“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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Past Project

ṮEṮÁĆES Revitalization Project

Project Update

The ṮEṮÁĆES (pronounced “tlu-tla-chus” — The u as in fun, a as in ape) Revitalization Project

Sharing W̱SÁNEĆ Traditional Knowledge with Southern Gulf Island communities

➢ The ṮEṮÁĆES Steering Committee has received approval from the Real Estate
Foundation of BC for a $75,000 matching grant for a follow-up project to the successful 2019-20 ṮEṮÁĆES Climate Action Project (TCAP www.sgicommunityresources.ca/climate-action-project/)

➢ This ṮEṮÁĆES revitalization project will consolidate the knowledge gained from the TCAP project and transfer the key reciprocal stewardship lessons in a community to community engagement between the W̱SÁNEĆ People and Gulf Island
settler communities.

➢ Central to the project is the question “Whose Land is it?” This question will frame the conversation in the context of the rich history of W̱SÁNEĆ Traditional Knowledge, their Cultural Revitalization and the protection of their homeland – ÁLEṈENEȻ. The project will incorporate SENĆOŦEN to enhance the presentations.

➢ The project is a partnership between the Southern Gulf Islands Community Resources Centre (CRC) and the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board (WSB) to develop a series of educational videos, owned by the WSB, for use in WSB curriculum. Funding
support is provided by a number of community partners including the W̱SB, CRC, W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, UVIC Living Lab Project, and the South Pender Historical Society with the Capital Regional District.

➢ With W̱SÁNEĆ consent and oversight the videos will also be used in community forums for the Southern Gulf Islands to enhance the developing community to community relationship that is necessary for progressive reconcilli-action in building more resilient and sustainable communities.

➢ The central video will include a presentation by Drs Nick Claxton and John Price of the key findings in their seminal paper “Whose Land Is It? “Rethinking Sovereignty in British Columbia” published in BC Studies: The British Columbia Quarterly (https://ojs.library.ubc.ca/index.php/bcstudies/article/view/191508/189029)

➢ Another Key video will be an animated version of the ṮEṮÁĆES creation story which describes how the Creator, XÁLS created ṮEṮÁĆES which translates from SENĆOŦEN as “relatives of the deep.” The W̱SÁNEĆ have an obligation in
W̱SÁNEĆ Law to look after their relatives of the deep – the Southern Gulf Islands – as part of a reciprocal stewardship relationship.

➢ Three Additional videos will provide a W̱SÁNEĆ perspective on each of the three Southern Gulf Islands: S,DÁYES/ Pender; S,ḴŦAḴ /Mayne and ṮEḴTEḴSEN/Saturna. These videos will feature Traditional Knowledge shared by Elders to illustrate the importance of each of these “relatives of the deep” to W̱SÁNEĆ culture.

➢ For W̱SÁNEĆ People reconnecting with their Homeland that was severed by the impacts of colonization is integral to W̱SÁNEĆ Cultural Resurgence and recognition of their ĆELÁṈEN (world view/birthright). This reconnection will be facilitated with support from Raincoast Conservation’s 66 ft. research vessel Achiever to bring W̱SÁNEĆ Elders and youth to the Islands to shoot the videos with appropriate Covid protocol.

➢ These five videos will provide resources for the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board curriculum to support revitalization of W̱SÁNEĆ People with ÁLEṈENEȻ, their traditional Homeland and can be shared by the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council with W̱SÁNEĆ community members to support reconnection with ṮEṮÁĆES.

➢ Finally the project will include the planning and implementation of community engagement forums on the three Island communities. The forums for each Island will use the island-specific video along with the Whose Land is it and ṮEṮÁĆES animated videos as a focal point for a conversation on how W̱SÁNEĆ Traditional Knowledge can be incorporated in the “preserve and protect” mandate of the Islands Trust to promote resilient and sustainable communities.

For more information contact project co-coordinators:
Tye Swallow, W̱SÁNEĆ School Board – tye@saec.ca
Peter Paré, Community Resources Centre – peter.pare@hli.ubc.ca

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


About the Living Lab logo

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