Introducing Joan Morris (Sellemah): an inspiring Songhees elder and PPP partner.
PPP was introduced to Songhees Elder Joan Morris (also known as Sellemah, her traditional name) in the early part of 2014. Joan was a participant in international round table discussions as part of the World Indigenous Forum for Water and Peace, an organization which PPP continues to support. She warmly welcomed participants to Coast Salish Territories and shared powerful words about the effects of colonization, Indian Residential Schools and the relatively unknown Indian Hospitals, all sadly well known from her personal experience. She spoke courageously about the trauma inflicted on her, her family and peoples.
Over the next while, our Team was fortunate to get to know Joan and her playful, spiritual but down-to-business manner, and a bond began to form. In preparations for our Pacific Networking Conference (PNC) in September 2015, Joan helped us begin planning in a good and proper way. She reminded us all along the way of protocols and deep teaching that became central to our programming for the PNC. Her words "Heal the Land, to Heal the People" became a mantra and we were thrilled to work alongside Joan and the Songhees Nation in their visions to preserve and protect Tl'ches (Chatham Island), Joan's traditional home off the City of Victoria on southeastern Vancouver Island.
"Joan is an inspiration to PPP," says Executive Director, April Ingham. "Her warmth, love and generosity of spirit, and her welcoming presence bridge cultures, communities and our vast Pacific Ocean."