Henle', n'skwest Wikpel'ks.
Hello, my Nlaka'pamux name is Wikpel'ks.
My English name is Alana.
I will introduce myself in the Nlaka'pamux traditional way - women identified first.
My children are Alana Virginia K'wislexpetkw, Chrystah Attil (d) & Brianna Lepina; my granddaughter is Emerald Teyenet'kw (her parents are Virginia & Matthew).
I am the second of four children.
My parents are Martha Cu'sinek (nee Bob) & Alan Roy Aspinall of the Coldwater Indian Band (CIB) - Nlaka'pamux Nation;
my grandparents are Ada K'wislexpetkw (nee Swakum) & Peter Bob of the CIB - Nlaka'pamux Nation; and Helene (nee Larson) & Albert Aspinall of Prince George, BC (Helene immigrated from Norway when she was 3 years old).
My Great- Grandparents are Lily (nee Kilroy) August (1st married to Charlie Swakum) of the CIB;
Lena Wikpel'ks Bob of Seabird Island Indian Band (Stol:lo Nation) & Albert Sterling of the Lower Nicola Band (Nlaka'pamux Nation);
Marie (1st married to Christian Larson - both originally of Norway) & Al Ross;
and Mabel (nee Clare?) & Peter Aspinall (Peter originally of Liverpool, England - he was a British Home-child) and with the help of my UK cousins, my Great-Grandfather Peter's line;
my Great-great-grandparents are Elizabeth (nee Williams) & Robert Aspinall;
my Great-great-great Grandparents are Margaret (nee Holland) & Peter;
my Great-great-great grandparents are Martha (nee Sixsmith) & William - all of the United Kingdom.
I was born in 1968, in Prince George, BC.
A very cold winter night, I've been told it was -40° Celcius with 6 foot snow banks.
I was named after my father, as the story goes - my parents were hoping for a boy and had not picked a girl's name, so they added an 'A' to the end of his name. I have been proud to carry that name, and do my best to live up to it. I have also passed that name down to my first born, I have always called her Virginia to avoid confusing people.
Being born in a time & place when inter-racial marriages were not socially acceptable, I felt shunned by the Caucasian community. Most of my life I have identified more with my First Nations people, as this is where I have felt most accepted.
A few years ago, I made contact with long-lost cousins in the UK, descendants of Peter's siblings. I plan to go to meet them someday soon. To consider what my First Nations ancestors experienced with colonization & in the Indian Residential Schools, I am grateful they were a proud & strong people... they endured! So I, my children, and my grandchildren can stand tall and say 'I am Nlaka'pamux'.
In my regular life, I have worked as an actor (on stage & small tv/film roles) in my youth, a jail guard as a young adult, been a stay-at-home Mother, then returned to university to earn my Bachelor's in Social Work, and have worked as a family therapist, an Aboriginal Family Group Conference Coordinator, and I have just recently changed my career path to working with the First Nations Health Authority. I am passionate about allowing people's voices to be heard, reducing oppression through action, practicing non-violent communication and assisting the inter-generational healing at the Indian Residential School.
In my free time I enjoy reading both fiction & non-fiction, one of my all-time favourite novels is Pride & Prejudice. I have begun renovations on my first home. And when I can get out to the mountains, I quite enjoy target practice with my .45Cal muzzle-loader - which are the old-style rifles. To me, this is recreational & therapeutic... like golf is for others.
Working on Shana sparked a desire to follow the dreams of my youth. Within months prior to Nino offering the role of Melanie to me, I had taken part in the Vagina Monologues, and was in rehearsal for a stage performance - Last Rites, where I played Sophie, a 70 yr old knowledge keeper. Having a history of acting, I have continued this passion as well. I am a board member of our local Merritt Live Theatre Society and do plan on pursuing acting roles - but more for the enjoyment, than a job. Reading the script, I knew I would be honoured to portray Melanie. Working with the Swiss/Canadian crew was a fantastic experience, I made so many friends that I miss & pray for our re-union.
My daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild at the time of filming, which had she not been I don't think I would have thought of this. Not only will I be able to show my grandchild what I looked like when she was born, I will be able to show her what her Great-grandmother (Yeye7) looked and sounded like - my mother played the Wise Old Woman. This is a splendid gift that will continue for generations to come. Kwuk'ste'muxw te Nino... for casting us.