Pacific Opera Victoria’s Voices in Nature June 16 - 26, 2023

SḴŦAḴ / Mayne Island October 20 - 22, 2023

Every plant has a story to tell... if we can slow down and listen. Garden of Stories unsettles inherited notions of what belongs and what is out of place, and considers the role you play in an ecosystem. Featuring the voices of gardeners, artists, land stewards, naturalists, and community members on SḴŦAḴ / Mayne Island and lək̓ʷəŋən territory / Victoria, this interactive journey explores our relationships with invasive plants and asks: what does healing the land mean to you? 

Garden of Stories Team

Created by: Sammie Gough, Laurel Green, and Elder Johnny Aitken

Installation Activators: Sammie Gough, Laurel Green, Elder Johnny Aitken, Missie Peters and Jeni Luther (Government House). 

Audio Editing: Nancy Tam and Charlie Cooper

Composition and Vocals: Simon Chalifoux 

Field Recordings and Dramaturgy: Laurel Green

Photographs & Text: Elder Johnny Aitken

Plant Card Text: Myriam Parent, Laurel Green, and Sammie Gough

Plant Illustrations & Signage Design: Sophie Fuldauer 

Waste Reduction Consultant: Sadie Fox, The Sustainable Fox

Garden of Stories features the voices and stories of: Jess, Jody, Michael, Jean-Daniel, Sean, Bill, Johnny, Myriam and Sarah. These interviews were conducted on SḴŦAḴ Mayne Island and the unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ nations in Victoria, BC.  

Special thanks to: Rebecca Hass, Lee Cookson, Isaac Thomas, Marianne Unger, Bill Jamieson Emma Sky Warner-Dilts, W̱S͸ḴEM Ivy Project

A portion of the artist fees from this project were donated to PEPAKEṈ HÁUTW̱ FOUNDATION to support Indigenous-led land based education and restoration work. 

Listen to the Garden of Stories Playlist 

Invasive Plant Cards

Invasive Plant Gallery

Settlers did not only arrive and take over land, but they also brought with them plants that reminded them of their original home. Some of these plants became invasive and took over large swaths of land where there used to be Indigenous edible plants and medicine plants. To help heal the people, invasive plants need to be removed or managed, and replaced with Indigenous plants.

Photography and Text by Elder Johnny Aitken 

An Indigenous man attempting to irradicate an area of land of tansy to plant camas but, there is just far too much of it. The weight and volume of the tansy is just far too much for one to handle 

There is an invisible heaviness connected to all invasive plants when it relates to the health and safety of Indigenous Peoples. This heaviness is depicted in this image of an Indigenous person with Scotch Broom on their back. 

Daphne surrounds this Indigenous person, it is debilitating. They are covering themself with a red blanket to attempt to protect themselves from the plant’s toxic qualities. Red is believed to be the only colour that our Ancestors can see. This Indigenous person is seeking help from their Ancestors.