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BC Library Conference 2017

April 19–21, 2017

Vancouver, BC

Opening Keynote: Khelsilem

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 5:30 PM–7:00 PM PDT
Cordova Ballroom
Session Description

Some are calling it a comeback; some are calling it a resurgence. Indigenous peoples are here and becoming known.
Khelsilem will share an insightful talk on Indigeneity in 21st century Canada, how it’s being explored and developed, and what needs to fuel Indigenous peoples and allies for the next 150 years. Khelsilem will use his experience and training from studying his own two Indigenous cultural identities of the Coast Salish and Kwakw̱a̱ka’wa̱kw to form examples of resistance and adaptation. For the last six years, he’s been undertaking the task of reclaiming cultural sovereignty through language reclamation – an experience that Khelsilem explains has deepened his understanding of what can be possible for Canada in the generations to come.

Generously Sponsored By: UBC Library



Khelsilem – pronounced somewhat like chul ∙ sea ∙ lem – is a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh- Kwakwa̱ka̱'wakw educator, non-profit founder, university lecturer, and language rights activist. He currently teaches as a lecturer at Simon Fraser University in Indigenous Languages.

Khelsilem tells us that his name is not the one given to him at birth. He became known as Khelsilem starting in October 2011 after he was chosen by his paternal grandmother to receive his name in a traditional Coast Salish name giving ceremony. The handing down of names from one generation to the next is common to many Coast Salish communities. Since then he has chosen to go by his Indigenous name instead of his English name as a commitment to the revitalization of Indigenous ways of being.

In 2015, Khelsilem founded an arts and education non-profit organization called Kwi Awt Stelmexw – a phrase that means “the coming generations.” Its programming is dedicated to creating a society of language speakers, artists, and cultural producers within the Squamish Peoples for the world.