VANCOUVER, BC – It was 2009, and the Olympics were coming to Vancouver.
For elders Alec Dan and Iona Paul it was an opportunity to share the culture of the Coast Salish people with the world through song, dance, and stories.
The Tsatsu Stalqayu, which means Coastal Wolf Pack, were born.
“It started off with a few family members, and then extended family members,” remembers Anastasia Paul. “Within a month it was up to 35 members across the Lower Mainland.”
Just as wolves travel in packs and work together to flourish in life, the group runs with one heart and one mind, as the Tsatsu Stalqayu are so eloquently described on their website. From the eldest to the youngest, they encourage each other to stand strong in the face of adversity by consistently practicing the cultural ways of living of the Coast Salish people. Together they are keeping traditions alive for generations to come.
It was also important to them that they be inclusive to the region.
“My family wanted to be called coastal, because we represent Coast Salish people. We’re based out of Musqueam but we represent people in the group from Nanaimo, Kuper Island, Tsartlip, Squamish, Stó꞉lō, and that’s just a few of the members and where they come from. We’re not representing one area, we’re representing all of us, everyone.”
Today, the Coastal Wolf Pack are a three generation dance group.
“It's my mom and my dad, me and my four other siblings, our mates and all of our kids,” tells Anastasia. “The songs that we sing are composed by my younger brother, Benjamin Paul. He has a gift of composing songs.”
In 2021, the Coastal Wolf Pack performed at the first Indigenous Peoples Match held by Whitecaps FC. For a family with deep roots in soccer, they are excited to be back again at BC Place on Saturday.
“The majority of our family are soccer players,” tells Anastasia. “We start off in the five and under team, and we all move our way through. We grew up playing soccer. So going to the Whitecaps is always a dream and then getting asked to perform is amazing.”
Fans can see the Coastal Wolf Pack perform during pre-match and halftime at this Saturday’s Indigenous Peoples Match as the ‘Caps take on Real Salt Lake at BC Place. Tickets remain available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
More information on the Tsatsu Stalqayu is available at tsatsustalqayu.ca.