The Snaw-naw-as mustimuxw who reside in Nanoose Bay, BC, are reaching back to their ancestral roots through the development of a Garden of Spiritual Healing; which is being constructed in memory of the late Chief David Bob.
In the Coast Salish way of life there lies a sacred relationship amongst the people and the natural world based on philosophies that date back thousands of years. These teachings place a high importance on food security, sustainability, and holistic wellbeing.
Chief Bob aspired to bring forward these teachings within the Snaw-naw-as community. Alongside the community, and with support from the elders, he envisioned a setting which would include a space for healthy, nutrition-based learning, traditional and medicinal healing, and an environment for traditional knowledge and cultural sharing.
His vision is now a reality; in 2017 Snaw-naw-as began construction on the Garden of Spiritual Healing, and it has been dedicated to the memory of late Chief Bob.
“Everyone we spoke to wanted to contribute and commemorate Chief Bob, and very quickly we received the funding required to begin construction. In the first year we applied for applicable grants, approached various organizations, and dialogued with other partners to raise funds,” said Donna Edwards, Snaw-naw-as Health Centre Director. “The plans for this sacred space started falling together effortlessly, and as we push forward we will look to constructing additional elements around the garden such as a smokehouse, a traditional cooking pit, and a therapeutic rest area for our elders.”
“Chief Bob visualized a sacred space that would encourage both our youth and our Elders to preserve our culture and language by absorbing traditional knowledge,” continued Ms. Edwards. “When we began this project we saw the limitless opportunities and the garden grew into so much more. We knew that offering educational courses like culinary classes and gardening, and tours for the interested public would make good use of this beautiful space.”
Workshops, presentations and community gatherings led by local Elders and traditional knowledge keepers from the communities will share teachings (snuwuyulh) regarding traditional plants, medicines, and resources that were historically used, where to find them, and how to prepare them.
Culinary programs will focus on how to prepare and harvest the produce in traditional ways, and create recipes utilizing traditional cooking methods such as the cooking-pit, BBQ, and smokehouse.
“The garden will be a place where our knowledge keepers and elders can teach and pass along their wisdom, and inspire all people young and old the higher respect, philosophies and values embedded within our culture and how to live the good way of life by taking care of our minds, bodies, and spirits,” said Lawrence Mitchell, Snaw-naw-as Councillor.
“Within our history, our language, and our stories we have strong relationships and intimate connections tied to these sacred lands, and as we embark on the journey to acquire this ancient wisdom we will establish ourselves with greater understandings of each of the four seasons, and draw on the strength of our ancestors in this modern age,” continued Mr. Mitchell.
“Community meals will be a featured highlight of the garden: the ancient pastime of bringing everyone together over a meal will uplift our families, especially from produce and food grown within our community. Any excess produce we have is harvested and distributed to the community,” said Ms. Edwards. “This garden will be a place that keeps on giving, just like the ways of old, and in the spirit of the late Chief Bob – his memory will live on in this space.”
“We have plans to include an arched entrance to the gardens that will welcome people into the Garden of Spiritual Healing, and this entrance will feature the members of the community who partnered and supported the construction of the garden. It was, and is, a partnership with the community that helped to make this vision a reality,” said Graham Sakaki, Research and Community Engagement Coordinator at VIU
TimberWest is honoured to support the construction of Snaw-Naw-As Garden of Spiritual Healing in memory of Chief David Bob.