Our Elders provide leadership and guidance. They are highly respected for their wisdom and they share their life experiences with the desire to better our lives. Elders play a vital role in the continuation of our culture, sharing stories and teachings about our heritage.

The Shuswap Band Elders include:

LoreenAllardLoreen Allard

Loreen was born in 1954 and grew up with her parents until she went to residential school. She attended residential school from age six to sixteen. She married in 1978 and has four children and two grandchildren. She has worked cutting Christmas trees, as a chambermaid in a hotel and at the native women’s arts and crafts store. She currently resides in Cranbrook.

Loreen remembers her mother making all sorts of crafts like sweaters, socks, hats and gloves. She also remembers that their house was always full of all the children in the area and the dancing and singing that would result. Her father worked Christmas tree cutting near Block 17.

Genevieve Alpine

Genevieve AlpineGenevieve (Jenny) was born in 1926 and grew up on the Shuswap reserve, where her father was born. Upon hisdeath in 1937, her mother moved her and her four siblings to the Akisq’nuk reserve, where she was born. Jenny attendedresidential school from age eight to sixteen before moving back in with her mother and grandmother. She married Gustav Alpine in 1951 and has one son. Gustav passed away in 1984. After Gustav passed away, Jenny lived with her common-law husband Las Riha until he passed away in 2007.

Jenny remembers that her parents used to hold dances at their home, where her father would play the fiddle and her mother would make sandwiches. She also remembers that her mother and grandmother would hunt fish, pick berries and trap beaver, muskrat and squirrel.

Sabina Cote

Sabina Cote

Sabina was born on the Shuswap Reserve in 1937. She was raised at Akisq’nuk and attended Saint Eugene Residential School from age seven to seventeen. Sabina’s father died before she was born, so she lived with her mother, grandmother, brothers and sister until she married at age 19. Early in her marriage, she moved around a lot with her husband Joe who was a logger, before they moved to Shuswap Reserve where she still resides. Sabina has four children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Sabina hopes that future generations of Shuswap people will get elders to teach them about the traditional ways of their people, so the culture and language is not lost.

Shelagh Dehart

Shelagh DehartShelagh Dehart, also known as Lizette, was born in 1910 and grew up at Stoddart Creek with her six sisters until she was ten years old, when she attended the St. Eugene Mission School from 1920-1928, returning to Stoddart Creek in 1928. Her mother was also born at Stoddart Creek and her father was from Amherst, Nova Scotia. Growing up, she spent a large amount of time with her grandfather, Chief Pierre Kinbasket, and grandmother, Marion Kinbasket where she learned about the traditional way of life. She married Dino Dehart in 1933 and has three children, twelve grandchildren, twenty one great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. She has lived in the Columbia Valley almost her entire 98 yrs. of life, except the ten years she spent at Port Coquitlam during the depression. Throughout out her life, she has done many jobs, including waitressing, housekeeping and working as a chambermaid (all at Blakely’s Bungalows near the Radium Hot Springs pool) and she bundled and tied Christmas trees in the Columbia Valley for many years.

Shelagh is the keeper of the knowledge, and has always been a storyteller. She had planned on writing a book since she was 13 years old, and finally did write and publish her book, “The Kinbasket Migration and Other Indian History” in 2006.

Annanete EugeneAnnanete Eugene

Annanete was born in 1962 and grew up with her parents until she went to school. She attended the residential school from age six until it closed. She has two children and currently lives in Cranbrook.

Annanete remembers her grandmother’s huge vegetable garden and also her use of traditional medicines, including healing her burnt foot. She also remembers that her mother was a hard worker and helped her grandmother with all of her children. Her father worked in sawmills around Radium.

Marge Eugene

Marge EugeneMarge was born in 1941 in Salmon Arm and grew up on the Neskonlith reserve. She was raised by her Great Grandma until she was forced to attend residential school in Kamloops. She remembers how her Great Grandma would pack lunches of bannock, a piece of cold salmon, and cold tea, for trips into town.

After marrying in 1957 in Salmon Arm, she had six children and now has eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Marge and her husband Xavier have taught their children and grandchildren everything they know about the Shuswap culture. Throughout her life, Marge has held a number of jobs including berry-picking, housekeeping, bagging vegetables, acting as Chief and band manager and now works on the Setetkwa golf course she owns with her husband Xavier.

Xavier (Ox) EugeneXavier (Ox) Eugene

Xavier was born in Invermere in 1935. He grew up on the Shuswap reserve until he was six, when he was sent to the Saint Eugene Mission in Cranbrook, which he attended until age fourteen, when he began working. He met his wife Marge in Salmon Arm and they were married in 1957. Xavier and Marge owned a sawmill and Xavier has also worked cutting Christmas trees, working in the park, working at a pulp mill and currently owns a golf course with his wife. He and Marge had six children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Xavier believes in taking care of the earth so that it is able to take care of you. He still lives aspects of a traditional life - on any given day consuming traditional foods.

