At the Pacific Lutheran University’s Symposium on genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Swil Kanim brought the audience to tears and then to their feet. Kanim spoke on Friday, February 21, 2014 about “The Legacy of the Treaty and Sacred Obligations: Visions of Xwe’chi’eXen.”
Kanim is a member of the Lummi tribe who has lived in Cherry Point, Washington for 4,000 years. The Lummi oppose the proposal to ship coal to Asia, which would mean building a large terminal for coal shipping at Cherry Point, which is what brought Swil Kanim to the symposium.
During the speech the audience, as well as Kanim, was brought to tears when he spoke about the reassertion of self-honor. “Your honor is your honor, it’s not something you earn like respect. From my honor I recognize your honor,” Kanim said. Kanim also spoke about his faith in this country when he said, “I believe, that in the notion of honor, we can be equal and we can love one another.”
At the end of the speech, a baby began to cry so the father started to take him out of the room. Kanim stopped that man and said, “Sir, please don’t take the little one away. I was about to play a song and she just gave me the tune.” Kanim then took out his violin and began to play a song. Once Kanim finished, the audience members slowly rose to their feet in response.
Audience member and junior at Pacific Lutheran University, Hannah Bush, said, “the speech was moving because of the emotions shown by the speaker, it was easy to relate to because he made you feel what he was feeling and the hardship he went through as a child.”
Kanim was one of 10 speakers that spoke at Pacific Lutheran University’s symposium on February 20 and 21, 2014.