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

Local authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Central Saanich to formally inform Agricultural Land Commission about soccer pitch proposal

Move is meant for information only with no application having come forward yet

Victoria man to run marathon after overcoming rare cancer diagnosis

Nigel Deacon was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 2010

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Most Read