ṮEṮÁĆES Climate Action Project

The Southern Gulf Islands are disproportionately impacted by the climate emergency declared by the Capital Regional District and the Islands Trust. They are particularly vulnerable to risk of wild fire, drought affecting food production, seasonal water shortage and shoreline erosion caused by sea level rise and increased coastal storm surges.

Project Overview

The ṮEṮÁĆES (pronounced “tlu-tla-chus” — The u as in fun, a as in ape) Climate Action Project developed and delivered 3 five-day (30 hour) intensive educational programs that combined current climate science with Traditional Knowledge of the W̱SÁNEĆ people to inform and support decision-making on land use and climate action at both the local and regional levels. Included is an overview of this exciting pilot project.

“This ÁLEṈENEȻ (homeland) image references a story of the creation of our home- lands here in W̱ SÁNEĆ. In the story, we say that the creator made our homelands, the islands (ṮEṮÁĆES) and high mountains from stones he casted. The stones however, were actually people who emanated good qualities that the creator believed we should all have. The creator told the islands as he cast them outward, “take care of your relatives.” In the image, the creator speaks to one of the islands before he casts them out, while the human form appears in a stone that is suspended in mid air and an island emerges from the water opposite the creator.“ by artist David Underwood — PENÁĆ

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Project Courses

Together these courses provide a holistic place-based framework for land-use planning and climate action that supports community resiliency and promotes Indigenous stewardship of the W̱SÁNEĆ people in their traditional homeland. These courses present innovative strategies to mitigate the challenges of climate change in the Southern Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea by braiding W̱SÁNEĆ Traditional Knowledge with current climate science.

Course 1. Indigenous perspectives on eco-cultural revitalization FEB 9th to 14th, 2020

The first course focused on the cultural history and ecological values of ILEĆEN and the W̱SÁNEĆ world view of reciprocal stewardship to inform land use decision making and climate action in the Bedwell Harbour basin.

Course 2. Youth Leadership for Climate Action in the Southern Gulf Islands  MARCH 1st to 6th, 2020

The second course supported the development of youth leadership in the Southern Gulf Islands and explored each Island’s climate change challenges and examined each Island’s climate action strategies to respond to these challenges.

Course 3. Climate Change in the Salish Sea Archipelago FEB 16th to 21st, 2020

The third course broadened the focus to the larger archipelago of the San Juan and Gulf Islands and explored cross border relationships in responding to the climate crisis in cooperation with University of Victoria Living Lab Project, Western Washington University Salish Sea Institute and the University of British Columbia.

Partners and Supporters

Our valued partners

The success of the ṮEṮÁĆES Climate Action Project is due to the valuable partnerships that have participated in, contributed to and supported this one-year pilot initiative. The project has been led by the Southern Gulf Islands Community Resource Centre whose Board of Directors and staff have managed this complex and demanding project while maintaining the centres extensive other programs.

The Real Estate Foundation of BC whose $68,000 matching grant provided the financial capacity to develop and deliver phase III of this project is the valued partner without whose support the three climate action courses would never have come to fruition.  The capacity of Gulf Island communities to respond with greater resiliency to the climate emergency has been enhanced by the Foundation’s generous contribution… Read More


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Elder SELILIYE (Belinda Claxton) and Monica Petrie at Pender Community Hall.


Elder SELILIYE and artist MENEŦIYE at ṮEṮÁĆES Climate Action Project launch. Photo by P. Petrie.