Celánen: Land, Culture, and Self Governance in Cheam

Celánen: Land, Culture, and Self Governance in Cheam

Organization type: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

June Quipp has worked for decades to secure land rights, revitalize culture, and promote health for her Cheam Tribe, Sto:lo First Nation. This award would support her continued direct-action and legal property-rights work, and a new community-sustainability project promoting environmental, social, and economic health at Sto:lo First Nation.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

This project is focused mainly on gaining official recognition of the Stó:lō right to their traditional territories, and tying those property rights into cultural revitalization, land use management, community health, and economic develop initiatives. The project, thus, deals with continuing and further advancing actions designed to yield sustainable Cheam, Stó:lō, Fraser Valley, Pacific Northwest, and world communities. The innovative, integrated sustainability project is relevant to efforts by indigenous groups around the globe to obtain property rights and blend traditional cultures with modern reality to achieve both environmental and human health.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

4. Stó:lo traditional culture centers around a reverence for the environment and an ethic of care for it, as embodied in the motto of the government: “Xolhemet to mekw'stam it kwelat” (This is our land. We have to look after everything that belongs to us.). The governments of Canada and of British Columbia never, however, entered into treaties with (most of) the tribes of BC, and for more than 100 years engaged in practices (such as forcing children into residential schools) designed to erode the Sto:lo culture. Only in 1992 did the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the right of First Nations’ people to traditional foods, lands, and cultural-environmental traditions. A “modern treaty negotiation” process began in BC shortly thereafter. June Quipp served as Cheam chief from 1999 to 2003, has been key to both land rights and cultural revitalization efforts through direct action such as sit-ins and leading completion of the Cheam; in policy, legal, and leadership work as a member of the tribal council; and as an elder who promotes cultural knowledge and models community involvement and environmental concern. Chief Quipp led the fight for Sto:lo fishing rights in Fraser River valley. Leadership from her and other elders has done much in recent decades to revitalize and spread Sto:lo culture. A new sustainability initiative is now underway focused on continuing to develop the land rights of the Sto:lo people and tie land claims into a comprehensive program of cultural, environmental, sustainable-economic, and other forms of community health. Jane Quipp’s continued cultural and community leadership within that sustainability project would be supported by the Omiynar Property Rights award.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Sustainability involves the intersection of social-cultural, environmental, and economic Sustainability requires social-cultural, environmental, and economic health—the health of the land cannot be separated from individual and social health. The Cheam community, substantially led by Jane Quipp, is rebuilding those connections. Existing successes include an agreement among 10 Stó:lō communities, the School District, and the BC Ministry of Education to teach Halq’emeylem (the Sto:lo language); and a program to revive traditional foods. Assertion of fishing, hunting, and food gathering rights; and reinstitution of traditional ceremonies have been used to link fishing-hunting, land-management, and individual and family health. The Stó:lō are also fighting restrictive Provincial-government preconditions for formal Treaty negotiation. Non-violent protests led by Jane Quipp have been key in asserting Cheam and Stó:lō rights to their traditional territories. The Stó:lō have also combined traditional ceremonial canoe journeys among Coastal Salish tribes in Canada and the USA with testing of water quality across the Pacific Northwest bioregion. In October of 2010, a Stó:lō Sustainability Planning workshop was held in Mission and Cheam BC. More than fifty people from Stó:lō communities, US Coastal Salish communities, the Canadian and US government, and non-profit environmental organizations attended. Starting from a Stó:lō cultural framework, a sustainability vision and a group of action plans were developed for Stó:lō, its links to other First Nations’ and to other Coastal Salish communities, as well as for action to spread the vision to other parts of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The Omidyar award would support the leadership of Jane Quipp in those ongoing and new sustainability efforts.
About You
Cheam Band, Sto:lo First Nation
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name


Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Organization Name

Cheam Band, Sto:lo First Nation

Organization Phone


Organization Address

P.O. Box 2159, Chilliwack, BC V2R 1A7

Organization Country

, BC

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, BC

Do you have a patent for this idea?


The action steps for the project include cultural revitalization; direct and legal action and negotiations toward achieving property rights; and outreach to a variety of other partners toward creation of new approaches to environmental health, family and personal health, and economic opportunities. The main challenges are: the need to maintain and further develop internal community vision and motivation; the challenge of developing collaborative action with multiple partners and potential partners; and developing the resources for work on cultural revitalization, effectiveness in efforts to move the Provincial and Federal governments, and create green economic options.


