This page is intended to be used in conjunction with the Settler Voices component of the website to encourage discussion in classrooms and the broader community.
The public debate over the site at Ye’yumnuts has involved people from all over the Cowichan Valley and beyond. Since the site entered the realm of public discussion in 1992, many people, including Cowichan Tribes, archaeologists, local residents, the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, and Timbercrest developers have all experienced this place differently and told different stories about it. This has often resulted in conflict when multiple groups of people have wanted to see the place used for different purposes.
Cowichan Tribes history and archaeological work both tell us that Cowichan people have lived at Ye’yumnuts for thousands of years. Since colonization of the Cowichan Valley in the later 19th century, the area was a pasture populated by wandering cows on the Kingston Farm. In 1971, the land of the Kingston Farm was purchased and began to be converted into what is now Timbercrest Estates. In 1992, archaeological remains revealed themselves on the property near Somenos Creek and launched 25 years of debate over who can legitimately make decisions about Ye’yumnuts. Since then, archaeological excavations have taken place, more houses have been built, the Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area was established close by, and the property around the site itself has been purchased and set aside to be co-managed by the Province of British Columbia and Cowichan Tribes as an important cultural place.
For a more in-depth history of Ye’yumnuts, see the Timeline section.
As part of the Commemorating Ye’yumnuts project, several community members, including knowledge holders from Cowichan Tribes, archaeologists, long-time residents, and naturalists were interviewed about their experiences in this place. Excerpts from some of their stories in text, audio, and video form are included in the Settler Voices pages of the website for teachers, students, and community members to watch and listen to. After, teachers can ask the class to think about and talk about what they just heard. Below are several questions about dealing with conflicting experiences like this to prompt discussions in the classroom on building empathy in difficult situations. These questions are only starting points, and hopefully the discussion will flow naturally into students’ own experiences and thoughts.
- Have you ever experienced this kind of debate, where you or someone you know could not agree on something? How did you resolve the situation? Did you resolve it at all?
- It’s hard to be impartial when you feel strongly about something. Thinking about how these people have expressed themselves about their experiences at Ye’yumnuts, how might you try to see a situation like this from someone else’s point of view?
- How can we evaluate these conflicting uses of the site without “pointing fingers” or accusing one group of people or another?
- How might you take what you’ve discussed today and share it with your friends and family? Can you see yourself applying what you’ve talked about to your own life in the future?