Cowichan elder Ruby Peter’s book hits the shelves six months after her death, detailing her perseverance in preserving the Hul’q’umi’num’ language. (Book cover)

A&E column: Cowichan elder’s book published; SPCA summer camp

What's going on in Cowichan arts and culture

Six months after her death, Cowichan elder Ruby Peter, in collaboration with the Royal BC Museum and Helene Demers, has published a book about her dedication to preserving the Hul’q’umi’num’ language.

What Was Said to Me: The Life of Sti’tum’atul’wut, a Cowichan Woman, by linguist Peter, in collaboration with Demers, “blends memoir, oral history and ethno-autobiography into a narrative of resistance and resilience, spanning seven decades in the life of an advocate for Indigenous language preservation,” says a press release for the book.

“This first-person oral history is the first of its kind published by the Royal BC Museum,” says Mischelle vanThiel, vice president of Inclusion and Community Engagement at the Royal BC Museum. “It is a remarkable narrative about a remarkable person who dedicated her life to maintaining and sharing her language.”

What Was Said to Me is a beautiful and generous gift our Aunty, Sti’tum’atul’wut, has shared with us,” says Samaya Jardey, director of Language and Cultural Affairs, Squamish Nation. “It is rich with teachings from beginning to end. It is an example of the love she had for the people.”

What Was Said to Me documents a period of profound social change through the lens of Sti’tum’atul’wut — also known as Dr. Ruby Peter — a Cowichan elder who made it her life’s work to share and safeguard Hul’q’umi’num’, the language of her people, describes the press release.

Sti’tum’atul’wut mentored hundreds of students and teachers and helped thousands of people to develop a basic knowledge of the Hul’q’umi’num’ language.

She contributed to dictionaries and grammars, and helped assemble a valuable corpus of stories, sound and video files, with more than 10,000 pages of texts from Hul’q’umi’num’ speakers. Sti’tum’atul’wut was the associate editor of The Cowichan Dictionary.

In 1997, Vancouver Island University anthropologist Helene Demers recorded Sti’tum’atul’wut’s life stories over nine sessions. She prepared the transcripts for publication in close collaboration with Sti’tum’atul’wut’ and her family.

Although Sti’tum’atul’wut died on Jan. 8, 2021, just a few months before her book rolled off the press, she consulted closely on every stage of editing and image collection. Royalties from the book now go to Sti’tum’atul’wut’s family.

What Was Said to Me is $24.95 as a trade paperback and $11.99 as an ebook. The 224-page book is available through local bookshops, the Royal Museum Shop and online at


The BC SPCA is offering online summer camp for kids.

Billed as having “something for everyone” ages five to 16 years old, the virtual program is available across B.C. through BC SPCA Camp@Home.

This summer’s lineup starts with eight full weeks of Camp@Home, which includes five days of online sessions packed with games, crafts, expert guests and animal visitors, says a press release about the camp. Families can also choose three-day mini-camps on special topics, including endangered animals, pet care and behaviour or careers with animals. Add in one-day workshops for teens and an Animal Tales junior camp for five to six year olds, and it equals one packed schedule of events.

Discounts and a bursary program are available, so the camp is accessible to all.

Participants can receive a 25 per cent discount when they invite a friend. For more information on the bursary program contact To see the full lineup of programs this summer and to register, visit

The camp season kicks off on July 5 and runs straight through to Aug. 27.

Cowichan Valley Citizen