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

Renewing biodiversity conservation planning strategies as part of joint management with First Nations especially for the drier islands around the northern Salish Sea.

Gordon Brent BROCHU-INGRAM, KEXMIN field station, April 9, 2021, The Land We Would Like To Be: Renewing biodiversity conservation planning strategies as part of joint management with First Nations around the northern Salish Sea. City and Regional Futures Colloquium, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.

the ecosystem pulses from the irregular fruiting cycles of arbutus, madrone, Arbutus menziesii

arbutus fruit above Weston Lake, Salt Spring Island * 2020 October 10 * P1010024

These island ecosystems are profoundly structured around the pulses of food from the irregular fruiting cycles of dominant hardwood trees such as arbutus, ЌEЌEILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qaanlhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], madrone, Arbutus menziesii — as well as Garry oak.

arbutus fruit above Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island * 2020 October 13 * P1010074

In recent decades at the northern end of its distribution, arbutus has tended to flower and fruit every three years but the last time there was such an exceptional level of arbutus berries was six years back.

These years of plenty are particularly important for birds such as band-tailed pigeon, HEMU [SENĆOŦEN], Patagioenas fasciata. Peaks in cycles of Garry oak acorns, another dominant in a specific kind of ecosystem, are typically, but not necessarily, on other years. “The species [band-tailed pigeon] is listed as Special Concern under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.”

arbutus fruit, south of St Mary’s Lake, Salt Spring Island 2020 October 15 * P1010094
arbutus berries, south of St Mary’s Lake, Salt Spring Island 2020 October 15 * P1010111

Plant native trees associated with south-facing sites every October

Seeds of three native trees often dominant to south-facing sites are best planted in the autumn. 2020 October 6 P1010052

Three trees native to the Gulf and San Juan Islands are far more common and often dominant on south-facing sites:

Garry oak / Oregon white oak, ĆEṈÁLĆ [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Quercus garryana;

arbutus / madrone, ЌEЌEILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qaanlhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Arbutus menziesii; and

Pacific crabapple, ḴÁ,EW̱ILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qwa’up-ulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Malus fusca.

The red seeds on the black plate are arbutus, the brown are acorns, and the smaller yellow fruit are Pacific crab-apples. The larger yellow fruit are from a volunteer crab-apple that may well have hybridized with local populations of Malus fusca or more probably another Eurasian apple cultivar.

Late September and October, after days of rains, is the best time to plant these seeds and respective seedlings.







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Salmonberry (ELILE [SENĆOŦEN], Lila’ [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Rubus spectabilis) the most ecologically important of the flowering species in early spring

salmonberry, 2020 March 28, Reynolds Road, Salt Spring Island

Salmonberry (ELILE [SENĆOŦEN], Lila’ [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Rubus spectabilis is one of the most ecologically important of the flowering species in early spring because it produces so much nectar particularly for insects, including native and introduced bees, and vertebrates most notably, rufous hummingbird. Selasphorus rufus.

The Humet’utsun (Mount Maxwell) Protected Landscape, Salt Spring Island: Ongoing monitoring & assessment

2018 October 18 Lichen on a branch of one of the older Garry oak trees just north of the northern, more recent ‘NatureTrust’ exclosure, Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve

KEXMIN field station includes scientists and conservation planners who have been conducting research on the indigenous cultural landscapes, ecosystems, and species at risk on wild South and West Coasts of Salt Spring Island, including the ecological reserves, going back to 1979.

Sansum Narrows vista from Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, August 1993 photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram


The current work in the area involves a number of interim reports for a range of clients.

Interim Report on the Status of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, as part of the Hwmet’utsun Protected Landscape, Salt Spring Island


executive summary………………………………………………………………… 2

introduction & problem statement ………………………………………………….6

ecological reserve history & landscapes ……………………………………………7

some conservation roles of this ecological reserve…………………………………11

global trends & longer-term management imperatives …………………………….23

management & sites from 1973 to present …………………………………………31

destructive activities warranting timely interventions ………………………………34

some short-term solutions to minimize further damage ……………………………47

recommendations for conservation strategies, advocacy & policy………………59

Appendix One – Map of Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve………………………63

Appendix Two – A shore area of the ecological reserve…………………………….64


Algae on an older Garry oak tree (with thick bark that protects from fire). This remaining oak savannah, one of the larger fragments of remaining grassland on Hwmet’utsun, is in the higher part of the southern parcel of Mt Maxwell Ecological Reserve that was purchased by NatureServe in 2001 and made part of the Ecological Reserve in 2002. These grasslands were maintained by Salish burning that continued into the 1930s. photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram on 2017 September 14 * Non-vascular plants such as these are increasingly valuable as indicators of local, regional, and global change.




This remaining oak savannah, one of the larger fragments of remaining grassland on Hwmet’utsun, is in the higher part of the southern parcel of Mt Maxwell Ecological Reserve that was purchased by NatureServe in 2001 and made part of the Ecological Reserve in 2002. These grasslands were maintained by Salish burning that continued into the 1930s. photograph by Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram on 2017 September 14

Solidarity with indigenous communities engaged in their territories on Salt Spring Island

Mr. Robert Birch
XXX McLennan Drive
Salt Spring Island V8K 1X3

2017 June 12

RE: Forms of solidarity for supporting indigenous governments as part of living on the Salt Spring Island

Dear Robert,
‘Nice to receive those notes about working with First Nations with territories on Salt Spring Island. Below are a few additional points.

