The WLC is pleased to announce that progress has been made toward reclaiming W̱SÁNEĆ deer hunting practices throughout the W̱SÁNEĆ territory.

Training and mentoring workshops with both classroom and hands-on outdoor portions started this September. Attendees are provided with the skills, certifications, and knowledge needed to hunt safely in accordance with W̱SÁNEĆ cultural practices.

Traditionally, for the W̱SÁNEĆ people, deer hunting would occur during PEXSISEN (the Moon of Opening Hands from mid-March to mid-April) and SXÁNEL (the Bullhead Moon from mid-April to May). During these moons, deer and elk hunting occurs alongside other W̱SÁNEĆ harvesting activities, such as: gathering the first salmonberries, thimbleberries, blackberries, and black caps of the season; fishing for SX̱AN,EȽ (bullheads) among the rocks on the foreshore; and, sometimes hunting porpoises.

Today, due to generations of colonial intrusion, some W̱SÁNEĆ cultural practices have been disrupted. The goal of the courses offered by the WLC is to ensure that young people have the skills necessary to practice W̱SÁNEĆ cultural ways and exercise their Douglas Treaty rights. The workshops cover a comprehensive range of topics perfect for a novice or beginner hunter. Everything is taught from basic firearm safety, to honouring the deer, to preparing the carcass for transportation and consumption.

The first weekend long session, a CORE Hunting Safety Course was a resounding success: Just loved it 👍 thank you for offering this course” said attendee Elizabeth H. on the W̱SÁNEĆ Facebook Page

Elizabeth Hermsen and David Elliott practice safe firearm handling

Up next is the Possession and Acquisition Licence Workshop, which takes place on October 12th and 13th from 9am to 4pm in the Tsawout Multipurpose Room. Attendees will learn everything they need to legally acquire and possess firearms for hunting. To register, leave a message here, or contact eric.pelkey@ 

Once safety and firearms licensing has been covered, the next step is taking new hunters on a supervised hunting trip within the Gulf Islands. Ensuring that W̱SÁNEĆ youth have access to W̱SÁNEĆ hunting territories is a priority of the WLC.  

Howard Morris, James Jimmy, Michael Jimmy, Simon Smith Jr., Bob Pelkey and Carl Olsen have all volunteered to help students track and take down the invasive fallow deer that have overrun the territory. Additionally, W̱SÁNEĆ youth will learn how to butcher, prepare, season and take home their kills. The hunting trip is planned for spring on Sidney Island, TELXOLU.

These courses are provided as part of the SḰŦÁMEN QENÁȽ,ENEȻ SĆȺ – Sidney Island Ecological Restoration Project, a collaborative effort between the WLC and Parks Canada to restore W̱SÁNEĆ cultural hunting practices and control the invasive fallow deer population.  

Community programs coordinator W̱IĆKINEM (Eric Pelkey) said 

“The CORE Hunting Safety Course was just the beginning of a wider initiative called ₭E₭OUESEN to restore the traditional ways of hunting, honourably, with respect to the deer. One of our main goals is to help provide sustenance, to help people feed their families.”

Although W̱SÁNEĆ community members do not need a license to fish or hunt in the territory, the WLC wants to help W̱SÁNEĆ community members feel safe and supported exercising their Douglas Treaties throughout W̱SÁNEĆ territory. As a result, the WLC has offered CORE certificate courses that teach safe hunting practices and the PAL (Possession and Acquisition License) that enables hunters to legally purchase firearms and ammunition. The WLC is committed to empowering community members to exercise their Douglas Treaty rights safely. 

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