My random travels took me to the Skatin First Nation, which is sometimes called Skookumchuck. Don’t confuse it with the Skookumchuck outside of Cranbrook, BC, though. This community is located a little over 50 kilometres south of Mount Currie down the old Cariboo Wagon Road, on the east side of the Lillooet River.
The Skatin First Nation is a member of the In-SHUCK-ch Nation, which is in turn related to the larger St’at’imc community. The Skatin reserve is currently home to approximately 60 people or so. According to one resident I spoke to, a number of citizens would like to return to the community but are unable to do so due to housing and employment pressures.
The community is known in part for its Church of the Holy Cross, a Carpenter Gothic structure built by local Aboriginal craftspeople. The interior of the church features incredibly ornate statuary and embellishments, all made of local wood. It was completed in 1905, and was designated a National Historic Site in 1981. Conservation is an immense task, and the Ama Liisaos Heritage Trust Society works tirelessly to raise the necessary funds.
On the way back toward Mount Currie, we stopped at the Skookumchuck Hot Springs (or St. Agnes Well Hot Springs) for a brief soak. The caretaker told me that the site was in private hands for much of the 1800s, but the federal government now holds it in trust for the In-SHUCK-ch Nation. It is $5.00 to get in for a leisurely soak, which is well worth it given the work that goes into maintaining the place.
One innovation is worth remarking on. The caretaker took solar garden lights, chopped off the stakes, and installed them through the roofs of the outhouses. The little solar panels charge all day from the outside, and the lights shine all night on the inside. The only downside is that the spiders think the lights are fantastic, too…