Seeds of a new future in the Scia’new Nation
Thanks to a grant to Professional and Continuing Studies from the Vancouver Foundation, students from the Scia’new, Esquimalt and Tsawout Nations have recently completed a landscaping and restoration training program focused on employment in the Spirit Bay housing development taking shape on Scia’new land at Beecher Bay in East Sooke. Designed as a sustainable development with the Scia’new Nation as a majority partner, the 10-year, 500-unit Spirit Bay project will provide landscaping, site restoration and other potential employment opportunities for community members.
Growing Our Futures: Community Training in Native Plant Landscaping is an 8 week, community-based, culturally informed, hands-on training program for Indigenous students interested in developing skills in landscaping, ecological restoration and growing native plants. On completion, students receive a Royal Roads University certificate in Native Plant Horticulture. The program was developed in part by Professional and Continuing Studies instructor Tim Brigham and is delivered on site to reduce student barriers to attendance and to ensure relevance to community interests and opportunities.
The practical, hands-on nature of the program was enhanced by opportunities to restore and landscape sites in the development. Participants learned how to design and undertake projects and apply new-found knowledge and skills, leaving a tangible legacy for students and the community. Student comments included: “The course opened a lot of doors for me”. “I will always keep this in my life”. “Will look into work like we did in the course, or go to school more”. “Come back again (Tim, Ken, Carla, Gord, John [instructors]), you’ll be missed”.
The community, other partners and program instructors are working on next steps for students and the program at Beecher Bay. This includes the transition into employment on the development, assistance to those students interested in pursuing their own businesses and further training to build capacity in the community.