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Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre Wins Prestigious Tourism Award Again

A story about the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Center in Whistler, BC, winning a prestigious tourism award for the second consecutive year.
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The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) located in Whistler, BC has been recognized by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of British Columbia with the 2013 B.C Cultural Centre and Attractions of the Year award.

This is the second consecutive year that the SLCC has won this award which recognizes the outstanding achievements of Aboriginal businesses and raises awareness about the ever-growing aboriginal tourism industry in B.C. The award was presented by Keith Henry, CEO of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. (ATBC), at a gala dinner on April 4 in Osoyoos, B.C. during the National Aboriginal Tourism Opportunities Conference. Receiving the award on behalf of the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre were Executive Director, Casey Vanden Heuvel, and HR & Training Coordinator, Cheximiya (Allison Burns) of Squamish Nation.

Courtesy Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

The SLCC had an outstanding year in 2012, including the following successes:

  • --Held the inaugural Spirit Within Festival - an Aboriginal festival of music, art and cuisine that will be held for the second time this September 26-29
  • --Created new opportunities for cultural awareness such as the Rocky Mountaineer Storytelling program - a program where graduates from the Aboriginal Youth Ambassador program are given the opportunity to share cultural knowledge and legends on the Sea to Sky train
  • --Were awarded the ATBC Cultural Authenticity Award
  • --Completed the Cultural Journey Phase II and announced Phase III- a six million dollar project consisting of capital, exhibition, and programming initiatives including a cultural connector to the new Audain Art Museum and the largest Salish carving project in history.

"This recognition confirms our on-going commitment to sharing indigenous culture in a meaningful and authentic ways" said Casey Vanden Heuvel, Executive Director of the SLCC. "Squamish and Lil'wat ambassadors work very hard to bring their cultures to life for our guests and also help revive many cultural traditions of the local First Nations" said Vanden Heuvel.

The SLCC will celebrate their fifth year of business this summer. Over the last five years they have been instrumental at bringing aboriginal cultural awareness and cultural tourism to the Sea to Sky Corridor through their dedicated work with community and tourism partners as well as satisfying the demands of global tour operators and event planners.

Helping drive the success of the SLCC has been the Sea to Sky Cultural Journey, now in its third year. The Cultural Journey is a collaboration of corporate and government partnerships working together to further grow the profile of local First Nations culture within the corridor and support enhancements to exhibits and programming. Another key success driver is the Aboriginal Youth Ambassador (AYA) Program providing First Nations youth with meaningful training and education opportunities within the tourism industry while connecting youth with elders, artisans and other cultural educators to further develop their cultural knowledge. This program celebrated its 10th year in 2012 a landmark of a success program that graduated over 416 students. Through the funding support of the Cultural Journey and the dedicated commitment of the staff to preserve and share the culture, the SLCC has excelled at providing guests from around the world with a meaningful cultural experience.

"We are very proud to share our culture at the SLCC every day and also very proud of an award that shows that we do a great job of creating a meaningful experiences for our guests" said Cheximiya.

2013 is also looking favorable for the SLCC with the launch of:

  • --A new Rock and Tool exhibit showcasing a sacred bowl over 1,600 years old which was found in an archaeological dig in Squamish. Launching on May 16 the public is invited to participate in this event which will also include a blessing ceremony for the 4 poles carved at the SLCC during the winter,
  • --Three AYA programs held seasonally, providing opportunities for 12-15 youth per program,
  • --The Spirit Within Festival being held September 26 - 29 and
  • --A Summer BBQ program running Tuesday Nights from May - September.

Keith Henry, CEO of ATBC, stated "The SLCC represents a strong sense of authentic aboriginal cultural tourism. It has overcome many challenges and as an industry we are so proud of their success. Thank you to the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations for their support and efforts to share their cultures with the world. This award symbolizes their commitment to creating and delivering a world-class experience."

The SLCC is a three-storey, 30,400-square foot complex located on 1.76 hectares (4.35 acre) of forested land near Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in the Upper Village area of Whistler. The SLCC has established itself as a trademark Aboriginal Cultural Centre in British Columbia and has garnered significant media exposure since its opening in the summer of 2008. The SLCC has helped raise the awareness of aboriginal cultures and on a local and regional level and has created meaningful employment opportunities for members of the First Nations' communities. Through the work at the SLCC, and the representation of local First Nations' peoples, cultural traditions have seen a revival. The SLCC continues to build upon its mission to inspire and educate guests about the depth and beauty of the distinct Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Lil´wat7úl Lil'wat7ul (Lil'wat) cultures.

To learn more about the SLCC, click here.