The Simpcw are part of the Secwepemc, or Shuswap, Nation - one of 17 Bands who historically (and currently) lived in the Thompson River Valley. Simpcw’s lands covered an area of roughly 5,000,000 Ha: from North of McLure to the head waters of the Fraser River at McBride; to Jasper in the East and South to the head waters of the Athabasca River. Archaeological surveys have found winter sites and food cache pits throughout the region, including finds in Finn Creek, Vavenby, Birch Island, Clearwater, Little Fort, Chu Chua, Barriere, Louis Creek, Tête Jeune, and Jasper.
Traditionally, the Simpcw people were known for their hunting abilities; much of the Simpcw culture centres on the gathering of local plants and animals for survival. In the summer months, hunting camps were established above the North Thompson and upper Fraser Rivers, where Simpcw people caught fish, primarily salmon, with nets, spears and weirs. They also hunted wildlife that lived in the forests and fields, and smoked or dried the meat for storage, so they would have food for the winter months. Plant collection was common; food, medicines and technology were common uses for the vegetation they collected.
Simpcw people often interacted with other First Nations bands that lived nearby, as well. They actively traded with other Secwepemc bands, as well as other Nations throughout the area. Sometimes, they fought with other Nations from BC and Alberta, usually over natural resources and land.
Currently, Simpcw First Nation has nearly 700 members, many of whom live in Chu Chua, the location of the main village of Simpcw First Nation. Many Simpcw members still practice and maintain traditional knowledge and customs, which are taught at Neqweyqwelsten School, along with the regular BC elementary school curriculum. However, Simpcw is also an active part of the modern workforce, with many business owners and professionals in the membership. The community remains close-knit, with community gatherings and other events happening often. This is all part of living up to Simpcw’s mission statement, which states:
“The Simpcw are a culturally proud community, valuing healthy, holistic lifestyles based upon respect, responsibility and continuous participation in growth and education.”
Going forward, Simpcw’s membership and community will continue to prosper and support each other, leading to a strong Band that is focused on the advancement of its people and the protection of its land for generations to come.
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