Year 1: Continued vision refinement, community-outreach, land-claim action, new action planning, and partnership development. Obtaining funding for putting new action plans into effect. Year 2: Continuing property rights actions (direct, legal/policy). Action implementation, community outreach, continued partnership development. Start of evaluation of project effectiveness. Year 3: Continuing property rights actions (direct, legal/policy). Action-plan refinement and implementation, continued evaluation of project effectiveness. Continuing funding development. Extension to other First Nations/indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$1000 - 4000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


If so, how?

The project has many potential implications for public policy. It seeks to directly affect the policies and practices of the Canadian and British Colombian provincial governments relating to land rights for the Cheam community, the Stó:lō more broadly, and First Nations’ communities, in general. It also targets modifying policies of Cheam and otherFirst Nations’ governments (and of non-profit partners) to greater sustainability-focus and promoint sustainability knowledge and behaviors among community members. Finally, the project is intended to be a model for and guide to global public policy around indigenous- and non-indigenous community sustainability.

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation.

Partnerships with other First-Nations/indigenous communities are critical to both critical mass of public pressure, and vision-consistency for land-claims negotiations and actions. Partnerships with non-Native governments/communities are key to achieving property rights and implementing land-use/other sustainability plans. Partnerships with non-profit groups will also aid land-claim negotiation and educational efforts; plus will aid development and implementation of many specific action plans. For instance, faculty members and students from Portland State University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria, and Western Washington University are providing planning, community-education, environmental-science and other expertise to support planning and action. Similarly, non-profit partners are providing key expertise/effort toward sustainability actions. For example, we have discussed the possibility of Ecotrust Canada providing forestry, water-quality, and habitat restoration expertise and also issuing certifications of sustainably-harvested and First-Nations’ produced traditional foods (Ecotrust already provides certification of sustainable lumbering).

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Have BP, but was developed on flip charts October 2010 and has yet to be put into document or file version. The Cheam-tribal and Stó:lō government has funded the existing land-claim and sustainability efforts. The visioning and action-planning workshop was also supported by both governments, as well as by a grant from the U.S. government’s National Science Foundation. The Canadian government and non-profit attendees at the workshop also had financial support for their participation from their organizations. The Cheam-tribal and Stó:lō participants, university faculty, and some non-profit partners (e.g., Ecotrust Canada) also intend to pursue both governmental and foundation funding for specific sustainability projects. Preparing such funding requests was part of the action planning process at the October 2010 workshop and funding proposal development will be put into effect over the next few months.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

This initiative is deeply rooted in the cultural, traditions, and history of Cheam and the Stó:lō and in that respect is an outgrowth of many events over the course of centuries and decades. More acute precipitating events include June Quipp’s and others’ leadership over the last 20 years in attempting to shape the Modern Treaty Negotiation process in British Columbia, gain Sto:lo land rights, and initiate culturally-appropriate and sustainable community development. Another key trigger for the project was completion of construction of a traditional longhouse at Cheam and a Stó:lō Interpretive Center at Mission as centers for cultural revitalization, community cohesion, and sustainability action. Directly leading to the new initiative was attendance by a Cheam community member and leader at a workshop on Pacific Northwest Native Community sustainability at Portland State University in the Spring of 2008; and the Stó:lō Sustainability planning workshop that was held in October of 2010.

Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.

June Quipp is a elder from Cheam who has been both a formal community leader (as, e.g., member and chief of the band council) and a traditional-knowledge expert and resource for a Cheam and Stó:lō individual, communities, and projects. Her leadership from her (as well as that of other other tribal members) has been to the following recent initiatives: education about and revitalization of Stó:lō culture; linking cultural revitalization to land-claims, environmental-health, and community development; and direct and legal action toward land-claims and property rights. The latter included a series of sit-ins and other non-violent protests that June Quipp led in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through another organization or company

If through another source, please provide the information.

Approximately 50 words left (400 characters).

Which (if any) of the following strategies apply to your organization or company (check as many as apply)

Policy advocacy to strengthen property rights or increase security of tenure, Formalizing and documenting property rights (i.e. titling, leasing or certification), Legal education and awareness, Developing/applying technology for surveying, mapping and documenting property rights.

Please explain how your work furthers one or many of the above strategies (if you selected “other”, please explain your strategy)

This project addresses all of the strategies listed and links them all, and other action plans, into an integrative framework of sustainability. The “technology” aspect is particularly relevant to land-claims negotiation and land-use management.