Squaw Hall, an open air “Indian Dance Hall”, was built on the Stampede grounds of Williams Lake in 1947 as a place for First Nations people to celebrate, as segregation was fully enforced in Williams Lake at the time and First Nations people were not allowed in the businesses or dance halls run by the white community. What began as a place created out of exclusion and racism soon transformed into a place of gathering.
Urban Ink’s Squaw Hall Project was a 2-year arts training program that provided mentorship in performance, playwriting, acting and media skills to a mostly First Nations group of youth and adults as a means to explore the history of the region.
The workshops culminated in the creation of two artistic works:
Squaw Hall: A Community Remembers (Film)
What was it like to be young in the 40s, 50s and 60s? Seven youth decided to find out, by interviewing Elders in their communities. What challenges did the Elders face back then? What were their proudest moments? Was it so different from today? A Community Remembers is a poignant film of Secwepemc and Tsilhqot’in Elders remembering their journeys growing up in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
Damned if you do; What if you don’t? (Theatre) is a humorous and powerful story of three youth living in Williams Lake who face challenges dealing with family struggles, the lure of alcohol, and peer pressure.
Squaw Hall project was presented by Urban Ink in partnership with Twin Fish, and made possible thanks to the support of its Advisory Committee, and its partners the Community Arts Council of Williams Lake, the Canadian Mental Health Association-Cariboo Chilcotin Branch, the Noopa Boy and Girls Club and the Child Development Centre. Financial support was provided by the Rotary Club of Williams Lake, Canada Council for the Arts, BC Arts Council, First Peoples Heritage Language and Culture Council, the Vancouver Foundation, the Province of BC, Telus and 2010 Legacies Now.