“This summer was met with new highs and new learning opportunities as we navigated our way through the youth-led project for the revitalization of traditional reefnet fishing (SXOLE).

This is the third summer that the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council has organized this project to take place. Over the years we have experienced a lot of trial and error trying to acquire all the knowledge we can to properly build and set our net in the south-facing bay of Pender Island, at the location of SX̱IX̱ŦE, which is just off the shore from QENINIW̱, also known as poets cove.

Each year, we continue to learn more and expand our knowledge with the help of our knowledge holders, elders, and relatives from other Salish Straits communities who also practiced reef netting. The first year, we focused on building our net and mentally and physically preparing ourselves for our 4-hour paddle to QENINIW̱. During our second year, we took our mistakes from the previous year and our newfound knowledge to become more familiar with our net, and the tides, and to avoid any entanglements with the net while we were setting it.

This year, we learned we needed to make more adjustments to our net as it wasn’t setting in the water properly, so we needed to add more buoys and heavier led lines in order to make it more efficient to catch fish.

Throughout the last 3 years we have learned and acquired knowledge of the SXOLE through learning from our mistakes, and teamwork; being involved in this work is an honour, and it gives you a new perspective on how intelligent and aware our ancestors were of the environment around us as they used the knowledge that was thousands and thousands of years old to carry out these traditions, and they solely relied on natural resources to execute these tasks.

It is amazing to see how communities have come together to see and make this happen, and I genuinely believe it is healing work to be involved in. Youth Reef Net workers have come so far in the past 3 years, and I would love to continue watching this legacy continue for our people and our future generations to come.