PENAWEN – Beginning of the Salmon Time

The Goal

We wish to provide knowledge and increase awareness of the WSANEC traditional learnings of the 13 Moon Calendar in order to encourage inspiration, hope and solidarity between all people who reside in the unique ecosystem along the shores of the Salish Sea - the traditional lands of the Coast Salish First Nations.

The Penawen moon signifies June, the beginning of salmon time and harvesting.

PENAWEN, or the “beginning of the salmon runs and the harvest time”, holds the time in June in the W̱SÁNEĆ 13 Moon calendar: SḴÁU ȽTE. 

SḴÁU ȽTE, represents the natural laws of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) people. The calendar depicts the four seasons, the W̱SÁNEĆ 13 Moons and the culturally important plants, food, medicines, animals and marine life to illustrate the flow of activities that occurred when W̱SÁNEĆ people lived a traditional life linked to nature.

This is the time of year when people eat eggs, the only time they ate seagull eggs. They are huge, a bluish-grey with brown spots. They would never take all the eggs. The people would also go out to the islands to harvest camas bulbs. They look like daffodil bulbs or like an onion. The men would hunt seals, porpoises, catching halibut, codfish, rock cod and other bottom fish. They would live well on seafood and ducks. The people would dig, roast and dry clams. They would harvest seaweed and spread it on rocks to dry. It was a nourishing food that was pressed into blocks when dry and stored away for the winter.

The people were happily harvesting for there was an abundance of food. They lived and played and had a good time with each other while gathering and storing food. There was so much and it was impossible to starve and the people felt rich because of this.

From ‘the book ‘The Saanich Years’.

In the book, The Saanich Year, Earle Claxton, Sr. and John Elliott tell the story of SḴÁU ȽTE, the 13 moons, and how they illustrate traditional First Nations respect for the land and the interconnectedness of all living things.

To find a copy of The Saanich Year, contact the WSANEC Leadership Council, or the WSANEC school board. The VNFC Bruce Parisian Library in Victoria also holds a copy available for borrowing.

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