There is no generic ‘Unesco status’ but rather a number of Unesco-related programmes such as

World Heritage Sites (such as the Ninstincts Villages on the West Coast of Gwaii Haanas National Park / Haida Nation) and

Biosphere Reserves (that include Clayoquot Sounds [and has provided little or no additional protection] and part of the Salish Sea with some small islands north of Nanaimo up towards Parksville).

All that work is coordinated by Canadian committees, coordinated from Ottawa, advisory groups that have been increasingly partisan in its politics. I’ve worked with both programmes both in Paris and in Ottawa — and I don’t expect any new WHSs and BRs around the Salish Sea in the coming years partly because…

There are a host of new ‘joint management’ protected areas efforts being initiated / re-asserted and led by First Nations. And there was a planning process begun in 2005 that involves much of the wild West Coast of SSI in treaty negotiations. And all these initiatives could move much more quickly once BC signs on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of. Indigenous Peoples (if the New Democrat / Green government were to form).

As someone who grew up in a First Nation with territory at the Deep South-East of Salt Spring, I’d like to caution people in reaching out to the five First Nations (involving two Salish languages as different as English and German) — without first engaging in some self-reflexive research and studying the important work that is already going on.

The historical and contemporary relationships of these very different FNs to Salt Spring are asymmetrical and fluid. The Cowichan have made a deep commitment to living and teaching back in Burgoyne Bay part of the year (and it was only a summer village) and will hopefully put a houseboat in there. I have been working with the Cowichan Nation on protecting the Hwmet’utsum (Mount Maxwell) cultural landscapes spanning the two provincial parks and the ecological reserve. The Tsawout keep tabs on the federal lands reserved for their large, historic W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ village site that extended east to Bridgman Road (and will crack down on dogs in the coming years). Similarly the Chemainus, Penelakut, and Lyackson are increasingly involved again with the north end of SSI. So the best way to ‘work’ with FNs elders and governments is to engage in deep research and learning about what’s already going on.

The three most important ways to work with these five First Nations (and remember that the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) were broken up artificially into five communities with historic ties to Salt Spring so we’re up to 10 different FNs offices) is to provide solidarity around:

1. reassertion of First Nations’ joint ownership of large portions of public lands on Salt Spring;

2. reassertion of food gathering and related land management (already going on) of large portions of public lands on Salt Spring; and

3. (with an acute indigenous housing shortage on all sides of Salt Spring) accelerating indigenous repopulating and diversified housing options on Salt Spring Island (for folks that haven’t felt too welcome on this island for the last century and a half).

All of this work is already being pursued by FNs in relationship to Salt Spring. Elders and FNs administrators will call on broader support and resources when they need it and want it — support from people who have done enough intellectual and personal homework to be fully trusted.



‘ḴEXMIN’ is the SENĆOŦEN name for Lomatium nudicaule

logo KEXMIN Lomatium nudicaule

ḴEXMIN  is one of the traditional names, in SENĆOŦEN one of the score of Salish languages, for one of the most important regional medicinal & ceremonial herbs, with the Latin binomial of Lomatium nudicaule. There are similar words for this species in other Salish languages, and different though related spellings. ‘ḴEXMIN’ is thought to be an early word in the Salishan languages from which contemporary Salish language originated. The ‘ḴEX’, often spelled with with a ‘q’ in other languages, is thought to mean ‘hex’ as in negative forebodings. And the ‘ḴEX MIN‘ suggests a negation, removal, and cleansing of such current or future scourges. There is a broad renewal in engagement with ḴEXMIN as a symbol of renewal, healing, and intercultural conversations.

2008 5 25 Lomatium nudicaule a roof garden on Vancouver Harbour

2008 May 25 Lomatium nudicaule on a roof garden above Vancouver Harbour

2008 5 30 Lomatium nudicaule - Vancouver
2008 May 30 Lomatium nudicaule, Vancouver

2008 5 30 Lomatium nudicaule with window Vancouver
2008 May 30 Lomatium nudicaule with window & Vancouver Harbour

2004 6 21 Lomatium nudicaule 21 6 2004 Belly-Rising-Up by Gordon Brent Ingram

2004 June 21 Lomatium nudicaule forming seed at Belly-Rising-Up, at the south-east corner SȾÁUTW̱ (Tsawout) treaty lands, Central Saanich. The seeds in late June are green and powerful. The seeds mature and dry-out in August and are gathered for ceremonies and medicine.

castle & ingram 2014 Lomatium nudicaule flowers that become seeds

Lomatium nudicaule flowers that become seeds


Salish Sea 5 Lomatium spp leaves

Lomatium species are native to the West of North America and mainly occur in drier, interior areas. The San Juan and Gulf Islands, of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound, are the only region where these plants occur as part of terrestrial-marine interface ecosystems. And the northern margins of Lomatium species are on the Gulf Islands.


2017 August 11 * Collecting ripe seeds ḴEXMIN (Lomatium nudicaule) at the beginning of ĆENŦÁWEN-COHO SALMON RETURN TO THE EARTH — in Beacon Hill Park, south-eastern Vancouver Island



Celebrating the Salish village of W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ

KEXMIN field station above Weston Lake, southern Salt Spring Island

The main office of KEXMIN field station is a kilometre north of the Salish village of W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ that was a mixing place for speakers of two Salish languages: SENĆOŦEN and HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’.  In the 1860s, the village included three lodges and a number of large wooden sculptures that were purchased and removed by the American Museum of Natural History in New York. We celebrate this place of confluence, fusion, and innovation.

W̱EN,NÁ,NEĆ graphic