On Wednesday June 4th - a crew of 14 HAT volunteers and staff joined with Denis Coupland from Peninsual Streams, Tsartlip First Nation members, and high school students from ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School for the ḰENNES (Hagan/Graham Creek, pronounced qua-nis) Watershed Project on the 9th Annual Senanus Island Restoration Day!
Part of the Tsartlip territory, this sacred island is rebounding with native vegetation through this partnership effort. This year we focused on clearing ivy from existing native groundcovers like salal and Oregon Grape. We also snipped the last of the broom in the meadows and dig up resprouted blackberry. "After seven years of fighting the thickets of Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberries, we can now see flowering shrubs poking out of the edge of the forest and carpets of flowers across the Garry Oak meadows," Denis Coupland said.
SDEMOXELTON (Ian Sam) led a group of students from LAU,WELNEW. The school is located on the Saanich Peninsula near the small community of Brentwood Bay, fifteen kilometres north of Victoria, British Columbia. Nestled in a forest setting on TSARTLIP Reserve, the school serves the WSANEC peoples on four reserves and surrounding communities.
Ray Sam is grandfather of Ian Sam. Ray passed away in 2010, leaving a very small group of SENCOTEN language speakers to maintain their cultural heritage. Tsartlip Elder Anne Sam and language apprentice MENETIYE (Munuthia Elliott) welcomed us to the Island in 2010.
Maintaining the language and the land go hand in hand. SENCOTEN is also now taught for one hour a day to students at LAU,WELNEW in an effort to revive the language. Munuthia is one of six Sencoten language apprentices hoping to become fluent while the eight remaining fluent speakers, most of whom are in their 80's, are still alive.
"The language is like a poem and a song. Everything has a deeper meaning than just the words," Munuthia said.
An example are the words for different types of clams which reflect the traditional story that humans who ran away from the Creator were turned into clams and forced to hide in holes. The word for butter clam translates into “why-are-you-there”, Munuthia said.
SDEMOXELTON (Ian Sam) offered stories that define their relationship to the Island. Ian told one story about the now extinct wool dogs that they used to keep here for fibre.
Click on photos below to read captions.