Indigenous Foods Go Digital


Port Alberni — A new resource about harvesting and preparing traditional foods shares the experiences, language, and knowledge of Nuu-chah-nulth elders. The Nuu-chah-nulth Traditional Foods Toolkit—a six-booklet collection now available online—teaches that food security begins at home.

Developed by the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council fisheries department (Uu-a-thluk), the booklets contain exclusive content for harvesting, preparing and eating traditional foods found on Vancouver Island’s west coast. These foods include sockeye salmon, herring spawn, goose barnacles, sea urchins, chitons, wild roots, and eelgrass.

“Our ancestors have harvested wild foods for over 10,000 years and a number of our people still harvest wild food today,” says Nuu-chah-Nulth Tribal Council Vice-President, Priscilla Sabbas Watts. “This knowledge is more important than ever in the face of global food instability. Sharing this wisdom will make it more accessible to future generations.”

Today nearly two billion people struggle to feed themselves due to war, drought, flooding, and disease. Vancouver Island residents live in one of the richest natural paradises on the planet, yet 90 % of our food comes from elsewhere. The Nuu-chah-nulth Traditional Foods Toolkit recalls a time when people made food choices based on what they found in their natural habitat, and not on supermarket shelves.

Encompassing a wealth of user-friendly information, the Toolkit includes six booklets:

  • Eelgrass: “Candy of the Sea”
  • Tips forDrying and Smoking Salmon
  • Steam Pit Cooking
  • Low TideFoods
  • Herring Spawn
  • Reference Guide

Additionally, the booklets contain activities suitable for integrating into school curricula.

“The toolkit offers a tremendous opportunity to pass on traditional knowledge, which teaches self reliance, nutrition, pride for one’s heritage, and sustainability—all important to developing food sovereignty,” adds Sabbas Watts.

The booklets are on sale through the Uu-a-thluk website in downloadable formats. Proceeds go towards education and training programs for youth and others in Nuu-chah-nulth Nations. Watch a video about our project or visit our sales page here. To learn more about the booklets or to purchase copies, visit