On February 8th from 12 PM to 6 PM, the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council (WLC) opened the doors of its offices for its second annual Open House.

A group of W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council staff stand together.

Shown above the WLC team. From the back left row: Shelly Selivanov, David (SUMÉ,t) Dick, Dan Baker, Mathias William-Sampson, Patrick Elliott, Eric Pelkey, Eryn Rogers, Joni Olsen, Laurie Whitehead, Shauna Johnson, Marla Sampson, Gord Elliot.

The Open House provided community members with an opportunity to meet the WLC team in person and to learn more about how the WLC is working to advance the interests and rights of W̱SÁNEĆ with the entities that operate in W̱SÁNEĆ territory.

WLC staff members provided attendees with in-depth presentations regarding their work on behalf of the W̱SÁNEĆ. Each WLC team member shared vibrant, detailed poster boards covered in photos and engaged the audience with fun, informative multimedia presentations.

Laurie Whitehead, Referrals Manager for the WLC, gave a presentation about the Proposed Road Work at Goldstream. Laurie also offered an accompanying survey, providing the community with an opportunity to offer feedback. Whitehead also discussed her role as the Referral Manager, explaining that she works to make sure development projects involving digging are carried out in a way that is respectful to W̱SÁNEĆ land and sacred objects. In her own words, she does “a lot of work with the community & elder cultural workers to have the right people appointed,” and, through collaborations with GINPR, the CRD, and the District of Saanich, Whitehead works to ensure all projects involving digging have a Cultural Monitor present. Cultural Monitors, Whitehead describes, “are somewhat similar to archaeologists but have more of a spiritual component.”

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council Referral's Manager Laurie whitehead poses.

Shown left: Laurie Whitehead, Referrals Manager for the WLC

Joni Olsen, the Policy and Negotiations Manager for the WLC, gave a presentation on the WLC’s governance structure, rights, and vision. Her presentation included a discussion of past and current oppressive policies, treaty implementation, reconciliation, and access, as well as a long-term vision for the future of the community.

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council Policy and Negations Manager Joni Olsen points to a whiteboard.

Shown left: Policy and Negotiations Manager Joni Olsen.

Shauna Johnson, Marine Use Planner for the WLC, gave a presentation on her work with the W̱SÁNEĆ Marine and Land Use Plan. Johnson explained she is figuring out what could be mapped better and identifying potential land use conflicts and opportunities. In her words, “We’re going back through our history and saying ‘yes, we’ve been through a lot, but we’re still here, and here are some strengths we can build on.’”

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council's Marine Use Planner Shauna Johnson stand on front of a WLC sign.

Shown above: Shauna Johnson next to the WLC’s Banner

W̱EM,LEŚELWET (Hannah Morris), the Knowledge Weaver Coordinator for the WLC, gave a presentation on Knowledge Weaving. “Knowledge Weaving is sharing oral history with my people and peoples across the South Pacific,” shared W̱EM,LEŚELWET. “It is also a way of reconnecting with the land and locations we were removed from as a people.” “Knowledge Weaving happens,” she explained, “through oral history, land-based learning, and cross-pacific knowledge sharing.”

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council's Knowledge Weaver Coordinator W̱EM,LEŚELWET (Hannah Morris) stands by her presentation.

Shown left: W̱EM,LEŚELWET (Hannah Morris) next to her visual presentation

Eric Pelkey, Community Engagement Coordinator for the WLC, gave a photo-filled presentation highlighting several of WLC’s 2023 projects. Pelkey discussed the multi-step process of removing the invasive fallow deer from SḰŦÁMEN and restoring the Island to ecological health, for example, a project that saw significant progress in 2023. Additionally, Pelkey discussed the salmon ceremony held on August 8th, 2023 and the subsequent launch of the reef net later that day. The 2023 reef net launch was the culmination of the fourth annual reef net fishing program led by W̱SÁNEĆ Youth to revive the practice.

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council's Community Engagement Coordinator Eric Pelkey sits in front of his presentation.

Shown above: Eric Pelkey, Community Engagement Coordinator for the WLC

Finally, Gord Elliott, Director of Operations and Co-Founder of the WLC, presented some crucial information related to the WLC’s Five Year Strategic Plan, Constitution, Mandate, Governance Structure, and the Saanich Territorial Declaration. This information is essential for anyone who wants to understand the WLC’s objectives and how it functions.

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council's Director of Operations Gord Elliott's trifold presentation.
W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council's Director of Operations Gord Elliott works on a computer.

Shown above: Gord Elliot

Other WLC staff in attendance included WLC Policy Analyst Eryn Rogers, who works as one of the Co-Chairs for the Indigenous Management Board’s Technical Committee and supports work on reorganizing Gulf Islands National Park Reserve among other important projects. Additional topics presented included the W̱SÁNEĆ mandate and constitution and the W̱SÁNEĆ Lands Trust Society.

W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council's Policy Analyst Eryn Rogers works on a computer.

Shown above: Eryn Rogers, Policy Analyst for the WLC

Just like last year, Open House attendees were offered refreshments, door prizes and a copy of the updated Annual Report to take home, review, and share.

The WLC is grateful for this opportunity to connect with community and looks forward to future opportunities to collaboratively build a brighter future for W̱SÁNEĆ.

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