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Thesis Defence: A Two-Eyed Seeing approach to predicting the distribution of skwenkwínem (Claytonia lanceolata), a culturally significant plant

June 10 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Hannah Pilat, supervised by Dr Jason Pither, will defend their thesis titled “A Two-Eyed Seeing approach to predicting the distribution of skwenkwínem (Claytonia lanceolata), a culturally significant plant” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Biology.

An abstract for Hannah Pilat’s thesis is included below.

Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in-person defences.


Colonialism and a changing climate have threatened culturally significant food plants and the well-being of those who rely on them. An example is skwenkwínem (western spring beauty, Claytonia lanceolata Pursh), which is significant for Secwépemc People of Skeetchestn Indian Band. Skeetchestn is located in the Deadman Valley, in the interior of what we now call British Columbia. Skwenkwínem once comprised a large portion of Secwépemc diet, but is no longer feasible to harvest as a meaningful food source. We used a Two-Eyed Seeing approach to species distribution modelling, beginning with semi-structured interviews with three Skeetchestn community members. The interviews produced five major themes: nourishment, colonization, interconnectedness, kinship, and places, with an emphasis on the importance of the Skeetchestn community skwenkwínem patch. Using a set of predictors informed by the Knowledge from the interviews, and several bioclimatic variables, we used an ensemble modeling approach to predict suitable habitat for skwenkwínem over its known geographic extent. We predict a decrease in suitable habitat from the present to 2081-2100 across skwenkwínem’s full geographic extent and an increase within Skeetchestn Territory. These predictions use Skeetchestn’s existing Knowledge of skwenkwínem in our predictive models to support Skeetchestn’s goals of food sovereignty. We also discuss the existing field of species distribution modelling regarding culturally significant species, and how geographical tools can support Indigenous communities’ decision-making and sovereignty assertion. Our study is an example of reproducible species distribution modelling done in partnership with an Indigenous community, balancing the need for open science and ethical and equitable research.


June 10
9:00 am - 1:00 pm


Engineering, Management, and Education Building (EME)
1137 Alumni Ave
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

Room Number
Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Indigenous, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates