Rake and Radish Farm is located on unceded W̱SÁNEĆ territory and we take that as a serious part of our farm operations as we continue to grow our practise of supporting decolonization. Farming has historically been and continues to be used as a tool of colonization. Agriculture has played a key role in dispossessing Indigenous people from their homelands.
This land should be part of a thriving Indigenous food system as it has been since time immemorial. Before Rake and Radish Farm, the land was a slightly neglected hay field, not providing food for anyone or suitable habitat for local species. Transitioning the land into a small-scale farm using sustainable practices allows the land to feed more people and strengthen community. We hope this can be a stepping stone to comprehensive Indigenous food sovereignty.
The area surrounding the farm, PKOLS, is extremely important to W̱SÁNEĆ people. The name means “White Head” in SENĆOŦEN and one oral history tells that this name comes from the last ice age when the mountain was the last place that glacial ice receded from on the South Island. PKOLS is also a traditional meeting spot between W̱SÁNEĆ and Lkwungen peoples: its height allowed people to see out over the land and it lies on the meeting edge of each nation’s territory.
Events in the area were instrumental in the lead-up to the contested Douglas Treaties. Early white settlers during the mid-1800s were found stealing cedar trees from the coast near PKOLS to use as mast poles for their sailboats. This led to a group of W̱SÁNEĆ warriors confronting them and James Douglas, who was in charge of establishing the first colonial settlement at Fort Victoria. The confrontation was one spark for the signing of the controversial Douglas Treaties. Indigenous accounts show that they were viewed as peace treaties following the tree-stealing incident rather than an agreement to sell the land. Records also show that conditions and clauses of the treaty were added after it had been signed by Indigenous leaders.
Increased colonization, settlement, and colonial notions of private property, as well as overt legal discrimination, has led to disconnection and a struggle to access traditional foods and sacred places.
The presence of Rake and Radish Farm on these lands, as a farm operated by a white settler, is not neutral and we will strive to lessen the negative impact of our presence. This starts with building reciprocal relationships with the land.
We will ensure any fertilizer run-off from the farm is limited and does not reach nearby salmon bearing streams, as well as that all farm infrastructure can be removed without serious impact to the natural Douglas Fir ecosystem. We will educate ourselves about appropriate protocol and work on developing relationships with host nations and more than human hosts. We won’t pretend that our farming practices are perfect or above critique and we will strive to be open to receiving feedback. We won’t let the strenuous labour and workload of farming keep us from showing up and learning more about how to be better accomplices to Indigenous people.
In the future, options to support Indigenous food sovereignty will be explored, such as more accessibly priced CSA boxes, space on the farm set aside to grow traditional foods, and growing storage crops to be sent to Indigenous front lines. These, or similar ideas, will be implemented once the farm has generated enough revenue to repay the startup costs and will become a regular part of the farm’s operations. These initiatives will be developed in tandem with local Indigenous people and options to partner with a local non-profit to implement these projects sooner will be considered should an opportunity arise. A portion of farm revenue will also be sent to a local nation as rent owed.
Rake and Radish Farm stands in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and calls on the RCMP and Coastal Gaslink to leave the Wet’suwet’en Yintah.