Lillian Siwallace

‘Tl’aaqwaylh’

Emily Lillian Siwallace

February 3, 1932 – September 24, 2012



Lillian was born on February 3, 1932, the third of eleven children born to Samson and Dora Mack. After losing her two older brothers, she became the eldest in the family and took responsibility for caring and guiding her younger siblings.


Lillian met her future husband in 1947. They got married on a beautiful sunny day on December 20, 1948. After the ceremony, they were surprised to find that it had snowed about two feet and the snowflakes were so big they couldn’t take pictures. Her husband Andy claimed that God had sent confetti down on them.


Lillian and Andy raised eight children of their own, seven boys and one girl. Their family grew to include 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. Andy and Lillian adopted Eva Mack, Martin Lehr, Stanley Gascoyne, Lorne Cahoose, Annie Sulin, and Betty Sangster as their own in the traditional way.


Lillian went to back to school and earned a certificate to teach the Nuxalk Language. She was there when the Nuxalk Language was introduced into the local schools in 1975, and she was proud contribute to the survival of the culture for 17 years while transmitting her knowledge and heritage to elementary and secondary students.


Lillian was also proud to be a part of the Nuxalk Nation’s efforts to save the culture and language from extinction; she loved to watch and listen to the young people dance with their bodies and voices echoing ancient traditions and stories. “It makes you feel good because you are a part of teaching them,” she said. Below is an excerpt from Hank F. Nader’s Concise Nuxalk-English Dictionary:


“I began to learn how Lillian had generously contributed to the revival of culture during her life. Over the years she had taught the Nuxalk language in the community school, where Nuxalk shapes, forms, and a sense of place exemplify a proud cultural heritage. I learned how she invited others to bring traditional songs and dances into the lives of young students. And how she encouraged artisans to apply their crafts to cloth, wool, paper, canvas, and silver so that they could resituate long past Nuxalk ways into contemporary and new imaginative spaces.”


Lillian was one of the founders of Acwsalcta School. She and a group traveled to Arizona to look at their band-operated schools in preparation of building a Nuxalk school and education system. She took great pride in the successes of Acwsalcta School, and the Nuxalk culture and language were a big part of her life.


Above all, Lillian made her family a priority. She loved her husband, children, and grandchildren, unconditionally and made each of them special in their own way. Lillian’s brothers and sisters knew that they could count on her when they needed advice and guidance. Mom, grandma, sister, auntie, friend, you will be greatly missed. Until we meet again…..