ḴEXMIN field station: mission

mid-July seeding of KEXMIN (in green) Lomatium nudicaule

ḴEXMIN, Lomatium nudicaule, seeding (the stalks in green), mid-July in a historic patch along Dallas Road in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria , British Columbia

“We cannot carry out the kind of decolonization our Ancestors set in motion if we don’t create a generation of land-based, community-based intellectuals and cultural producers who are accountable to our nations and whose life work is concerned with the regeneration of these systems rather than meeting the overwhelming needs of the Western academic complex or attempting to ‘Indigenize the academy’ by bringing Indigenous Knowledge into the academy on the terms of the academy itself…The land must again become the pedagogy.” Leanne Betasamosake Simpson 2017[*]

“That the KEXMIN, Indian consumption plant, is a good medicine used to clean and open the way for the pure spirits to come near.”  Tsawout First Nation  

KEXMIN field station is a centre for research & learning spanning traditional indigenous knowledge and contemporary science for environmental planning, ecological design, public art and other forms of contemporary cultural production with a focus on the Salish Sea and its Gulf and San Juan Islands between the mainland of the North American West Coast and Vancouver Island.

[*] Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. 2017. As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pages 159-60.

the Salish Sea & Puget Sound as an organism

introduction to the work of ḴEXMIN field station

We are currently developing and discussing a mission statement. While currently active in a range of projects, this work all falls into the blank boxes in the mission matrix below. There is already too much work to be able to insert into these blank boxes.

contact: kexminfieldstation@gmail.com


As well as funding through particular research contracts, KEXMIN field station has received generous support from both the Canada Council for the Arts and the the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) a provincial Crown Corporation formed by the government of British Columbia in 1990.

Imagining the restoration of Q’uxmin [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], KEXMIN [SENĆOŦEN], Lomatium nudicaule in the ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana woodlands of the Hwmet’utsun [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’] conservation area on ĆUÁN [SENĆOŦEN] / Tl’elhum [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’] (Salt Spring Island).

KEXMIN [SENĆOŦEN], Q’uxmin [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Lomatium nudicaule superimposed on ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana woodland in the Hwmet’utsun [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’] conservation area on ĆUÁN [SENĆOŦEN] / Tl’elhum [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’] (Salt Spring Island). The two images were photographed by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram and kindly combined by Cheyenne Rain LeGrande a Nehiyaw Isko artist from from Bigstone Cree Nation — courtesy of Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver. This area is under renewed stewardship by Cowichan Tribes and is also in the territories of 13 other W̱SÁNEĆ and Hul’qumi’num nations as well as a number of adjacent communities. This is an aspirational image as excessive deer browsing, resulting from a century of predator suppression, has lead to the effective disappearance of this important species from this slope and throughout the island.

basic ecological restoration: time to plant acorns of ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana

2023 September 2023 acorns of ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana

2023 September 2023 acorns of ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana, harvested in the last ten days in Lək̓ʷəŋən, now bursting out and sprouting to send down roots in the early autumn sun for planting below KEXMIN field station on ĆUÁN [SENĆOŦEN] / Tl’elhum [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’] (Salt Spring Island).

Many of the south-facing slopes and shores of the Gulf Island supported Garry oak savannah and woodland often maintained by light and irregular Salish burning. With fire suppression and excessive sheep grazing, Douglas fir seedlings more easily re-established than they would have and are now over-shadowing oaks the roots of which have persisted for thousands of years. Now with more violent storms associated with climate change, the thick stands of 50 to 100 year old Douglas fir are being blown down. Where enough sun is available some of the old roots of the oaks that have survived are sending out sprouts and small trunks — a survival strategy for the longer-term in an erratic environment. Compared to native conifers, oak wood is very heavy and oaks sequester a good deal of carbon.

