The new limited-edition storybook aims to restore the connection between KELL̵OLEMEĆEN and W̱SÁNEĆ people.
Open the new storybook by the QENTOL, YEN/ W̱SÁNEĆ Marine Guardians Program (the Marine Guardians) and you’ll be delighted by the vibrant, pop-art style illustrations of each of the Marine Guardians and graphics of KELL̵OLEMEĆEN, also known as killer whales. The story draws in readers of all ages with fun facts about three types of KELL̵OLEMEĆEN presented using key terms in SENĆOŦEN. The book is called KELL̵OLEMEĆEN: The Introduction, and is intended to be the first in a series of storybooks by the Marine Guardians.
KELL̵OLEMEĆEN: The Introduction isn’t your average storybook. It is part of the Marine Guardians’ ongoing effort to restore the connection between KELL̵OLEMEĆEN and W̱SÁNEĆ people, a critical mission considering only 73 KELL̵OLEMEĆEN remain.
Operating from a yellow, 40-foot shipping container just minutes from the Tsartlip reserve boat ramp, the Marine Guardians are a new but quickly-growing initiative of the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council. They work “to revive a NEW BEGINNING of monitoring which our ancestors did throughout the Salish Sea since time immemorial.” The program is run by Senior Manager David Dick, with critical guidance from the SRKW Committee. While much of theMarine Guardians’ work focuses on preserving and monitoring various aspects of the habitat and food supply of the KELL̵OLEMEĆEN, they also work to “raise awareness of the relationship between W̱SÁNEĆ people and KELL̵OLEMEĆEN” through cultural initiatives such as KELL̵OLEMEĆEN: The Introduction.
One of the Marine Guardians – Patrick Elliot – speaks to this important cultural component of the work, explaining he views the role of the Marine Guardians as restoring “the relationship between the KELL̵OLEMEĆEN and the W̱SÁNEĆ people, and also working with like-minded allies to help the whales thrive and protect them from the impacts of the industry.” Marine Guardian Maxwell Pelkey echoed a similar sentiment, stating “[I want to] work towards hopefully restoring the bond that we as First Nations people had with the KELL̵OLEMEĆEN at one point. I just want to all around do my best to do what’s best for the whales.”
For Senior Manager David Dick, the storybook is also a way to give back to the educators who helped him become the person he is today. Dick hopes the new storybook – which intentionally includes one word in SENĆOŦEN on every page – will supplement the already-impressive work the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board is already doing. Dick stated, “[the storybook] is for anyone interested in learning SENĆOŦEN and to help the language holders at the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board who are already doing an amazing job.” He hopes it will “be an asset to help share the culture, language, and sacred connection with the whales,” especially considering “not everyone can see the whales firsthand.”
Dick’s goal is to release a new storybook every year to help W̱SÁNEĆ youth and others who are interested to learn SENĆOŦEN and develop a relationship with KELL̵OLEMEĆEN in a fun and accessible way. He envisions future books will include cultural stories about particular KELL̵OLEMEĆEN from W̱SÁNEĆ knowledge holders.
A limited number of print copies of KELL̵OLEMEĆEN: The Introduction are now available for purchase for $9.50 CAD. The KELL̵OLEMEĆEN: The Introduction audiobook is in progress and will be available in the coming months.