Simpcw First Nation

The Simpcw are a division of the Secwepemc, or Shuswap, who occupied the drainage of the North Thompson River upstream from McLure to the headwaters of Fraser River from McBride to Tete Jeune Cache, over to Jasper and south to the headwaters of the Athabasca River. Archaeological studies have identified winter home sites and underground food cache sites at a variety of locations including Finn Creek, Vavenby, Birch Island, Chu Chua, Barriere River, Louis Creek, and Tete Jeune.

Many ancestors of present band members lived in villages or camps located on land which is now the reserve of the Simpcw First Nation. Evidence of life in earlier times can still be found at these ancestral village sites.

The Simpcw traditionally were noted for their hunting ability. In the summer months much of their time was spent in hunting camps in the mountains above the North Thompson and upper Fraser Rivers. Both river systems provided salmon, which were caught in weirs, nets and by spear. Both meat and fish were smoked or dried then stored for consumption. Numerous plant foods were also collected and preserved for winter use. There was active trading, and sometimes warfare with the Sekani and Cree people. Presently Simpcw people practice many of their traditions while learning and working in modern society.

Now, the Simpcw First Nation has a membership of nearly 700 people who are a culturally proud community, valuing healthy, holistic lifestyles based upon respect, responsibility and continuous participation in growth and education.

Chief Rita Matthew

Rita Matthew, eldest daughter of Ida and Louis Matthew, was born and raised in Chu Chua except for two years when the family moved to Vavenby and on to Blue River. Previously married in the Okanagan with four children, 9 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Owned and operated a Hairdressing business for 8 years, completed Grade 12 at 26 years of age and went on to complete a Bachelor Degree, Professional Teaching Certificate and Masters Degree in Education. Owned and managed a tree service business and worked in education consulting and as administrator for the Secwepemc Cultural Education Society and a Provincial Native Education Centre with Okanagan College. Most recently administered an Aboriginal Life Skills Centre for 13 years which planned and delivered an Aboriginal Life Skills Facilitator Training Program and Job Readiness programs in Kamloops and in urban and First Nations communities throughout BC. Moved back to Chu Chua in 2005. Worked on a Health project, community census taker, as administrative assistant and in the past four years as Education Program Manager for the Simpcw First Nation.

Elected chief of Simpcw First Nation on April 15, 2012

Contact Information

Mailing Address: Box 220, Barriere, BC, V0E 1E0
Phone: (250) 672-9995
Fax: (250) 672-5858
General Information: email us
Chief: Rita Matthew
Administrator: Kerri Jo Fortier
Councilors: Tina Donald
Tom Eustache
Joan Miller
Shelly Loring
Dan Saul
Don Matthew
Election Date: April 2015 (3 year term for C&C)