A Roots and Blues Festival veteran (he last performed at the Festival in 2007 and 2012), Kenthen Thomas’ past performances have also included stints with Caravan Farm Theatre in the summer of 2019, Secwepemc Native Theatre, Dreamweaver Theatre (Simon Fraser University), Senclip Native Theatre, and Shuswap Theatre. He also appeared in voice on the CBC’s legends series that appeared nationwide in 2006.
Recently he has been involved with the Caravan Professional Farm, as an actor; Salmon Arm roots and blues once again (2014), doing both storytelling and the Secwepemc Grand Opening for the entire festival. He co-wrote, co-directed and starred in a play for Shuswap Theatre called “Legends” (2012), which had a 22-show run through the summer, and he has been consistently travelling around teaching and telling stories all across BC. More recently he did the Aboriginal celebration and Canada Day festivities in Salmon Arm. Schools in the lower mainland and in the interior.
As a First Nations performer, Kenthen captivates audiences with his fascinating retellings of legends of the Secwepemc, his family land for more than 10,000 years. This is where his late grandmother, respected and even legendary Secwepemc elder, the late Dr. Mary Thomas, taught him the traditional art of storytelling. Storytelling for the Shuswap people brought entertainment to the families during long winter nights. It was also a way to keep the history alive, tell important lessons, and share amusing anecdotes about all the creatures found on this land. Kenthen heard from his Grandmother, Mary, how a bear and a coyote found out how to create a balance between night and day. There are also stories about how trusting the advice of Coyote (Seklep) caused Bear to lose his once long and lovely tail. Tricky Coyote features in many Secwepemc legends and is often the example of how NOT to behave. Other legends that have been passed down through Kenthen’s family for generations feature the animals, birds and fish and that were once integral to the lives of the original residents of this region. Their language, Secwepemctsin, and these stories have become marginalized and even endangered because of the predominance and ethnocentrism of English language and culture in Canada.
List of stories told:
“Bear and Coyote make day and Night.” This story is a creation story that tells and retells the accidental formation of rules and laws that guide the sun and the night and days we see now.
“How the animal people stole fire.” A long long long time ago all the ‘people to come’ which meant all the grandchildren of the Great Chief” would need certain things in order to persevere and survive. Thus, it was up to the animal people to provide these certain things and therein begins the story of how the animal people ended up stealing fire for the ‘humans to come’.
How coyote got his name.” Coyote has always believed that he is destined for greatness! However, he has no idea or belief that his name will help him achieve that greatness and when he hears news that ‘The Great Chief” will be giving out names that will define who everyone is early the next morning. Coyote decides to beat all the odds and to achieve his greatness with his new name.
“Coyote juggles his eyes.” Coyote learns new tricks but this trick he learns gets him into trouble even he wouldn’t see coming.
“Coyote meets Coyote.” In a short tale we see how coyote meets another coyote and how he tricks the new coyote into taking the name Coyote.
Plus, many more.