Shxwelméxwelh (Constitution)

What is it and why do we need it?

We, the six villages of the Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw, are joining together – in our own way and according to our own laws – to become Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw. Members of our communities can show their support, by voting on the Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh .

What is a Constitution?

Shxwelméxwelh means the Stó:lō way and is our word for constitution. Picture our Constitution as the posts of a longhouse that our six communities are building together.

Our Constitution:

  • Describes who we are, what is important to us, and how our teachings (s’í:wes) will inform our own government.
  • Is the highest Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw law.
  • Can grow and change as our nation changes.
  • Was created by SXTA Leadership after years of public input and is being brought back to members for further input

Why do we need a Constitution?

S’ólh témexw te íkw’elò. Xólhmet te mekw’stám ít kwelát. This is our land. We have to take care of everything that belongs to us.

  • Guides us in taking control of our own destiny.
  • Describes how we can make our own rules based on our culture and traditions, which ensure we take care of the land, water, and air for our future generations (tomíyexw).
  • Provides an alternative to colonizing powers of the Indian Act, which we will no longer live under.

What does Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw Self-Government look like?

The Swōqw’elh (Blanket) that our Si:yá:m (leaders) wear, represents governance. Our Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw Híkw Lálém (Government), as described in our Constitution, will replace the Indian Act.

Why are we voting ?

Voting on our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh is the next major milestone on our path to treaty. The vote will:

  • Ensure our citizens understand and agree with our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh.
  • Ensure our citizens support the groundwork our six communities have created for our self-governing nation.

This is not a vote on the SXTA Treaty. There are many details still to be negotiated in our treaty and we will have time to discuss those as we move forward.

T’xwelátse: man turned to stone by Xá:ls (creator) to teach our people that we have to learn how to live together in a good way.  

What does the Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh have to do with Treaty?

“We need to show the world that we have the ability to govern ourselves and develop the institutions that are going to deliver services to our community members.”

Skw’omkw’emexw Grand Chief Joe Hall

Our six canoes are continuing down the river towards the final goal of a vote on the Treaty. Our leaders, negotiating team and staff have been working for over 20 years on this goal. In the last two years, we’ve achieved a remarkable amount – a Land and Capital Transfer Agreement and a renewed approach to treaty negotiations that led us into Stage 5 of the BC Treaty Process on October 12, 2018. This Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh vote is the next major milestone.