Women Remember (entitled Christina Lake in first edition)


(time 4:04) Big Ideas:

Educators are encouraged to focus on four dominant themes throughout their planning and study of the story Women Remember. The themes integral to the story are 1) critical thinking; 2) memory and remembering; 3) civil discourse; and 4) leadership. The following are suggestions and information that will assist educators in meeting their learning objectives for their students.


Teachers are encouraged to read the summaries and reflections found in the book Not Extinct: Keeping the Sinixt Way that reference and relate to this story. Several important topics and concepts are mentioned, such as:

  • Additional information on how this story came to be;

  • incaʔlίwm, people of Inchelium;

  • Stories pull people back to their existence on the land;

  • The Entwined Tree – a symbol of home, connection, and belonging to the landscape;

  • Colonial dominance – forced border crossing and exile of the Sinixt, a violent manifestation;

  • “Border wounds”;

  • The story of Sinixt Alex Christian (Brilliant, B.C.);

  • Barriers to communication with settler cultures;

  • Conjured up stories, wilful forgetting, and simply not knowing serve to absent the Sinixt from their homeland and legitimize thefts of their land, resources, and lifestyle;

  • The semi-nomadic lifestyle;

  • Autonomy versus colonization - for political recognition and financial gain;

  • The moral footing of settlers;

  • Relevant artwork and photographs.

Sinixt: təmxʷúlaʔxʷ (tem-hoo-lao)- homeland

ncaʔlίwm Christina Lake

incaʔlίwm – people of ncaʔlίwm; people of Christina Lake

English: An introduction to some of the following words and phrases may be needed for younger students prior to, or after, listening to the story:

point of origin, headwaters, the ‘Seat’, particulars, stringent spiritual regime, traverse the landscape, annual cycle, freshet, aspect, prayed the water up.

The Story

Educators may choose to review or introduce the Columbia River story which relates the creation story of the Sinixt Peoples. This would help to set the stage for the Women Remember story. Note that both the Women Remember and Frog Mountain stories provide information beyond the creation story in reference to migration. Some questions to extract information:

  • Where is the point of origin of the Sinixt Peoples?

  • Why are the headwaters of the Columbia River referred to as ‘the seat’?

  • What caused the split in the homeland community?

  • How long did it take to find a suitable place to establish a community at the current Christina Lake townsite?

  • What was the only aspect of the area around Christina Lake that did not immediately meet their needs? What did they do about this predicament?

Mapwork: Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ 

According to the story, the Christina Lake area was, and continues to be, a significant and meaningful place for the Sinixt. Although much physical evidence of Sinixt presence and habitation has been destroyed by settlement, development, flooding, and time, the land itself remains full of memories, connections, traditions, and history. Review maps of present-day British Columbia and the Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ 

  • What is the ‘seat’ of a government? Use maps to locate the Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ and identify

    • the Sinixt point of origin;

    • the seat of Sinixt government before the split;

    • Christina Lake and surrounding area;

    • the Columbia River and tributaries;

    • headwaters of the Columbia River;

    • Revelstoke.

  • Note the extensive waterway system within the Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ, noting that Christina Lake is British Columbia’s warmest tree-lined lake. Older students may research the geography of the area and why the lake is so warm, including information on the Kettle River Fault.

Logic/logical analysis:

Some information to draw from the story is suggested as follows:

  • Explain the following statement from the beginning of the story - ‘Christina Lake is not Christina Lake’. (Also consider the statement: The Sinixt exist but are extinct.)

  • Measure the distance from Revelstoke area to the Christina Lake area, by air, waterways, and roads. Compare the travel time from the story (several years) to modern-day travel. Have students suggest why it would take so long to travel to the Christina Lake area from the headwaters of the Columbia River and consequently make the important decision to set up a community there.

  • Why would it take years? Suggestions: Setting up camp. Accommodating travel needs and speed for children and the elderly. Harvesting and foraging for food along the way. Hunting and fishing for food. Seasonal weather issues. Portage issues on waterways. Making an informed decision requires spending enough time in the area being considered for more permanent settlement.

  • People today may want to consider many factors before buying or building a house. Consider the following: water source/access, exposure to sun, length of sunlight for growing purposes, vitamin D, services available, car dependence, public transit, stability of ground, subsurface runoff, future logging plans, etc.

  • A local man who lived directly across from the bakery on the Christina Lake’s main thoroughfare was digging a new water line two to three feet deep for his home. He unearthed a very large spearhead while digging. It was suggested to the man that it be returned to the Sinixt. What would the return of the spearhead symbolize?

