Telling Our Stories:
Story telling is the Shuswap
way of passing our history
to the next generations
Music at Fr. Gerry’s House and naming the new Gym
I remember meeting Father Gerry Guillet for the very first time in 1988. He was our missionary priest at that time and we used to go down to his little green house behind the church after every mass. He had a guitar and he used it in all his services. Everyone enjoyed that, especially the elders. I remember Liz Grouse coming to church then to Father’s house afterward to listen to the music. Everybody came. There were times when there was no more room in his little house, it was so crowded.
That was where I learned to play the fiddle. I had first begun to try the fiddle while I was in Edmonton. A lot of people play the fiddle there. I really hadn’t learned how to play yet when I returned home to Sugar Cane. It sounded awful, but nobody complained, at least not to my face. Gerry was just priceless. He played along with me, as awful as I sounded, for about a year before I finally started to sound anywhere near acceptable. He recorded all the time. Some of the sessions sounded like drunken parties sometimes, people were laughing and talking so loud. Those were good times.
In about 1992, we wanted to name the gym after someone significant from our reserve. I had grown very close to Aunt Liz, as we had begun to call her, during all the music we were having at Fr. Gerry’s house. She just loved hearing the fiddle play and Fr. Gerry sing. I remember her, when she would come into Gerry’s house, the first thing she would ask was, “Are you gonna beet-beet-chum”? (anglicized spelling. Which was the squealing sound that the fiddle made). She would then laugh hilariously. So, it was not a hard choice for me to suggest to council that we name the gym after this great lady. Council had no problem agreeing. I still remember the day we held the naming ceremony. We all gathered at the gym entrance, outside. I cannot remember now if Liz was still alive for that ceremony. However, we had someone make a long ribbon for the ribbon cutting, out of buckskin. Everyone loved that idea. As I said I can’t remember if Liz was present to cut the ribbon or not. That was how the Liz Grouse Gym was originally named.