Tag Archive for: WSANEC


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!


Desiree Jones

Reflections by W̱SÁNEĆ  –  Lummi Nation Member 
Desiree Jones

Breaking colonial boundaries and creating space to be back out on our traditional homelands is an approach to foster healing and reconciliation into existence; through this we can also reconnect with our relatives who reside across those border boundaries, as well as reconnecting and becoming familiar with the land that our ancestors often resided on and held knowledge of. Recently I had the opportunity to go to W̱ȾȺ,EMEṈ with the W̱SÁNEĆ Secondary School, Living Lab, White Swan Environmental, as well as Western Washington University. By bringing our W̱SÁNEĆ and Lummi communities together we were able to share songs, stories, and language, all of which are a direct connection to our ĆELAṈEN — our past, our identities, and our ancestors.

These aspects alone play a vital role within the healing and mending of these connections that we hold as First Nations. Through this experience I was able to create many connections not only with our SĆÁLEĆE, but also with the land and my history as a W̱SÁNEĆ woman, and continuing to create opportunities such as this for the youth and future generations is a testimony to our resilience which can dismantle the barriers that were placed upon us by colonialism. W̱ȾȺ,EMEṈ will not only hold a place in my heart, but also the youth who will be the future generations to keep carrying on our traditions of getting out to our ṮEṮÁĆES.”


ByDesiree Jones, W̱SÁNEĆ and Lummi Nation. W̱SÁNEĆ School Board Senior Language Apprentice and Living Lab – WSB staff  liaison