Conversation Circle~Land Grab? Indigenous plant foraging protocols, relationships and responsibilities

It felt monumental to us in so many ways to be hosting this event — the largest event EartHand has created so far, on themes that are central to our work and often very challenging to bring up.

Facilitator Kamala Todd and speakers Dionne Paul, Bardia Khaledi and Cease Wyss (see bios below, included in original post) shared stories and observations about working with plants, places and people; and how these have informed their ways of being, their ethics, and their approaches in their lives and practices. Respect, relationships, reciprocity, and responsibility (similar to the “Four R’s” of Indigenous Education) were the threads that wove them all together, with the kind but firm reminder that the first step for anyone who wishes to truly build a relationship with the land must also seek relationships with people from the First Nations, who have been stewards since time immemorial. If reconnecting with the land is what we must do in order to become a sustainable society, then decolonization is the first step.

For a more depth, our project witness Kelty McKerracher’s notes can be found here:

Land and Sea Conversation Jan 21 Notes

Original Post:

EartHand is thrilled to be working with Kamala Todd in planning this afternoon of discussion as our next event in the Land & Sea project.

Sunday January 21st 1-4pm

Roundhouse Community Centre 181 Roundhouse Mews

Please reserve your free seat at the circle  here

What are your relationships with the plants of this land? Can anyone just go and forage for the indigenous plants that grow here? What are the protocols and ethical considerations around gathering foods and medicines from this Coast Salish land? Join us for a rich, plant-full conversation that will help get you thinking/sharing about your relationships and responsibilities to this land and to the people who have always lived here.

Our knowledgeable speakers for this event: Cease Wyss, Dionne Paul, Bardia Khaledi. Facilitated and curated by Kamala Todd.

The afternoon begins with learning the technique of thigh spinning nettle fibre and linen tow with Rebecca Graham and Sharon Kallis. Spun fibre will be used for making a fishing net later in the project.

This Conversation Circle is a part of the Land & Sea project and is supported through funding from:

BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver Cultural Services and Vancouver Park Board in partnership with the Roundhouse Community Centre

Dionne PaulDionne Paul (Ximiq) is a proud member of the Nuxalk Nation and Sechelt Nation.

 She completed a Masters of Applied Arts at Emily Carr University and her thesis research focused on traditional special effects in potlatch performances. Through intense investigation she has created a unique lens to view Northwest Coast art and thereby opening a window to new possibilities of art objects and the relationship to performance with her research on the mechanisms behind ceremonial performances.

Her artworks are an investigation into representations of First Nations narratives and situations as well as depictions and ideas that can only be realized in art. Her works feature connections between traditional ways of knowing and the condition of the contemporary First Nations state of being.  She has found successful ways of expressing her love of Northwest Coast form, cultural art object functions and weaves them together to create multilayered pieces that reflect a feminist sensibility with hints of humour to explore erotica, addiction, residential school, and gender roles in ceremony and time.

Bardia (eco tour)(1)Bardia Khaledi holds an M.A. in Anthropology from Simon Fraser University. His thesis explored how devaluation of indigenous knowledge in favour of natural sciences and erasure of indigenous place-making in favour of a Canadian identity have shaped the settlement of this land we called British Columbia. As an educator and qualitative researcher, his work focuses on how knowledge is created, what inclusive environmental education looks like, and why indigenous understanding of this land deserves its own platform. For his botanical workshops and eco-tours, he values hands-on learning that gives participants a sensory understanding of native plants. He does not promote the harvest of native plants, ‘foraging’ or ‘wildcrafting’, which have grown out of local and wild, and pseudo-indigenous food movements.

ceasecedarT’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss is Skwxwu7mesh/Sto:Lo/Irish Metis/Hawaiian/Swiss

T’uy’t’tanat- Cease is an interdisciplinary artist who works with new media, performance and interdisciplinary arts and is a community engaged and public artist.

Her works range over 25 years and have always focused on sustainability, Coast Salish Cultural elements and have included themes of ethnobotany and digital media technology.

Cease is an emerging weaver focusing on a textile art practice through Coast Salish weaving techniques in wool and cedar. She is exploring how Polynesian weaving and interactive art and design can be brought together in her interdisciplinary art practice.

Recent publications include an app that launched through Presentation House and the new Polygon Gallery that focuses on the “Cultural Crossings” between her community and the non-indigenous communities that co-exist in North & West Vancouver; an herbaria publication through the Contemporary Art Gallery, with grade 7 students, focusing on indigenous  plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast; a short story [on her early life with her family looking at fish camp stories] through a publication on food sustenance with local writers; and a collaborative project commissioned by grunt gallery with German artist Hans Winkler. Cease researched and wrote an essay that shows the Hawaiian migrations starting in the early 1700’s through to the early 20th century by focusing on her family history and herstory, based in her mother’s lifelong research. This complements Winkler’s research on the island of Kaho’olawe, whose shared stories of migration and cultural interruption intersect. Her next writing project is a collaboration with her mother, Kultsia- Barbara Wyss, and is a more in depth research project about Hawaiian migrations to the Pacific Northwest Coast, focusing on Kanakas and the Nahanee family.

Cease is a member of the Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast and lives in East Vancouver. She is a beekeeper and community engaged gardener, decolonizing through indigenous women and permaculture.


Kamala Todd is a Metis-Cree community planner who makes films and writes about the stories and cultures layered within the Indigenous lands upon which she is a grateful guest. Born and raised in the beautiful lands of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Skwxwú7mesh-speaking people (also known as Vancouver), she has a Masters degree in Geography (UBC) and an ever-growing list of documentary films and community arts projects. For six years she was the City of Vancouver’s Aboriginal Social Planner, and she continues to work with the City as an independent consultant to help build relationships within the context of (re)conciliation. Kamala’s film credits include Indigenous Plant DivaCedar and Bamboo, and Sharing our Stories: the Vancouver Dialogues Project. She writes and directs for children’s television, including the Indigenous science series Coyote’s Crazy Smart Science Show and the Cree language series Nehiyawetan, both on APTN. In 2015 she completed a video series about Indigenous law for UVic’s Indigenous Law Research Unit. Her most recent published piece is entitled, “This Many-storied Land”, in the 2016 book, In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation. Kamala lives with her partner and two sons on the Sunshine Coast.