  • Debate topic: Do two wrongs make a right? The person who witnessed the spearhead during a visit was left alone holding it for several minutes. They had the idea that they should steal the spearhead and return it to the Sinixt. What would you do? (The person decided against taking the spearhead without being granted permission.) Why do you think the spearhead was never returned?

Water: a precious resource

Several stories in the book stress the importance of water, in particular Coyote Juggles His Eyes, as water is critical for good health and survival. People can go without food for a few weeks, but cannot survive without water for more than several days. (Different timeframes are mentioned on the internet. Some websites say 3-4 days before organ failure begins to set in, while others suggest around one week to 10 days. Several factors such as heat, activity, and being bedridden affect how long one can survive without water.) Lack of water was a significant issue for the Sinixt at the chosen site for their new village. Several discussion and research topics are related to the topic of water and its importance. (These ideas are also included in the guide for Coyote Juggles His Eyes.)

  • Check out major cities around the world to see if they are situated on major water systems. Reasons? Transport, trade, transportation route, drinking, manufacturing…etc.

  • What is the source of water for your home, school, or town?

  • Why is water so important for the body? – involved in many bodily processes; regulates body temperature, i.e. sweating; helps to deliver oxygen throughout the body; assists in the elimination of waste and toxins; aids in digestion; helps moisten mucous membranes; and so on.

  • Water and the water cycle are good research topics depending on the age and skill level of the students. ‘Did you know…’ type of questions and interesting facts about water can be researched and shared. For example:

    • Why is 97% of the world’s water undrinkable?

    • Could a dinosaur have tasted the same water molecules you drink today? Explain.

    • Is water a chemical? What is a molecule? Explain what H2O represents.

    • Does water affect the temperature of the earth, of the human body, of a tree?

    • Why does ice float in water?

    • How does the full moon affect water?

  • Are there any events that celebrate water in your community? - World Water Day in March; Earth Day in April; Canada Rivers Day in June; World Rivers Day in September; community spring clean-up days for streams, rivers, and riparian zones. The Sinixt offer support for these events in their community both physically and otherwise, often providing a community meal to share as well as presentations by scientists, activists, and professionals. Informational displays on environmental issues and protection are often set up to further educate those in attendance.

  • Discussion Topic: Should anyone be allowed to live/build right next to a water source?

  • What can you do on a personal or group level to celebrate, conserve, and protect water?

Leadership/Civil Discourse

In the beginning of the story a major split occurs within the homeland community of the Sinixt Peoples. We are told that two of the Sinixt members are in leadership roles, but we don’t know whether they have assumed those roles or have been appointed to them. As in most communities, disagreements occurred and decisions had to be made.

  • What were some of the differences of opinion that caused the split? (…how the people should behave, where the people should be on the landscape, how they utilize the landscape, and so on.)

  • What other parts of the story/journey relied on good leadership for survival and/or decision-making?

  • List the leadership qualities that could help inform the people and reach a resolution to these disagreements. Some schools have leadership training programs in place for older students.

  • Define civil discourse and why it is important. Several websites are available for teachers regarding fostering civil discourse in the classroom and creating space for respectful dialogue.

Migration, Displacement, Diaspora

The Sinixt People experienced migration in this story, but have also, at some point, experienced displacement and diaspora. The Frog Mountain story also tells of a decision to leave their homeland.

  • Research each of the terms. Decide which one identifies what happened to the Sinixt in the Women Remember story.

  • One faction made the decision to leave the homeland community. What are some considerations that would be made to maintain the culture; carry knowledge with them; maintain spiritual practices; and ensure a continuum of practice and traditions of their people?

  • If the Frog Mountain story has already been studied, some similarities and dissimilarities between the two can be made.

  • Fly Away Home is an interesting movie about the Canada Goose and migration. One grade four group used this movie as the basis for a very successful Historica project.

Memory and Remembering:

Memory and remembering play significant roles in the story Women Remember.

  • Discuss the significance of remembering for this story to be heard.

  • How does memory and remembering help students in their daily lives?

  • What tools can be used to help people remember? Calendars, alarms, tying a knot on your finger, lists, family photographs, etc. Even music can help with memory.

  • There are many ‘memory games’ suggested on different websites to play with the students, or to test and enhance their memory capabilities.

Curricular Competency: (developed by the teacher creating the lesson plan in collaboration with the student(s) receiving the knowledge)


Creative Thinking:

Critical Thinking:

Positive Personal & Cultural Identity:

Personal Awareness & Responsibility:

Social Responsibility:


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