Sellemah Scholarship

The original donor of this scholarship is the well-known Canadian writer Gary Geddes, who has written and edited more than fifty books and been the recipient of a dozen national and international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region) and BC’s Lt.-Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence. Songhees elder Joan Morris inspired him to do the research and interviews that went into Medicine Unbundled: A Journey Through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care.  As a long-time admirer of the work of Nancy Turner, when Geddes learned of her close friendship with Joan Morris, he decided to dedicate this award to both women.

This Scholarship honours the legacy of Dr. Nancy Turner and Songhees Elder Joan Morris, who share the name "Sellemah". Professor Turner, much-loved teacher and highly regarded ethno-botanist, has given much of her life and energy to writing and teaching about traditional food practices (planting, gathering, preparing, preserving) amongst Indigenous peoples. This work put her in touch with Songhees Elder Joan Morris, whose deep friendship resulted in the sharing of the name "Sellemah" that Joan was given by her grandmother on Chatham Island. As a child, Joan survived the Nanaimo Indian Hospital and the infamous Kuper Island Indian Residential School, and has been a tireless supporter of victims of these institutions and an educator of those willing to listen. The friendship and example of these two women is an inspiration for us all.

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