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Stó:lô Atlas Awarded the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize

Written by Steven DeRoy

Editorial Board (left to right): Keith Carlson, David Schaepe, Leeanna Rhodes,
Jan Perriere,
Sonny McHalsie, David Smith, and Jody Woods

Vancouver, BC - The Stó:lô-Coast Salish Historical Atlas was awarded the prestigious Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize at the 18th annual B.C. Book Prizes Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony, held at the Renaissance Harbourside in Vancouver on Saturday, April 27th.

Attendees of the event representing the Stó:lô editorial board of the atlas were honoured to find out they had been selected as the award recipients. "What a shock and an exciting surprise to hear we were actually nominated." said Leeanna Rhodes. "When they named our book as the winner we were ecstatic. I actually hugged our presenter Mr Terry Glavin so hard that I think I heard him go 'UUMF'".

The Stó:lô Atlas was published in April 2001 after 18 rigorous months of research. A team from the Stó:lô Nation's Aboriginal Rights and Title Department undertook the exhausting task of compiling traditional and scientific knowledge for the Lower Fraser River and Northwestern Washington. It describes a 15,000 year history with a brilliant combination of maps, photographs, artwork and text. This is one of the first publications of its kind in the world, presenting inclusive history of the Stó:lô and incorporating the history of non-native newcomers in southwestern British Columbia.

(Click on the image above to read the book review,
and here to see some of the maps)

The B.C. Book Prizes, established in 1985, celebrate the achievements of British Columbia writers and publishers. The program is administered and awarded by members of a non-profit society who represent all facets of the publishing and writing community. "It was a record year in terms of the number of entries we received, making for a stiff competition between all of the nominees" said Bryan Pike from the West Coast Book Prize Society. "We were really happy to find out that the panel of judges chose the Atlas."

The Stó:lô Atlas was nominated for two categories, the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize and the Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Prize. The Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize is awarded to author(s) who contribute most to the enjoyment and understanding of British Columbia. The book may deal with any aspect of the province (people, history, geography, oceanography, etc.) and must be original.

When I congratulated Leeanna Rhodes, she replied, "Thanks for the congrats but I believe it goes to all of the Stó:lô communities because without their help and support, the book pages would be blank."

Copies of the atlas are available at local book store outlets and through the Stó:lô Nation (you can call them at 604-858-3366 to place an order). All proceeds from the book sales will be used by Stó:lô Nation for future cross-cultural education and awareness programs.


Government bans community mapping in Malaysia!

(Content of this story courtesy of The Borneo Project.


The Heiltsuk Map Atlas: a story of success

By David Carruthers and Bo Reid

The Heiltsuk Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department was developed by the Heiltsuk Treaty Office in 1995. It is a great example of how First Nation Peoples can build capacity within their communities. By developing local skills and utilizing local resources, the Heiltsuk Nation is directly investing in the health of the community for today and the future.

Bo Reid is the manager of the Heiltsuk GIS Department. Through three years of training, he has had the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to manage various research projects that directly benefit the Heiltsuk in many areas such as:

  • Linking information gaps between the different research departments, including fisheries, forestry and the cultural education centre;
  • Producing maps that support the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, Heiltsuk Hemas (hereditary chiefs) and research directors in analyzing datasets for decision-making;
  • Developing maps that are used as educational tools for community members and Heiltsuk youth;
  • Storing information and networking with other First Nations to better utilize information & refine skills.

The Heiltsuk First Nation recognizes the importance to protect and preserve their resources on all levels. Through various research initiatives and economic opportunities, the Heiltsuk, strive to find independence and self-sufficiency.

One project of particular interest has been the Heiltsuk Map Atlas, a series of 40 maps illustrating the physical, biological and cultural assets of the territory. It includes maps on tourism, wildlife values, culturally modified trees and legend sites. The atlas also brings together many government-prepared datasets, interpreting them from a Heiltsuk perspective and updating them where necessary with local knowledge.
"We felt that it was important to become familiar with government data and to be able to interpret and amend it according to our OWN needs"

"We felt that it was important to become familiar with government data and to be able to interpret and amend it according to our OWN needs", says Bo Reid. "The atlas gives us an opportunity to assess the information we have to date, and gives us a better understanding of some of the gaps that exist in this body of knowledge. We can then go to the community and work on filling these gaps".

Reid recognizes the value in bringing a Heiltsuk voice to the atlas. He has been frustrated with many outside consultants and researchers trying to interpret Heiltsuk values. "Doing the work at home allows us to interpret the information from a Heiltsuk perspective, as oppose to having someone come into our community and try to think from a Heiltsuk perspective, which doesn't work".

"Doing the work at home allows us to interpret the information from a Heiltsuk perspective"

The atlas is atool that the Heiltsuk can use at all levels, whether it be foreducation, research initiatives or for simply cataloging information forfuture generations. Showcased here on the Aboriginal Mapping Network isone map from the forest series of the atlas.

Click on map to see larger version

In the four corners of the map, you will see the four crests of the Heiltsuk Nation: the Eagle, the Raven, the Killer Whale, and the Wolf. Designed by local artist Walden Marty Windsor, these crests represent the hereditary structure of the Nation. Presented on the maps, these crests help to ground the work in the community and to show respect to the Chiefs.

From an information management perspective, this project has helped to organize, store and archive information in an efficient way. And it has also been a learning process.

"One of the most important things we've learned is the power of networking with other First Nations and organizations who have already worked on similar projects. This helps to avoid duplication and build important relationships in this field", says Reid. "You also have to have a vision of how the final product will be used. This helps you prepare the data according to the end needs. For example, if it's to be used an as educational tool, it has to incorporate data that is accessible to youth."

Click on maps to see larger version

The atlas project is a success, and its success is in no small way attributed to the dedication to the project by Bo Reid and the Heiltsuk leadership.

"I think commitment is a big factor in the success of projects. Despite the closure of our treaty office, our community has recognized the value of our mapping office and has kept the mapping office alive. This is one small step in how we are rebuilding our Nation" says Bo Reid.


Building Native Nations: Environment, Natural Resources, and Governance

A conference review by Kira Gerwing