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This Place Is Who We Are: Stories of Indigenous Leadership, Resilience, and Connection to Homelands

This Place Is Who We Are profiles Indigenous communities in central and northern coastal BC that are reconnecting to their lands and waters—and growing and thriving through this reconnection.

Indigenous peoples and cultures are integrally connected to the land. Well-being in every sense—physical, social, environmental, economic, spiritual and cultural—depends on that relationship, which is based on a fundamental concept: when the land is well, so are the people.

With increasing strength, Indigenous peoples in this vast region of BC—which spans the homelands of more than two dozen First Nations and one of the largest remaining coastal temperate rainforests in the world—are restoring what has been lost through environmental depredation and healing what has been devastated by colonization.

This volume is a collection of ten of these inspiring stories. X̱aayda voices explain how their Rediscovery camps are healing and empowering their youth; Dzawada̱’enuxw Hereditary Chief Maxwiyalidizi K’odi Nelson shares the story of building a healing centre and ecolodge; Wei Wai Kum Chief Christopher Roberts describes the challenges and opportunities for an urban First Nation looking to prosper while protecting the environment and ancient Ligʷiłdaxʷ history and living cultural values; and many more Indigenous leaders share their own experiences of growth, strength and reconnection.

Thoughtful and inspiring, This Place Is Who We Are illustrates what can be accomplished when conservation and stewardship are inextricably intertwined with the prosperity and well-being of communities.

“Katherine Palmer Gordon, a consummate listener, weaves a powerful tapestry of ten First Nations people, deeply grounded in land, memory and story. Their lives honour the inextinguishable inter-connectedness of humans and nature, in righteous defiance of colonization. These are stories that point to an optimistic future based on the teachings of Ancestors and Elders with a view to making the world better for children, grandchildren and children yet to come. To do this, human wellbeing and land protection must be inseparable.

This book is an encounter with wonderful people doing wonderful things. This Place is Who We Are is an invitation to hope for a better society, a better world, featuring ten people creating it. I thank the contributors and Katherine Palmer Gordon for engaging in a visionary conversation.”

–Shelagh Rogers, O.C. Host/Producer of The Next Chapter, CBC Radio One, Honorary Witness, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada


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