Working with the K’ómoks Nation towards Q’waq’wala7owkw on their unceded territory.

Working with the K’ómoks Nation towards Q’waq’wala7owkw on their unceded territory.


Suggested Grades: ALL

Notes: This is probably best done at the end of the year after the students have been exposed to environmental lessons or field trips. This lesson can be done over a few days and people from the Community Connections section can be asked to speak to your class.

Driving Questions

  • What is Keeping it Living?
  • Who is involved in Keeping It Living?
  • What things do we need to keep living?

Learning Intentions

  • I understand how I am part of keeping it living
  • I share my inspiration with others


  • Videos
  • Overview Sheet
  • Art materials (e.g. wooden salmon, paper,cards, paint, markers , crayons)
  • Pencil and paper

Curricular Competencies


  • Questioning and predicting
  • Evaluating and applying knowledge


  • Creating and communicating


  1. Watch one or more of the videos
  2. Introduce the idea of Keeping It Living (see Overview Sheet for information)
  3. Brainstorm things that humans need to keep living. This can be done on a personal, family, community and global level.
  4. Brainstorm things that inspire students to be a part of Keeping It Living. (May want to reference any field trips or environmental lessons they have completed).
  5. Students write down what inspires them – could be done as poetry or prose.
  6. Students make an art piece or paint a salmon for the Save a Salmon installation to go up at Kus-kus-sum (much like the Stream of Dreams salmon).
  7. Schools/classes/grades hold a Keeping It Living Art Show with Project Watershed or on their own.
  8. At the event people can become a Salmon Saviour by “purchasing”a piece of art and/or sponsoring a salmon. The sponsor gets to take home the art piece and the salmon goes up on the Kus-kus-sum fence.

Click here to download a printable version of this lesson

Keeping It Living Overview

Keeping It Living, Qwa’qwala7qwa (pronounced kwakwalakwa) comes from Kwakiutl Chief Adam Dick who passed this term on to Nancy Turner who wrote books about growing and using native plants. It means to grow and harvest food and other materials in a way that maintains and replenishes the ecosystems where they come from. If we damage the ecosystem we damage our own health – we keep it living and it keeps us living. To do this we must have a positive long term relationship with the ecosystem. Today we use words like sustainability and stewardship for this.

There are many things we need to treat in this way (below are a few examples):

  • History – lots has been forgotten about how to live in harmony with our environment. We need to keep our history living by talking about it, writing about it and learning from it.
  • Ecosystems – Our lives and the lives of everything on earth depends on the ecosystems of the planet.
  • Plants – which we eat, make medicine from, get oxygen from, build things with and find beautiful.
  • Animals – which we eat, make things from, have as pets, and learn things from.
  • Watersheds – which supply us with water to drink as well as water for fish and other plants and animals.

Community Connection

You can invite a local artist (see artist list) in to talk about art, inspiration and Keeping It Living and/or pair this with a talk from Project Watershed about Kus-kus-sum. It may be good to do this before step 6.