First Nations people have harvested seaweed, oysters and dandelions for centuries. They catalog these three species as sources of food and medicine. As I climb across an intrusive coastal granite outcrop off the Coast Trail on Vancouver Island’s southernmost tip, across the water from the T’Sou-ke Nation reserve, my focus today is to learn more about local food systems, sustainability and the traditional ecological knowledge of the region.

From the trees behind, a raven swoops down near where I’m hunching over the tide pools. Bright yellowish-green tube weeds with unbranched, elongated hollow blades reach tendril-like from the flat shoreline to a freshwater seep that comes from up the ravine behind me. Some blades of the confettilike seaweed are bleached white by the sun, and the seaweed is acting as an epiphyte, growing on other species of algae in the tide pools…

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