Journey middle school students learn about pit cooks from John Bradley Willliams .

Journey middle school students learn about pit cooks from John Bradley Willliams .

Journey students write about pit cook

First Nations share traditional way of cooking with Sooke students

The Grade 7 students of Journey middle school had a traditional Aboriginal pit cook and salmon roast on Journey’s back field. First Nations elders from Saanich, Pacheedaht, Scia’new (Beecher Bay) and T’Sou-ke Nation taught students how to prepare a steam pit, identify and select plants used for steaming and cook salmon over a fire.

Two fires were built, one for the steam pit and one for roasting the salmon. Once the raw fish had been cut up and the fire had lots of coals, students skewered pieces of salmon onto sticks then stuck the sticks in the ground close to the heat. It took quite a while for the fish to bake but it was well worth the wait!

While the fish was cooking, students prepared a steam pit for the vegetables. Skunk cabbage leaves along with salmonberry and thimbleberry branches were placed over the hot coals at the bottom of the pit. Burlap sacks full of potatoes, onions, yams, garlic and apples were then placed on top of the vegetables and quickly covered with sand to seal in the heat.

We interviewed two of the First Nations elders who helped make our pit cook and salmon roast the success that it was. We talked to Earl Claxton Jr. from Saanich Nation about the plants used in pit cooks,  “We used plants such as salmonberry, thimbleberry, skunk cabbage leaves and kelp for keeping in the moisture. Sword fern was commonly used in T’Souke pit cooks.”

After a long wait of about three hours, the steamed vegetables were dug out of the pit and served to a horde of hungry students.  Before we dug in, Chief Russ Chipps of Scia’new Nation welcomed all students and staff to the traditional lands of T’Souke Nation, T’Sou-ke Elder Shirley Alphonse blessed the food and Pacheedaht elder Bill Jones shared a few words with us. Everyone seemed to enjoy the feast! There weren’t many leftovers!

For our final interview, we asked John Bradley Williams of Saanich Nation (and Ahousat) what made him come to Journey to teach us about pit cooking.

“It’s what I do for work and I just love doing it. I like all the amazing students here. I’ve been doing pit cooks for about six years now so roughly 150.  I do this with a lot of other schools and I enjoy them all.”

It was a great day and a fun way to learn new things. We are very grateful that we were able to experience a new way of learning through food.  On behalf of all the Grade 7 students at Journey, we wish to thank the elders of Saanich, Pacheedaht, Scia’new (Beecher Bay) and T’Souke Nation for visiting our school and sharing their knowledge with us.  We hope the pit cook will become a Journey tradition now that we have our very own permanent pit cook on our school grounds!

Grade 7 students Tia H. and Madelyn F.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Const. Mat Jones of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit joined a team of Saanich police officers and ICBC representatives cracking down on distracted driving at the McKenzie/Quadra intersection in Saanich on March 3. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
‘Leave the phone alone’: 40 distracted driving tickets issued in two hours at Saanich intersection

Saanich police, CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit crackdown on drivers’ cell-phone use

Cleanup happens after an overnight flood Monday damaged areas of the Oaklands Community Centre. (Facebook/Oaklands Community Association)
Greater Victorians offer flood of support to Oaklands Community Centre

Blown hot water tank Monday night leaves staff cleaning up soggy mess

Hundreds of child care spaces will be available in Greater Victoria in the coming two years. (Unsplash)
More than 300 child care spaces opening in Greater Victoria in next two years

Province announces spaces in Victoria, Sooke, Saanich and North Saanich

Victoria police are investigating after a person broke into and stole a vehicle from a Douglas Street car dealership on the morning of March 3. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Suspect sought after vehicle swiped from Victoria dealership

Suspect broke into Douglas Street dealership shortly before 5 a.m.

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Intiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read