November 2011, a new VIPIRG research focus on Indigenous sovereignty was initiated within a seven month research position. The research work includes Indigenous food sovereignty within the local ancestral lands of the Lekwungen. VIPIRG is working in alliance with the Community Tool Shed which includes Indigenous people and allies working together to reinstate Kwetlal (camas) food systems (Garry Oak Ecosystem).
The Lekwungen people have harvested, prepared and traded Kwetlal for thousands of years. Their ancestral lands were known for their Kwetlal food and trade system. It was the Lekwungen women that sculptured the Kwetlal food system with traditional management which includes weeding, harvesting and burning.
Community Tool Shed
This initiative is a current and on-going work of a member of the Lekwungen community whom is inviting Indigenous people and allies to work together in reinstating the Kwetlal food system. This food system has over 150 years of colonial impacts including: cultural oppression, landscape change (land development); pollution, and invasion of invasive plant species. Today the Kwetlal food system is less than 5% of it Indigenous state prior to colonial contact. This 5% remains threatened and weakened by supressing culture roles; continued fragmenting of the food system in to smaller land areas; and invasion of alien colonial plant species.
“The Garry Oak Ecosytem is a living artifact of my ancestors. The Lekwungen people will continue to harvest and pitcook Kwetlal for many years to come. Its importance is vital to our history, traditions and future roles and responsibilities. There is still so much work to do in regards to reinstating Kwetlal food system and cultural roles.” Cheryl Bryce, 2011.
Once a month, Cheryl Bryce organizes an invasive plant species pull. For more information or how to get involved, please contact Cheryl Bryce by email. Contact info here.
Restoring Camas and Culture to Lekwungen and Victoria: An interview with Lekwungen Cheryl Bryce (by Briony Penn, Focus Magazine, June 2006)
Down2Earth 1.3 – Cheryl Bryce (youtube link)
Cheryl Bryce has been harvesting traditional plants with her grandmother and mother since she was a child. She is a leader in reviving the camas, a nutritious bulb that has been harvested by Coast Salish people on Vancouver Island for thousands of years. Cheryl demonstrates how camas bulbs are harvested.