The SWELSWÁLET of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation: narratives of a “nation (re)building process”




Fritz, Justin

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In this Master’s thesis, I document my experience working with members of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation in their efforts to revitalize the reef net fishery. As part of this research project, I interviewed W̱SÁNEĆ community members, and I created a digital map of reef net fishing locations (SWELSWÁLET). In each of these interviews, different W̱SÁNEĆ community members chose to frame reef net fishing differently, and they highlighted specific and unique “alternative political approaches” toward W̱SÁNEĆ cultural resurgence (Kew & Miller 1999:58-59). Despite these differences, each W̱SÁNEĆ community member that I interviewed believed that reef net fishing is something that “needs to be shared” (XA’LATE, pers. comm., June 14, 2016). In Chapter 1, I explore the variations in what specific W̱SÁNEĆ community members want shared. In Chapters 2 and 3, however, I examine the delicate cultural, political, and legal contexts that have made sharing a complicated process. In Chapter 2, I analyze how the BC Treaty Process (BCTP) has exacerbated conflicts among First Nations in British Columbia. Further, I discuss the impact that these conflicts have had on how the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation shares information with their intranational and international neighbours. In Chapter 3, I explore how my misaligned expectations of knowledge sharing in collaborative community-based research—as a white settler man—clashed with “the values and beliefs, practices and customs of [the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation]” (L. Smith 2012:15-16; Lassiter 2005). I also make recommendations for how settler researchers in the future should proceed with research projects in these contexts.



Indigenous peoples, Reef Net Fishing, BC Treaty Process, Community-based Research, Collaborative Research, Colonialism, Resilience, Ethnography, W̱SÁNEĆ Nation, Saanich, First Nations, Vancouver Island, Cross Border Studies, Resistance, Indigenous Resurgence