We are so grateful to live on the Southern Gulf Islands of Pender, Saturna, Mayne and Galiano (in BC, Canada), which are part of the larger unceded traditional territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ Indigenous people. They lived here beginning 10,000 or more years ago, whereas the settlers who came after have only lived on these islands for about 150 years.
Most of their Indigenous governments and people are now on the Saanich Peninsula or other parts of Vancouver Island, and other Gulf Islanders are trying to reach out and cooperate in meaningful ways (including through the Gulf Islands Food Co-op).
This includes the Co-op’s educational events for “Honouring Indigenous Food Creation and Practices“ – March 9, 2019 on Pender, and March 30, 2019 on Saturna.
The Gulf Islands Food Co-op was also grateful to be a supporting partner of the Feed the People – Indigenous Venison/Deer Workshop – September 26 & 27, 2020 on Galiano (taught by Penelakut Elders).
Then in 2021, the Co-op obtained CRD grant funds to cooperate with the Galiano Conservancy as a supporter of the Se Lelum Sar Augh Ta Naogh (Coast Salish Peoples of Galiano) native plant restoration garden on the Galiano oceanfront. You can see the three bottom images below of some of the 2021 site prep and then March, 2022 planting by Conservancy Staff, supported by Indigenous Elders.
Then in November, 2021, the Co-op met with a representative of the PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW (Blossoming Place) initiative, which is a native plant nursery, school garden, restoration and educational program near Brentwood Bay, supported by the Tsawout First Nation and others. This meeting was about how to keep encouraging a relationship to grow between the Co-op and the W̱SÁNEĆ community, given that most island food production is currently based on settler methods of “agriculture” and a colonial idea of “farmland.” We also offered an initial donation of our remaining grant funds for 2021, and talked about potential collaborations for which the Co-op might be able to seek funding. This includes an Indigenous plant restoration and educational day on Sdayes (Pender Island), and an educational tool to help people identify the traditional ecosystems of the land on which they have settled.
In addition, you can see key Indigenous Food and Plant Resources for some important books (available on Amazon and elsewhere), a 2021 Indigenous Food Sovereignty movie called “Gather” and other resources.
In our quest for greater sustainability and resilience, our island communities have much we could learn from the Indigenous communities and cultures here long before us (e.g. see the calendar image below).
Thirteen Moon Calendar of key W̱SÁNEĆ Indigenous foods (painting by Briony Penn)
Chief Harvey Underwood and Tsawout Youth Coordinator receiving food & monetary donations
from Gulf Islands Food Co-op’s March, 2019 Honouring Indigenous Food Creation events