At my non-profit job, we’ve been launching into a new initiative based at our field site in the Koeye River Watershed. Recognizing the interconnectedness of the relationships between our people, our territory, and the key species we rely on, we’ve launched a strong Salmon Stewardship Program under our Coastwatch Heiltsuk Monitoring Initiative to ensure we’re managing this important resource with the best tools and information at our disposal.
An exciting element of this Salmon Stewardship work is our fish weir project. Supervised by Salmon Program Coordinator Will Atlas with assistance from some amazing folks at Hakai Beach Institute, this involves the construction of a cedar- and alder-wood weir across the whole width of the Koeye River above tidewater, which allows our team of Heiltsuk technicians to count every individual sockeye heading upstream. As far as our ongoing theme of “consilience” goes, this represents an incredible overlap between IK (indigenous knowledge) and western science. We’re combining the soundest elements of both in order to achieve better stewardship outcomes in our territory, and it’s exciting to be a part of it!
I’d like to invite you to check out an amazing little video from our friend and colleague Ilja Herb, who joined us during the construction stages of the weir project and is currently on his way back up the coast to film its operation. This video will give you a beautiful, visual introduction to the project, and there’s more to come as the summer progresses!
If you feel compelled to make a donation, your support has a huge impact at this scale. You can donate online, or contact my office for more information.
This May, I was privileged to co-instruct a field course with a dear friend and colleague, Dr. Chris Darimont, through UVic’s Department of Geography. Along with 15 bright and amazing students, we explored the theme of consilience – in particular, how western science and indigenous knowledge can run parallel or even overlap to achieve stronger stewardship objectives.
It was my first experience teaching. And it was magical. Together, we explored many of the landscapes that are dearest to my heart: Koeye, Hakai, and Goose Island. Students brought diverse backgrounds to bear on the values, ideas and solutions common to biology, ecology, environmental studies, geography, First Nations studies, resource management, political science, and even my background in literature.
What I want to share is this: Meaningful and authentic collaboration is possible. It has a language and a grammar that root our conversations in respect. It has basic principles that guide our interactions and teach us to navigate a route together. It is multidisciplinary, it is exciting, and it is a process that is never completed. That’s where the sweetness lies.
The other thing I want to share is this: The fifteen students who participated in our class are already leaders in their field, and they are growing to be experts on collaboration and engagement, authenticity and respect, and yes, on consilience. It was a pleasure dear to my heart to share this time with Chris, and I’m deeply grateful for everyone who was so gentle with me as I walked this path with them.