Eco-Cultural Restoration and the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Photo: Nathan Cardinal
Photo: Nathan Cardinal.

The Listening to the Sea, Looking to the Future: Clam Garden Restoration Project is a five-year initiative led by Hul’q’umi’num and WSÁNEĆ nations and Parks Canada. The purpose of the project is to study the ecological and social  impacts of Coast Salish mariculture techniques on cultural landscapes  in the southern Gulf Islands.

Launched in 2013, the project aims to restore and manage two “clam garden” sites according to the traditional practices of Hul’q’umi’num and WSÁNEĆ peoples. Elders and knowledge holders guide this work while Parks Canada scientists monitor changes  to the intertidal ecosystem.

The project has two overarching goals. First, to determine whether or not  “clam gardens” can be used as an effective resource management tool within the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (GINPR), and; second, to facilitate opportunities for Coast Salish peoples to  engage with their ancestral territories and practice their traditional harvesting rights within the GINPR.

06-07-2016-wsanec-science-and-culture-camp-hugo-wong-78
Photo: Hugo Wong/ Parks Canada.

The project is now entering year 4.  Over it’s short lifetime, it has grown and evolved in several ways. For example:

  •  It has been the focus of several university research projects, including 3 graduate master’s theses (Royal Roads University & Simon Fraser University) and 2 undergraduate capstone projects (Northwest Indian College);
  • Each spring it has played host to an annual science and cultural camp for youth and Elders from Hul’q’umi’num and WSÁNEĆ nations. Last year’s event saw over 200 students, from kindergarten to adult immersion, visit the site over two days, and;
  • It helped launch several extensive knowledge-sharing events within Coast Salish nations, which led to the creation of the Stutu’na’mut Report: Caring for our Beaches prepared by the Hul’q’umi’num-Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Committee (publication in progress).

Data collection and analysis alongside ongoing active management and restoration will continue to be the focus of the project for the next two years.

Inquiries about the project, including volunteer and research opportunities, can be directed to gulf.islands@pc.gc.ca.

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