Rosalita Pascal

Rosalita Pascal







Sam PaulSam Paul

Sam Paul was born in 1938 on the Shuswap reserve. He spent a lot of time with his parents and grandfather before he was sent to the residential school at age eight, where he stayed for eight years. He married Pauline Sam in 1958 and they had six children. Sam and Pauline moved around a good deal after they were married, but eventually moved back to the reserve in about 1965.

Sam learned a lot of traditional knowledge from his father. He has hunted deer, elk, moose, goat and bear and used to trap for a living.

Alice Sam

Alice SamAlice Sam was born in 1932 on the reservation in Penticton and was one of fourteen children. After beginning her childhood in Penticton with her parents, she attended the Saint Eugene Mission in Cranbrook from age six to seventeen. She is a member of the Shuswap Band through her marriage in 1953 to Paul Sam. After her marriage, she lived in Washington for a while and moved back to the Shuswap reserve. Throughout her life, Alice has done a variety of work, including: bookkeeping, picking apples, teaching, cooking and she is currently a councillor for the band. She has four children, eleven grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Alice remembers her mother tanning hides and making buckskin gloves and selling them to buy the children Christmas presents. She also remembers her mother’s huge garden and all of the canning that she would do.

Frank SamFrank Sam

Frank was born in 1925 on the Akisq’nuk Reserve. He attended where he was known as Frank Martin after his father’s first name. After his confirmation, he was also given the name Bernard, making his full name Frank Bernard Martin Sam. After he was finished school, he enlisted in the service until an injury forced him to come home. In total, Frank has had 14 children.

Frank says he remembers his mother making moccasins and doing bead work, then trading her wares with the Morley reserve.

Paul Sam

Paul SamPaul Sam, also known as Johnny Martin, was born in 1936 on the Akisq’nuk Reserve. He grew up on the Shuswap Reserve, the Salmon River Reserve and in Salmon Arm, and attended residential school from when he was six or seven to age fifteen, when he left home. He married Alice in 1953 and lived in the United States until 1979. Throughout his life Paul has worked in a mill, driven a truck and, in 1980, became Chief of the Shuswap Indian Band. He has four children, twelve grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Paul hopes that future generations of Shuswap people will learn the traditions and language of their ancestors and live in a spiritual way.

LaVerna StevensLaVerna Stevens

LaVerna was born in 1951 in Invermere. She lived in foster care from the age of nine to the age of twenty. LaVerna was married in 1972 and lived in Dry Gulch after her marriage. She remembers attending large gatherings at Fairmont, near the hoodoos, as a young girl. She also remembers her family having a winter dance where everyone in attendance would bring food and then they would all dance into the night. LaVerna says that the band was traditionally led by a hereditary chief.

Oral history played a major role in LaVerna’s life. She was taught hands-on about the lands she lived in and now teaches a number of the younger members of the Shuswap Band some of these traditional ways of their ancestors.

LouieStevensLouie Stevens

Louie was born in 1950 and attended the residential school in Cranbrook. He is a descendent Cranbrook. He is a descendent of the Sinixt from Arrow Lakes.

He remembers dances being held in his family’s log cabin and also remembers the importance of the fall harvest celebration. He also remembers the importance of traditions like the sweat lodge, where he remembers his grandmother being given songs. Louie still enjoys some of the old Shuswap traditions, such as spending Sunday in his sweat house.

Margaret TeneeseMargaret Teneese

Margaret was born in 1960 in Invermere. She grew up on the Akisq’nuk reserve until age six, when she was sent to the St. Eugene Mission in Cranbrook. When the residential school closed, at age ten, she moved to Windermere and then at age eleven Margaret moved to the Shuswap reserve. She attended art school in Nelson, and when she realized she didn’t want to be a starving artist, she chose a more practical career applying her skills in a life long career working for the Ktunaxa Tribal Council.

Margaret currently works as an archivist for the Ktunaxa and still practices some traditional activities, such as tanning hides and making moccasins.

Angie ThomasAngie Thomas

Angie was born in 1947 on the Shuswap reserve in Athalmer. She lived with her mother and stepfather or her grandfather when she was not in school. Angie has four children andnine grandchildren. She has worked cutting Christmas trees and in a hotel. She currently lives in Cranbrook.

Angie remembers how much her mother loved cooking for their large family and that she was a hard worker. She also remembers her mother going hunting and helping with trapping.

Harvey Thomas

Harvey was born in 1955 in Invermere or Athalmer. He attended residential school from age five to age fourteen or fifteen. He has done a large variety of work throughout his life such as cleaning sky scrapers, firefighting, tree spacing and doing construction and framing buildings. In 1999 he became the common law husband to Andrea Alexander and father to her three children.

Harvey feels a strong connection with the land he lives on. He remembers going fishing, canoeing and going to powwows when he was younger.