#TreasuringStrathcona: Garden Trails

Janey and Jay hosted an afternoon of activities for the kids at the Strathcona childcare centre on the pro-d day on April 29. Both these artists are really connected with the wild, and the ideas that seem to have resonated most strongly with them in this project are of how the land and waters looked and the vegetal, bird, fish and animal life that shared it with the First Nations before contact; and how maps can be reconsidered and decolonized. Both Janey and Jay are highly skilled in working with kids, and I was deeply impressed at the way they created a range of sensory experiences and used the idea of footprints to bring in the idea of mapmaking and being on the land. As the kids came out in their age cohort groups, the artists led them first in some circling-up activities, getting into their bodies, imagining the animals that lived here, and introducing the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim (Squamish language) words for many of them (Janey has worked with Delmar and Tracy Williams in the Squamish Language Immersion Program, and though she doesn’t have as many Halkomelem words, she also counts Shane Point of Musqueam as one of her mentors). After the introduction, the kids were invited to visit the stations that were set up: making and drinking tea from stinging nettles, chocolate mint and lemon balm; weaving fish out of English ivy; and stencilling animal silhouettes and footprints onto a collaborative painting, creating rich and suggestive layers.

Janey knew of a phrase in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sníchim that she wanted to have associated with the painting, “na7 tkwi kwekwíń…”, meaning ‘in the long ago…” So in the weeks following April 29, I used my soldering iron to burn the text and translation into the wood panel of the painting.

Source of fire… always a huge hit with the kids! Managed skillfully by experienced backcountry leader Janey
All ages were curious about the different flavours of chocolate mint, lemon balm, and once cooked, the nettle too
Sometimes it’s the simple things that are most engaging; in this case, picking the leaves off the stems for the tea

“Crow Wings”, an element of the games the artists used to cohere the group in their introduction