Snewíyalh tl’a Staḵw (Teachings of the Water)

  • Composer: T. Patrick Carrabré 
  • Publisher: to be determined; contact the composer
  • Canadian Work: Yes
  • Duration: 18:00 without spoken introductions / 26-ish with introductions

Conductor Notes:

The choir and I really enjoyed learning and performing the five movements of this a cappella work as well as forging the connections with local First Nations women that were of equal importance throughout this project.

Vocal textures range from 2-part to 4-part with some splits. Movements 1, 2, and 3 are the most approachable. 4 is harmonically very challenging. 5 is SSA with splits in a quick tempo. The words, as performed by Elektra, are in the Squamish language. They are deliberately repetitive, so there are not too many to learn. This feature of the composition would also make adapting to a new Indigenous language less challenging. Please scroll down to read much more about the background of this work and our process.

Please watch Elektra’s 2022 video performance, Listener’s Guide video, and Squamish Language Pronunciation Guide video, all available free on Elektra’s YouTube channel.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.



Snewíyalh tl’a Staḵw (Teachings of the Water) is an 18-minute, five-movement a cappella work in the Squamish language that was recorded and released by Elektra in 2022 as a music video. The fruit of a 3-year collaborative project with First Nations, it was conceived by Co-Curator and ethnomusicologist, Dr. Jeanette Gallant (B.Mus. UBC, D.Phil. Oxford), the project is a musical exploration of water teachings in British Columbia First Nations cultures.  The music can be performed without the visual elements and would be well-suited to other multi-media expressions such as dance. It was also created with the idea in mind that a choir could work with its own local Indigenous people and change the text to that nation’s language.  I would be thrilled to hear of such adaptations and relationship-building.

The movements are:
Ḵeḵsín ti syatshn (The Natural World) (2:45)
Kwis na xwey (Birth) (2:45)
Shúkw’em (Ceremony) (4:30)
Slúlum (Song) (4:30)
Úxwumixw (Identity) (3:40)

Métis composer T. Patrick Carrabré was commissioned to write the musical score with text in the Squamish language chosen, gifted, and taught to Elektra by Rebecca Duncan.

This was a reconciliation project by Elektra. I strongly encourage you to watch not only the 28-minute music video but also the Listener’s Guide, which gives great depth of cultural context and explains our process.  These and a 17-minute Squamish Language Pronunciation Guide will be available permanently and free on the Elektra YouTube channel.

Gallant and Mi’kmaq filmmaker Shelley MacDonald created the storyboard, and filmmaker Mike Southworth of Collide Entertainment accompanied the choir to various Metro Vancouver locations as guests from the Coast Salish and Interior Salish cultures shared their knowledge and world views on the importance of water and the role of Indigenous women water stewardship.

Don Harder and Grant Rowledge captured the audio recording, following which Southworth directed the creation of the video. Each movement is introduced by one of Elektra’s First Nations collaborators in terms of what water teaches about relationships to the land, each other, and to ourselves.

Elektra is grateful in the creation of this work for the contributions and indigenous teachings of Rebecca Duncan (Tsitsáyxemaat), Squamish; Mary Jane Joe (Nk’xetko), Interior Salish, Elder; Nadia Joe, Interior Salish (Mother’s side) and southern Tutchone-Tlingit, specifically the Crow Clan of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (Father’s side); Candice Halls-Howcroft, Squamish; Faye Halls (Yeltsilewet), Squamish, Elder; Shelley MacDonald, Mi’kmaq “Ugpi’Ganjig” (Eel River) and Scottish; Harrison Dobos (Binkïca), Champagne and Aishihik; Cheyenne Halls-Howcroft, Squamish; and Bob Baker (S7aplek), Squamish, Elder.