Feed the People!

Butchering and Sausage Making workshop 

Led by Karen and Richard Charlie of Penelakut First Nation


The workshop will be delivered on a sliding scale, $35 – 70.  Participation is limited to 20 people. Payment must be made in advance of the workshop; email restoration@galianoconservancy.ca to register.


Join esteemed Penelakut elders Karen and Richard Charlie for a workshop on how to process deer from field to freezer.  Participants will learn how to skin, de-bone, cube, grind, and bag their own organic, locally-hunted venison in a food safe manner.  Karen will walk participants through how to preserve all parts of the animal for a variety of uses, focusing on sausage-making for this workshop.  Participants will be able to take some venison home at the end of the workshop.

This will be a hands-on workshop, where we work together as a group: in Hul’qumi’num, nuts’a’maat – working together with one heart and one mind.


Date: Saturday, December 7th

Location: The Millard Learning Centre – 10825 Porlier Pass Rd., Galiano Island BC

Schedule: The workshop starts at 10 am, and will continue until processing is complete, probably 5 or 6 pm.  Participants must bring their own lunch. After the workshop, there will be an optional potluck dinner; if attending, please bring a healthy dish to share.

Organizers: Galiano Conservancy Association, Southern Gulf Islands Community Resource Centre; Galiano Community Food Program; and the Access to Media Education Society.

This workshop is made possible in part through generous support from the Gulf INLET Project of the Gulf Islands Community Resource Centre.


The Gulf Islands are home to populations of native Columbian black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus) and, in some cases, introduced fallow deer (Dama dama).  Due to the near-extirpation of native predator populations (including wolves, cougars, and bears) from the islands, and the decrease in human hunting pressure over the past century, local deer populations have expanded to historically unprecedented levels.  The issue of hyper-abundant island deer populations has been recognized by researchers, local governments (including the CRD), and community organizations.  There is broad consensus in the scientific literature that unchecked populations of herbivores have negative cascading impacts on their ecosystems, leading to measurable declines in habitat quality, biodiversity, sensitive species, and the health of deer populations themselves.  A series of studies conducted here on the Southern Gulf Islands has identified significant negative impacts of hyber-abundant deer on wildflower growth and reproduction, songbird abundance, and tree regeneration. Social impacts include increases in agricultural losses, browsing in gardens, and vehicular collisions.    

Native deer populations also provide important ecosystem services, as well as social, cultural, and spiritual benefits.  The Penelakut have traditionally hunted deer on Galiano and other Gulf Islands for thousands of years, and they remain important cultural and ceremonial foods.  Venison represents a unique local source of high-quality protein for island communities, which currently import the vast majority of their food requirements. By ethically and humanely hunting deer in a good way, taking care to respect the animals and make use of every part, we can reduce the negative consequences of hyperabundance while also strengthening the conservation values of our protected areas and learning to ‘feed the people’.  

This year, the Islands Trust declared a climate emergency.  By managing island deer populations through community-based hunting, we can (a) reduce our reliance on industrial meat products, and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their production and transport, and (b) enhance the natural regeneration of our forest ecosystems and plant communities, increasing the carbon sequestration capacity of our communities.  Coupled with reducing our overall reliance on fossil fuels and overconsumption, these actions would represent a significant contribution to addressing the climate crisis at a local level.

Further Reading

Arcese, P., et al. “Deer Density and Plant Palatability Predict Shrub Cover, Richness, Diversity and Aboriginal Food Value in a North American Archipelago.” Diversity and Distributions, vol. 20, no. 12, Nov. 2014, pp. 1368–1378.

Capital Regional District. Regional Deer Management Strategy. 2012. Available at: https://www.crd.bc.ca/docs/default-source/regional-planning-pdf/Regional-Deer-Management/regional-deer-management-strategy-recommendations.pdf?sfvrsn=a9c78ec9_0

Coastal Douglas-Fir Conservation Partnership (CDFCP). Conservation Strategy. 2015. Available at: http://www.cdfcp.ca/attachments/CDFCP_CS_2015.pdf

Côté, Steeve D., et al. “Ecological Impacts of Deer Overabundance.” Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, vol. 35, no. 1, 2004, pp. 113–147.

Gonzales, Emily K., and Peter Arcese. “Herbivory More Limiting Than Competition On Early And Established Native Plants In An Invaded Meadow.” Ecology, vol. 89, no. 12, 2008, pp. 3282–3289.

Gonzales, Emily K., and David R. Clements. “Plant Community Biomass Shifts in Response to Mowing and Fencing in Invaded Oak Meadows with Non-Native Grasses and Abundant Ungulates.” Restoration Ecology, vol. 18, no. 5, 2010, pp. 753–761.

Islands Trust Fund. Regional Conservation Plan 2018-2027. 2018. 146 pp. Available at http://www.islandstrustconservancy.ca/media/84722/rcp-final-web-mar-27.pdf. 

Martin, Tara G., et al. “Browsing down Our Natural Heritage: Deer Impacts on Vegetation Structure and Songbird Populations across an Island Archipelago.” Biological Conservation, vol. 144, no. 1, 2011, pp. 459–469.

Martin, Tara G., et al. “Prior Information Reduces Uncertainty about the Consequences of Deer Overabundance on Forest Birds.” Biological Conservation, vol. 165, 2013, pp. 10–17.

Underhill, Rob. (November 15, 2019). Ecological Impacts of Deer Overpopulation on Mayne Island. Available at: https://mayneconservancy.ca/ecological-impact-of-deer-overpopulation-on-mayne-island/

Wikeem, B., and S. Wikeem. 2005. Impacts of Browsing on Key Wildlife Shrubs in British Columbia and Recommendations for their Use. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Victoria, BC.  Wildlife Working Report No. WR 114.