Laura Grizzlypaws

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Laura Grizzlypaws was born and raised in Lillooet, British Columbia in the Interior Plateau region, she is of St’át’imc descent. Her St’át’imc name is "Stálhalamcen – Grizzly Paws," She belongs to the people of Xwisten the Bear Clan. She is a mother of three sons "Míxalhcen" ("Bear Paw"), "Skwel’tapis" ("Horse with the color of the Golden Sun") and "Specwits’a7 (Blown Paint on a Horse") and her daughter Sulyalesta (to have her own dance).

At the age of sixteen, Laura began to relearn the St’át’imc traditions her passion grew stronger in education and the heritage of her people it became a way of life. She is a dancer, drummer and a singer/songwriter, an academic, educator and a language and cultural advocate.

The experiences in her education provided her with the knowledge and skills with a focus on providing her recipients with the highest quality of cultural education based on the values and needs of the community while meeting the deliverables of the organization or project goals. Thorough knowledge of education and cultural values make way for a clear vision of the cultural expressions of the St’át’imc songs, oral traditions, storytelling, dances and the social interactions of the people.

The creative metaphorical relationship of the spirit of the bear to Laura is an expression of the art of walking in two worlds and balancing the physical with the spiritual.

"I walked where the Grizzly Bear dances. I feel his pleasure, excitement and freedom on the earth and in the wind that carries his messages from the past. I dance where the Grizzly Bear danced his steps leaving an ancestral footprint on the land like a cellular memory in my blood. His face is a shadow that calls to me as the wind calls his name "St'álhalam." The Grizzly Bear he sings his songs as we unite under his skin. I now walk where he left his ancestral footprints. I heard his prayer, I felt his pain; I am his anger; I am his hope; I am his faith. He now dances upon the earth, now, only where I leave my ancestral footprints."

Her education background consists of a Masters of Education in Education Foundation Land Based Education(2011); Bachelor of General Studies Degree Double Minor Linguistics & First Nation Studies(2007); Bachelor of Education Degree in Curriculum Development & Instruction (2007); Professional Development Teaching Certificate (2006); Language Proficiency Certificate (2003); Counselling & Wellness Certificate (2003). Laura was also granted a Language Heroes award for the British Columbia Salishan language family. Her educational accomplishments gained were made possible through the balance of traditional and spiritual practices of her St’át’imc cultural heritage.

Laura believes in diversity - education must meet the standards of diverse tribes and communities; Culture - the importance of culturally determined ways of thinking, communicating and living; Respect - the relationship between the individual and the group recognized as mutually empowering; Vitality - recognition of the strength of Indigenous people and culture; Place - the importance of sense of place, land and territory; and Transformation - commitment to personal and societal change.

 

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