A blustery morning at the James Island Pier in Central Saanich marked a historic moment for Tsawout First Nation Thursday (April 14) as they blessed a new vessel, Baby Jade, for use by the Tsawout people.
Elder Mavis Underwood stood in front of the boat – which is named after Jade, little Tsawout – and offered a prayer.
“We are full of gratitude and we are always full of hope… we bring that to our work, to our lives, to our family and we bring that to the community as we ask for that special protection and blessing on the water for this dear boat… ”
Chrissy Chen, fisheries officer for Tsawout, called the launch of the fishing boat a great opportunity for the nation to see the waters its people have long been on. Baby Jade will help them in their efforts to protect the ocean and harvest food sustainably.
“Being on our waters, going to see where our ancestors were, knowing when there was plenty, it’s so important…it’s time for us to co-manage with (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and other organizations and to dismantle colonial systems and practices that pollute our waters and villages,” Chen said, calling commercial fishing an example.
On June 16, 2021, elected leaders of the Tsawout First Nation enacted a Use of the Sea Act with authority over Tsawout lands, waters, resources and interests.
“There is so much commercial fishing and crabbing and we want to move that out of our area so we can protect, revive and restore everything we have here,” Tsawout Coun said. John Etzel.
Baby Jade will allow Tsawout members to have a hands-on approach to harvesting while setting an example of what the world needs to do in terms of best practices on the ocean – rooted in indigenous leadership, Chen said.
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