Songhees Nation Elder
Joan Morris, Sellemah, is an elder from the Songhees Nation. She lived in the first 10 years of her life at Tl’ches (Chatham Island) off of Oak Bay, Victoria. From her grandparents and her great grandmother, Ch’emíyekw, she learned quickly about the lands and waters of her home place and how to care for them and to live a safe and healthy lifestyle. She was taken to the Kuper Island residential school but also travelled seasonally with her family as a girl to pick fruit on the islands in Puget Sound and at Yakima. She has been a caregiver at hospitals and an advisor in many initiatives around culture, environment, and health. She has had a deep interest in plants, animals, and water, as well as in social justice issues, especially around truth and reconciliation in connection with the residential schools. She has also given a voice to those who suffered injustices in the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, where her mother was hospitalized for many years.