ḴEXMIN, Lomatium nudicaule, a species with deep cultural, medicinal & nutritional significance to Salish communities

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN, south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands P9240014 photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram

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blooming ḴEXMIN, late spring in Lək̓ʷəŋən Territory, Vancouver Island

2019 2019 May 27 Lomatium nudicaule just beginning to flower, Lək̓ʷəŋən territory, Vancouver Island P1010022

Two of the most important Salish plants just coming into bloom: ḴEXMIN (yellow flowers) and camas, Camassia spp, in a traditional Lekwungen agricultural, gathering, and stewardship site, 2019 April 25 Lək̓ʷəŋən territory, Vancouver Island P4250100

ḴEXMIN [SENĆOŦEN], Lomatium nudicaule, just south of the  1852 Indian Reserve line set (under severe threat of imperial violence) for the W̱SÁNEĆ, north of Island View Beach, Central Saanich, Vancouver Island

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN, south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands, Vancouver Island  P9240083

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN, south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands P9240017

“One ceremonially prized plant, ‘wild celery’ (Lomatium nudicaule), was, and is still today, widely used and sought for medicinal and ceremonial purposes, and its seeds used as gifts. Some contemporary Northwest Coast peoples are careful to leave wild celery seeds behind, or to scatter seeds (when gathering medicines) to ensure it’s continuation, and this seems a likely candidate as a species that was managed and whose range has been extended through past human intervention. This attribution of a ‘spirit’ within all of nature’s creations, and of the powers of plants to affect human lives and human well-being, is another reflection of, and reason for, peoples’ stewardship of the plants they depend upon…” (Douglas Deur and Nancy J. Turner. 2005. Conclusions. in Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. Douglas Deur and Nancy J. Turner (eds). Vancouver: UBC Press / Seattle: University of Seattle Press. pages 331 – 342. quote from pages 334 – 335 )

2018 September 24 ḴEXMIN south of the Tsawout / SȾÁUTW̱ treaty lands P9240028 This population is highly vulnerable to ongoing sea level rise and saltwater intrusion into roots.

In addition, the 2020 COVID19 pandemic has compelled herbalists to highlight the exceptional power of Lomatium  species as traditional and settler medicine for treating lung and viral disorders.

A moth feeding off the ripening seeds of Pacific sanicle, Sanicula crassicaulis @ SṈAḴE [SENĆOŦEN](including Uplands Park), Oak Bay, south-eastern Vancouver Island

moth on seeding Pacific sanicle * 2023 June 19 SṈAḴE (including Uplands Park), south-eastern Vancouver Island 1P3A3181
vestigial ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana, savanna supporting the Pacific sanicle and partially dependent moth * 2023 June 19 @ SṈAḴE 1P3A3131

Declining pollinators & their food sources on the Gulf Islands: Propertius Duskywing, Erynnis propertius

A raft of pollinators on the Gulf and San Juan Islands, including relatively rare moths such as this Propertius Duskywing, Erynnis propertius, depend a small number of food sources. In this case, Propertius Duskywing is particularly adapted to feed on Common Wooly sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum, which has been in steady decline as black-tailed deer populations have increased as predators have been suppressed (but not entirely gone away) and as hunting by humans has become impractical.

Propertius Duskywing, Erynnis propertius * 2023 May 25 in Hwmet’utsun conservation area * 1P3A2670
Propertius Duskywing, Erynnis propertius * 2023 May 25 in Hwmet’utsun conservation area * 1P3A2742
Propertius Duskywing, Erynnis propertius * 2023 May 25 in Hwmet’utsun conservation area * 1P3A2834
typical Propertius Duskywing habitat at the northern edge of its range: vestigial ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana, savannah now mainly woodland * 2023 May 25 Hwmet’utsun in Hwmet’utsun conservation area * 1P3A2916
Propertius Duskywing, Erynnis propertius * 2023 May 25 in Hwmet’utsun conservation area * 1P3A2854

Indigenous-centred digital justice initiatives in Canada: A primer & review

What are Indigenous perspectives on digital justice and injustice?
The emergence of digital technologies and networks has paralleled the resurgence of Indigenous communities and governments throughout the world. Two usages of digital justice (and its many varied and embodied aspirations) are apparent within Indigenous communities on Turtle Island (North America):

• Older and narrower meanings of digital justice sought equal treatment and access to digital services, especially within the police, courts, and other justice, repair, and carceral systems

• More recently, views of digital injustice have most often focused on the lack of access to affordable broadband and cell coverage, or the digital divide as it is commonly named.

The digital divide is particularly constraining and impoverishing for rural, remote, and some urban Indigenous communities. As a result, digital justice is increasingly conceived as central to local economic development.

