New Film: The Nawalakw Garden and a Journey to Nourish a Community.

A pair of gardeners work to harvest fresh vegetables from an abundant community garden.
Edwina Rufus and Mara Jernigan, a chef and hospitality consultant, harvest produce from the garden in ‘Ya̱lis. Photos courtesy of Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen, REFBC
Film produced in collaboration with REFBC about creating a sense of place and food security in ’Yalis, Cormorant Island.

“This project goes straight to the heart of our mission by enhancing support towards a healthy and sustainable approach to food,” says K’odi Nelson, Executive Director of Nawalakw. “Our remote Indigenous communities have been especially burdened with a health care crisis, the ever-rising costs of food, and difficulty in accessing fresh, grown produce. These issues are acutely addressed with our Community Education and Demonstration Farm.”

Originally planted in 2019, the Nawalakw Community Garden was a response to Covid-19 and subsequent supply chain disruptions that led to increasing food scarcity and costs.

a man waters a lush green community garden on vancouver island.
Chabanee Matilpi, a Nawalakw garden champion, waters a portion of the 2.5 acre lot in ‘Yalis

Since the project began, the farm has transformed 2.5 acres of raw land into a nourishing garden that’s had a positive impact in ’Yalis and beyond. Because of the success of this project, they are already viewed as community leaders. They have been asked to share their expertise with an innovative hydroponic farm that will soon be installed in ‘Yalis, through a project led by ‘Namgis Business Development Corporation.

In a recent collaboration with Real Estate Foundation of BC, Nawalakw Healing Society published a video that highlights their successful community garden project:

About the film:

The Nawalakw food security and food sovereignty program began in the early days of COVID-19 when health regulations and social distancing halted several transportation routes. It started with planter boxes placed in the yards of Elders and community members and has since grown into a 2.5-acre garden that provides fresh produce for the community.

A woman shows fresh thyme, grown in a local community garden, during a visit to a First Nations' Elders Centre.
Verna Ambers holding thyme that was grown at the Nawalakw Community Garden, while visiting the Elder Centre. Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Bergenhenegouwen, REFBC

The full story, which accompanies the video, is available on the Nawalakw website.

In 2023, Nawalakw Healing Society partnered with Island Coastal Economic Trust to develop infrastructure at their Community Education and Demonstration Farm in ‘Yalis, The Trust committed an investment of $50,000, which included $25,000 from 4VI who partnered with the Trust to fund projects through the Community Placemaking program.