Ethnobotanical gardens are landscapes that feature culturally relevant native trees and understory plants while also functioning as places that revitalize traditional knowledge. We are happy to announce that the PEPÁḴEṈ HÁUTW̱ Foundation, W̱SÁNEĆ artists, W̱SÁNEĆ Curator Rose Spahan, the Mayne Island Conservancy, and the Campbell Bay Music Festival Society are planning a new ethnobotanical garden for Mayne Island. It will be located on the Mayne Island Agricultural Society Museum and thrift shop grounds on Fernhill Road, and it is expected to be complete by the summer of 2024. To officially launch the project on August 28th, Tsartlip / W̱JOȽEȽP Elder J’SINTEN / Dr. John Elliot visited the site and sang a song that had come to him about working together to grow the garden. It was J’SINTEN’s great grandmother SEXSOXELWET / Cecilia Elliott-Cooper who met with the government agent in 1877 to affirm that SḴŦAḴ was her family patrimony. Helen Point is their family reef-net fishing site called ŚKELAMEKS, and Miners Bay is their ÁLELEN / village site.
The ethnobotany garden project is part of ŚTEṈIST ȻENTOL EȻSIÁ TĆÁNȻE / ’Walking Forward with the Past’ reconciliation project which has received funding from the BC Arts Council, the CRD Arts Commission, and the provincial 150 Time Immemorial Fund through Heritage BC. Island partners include the groups listed above as well as the W̱SÁNEĆ Elders. The garden will feature a variety of native plants and will include a permanent outdoor W̱SÁNEĆ art exhibit.
While visiting Mayne Island at the end of August, the project partners watched three new W̱SÁNEĆ films about the Southern Gulf Islands with one titled ‘SḴŦAḴ,’ the W̱SÁNEĆ name for our island. MLA Adam Olsen sent his congratulations and best wishes saying: “I am impressed with the vision and work of the Mayne Island community to build a stronger relationship with W̱SÁNEĆ people; one that recognizes the rich heritage and traditions of the first people of this territory”. For more on the language and pronunciation go to First Voices SENĆOŦEN.