WSANEC 13 Moons Interpretive Sign / Relationship-Building Project

Saturna Island is located within the overlapping traditional territories of more than a dozen First Nations.  Different communities of SENĆOŦEN speaking “salt water people” and Hul’quimi’num speaking “river people” have lived on, visited or harvested from the lands and waters of Saturna for millennia.   In particular, the Island is “core” territory for the WSANEC First Nations – most notably the Tsawout and Tseycum Bands.  In addition to ongoing traditional harvest activities (e.g. hunting, fishing, cedar bark gathering) by Band members, the Tsawout and Tseycum share a large reserve on the Island (Saturna Island IR7).  In relation to the Island’s colonial era history, the terms of the relevant Douglas Treaties (circa 1850) did not cede or convey title to Saturna lands or waters to the newcomers.


Given that Saturna Island features a significant proportion of Crown land  (e.g. as embodied within the GINPR) and given a level of local interest in establishing a National Marine Conservation Area in (portions of) the Island’s waters, it is evident that stronger and deeper relations with local First Nations, in particular Tsawout and Tseycum, would be of value to the Island’s current residential community. In coming years, it is expected that reserve housing for Band members may be built on a portion of IR7 lands, adding a significant new dimension to the current Saturna community and to local land use planning.  Last and certainly not least, a growing public awareness resulting from the national Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process is fostering a desire to build a future that is more equitable than the past  - and to do so by acting locally.


Relationship Building


Recently, Tsawout Band members and Saturna community members have begun to express interest in becoming better mutually acquainted and jointly acknowledging a geography that is shared.


As a means of building greater mutual awareness and understanding between communities and as a means of beginning to honour a shared sense of place, it has been proposed that Tsawout Band members and Saturna residents work together on a modest-scale project.   


Specifically, Tsawout Band members have conveyed interest in working with Saturna counterparts, to develop and install a “13 Moons calendar” interpretive sign, with explanatory details in both English and SENĆOŦEN.   Such an installation would be similar to signage that has recently been developed at Saanichton and on Saltspring Island and that is planned for installation at the end of this month on Pender Island.  (See attached pdf file image of the triptych panels that will comprise the Pender installation.  Tsawout elders and knowledge keepers have worked closely with regional artist Briony Penn, and others, to develop the central graphic.)


Guidance from local leaders on Saturna, including but not limited to our Islands Trust Trustees, has included a recommendation that local involvement and interest in this relationship-building initiative be maximized, by having the project funded via a local fund-raising campaign involving monetary and in-kind support from Island groups and individual residents.    A further relationship-building aspect of this initiative would be to present several siting options for consideration and comment by the Tsawout participants.  Subject to the interest and endorsement of pertinent landowners and/or administrators, sites might include, for example, institutionally zoned land, commercially zoned land or community parks. 


Early indications from Tsawout include appreciation for the respect that would be embodied in both an Island-funded project and a choice of high quality and high visibility local sites.  Early indications from Saturna residents confirm an interest in making individual donations and contributing support via local groups.   It is anticipated that funding contribution from supportive Island organizations may provide 25% - 30% of total requirements and that the balance of required funding will be generated through private donations from Island residents.   In-kind support (e.g. for construction labour and materials) will also be sought from local providers.


Project Goals



  • Relationship-building between residents of Saturna and members of Tsawout First Nation
  • Creating a foundation of increased mutual awareness and regard – and a foundation for future joint endeavours
  • Local fund-raising as a means of engaging local residents – and of conveying respect to Saturna’s First Nations neighbours


  • A permanent and aesthetically pleasing sign installation in a “high traffic” location that will generate discussion and awareness among Island residents – and interest for Island visitors


It should be noted here that the early relationship-building efforts associated with the “positioning” for this project this have gone well.  Saturna representatives have had cordial in-person discussions with the long-term Manager of Tsawout Lands, a former (multi-term) chief who is also running for a council position in the pending July 5th elections, and 3 other influential elders and knowledge keepers.



Project Budget & Design Details


It is proposed that the initial budget and initial design be based on details of the ongoing and analogous Pender Island project i.e.: 


Design:   Comprised of 3 panels, arranged to embrace the viewer. Central panel will be a 4’ x 4’ depiction of the 13 moons (please see attached pdf).  Left hand panel (at 45 degree angle from central panel, in plan view) will be an English Language description of the 13 moons calendar.  Right hand panel (at 45 degree angle from central panel, in plan view) be a SENCOTEN language description of the calendar.  

Image and text will be printed on aluminum “alupanel” and installed within a cedar framework including 6”x6” posts and lintels.


Total Project budget estimate ($6000):

  • $2400 for materials and installation
  • $2000 for cumulative elders’ honoraria payments over multiple meetings (based on hours accumulated in Pender initiative and an hourly honorarium comparable to rates paid for local minute-taking)
  • $1000 for elders’ travel and incidentals and for a shared community-to-community celebration event, upon installation completion
  • $600 for Tsawout administrative services support


Actual design, budget and installation location will be the subject of discussion between Saturna and Tsawout First Nation project participants.  Budget will be funded via Saturna-based local funding-raising efforts e.g. via individual and group donations.  Tsawout First Nations elders will receive honoraria for their time and contribution of knowledge.  Saturna Islanders’ time and effort will be contributed without expectation of reimbursement.  [Note:  It is anticipated that subsequent cross-community initiatives will be funded based on joint applications for 3rd party grants]


Project Accounting


This project is seeking to maximize support, participation and partnership by a broad spectrum of Island organization and residents.  It is thus a pleasure to confirm that, as part of the Anglican Parish’s own reconciliation efforts with First Nations, the Anglican Parish of Pender & Saturna has offered to become one local partnering organization and to offer accounting and banking (and tax receipt) services as an in-kind contribution to the Saturna-Tsawout 13 Moons Calendar Project. 


Individual and group donors may make cheques payable to the Anglican Parish of Pender and Saturna with a memo citing the Satura-Tsawout Project.  The parish treasurer will issue a corresponding receipt for income tax purposes to donors and will work closely with local Saturna project coordinator on receivables and payables accounting.



QUESTIONS / Further Information:


Please contact Morgan Yates:  tel. 250-474-7700  email