In the midst of a bewildering cold snap and more snow than Vancouver could handle, the Stanley Park Ecology Society heralded the longest night of the year. Winter Solstice has held great significance across many cultures throughout history, and the immediate landscape influences much of a community’s traditions and festivities in this season.
On Sunday, December 18th, we reprised our annual Celebrating Solstice walk, led by former SPES employee Jennifer Swanston. Mugs of steaming apple cider were poured while Jennifer featured natural elements as timeless symbols in our solstice holiday traditions. Snowfall from the night before didn’t dampen the spirits of those who attended—including a lively 40+ social group that advertised the walk on Meetup—and only served to coat the land in frost-gilded magic.
(Photos: Stephen Morgan)
To cap the wintry white weekend, we hosted our first Indigenous Solstice Dinner by the waters of Lost Lagoon. Guests were treated to a scrumptious Indigenous-inspired menu of such items as cucumber canoes lathered with sockeye salmon whip; kale, roasted squash, and caramelized pear salad with walnuts and maple dressing; roast elk served with fried bannock and gravy; and indigenous ice cream with mountain blueberry drizzle. It was a special evening which raised over $1000 dollars for nature education programs, aptly set in the Stanley Park Nature House, the Society’s foremost interpretive space for locals and tourists alike. What’s more, participants were treated to songs and stories shared by our very own Yuxweluptun’aat (Lauraleigh) and Sxaxleya (Christie Lee) on Coast Salish experiences of Solstice, which made for a truly inspiring event.
At SPES, we have the privilege of working alongside the seasons’ ebb and flow and experiencing the richness of each turn. Through our programs, we hope to continue sharing these moments with all of you!
–By Dannie Piezas, Environmental Educator