books and articles, including Authentic Indians: Episodes of Encounter from the Late-Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast (Duke 2004).
HARMONY JOHNSON is of ɬaʔamɩn (Tla’amin) ancestry and is Elsie Paul’s granddaughter. She holds a BA from Simon Fraser University and a master’s in health administration from the University of British Columbia. She has served in a number of policy and executive roles in BC First Nations organizations and is the Vice-President, Policy, Planning and Quality at the First Nations Health Authority.
A collaborative project such as this one depends on support and assistance from many people. The authors would like to thank everyone who lent their expertise to this collective effort.
Thank you to those who responded to the community survey and who provided advice on early iterations of the website, including Gail Blaney, Tyler Peters, Karina Peters, Sosan Blaney, Tanner Timothy, Kim Timothy, Randy (Hoss) Timothy Sr., Drew Blaney, Jasmin Marshman, Roseann Dupuis, April Dimond, Jane Brockington, Denise Little, Ryan Barfoot, Cathy Paul, Trish Hoehn, and Davida Koren.
Thank you to the following people for their contributions, assistance, and advice: Dr. Honoré Watanabe, Georgia Coombs, Nikita Johnston, Alex Sutcliffe, Phil Russell, Michelle Washington, Dave Shortt and Kelsey Sparrow at Lantern Films, Gerry Lawson, Liz Krieg, Dylan Burrows, Koosen Pielle, UBC Press staff, and the anonymous peer reviewers.
At McMaster University, thanks to Dave Scholz, Dr. Jessica Langer, Dr. Alexandre (Sacha) Sévigny. And at UBC, thanks to the Canadian and Indigenous History cluster in the Department of History.
The family would like to give special thanks to Paige Raibmon and Arlette Raaen. And Paige in turn expresses her enduring gratitude to Elsie, Harmony, Davis, and their extended family.
UBC Press acknowledges the generous financial support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has made RavenSpace possible.
The authors thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Public History Initiative in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Fieldwork Grant Program in the Department of History at UBC, and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Grant at UBC for funding in support of this publication.
Digital Developmental Editor: Crystal Chan
Project Development Manager: Amber Ridington
Additional editorial services: Jillian Shoichet and Heather Ross
Indexer: Margaret de Boer
Proofreader: Heather Bury, Colborne Communications
Custom design: Vincent Design Inc.
Custom design for Curriculum Explorer: Erik Loyer and Craig Dietrich
This book is set in Aboriginal Serif, designed by Chris Harvey of Languagegeek to enable speakers of Indigenous languages throughout the world to use their language on computers and the Internet.
This book is built using a custom version of Scalar, a born-digital, open source, media-rich scholarly publishing platform designed by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture.