Featured Photo (Core Production Team @ ĆELÁṈEN TŦE ṮEṮÁĆES Premiere at First People’s House)

On December 11th, the Living Lab community embraced a heartwarming and inspiring public film launch and presentation night, connecting 90-100 attendees at the First Peoples House, Ceremonial Hall at UVIC. 

ĆELÁṈEN TŦE ṮEṮÁĆES, translating to “Birthright/heritage of/to/for our relatives of the deep” in SENĆOŦEN, refers to the islands in the Salish Sea in the traditional territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Coast Salish territory. The film features S,ḴŦAḴ (Mayne) and S,DÁYES (Pender) Islands. The film’s co-directors are SXEDTELISIYE (Renee Sampson) & Tye Swallow from the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board and WSANEC elders. Videographer Alex Harris is from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.



The videos were produced by the ṮEṮÁĆES Revitalization Project, co-led by the Southern Gulf Island Community Resource Centre (CRC) and the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board (WSB) with core funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC. Other funding and in-kind support were provided by several community partners, including the W̱SB, W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council, PEPAKEṈ HÁUTW̱ Foundation, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the Living Lab Network and UVic, the South Pender Historical Society and the Capital Regional District.

The land sovereignty video, in particular, draws upon traditional knowledge and SENĆOŦEN language to help settlers understand that W̱SÁNEĆ people belong to the land and have for time immemorial. The video clearly explains why colonial notions of land ownership do not apply to W̱SÁNEĆ’s relationship with ṮEṮÁĆES.

The evening began with the animated ŦEŦÁĆES Origin story produced by PENAC Underwood, followed by ĆELÁṈEN TŦE ŦEŦÁĆES, a feature video focused on the W̱SÁNEĆ worldview, history and their relationship with their traditional territory focused on ṮELEṮÁĆES (Gulf Islands). 

Respected W̱SÁNEĆ community members, including Elders SELILYEA (Belinda Claxton) and J’SINCTUN (John Elliott) and film animator/artist PENAC Underwood, shared reflections and critical messages, offering visions for the future.

Mavis Underwood

Mavis Underwood

Mavis Underwood, a W̱SÁNEĆ community member and LLab Advisor, discussed her recent Ph.D. research project in ȾIX̱EṈ/ȾEL¸IȽĆ-Cordova Bay, emphasizing the necessity of community-driven archaeology and land-based programs for true decolonization based on justice and healing.

Featured academic knowledge holders from the film included Robert (YELḰATŦE) Clifford, a WSANEC community member and Law Professor at UBC, and Darcy Mathews, EStudies Professor at UVic, who was also present at the premiere. 

The WSANEC School Board recognizes the films’ impact and is committed to making the videos publicly available in the New Year, extending understanding and awareness to a broader audience.

Living Lab would like to thank the event partners for their support in bringing this event to life and everyone who participated in making the evening a success. Thank you!