Almanac: Eslhalha7kw’hiwus

Earthand Gleaners is grateful to  TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Vancouver Parks Board: Arts, Culture and Engagement Department. This support has allowed Eslhalha7kw’hiwus: Rewilding an Urban Community to unfold as a seasonal almanac residency with  Ms. Persoon’s grade 6/7 class from Lord Strathcona Elementary School.

The text below explains our hopes and plans for a project of ongoing and guided seasonal discovery at Trillium North from December 2015 through 2016. Please follow the ‘Month Pages’ as they appear to  see how this project unfolds.

Eslhalha7kwhiws: ReWilding an Urban Community

Eslhalha7kwhiws is a Squamish word describing how our lines are all connected: to each other, the land, the plants, and our ancestors. This word has been shared with us by Squamish language keeper Rebecca Duncan, who had it from her late father. We thank Rebecca for sharing it with us, and allowing us to honour the spirit of ancestors here.

Eslhalha7kwhiws encompasses the project intention: teaching children what respect for nature can be by building a personal relationship to a specific place through traditional hand-based skills, direct observation, scientific method and First Nation protocol.

Students are called to witness seasonal change by Henry Charles (Musqueam Elder). Working with eco-artists  Rebecca Graham and Sharon Kallis at Trillium North Park, the grade 6/7 class visit “their spot” weekly to observe, note plant life-cycles, plant relationships other natural phenomena. Drawings and sketchbook entries record observations. Group foraging, materials testing and weaving exercises develop. Visiting guests Squamish language holder Rebecca Duncan and Squamish weaver Tracy Williams both complement and  deepen the experience of the project with their knowledge and skill sharing.

Seasonal awareness builds through ongoing ecological observation as core hand technologies (splitting, making rope, braiding and weaving) are taught. These skills linked with scientific methods: forming hypothesis and posing questions such as, why does rain fall influence the plant properties when I work with it? What happens if I harvest this month versus next? Cultural investigations are pursued such as the plant’s historical and traditional significance.

Then students collaborate: building mobiles using their weaving from plant investigations. The class set of seasonal forager almanacs become a legacy of the learning and observation process.