Gabriola Arts Council

Cultivate Festival 2023


Snuneymuxw Stories – The Rhythm of Words

Snuneymuxw Stories – The Rhythm of Words

Dave Bodaly

Dave Bodaly is a Snuneymuxw First Nations photographer, genealogist, and cultural tour guide on Saysutshun (Newcastle Island). He’s also a weaver, and has been teaching cedar weaving classes since 2007. A descendant of the Bodalys of Northamptonshire, England, Dave carries his great grandfather’s name Laxiya; he believes it’s important to share his views about truth and reconciliation in a cultural perspective with all who are willing to listen and learn. Dave currently lives in Nanaimo.

Celestine Aleck

Celestine Aleck descends from the Yeshqhan clan of Snuneymuxw First Nation. At the age of four her mother’s father, Ronald Aleck, groomed her to be a historian by teaching her stories of the territory and surrounding territories. In addition, her grandfather, and others, taught her the traditional names of family and many other community members. She is grateful for this knowledge as it has forged in her a deep understanding of her people and culture.

Celestine was a carver for a number of years and worked in local school districts for three decades demonstrating the art of carving and telling stories. Now Aleck focuses mainly on storytelling. “Masks, plaques and totem poles are our history books. This is how we taught our children,” she says. Celestine worked on Saysutshun, Newcastle Island, for ten seasons as a first nations interpreter doing nature walks/storytelling/salmon barbeques and tours. This provided the opportunity for Celestine to focus more on her writing. Soon after, she was fortunate enough to meet Terri Mack from Strong Nations Publishing, who decided to publish a number of Celestine’s books for children – twelve (?) titles in all so far. Aleck also writes for the Salish Sea Sentinel, regularly submitting legends she was taught, or heard, while growing up.

In 2016, after several of her books were published, she met Holly Bright of Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Company. She worked with Holly to bring one of her books, “The Sun and the Moon,” to life on the stage through contemporary dance. This experience inspired her to write a second part to the Sun and Moon. Aleck is actively engaged in the community and has been a speaker and presenter at writers festivals, schools, universities and community events.