Coast Salish cooking comes to Ft. Rodd Hill

Lots of cultural activities and workshops planned

Rick Stiebel /News staff

A look at how Coast Salish people traditionally cooked native plants in pits is on the menu Saturday at Fort Rodd Hill.

The ability to host the Coast Salish Pit Cook was made possible after an acre of Garry Oak meadow was restored at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard National Historic Sites, said Aimee Pelletier, communications officer for species at risk with Parks Canada. “The meadow has a Conservation Nursery which includes all kinds of native plants,” Pelletier explained. “We’ve been growing camas and lily bulbs as well as chocolate lilies which are traditional foods with a long-standing history of being staples of Coast Salish diet. Pit cooking was a traditional method of Coast Salish food preparation in the past.”

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Although she has participated in other pit cooks with Songhees First Nation member Cheryl Bryce, a former heritage interpreter with Parks Canada, Pelletier is excited about the opportunity to host one at Fort Rodd Hill. “We always talked about doing one here,” she noted. “It’s been a mutual wish.”

Putting the event together is quite a process, Pelletier explained. In addition to getting all the food in, cultural workers had to dig pits and local First Nations students will be there the afternoon before the event to put the food on to roast.

The Coast Salish Pit Cook, which runs Oct. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., officially begins with a traditional welcome at 10 a.m. There will be carving demonstrations, workshops, presentations by Bryce and elders from the Songhees Nation, and songs and dances by the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers throughout the day.

“A really interesting part is families can cook apples and bannock on a stick at the fire station,” Pelletier said. The Songhees Food and Steam truck will be on site as well with additional food and refreshments. Admission is the regular site entrance fee.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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