Summer 2016 Update from Kitasoo/Xai'xais Community School

The 2016 summer SEAS Internship in Klemtu saw many activities packed into a fun-filled creative‐learning summer for the interns that we hope touched not only their lives, but those around them too.  

  • Our highlight of the summer was designing and painting the first pictograph in the Kitasoo/Xai’xais territory in living memory. This is a project we have been developing within the summer SEAS program for three years and we are so happy to see it through to completion. 
  • We held a traditional pit cook on a remote island on which we know the Kitasoo nation historically cooked in the same way.  A new canoe was brought into the community and we completed a canoe journey into the territory, to a river known as Mussel Inlet. The five-day trip included overnight camps in bear country and wildlife viewing from the canoe, including grizzly bears, humpback whales, stellar sea lions, river otters, and eagles. It was magnificent!
  • We enjoyed spending time with professionals including world renowned ethnobotanist Dr. Nancy Turner, berry expert Fiona Hamersley‐Chambers, archaeologist Aurora Skala, conservation scientist Christina Service, and BC’s leading trail builder Daniel Scott. 
  • Other activities this summer included drum making with Chief Ninkamasu - Harvey Robinson, traditional stories with Chief Hemas Nismuutk – Charlie Mason, traditional art workshop with Dorman Joseph, medicine harvesting and preparation with elders, creating trails and providing biking clinics and workshops with the Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program,  cultural exchange  with visits to Hartley Bay and Bella Bella, visits to areas of cultural and historical importance such as ancient big houses, totem poles, and village sites in the territory, traditional food harvest and preparation (including salmon and crab fishing, berry picking, and digging for traditional roots) plus dance and performance workshops with the Lelala dance troupe leader George Taylor. 
  • Nature Conservancy Magazine’s Director of Photography Melissa Ryan and photojournalist Jason Houston led an inspiring five‐day visual storytelling workshop with our interns. TNC Canada provided the interns with Canon PowerShot cameras and explored a range of topics both in the classroom and practical sessions in the field. Through master tuition and personal advice for each of the interns, we enjoyed a spectacular week of learning and inspiration, from which participants of the program have gone on to purchase their own SLR camera to pursue photography. Whilst in the community, the Conservancy team worked hard to put on a gallery event for the community, in which interns’ photos from the week were printed and displayed with a five-minute presentation from each of the interns highlighting their work. This had not been done in Klemtu before and reaching out to the community in this way has inspired many other community members to pick up a camera and to begin to use it in a creative manner.