Sea to Sky Discovery: A Storytelling Celebration of Canada's 150th Anniversary

Sea to Sky Discovery: A Storytelling Celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary took place on June 30, 2017 at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. This performance event featured established Canadian and Indigenous authors, and local Sea to Sky Corridor writers gathering together to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial with the Sea to Sky community.

The Whistler Writing Society invited award-winning Canadian authors Susan Juby, Paul Watson, Joan Haggerty and First Nations author Bev Sellars to read from their work at the event. The Society held a writing contest for local authors, giving the winners a chance to share the stage with the authors.

There were 33 entries to the writing competition. The Writing Society reached out to Sea to Sky schools to encourage students to enter the competition.

The Open category winner was Victoria Crompton from Whistler, the Youth winner was Harmandeep Cheema from Squamish, and the Indigenous winner was Tressa Peters from Lil’wat Nation. The contest winners read from their work at the beginning of the reading event.

Organizer Rebecca Wood Barret decided not to shy away from the idea that the 150th Anniversary could be a painful reminder to indigenous peoples. The event acknowledged that the history of Canada is much older than 150 years and welcomed the stories of first peoples from the past and ideas about how we could work towards a better future.

An incredible range of stories was gathered for the contest and entrants had the chance to have others read their stories during the event.

Sue Oakey-Baker and Sara Leach, Judges, had this to say about the entries: “In all categories, the writers eloquently crafted images and words to share their feelings of the Sea To Sky. Although there were certain themes, each piece was unique and full of affection for this wonderfully diverse place we call home.”

April Snow on Whistler Mountain

Winner- Open Category

By Victoria Crompton

In April you can ski till blue shadows paint the snow,
Till the sun rides low in a cobalt sky
Long days, corn snow, sunglasses, Piz Buin,
Not like winter when you fight the cold, fight the crowds, fight inertia.
Not like winter when you line up, bundle up, psych up.

In April you are expansive. 
You sit outside with your friends or your lover,
Jackets unzipped or hanging off the backs of chairs.
The sun warms the deck and your faces

You are gods of the mountain.
Didn’t you power through the crud, crush the bumps, 
Soar like eagles? 
You are taut, strong, invincible. 
You wear your precious youth carelessly, like a prince,
Assuming immortality. 
Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus.
Bring us another pitcher!

"Drink up folks. It’s closing time!”
The raucous crowd clatters down the stairs, 
Snaps into harnesses, adjusts goggles.
In twos and threes they slide away, 
Voices fading into the gloaming.

Waiting for solitude, you scan the slopes, 
The distant purpling mountains, the apricot sky.
Then you slip into the valley,
Carving languorous turns into soft spring snow.
Fragile intruder in the vastness of rock and sky.


Birkenhead Pantoum

Winner- Aboriginal Category

By Tressa Peters

Calm sage current
                        Refreshing alluvium
            I sit and watch the water
Safe meander
            Refreshing alluvium
                        Fern coloured ripples
            Safe meander
It carries my troubles away downstream
            Fern coloured ripples
                        I sit and watch the water
            It carries my troubles away downstream
Calm sage current



Winner- Youth Category

By Harman Cheema

Today, I was a bird.

Maybe you heard me. Chirping a sweet tune, on the tallest tree in the never-ending forest.

Maybe you’ve climbed that tree. 

Do you still feel the bumps on the wood? The lines and scratches. The tree’s handprint. 

Have you watched it sway? Side to side, in sync to its other friends, the other trees. The music they dance to, is the greatest song in perhaps, the entire world.

The whisper of the wind.

Some days when the tall tree dances, it’s a gentle movement. You lean your head against the bark, and imagine being the tree. Watching, but never seeing. Still, but always flowing. Silent, but always speaking.

Younger than the Earth.

Older than your first smile, your singsong laugh.

Other days, you can only watch the tree.

The whisper of the wind has become the screech of many sounds.

The trees, your tree, is beating its leaves to the rhythm of the roaring wind. Your eyes remain open, still thinking of becoming a tree. Your feelings threaten to spill out of the bucket; is the wind going to knock the battered bucket over? Hypnotic, the tree quite is.

I hear my wings flap, exploring with my eyes. My soul twinkling in front of me.

I stop midair.

I am surrounded.

Is it my doubts and fears? As my heart wondered, have I forgotten to listen for wings more powerful than mine?

No, it is only the mountains.

Hand painted, hand made, by my favourite artist, Mother Nature.

So surreal, I wonder if it’s made with the thinnest paint brush possible. The greys waltz with the whites, the wise trees swaying as if they are the mountainside’s hair. 

The sky.

What a bashful blue! Blushing through layers of smiling clouds.But the night shows me a twinkle of mischief in your multicoloured eyes.

Autumn, Fall, Winter, ice, Spring, showers, and Summer, oh so nice.

The clouds are the world’s biggest blankets. The sky and sun, although very high, are quite shy.

Mother Nature protects her children. The fluffiness (and sometimes deadliness) are her spirit, her worry, her anguish, her calm. The blankets fall off her children’s faces, but remain there, in case they fall taking their first steps.

As I land on the perch of the tallest tree here, you wonder

 “What got you there? Aren’t birds suppose to chirp, not state their opinion o on the masterpieces of the world?”

I am here because yesterday I was the sky, today I am a bird, and tomorrow I am the sun, because, I am all of these things.

I am Squamish. 

The most beautiful place on Earth.


The event was made possible by the Community Fund for Canada's 150th, a collaboration between the Community Foundation of Whistler, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast to coast.