A special camas sign unveiling ceremony took place in a serene setting at Gyro Park last week, overlooking the banks of the Columbia River.
Blue camas, a sacred heritage plant of local First Nations people, the Sinixt, is valued as an important food source, and this area is a heritage site for the plant.
To start the Trail event, ceremonial tobacco was offered by Coun. Carol Dobie to honour and acknowledge Sinixt Matriarch, Marilyn James.
James spoke about the importance of harvesting practices and protocols in root digging and processing that created sustainability of the camas plant, along with other messages about the need for land and water education today and for future generations.
Event guests posed questions about the cooking practices and taste of camas — the bulbs of the plant are the edible food source — and other Sinixt traditions such as the First Law of the Land.
The sign and heritage site are located along the Gyro Park walkway between the main beach and Sunningdale.
The city encourages everyone to honour and respect camas by not picking or disturbing the plant.
In the Trail area, Indigenous community leader Kim Robertson teamed up with Trail Communities in Bloom last spring to plant a bed of camas on the banks of the Columbia River near Gyro Park.
Trail Communities in Bloom, the City of Trail and community members worked with the Autonomous Sinixt to design a Blue Camas (known as ʔitx̌ʷaʔ and pronounced it-kwah) sign at Gyro Park.
Indigenous student artist Jordan Seaman created the camas image on the sign.
Common camas is a native perennial herb in the lily family. The beautiful blue flowers grow in moisture-laden meadows in southern B.C. Camas is a rare find in the Columbia Basin, restricted to low-elevation sites in the West Kootenay.
Camas have a short blooming season starting in the spring for about two to three weeks and then no evidence is left by the middle of June.
Camas was a dietary staple for Indigenous peoples wherever it grew, and is a cultural keystone species. In the Columbia region, however, it presently only covers less than one per cent of its historical range.