An even more expansive concept of digital justice is emerging from the arts. To develop their careers and reach expanding audiences, Indigenous artists in Canada are under pressure to adopt an ever expanding collection of digital technologies, apps, social media, and networks. For Indigenous cultural workers in Canada, an additional set of movements also involve reappropriating and remaking digital technologies and networks to help address systemic harms and strengthen social, cultural, economic vitality and other benefits rooted in community.

These benefits include:
• Caring cultural and language recovery
• Innovative education
• Assertion of First Nations law and territory as a part of self-determination
• Protection and archiving of traditional knowledge and histories
• Telemedicine and health more generally
• Multimedia games
• Land-based activities.
In the northern half of North America, digital justice for Indigenous communities can be envisioned as increased and restructured flows of communications, data, representations, wealth distributions, and protections (particularly against) facilitated by current digital infrastructure and further developed through new apps and other digital technologies.

Sometimes, these types of social goals are articulated as pillars, such as:
• Equal access to technology and affordable cell and internet connectivity (equity)
• Control of (FNs) national, communal, familial, and personal data by respective individuals and FNs governments (data sovereignty)
• Unimpeded and resources for development of cultural, economic, and ecological tools for community development and autonomy
• Strategies and technologies to address and protect against vulnerabilities including renewed forms of data justice and care often centred on protections from unwelcome surveillance and subsequent harms
• Recovery and indefinite iterations of Indigenous language, traditional knowledge, and culture (that fosters adaptation and innovation)
• Strategies to correct past and current injustices (repair).
These days, most Indigenous communities are heavily involved in challenging digital injustice through the following kinds of projects:
• Better accessibility through expanded, and more dependable and affordable broadband and cell connectivity, especially for education and economic development
• Making, adapting, and operating creative and place-based apps for recovery and protection of language, knowledge, territory, food resources, and cultural objects
• Data sovereignty and directly control by First Nations governments over treasured and strategic, community knowledge
• Increasing reliance on telehealth especially for remote communities
• Supporting and presenting new forms of creation and storytelling that are more often told through multimedia and presented and archived digitally.

Indigenous digital justice work regularly veers into leadership for broader projects around environment, sustainability, and coping with global change; decolonizing and transforming accessibility supports (especially for poorly served Indian Reserves); and, challenging theft of data and subsequent unwanted surveillance and biases in artificial intelligence and biases in deep learning algorithms, especially involving social media, which in turn continue to limit opportunities for most aboriginal people throughout the world.

Playing Fallen Leaves (on S,CUAN)

George Crotty & Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram 2022
Playing Fallen Leaves (on S,CUAN)

16,5 minutes video with soundscape


Recorded on S,ĆUÁN (Mount Tuam on Salt Spring Island Canada) on 2022 February 13, with the third voice Jasmin Grewal, the single recording was mixed into two tracks by George and Brent as a two channel soundscape (with each channel separated by five to ten metres).

To make the work more widely available, the two tracks were mixed by George in November 2022 and combined by Brent with video footage of the same leaves from islands aroud the Salish Sea of ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], ĆEṈAL̵Ć [SENĆOŦEN], p’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Garry oak, Quercus garryana, the most widespread of the native West Coast oaks occurring from the northern Salish Sea in Canada to the mountains of north-western Mexico.

Funding for Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram’s work on this project was from the Canada Council for the Arts and the First People’s Cultural Council a corporation of the Province of British Columbia.

the multiple scales of great camas in a Garry oak, Quercus garryana, woodland, south-eastern Vancouver Island

01 microscopic scale * 2022 May 19 giant camas, ЌL̵O,EL [SENĆOŦEN], Camassia leichtlinii @ SṈAḴE (Uplands Park) P5190031
02: stem scale * giant camas, ЌL̵O,EL [SENĆOŦEN], Camassia leichtlinii @ SṈAḴE (Uplands Park) 1P3A1547
03 ground cover scale * 2022 May 19 giant camas, , ЌL̵O,EL [SENĆOŦEN], Camassia leichtlinii @ SṈAḴE (Uplands) 1P3A1569
04 ecosystem scale * 2022 May 19 giant camas, ЌL̵O,EL [SENĆOŦEN], Camassia leichtlinii @ SṈAḴE (Uplands Park) 1P3A1589