Liam P.

Victoria, British Columbia


Jimmy Chicken Island: From Partial Perspectives to Paddling Together

My project is about a First Nations man named Jimmy Chicken who lived on an Island in the Salish Sea of British Columbia over 120 years ago. By listening to a Songhees First Nations Elder, and doing Census research, I discovered his intergenerational legacy. Many students, local residents and tourists paddle to Jimmy Chicken Island every year. By becoming more aware of his story, and the impact his family had on history, it helps us move towards a more balanced cultural perspective and “paddle together towards reconciliation”.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

To find out that the son of a man so many had dismissed as a hermit living on an island was actually a First Nations Council Member over 120 years ago. Just by asking about one persons’ story revealed a whole horizon of understanding and awareness of our interconnectedness. We need to help communities overcome their intergenerational loss to tell these stories.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

I learned how important it is to listen to Elders, and the role they have in our communities in Canada. History really matters! We need to listen to everyone’s stories with an open heart. Reconciliation is really about relationships. Part of adding more balance to relationships is allowing space to include other peoples’ perspectives. Sharing these perspectives allows more for understanding, compassion and respect between people, communities and cultures across Canada. Reconciliation involves all Canadians. We need everyone in the canoe.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

Life would have been much more difficult over 100 years ago, yet even with so much modernization and progress so many of the challenges from that era we can still see now in communities in many other ways – such as the lost intergenerational relationships.