Photo of an Indigenous clam garden site.
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Clam garden restoration

Recored Thursday June 6, 2024.

Carl Olsen is an Indigenous knowledge holder from the W̱SÁNEĆ (wh-say-nech) nation on Vancouver Island. He has been a vital part of clam garden restoration projects in the Salish Sea. 

Carl’s talk outlines the historical significance of clam gardens as a food source and how they are cultivated. He also discussed past and present clam garden restoration projects, and where these projects are occurring. 

About Carl Olsen

Carl is a day school survivor. During his childhood, even though Carl was learning the teachings of his ancestors and the Indigenous and Treaty rights of his people, like many from his generation, he suffered a loss of teachings due to assimilation and colonization.

Carl became a small business owner and raised a family on the Tsartlip Reservation and through his midlife worked to become a drug and alcohol counselor to help his community through addiction and reconnect with their culture and teachings.

Hunting with his friend in the mid-nineties, Carl was charged by conservation officers for a provincial hunting violation, Carl took his case to the Supreme Court of Canada and won, defending his rights to hunt as a W̱ILNEW̱ person.

Carl is a skilled drum maker and is passionate about his culture. He has spent countless hours advocating for the protection and restoration of harvesting sites in his territory to assure that there are these places for many generations to come. A majority of this work has been on the restoration and care of the sea gardens in the W̱SÁNEĆ territory. Believing that, without places to harvest, there will be even further loss of culture and knowledge related to these very important practices. Therefore, Carl is committed to rebuilding, harvesting, and educating people with the knowledge that he carries from his ancestors.

Additional resources

Clam Garden Resoration Project

From 2014 to 2019, Parks Canada, the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation and the Hul’q’umi’num Nations participated in the Clam Garden Restoration project

Clam Gardens in the Pacific Northwest

This short clip features Dr. Marco Hatch, a marine ecologist from Western Washington University explaining how this indigenous technology is used.

Image of clams on a shoreline.

Clam Garden Network resources

Explore this website to learn about the social and ecological importance of traditional mariculture practices and experience the magic of clam gardens.