First Nations Connections
The Lagoon Society has always honored the traditions and knowledge of the shíshálh First Nation and we are fortunate to have come together on many occasions over the years.
Dionne Paul, ancestral name ximiq (the first eyelash of sunshine that comes over the mountain in the morning), is a shíshálh and Nuxalk artist, creator, teacher and visionary. Dionne created the Female Welcoming Pole and Copper Weaving Loom at the Iris Griffith Centre. Our Nature School program begins each day with the children circling around the figure in the morning to honour the shíshálh First Nation territory, and at the end of the day they raise their hands in thanks. Dionne also welcomed our patron, the Lieutenant Governor of BC, the Honourable Judith Guichon and her 120 Stewards of the Future to the Centre in June.
Candace Campo, ancestral name xets’emits’a (to always be there), trained as an anthropologist and school teacher, has been a great supporter of the Lagoon Society since its inception, and has attended and actively participated in many of our events. She gave the blessing and key speech at our Biodiversity Summit and shared the story of her childhood experiences growing up on the coast at our BioBlitz a few years ago, which she wrote especially for us. We are extremely thankful that Candace has chosen to share her beautiful culture with us in so many ways.
Andy Johnson, ancestral name xwamstut, drum and dance performer and shashishalhem language teacher, has visited the Iris Griffith Centre on many field trips. Andy shares songs, stories and teaches us the pronunciation of many shashishalhem words for us to learn while out on the trails around the lagoon. As Lee-Ann Ennis remembers, “On a field trip to Smugglers Cove with Chris Allen’s Kinnikinnick Elementary class, we went in search of fish traps made by First Nations. While down on the beach, the story of the ‘Spring of the Gods’ was retold. We sang and Andy drummed, the sound of the children dancing in the mussel shell beach was unforgettable.”
Jessica Silvey, Red Cedar Woman, of Coast Salish and Portuguese decent, specializes in cedar weaving and shows visiting school children how to weave. Jess stops into the Iris Griffith Centre and weaves cedar with students on her way to see family in Egmont. She enjoys taking secondary school students on medicinal plant walks, for instance around the Ambrose Lake Ecological Reserve. Jessica shares stories about many species of plants that her people have collected as food and medicine for generations.
Rita Poulsen is a shashishalhem Coast Salish language teacher. She joined us as part of her teaching practicum at the Iris Griffith Centre in 2005. On a special canoe journey with Pender Harbour Secondary Students and teachers in the fall of 2016, Rita shared stories of shíshálh nation in Pender Harbour (kálpilín).
In 2010, the Lagoon Society was invited to collaborate with BC Parks and shíshálh members on a silviculture project for nearly 18 months as part of a Roosevelt Elk habitat project in the Caren
Range, Spipiyus Provincial Park.