February 17, 2016 6:17 pm
Updated: February 18, 2016 10:25 pm

Salmon Arm radio station keeping Neskonlith elder’s legacy alive


SALMON ARM – Almost nine years after her death, the wisdom and words of a well know Neskonlith elder are being preserved and shared. A Salmon Arm radio station has been digitizing old cassette tape recordings of Mary Thomas and are bringing them to new audiences.

During her life Thomas worked to expand public knowledge of local first nations and pass on her culture to future generations.

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“Her stories and what she’s contributed to society, I think that had a really [big] impact and [led to] a better understanding of who we are,” says her son, Louis Thomas. “The culture to her was her life.”

When Thomas died in 2007, at the age of 89, she left behind a lot of recorded material. It’s those recordings that have allowed her messages it to live-on on local community radio station CKVS.

“We were able to use some of them in a show we called The Legacy of Mary Thomas we started broadcasting,” says Dan West with the station. “That included a lot of language material legends and people’s stories.”

Now the radio station has expanded on that project. It has been digitizing and cleaning cassette tapes Thomas left behind to preserve them.

“Using computer technology we were able to strip out a lot of the extra sounds and noises and preserve the speech and the music,” says West.

Some tapes contained recordings of lectures by Thomas herself, while other tapes are believed to be copies of old recordings likely originally done on wax cylinders by an ethnographer. CKVS plans to start airing audio from its newly digitized Mary Thomas collection next Monday.

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