This Place Is Who We Are profiles Indigenous communities in central and northern coastal BC that are reconnecting to their lands and waters—and growing and thriving through this reconnection.
Indigenous peoples and cultures are integrally connected to the land. Well-being in every sense—physical, social, environmental, economic, spiritual and cultural—depends on that relationship, which is based on a fundamental concept: when the land is well, so are the people.
With increasing strength, Indigenous peoples in this vast region of BC—which spans the homelands of more than two dozen First Nations and one of the largest remaining coastal temperate rainforests in the world—are restoring what has been lost through environmental depredation and healing what has been devastated by colonization.
This volume is a collection of ten of these inspiring stories. X̱aayda voices explain how their Rediscovery camps are healing and empowering their youth; Dzawada̱’enuxw Hereditary Chief Maxwiyalidizi K’odi Nelson shares the story of building a healing centre and ecolodge; Wei Wai Kum Chief Christopher Roberts describes the challenges and opportunities for an urban First Nation looking to prosper while protecting the environment and ancient Ligʷiłdaxʷ history and living cultural values; and many more Indigenous leaders share their own experiences of growth, strength and reconnection.
Thoughtful and inspiring, This Place Is Who We Are illustrates what can be accomplished when conservation and stewardship are inextricably intertwined with the prosperity and well-being of communities.
About the authors
Katherine Palmer Gordon is the author of five books of non-fiction, including several BC Bestsellers: The Slocan: Portrait of a Valley, The Garden That You Are, and Made to Measure: A History of Land Surveying in British Columbia, for which she was awarded the 2007 BC Haig-Brown prize. She is also an award-winning freelance journalist and lives on Gabriola Island, BC.
Dallas Smith has roots from all four corners of the Kwak̓wala speaking peoples with his mother coming from Haxwa’mis (Wakeman Sound) and Tsakis (Fort Rupert) and his father coming from G̱wayasdums (Gilford Island) and Qalagwees (Tourner Island). He’s spent the majority of his career working to bring greater well-being and capacity to the Nations of the Great Bear Rainforest (GBR). As one of the architects of the GBR agreements and as the Founder and President of Na̲nwak̲olas Council he has built positive working relationships with all levels of government, industry, and the philanthropic community to find balance between conservation and sustainable economic development. He lives in Duncan, BC.
“Katherine Palmer Gordon, a consummate listener, weaves a powerful tapestry of ten First Nations people, deeply grounded in land, memory and story. Their lives honour the inextinguishable inter-connectedness of humans and nature, in righteous defiance of colonization. These are stories that point to an optimistic future based on the teachings of Ancestors and Elders with a view to making the world better for children, grandchildren and children yet to come. To do this, human wellbeing and land protection must be inseparable. This book is an encounter with wonderful people doing wonderful things. This Place is Who We Are is an invitation to hope for a better society, a better world, featuring ten people creating it. I thank the contributors and Katherine Palmer Gordon for engaging in a visionary conversation.”
Shelagh Rogers, O.C. Host/Producer of <i>The Next Chapter</i>, CBC Radio One, Honorary Witness, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
“An astute facilitator of Indigenous governmental relationships and reconciliation, Katherine Palmer Gordon is also an award-winning writer, and a very good listener who earns trust. These deeply personal accounts of Indigenous cultural rediscovery, empowerment—and healing in a post-colonial world—are truly inspiring. Steeped in ancient connections with the land, the shared wisdom and vision of elders, youth and community leaders offer timely lessons for a healthier, more respectful relationship between people, wildlife and our planet. This is good medicine for all.”
Mark Forsythe, Co-author of <i>The Trail of 1858: British Columbia's Gold Rush Past</i> and former CBC Radio host
“A beautiful collection of stories and lived experiences! Each with gentle and loving reminders of our sacred connections to each other, the land and water and all living beings. Individually, these stories are inspiring, hopeful and thought provoking. As a collection, majestically woven together by Katherine Palmer Gordon, they have the potential to change hearts and minds of readers, decision makers and future generations.”
Monique Gray Smith