Join Keisha Everson May 7 at The Abbey in Cumberland for a free cedar weaving workshop. Photo supplied

Join Keisha Everson May 7 at The Abbey in Cumberland for a free cedar weaving workshop. Photo supplied

Gwax’ Dzi Dsas is an affordable housing project in Cumberland

Join Toni Frank and Keisha Everson May 7 at The Abbey in Cumberland from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. for a free cedar weaving workshop with stories, and potluck meal and discussion.

Gwax’ Dzi Dsas, a partnership between Dawn to Dawn and the Comox Valley Transition Society, is an affordable housing project situated in what is now known as Cumberland on the traditional unceded territory of K’omoks First Nations.

“To work in the unhoused field is to address the issue of social justice. Put simply, before 1492 there were no unhoused folks here,” says Grant Shilling, Dawn to Dawn community facilitator. “Colonialism displaced the indigenous peoples from their home and homelands. On Vancouver Island, 40 per cent of the homeless population is Indigenous. Social justice is the way forward to address these issues. The goal of the Gwax’ Dzi Dsas housing project is to see a minimum of 40 per cent housed Indigenous peoples. This programming is a small step in that process. Come break bannock with us, weave and listen.”

Indigenization is a process of naturalizing Indigenous knowledge systems, and making them evident to transform spaces, places and hearts. This can be accomplished through cultural practices, and the presence of Indigenous art, knowledge keepers, programming and native plant systems.

The goal of Gwax’ Dzi Dsas is to incorporate into the design and landscape of the project this Indigenous presence.

“I’m pleased to bring language and cultural teachings to Gwax’ Dzi Dsas,” Everson said. “There is an important link between culture and wellness. Essentially, language is culture is wellness. We feed the spirit by uplifting Indigenous languages. Indigenous people are over-represented in the unhoused population, so affordable housing is an essential endeavour.”

The name Gwax’ Dzi Dsas was granted to the project by Elder Mary Everson. Everson, nee Frank,“Uma’galis,” is Kwakwaka’wakw, K’omoks and Tlingit, and comes from the KFN.

Funding for this project was provided through a BC Community Arts and Development grant.

Registration is limited to 12 people. The workshop is free but participants are asked to bring a dish to share as part of their investment.

Contact charleneeverson@icloud.com for more information.

CultureCumberland