“Our Constitution has always been here. Our rules of conduct, our rules of behavior, the way we think, our moral values – are actually situated around the Stó:lō Nation. They not only define our Nation, but they define how we are supposed to conduct ourselves. Our constitution has always been here and it really is written in stone.” – Xwelixweltel (Grand Chief Steven Point)
What is it and why do we need it?
We, the six villages of the Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw, are ready to work together to take charge of our own destiny. Members of our communities can show their support, by voting on the Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh this fall.
What is a Constitution?
The Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw have chosen Shxwelméxwelh — a Halq’eméylem word that means the Stó:lō way — as the word for our Constitution.
- Picture our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh as a longhouse that our six communities are building together.
- It is our safe place. It is where our communities gather.
- The Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh describes who we are, where we come from and what is important to us. These words form the walls of the longhouse.
- Our people and our villages are the base of the longhouse, where our ancestors have always walked. Our strong village governments will lead a national government that houses us all.
- Our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh is the highest Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw law and every other law must respect its principles.
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.
- Our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh states how we will be governed within our Stó:lō worldview.
- With our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh, current and all future generations of Stó:lō Xwexwilmexw will be able to define their own destiny.
- Our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh is required to proceed to self-government and treaty.
- With our Constitution/Shxwelméxwelh, the Indian Act, a 150-year-old piece of colonial legislation, will no longer play a part in our lives.
Why are we voting now?
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.
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.