Pulling To Gather

A community project bridging art and ecological restoration. 

Help restore native ecology!

Pulling To Gather is a community project aimed at restoring Nanaimo’s native ecology in an artful way. Introduced to Nanaimo decades ago, English Ivy has grown into Colliery Dam Park and taken over much of the forest floor. We are taking group action to remove ivy, restore the land’s native ecology, and to repurpose the ivy vines for artful expression. Click below to register!

Geraldine Manson & Nancy Turner at Wildwood Ecoforest

Invasive Plants in Native Plant Habitats & Creative Interventions Moderated by Mayita Mendez

Where: Wildwood Ecoforest, 2929 Crane Rd, Nanaimo District, BC
When: Saturday May 4th, 2024 from 10:00am-11:00am
All are welcome and this is a family-friendly FREE event.

Come join us for this special morning conversation over a warm cup of tea and snacks in the forest. Snuneymuxw Elder Geraldine Manson and ethnobotanist Nancy Turner will draw you into their in-depth knowledge over a casual and friendly dialogue.

Did you know that invasive species are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity? It’s a complex topic as many invasive plants hold significance in the origin of their cultures and habitats and that’s why they were brought by settlers along with their gardens on Native lands. Pulling To Gather artists have been working on the ground and thinking through our relationships to the land. For settler artists, it has been a unique opportunity to scrutinize our responsibilities to take care of the ecology.

This conversation will be moderated by photographer Mayita, who has been working with a group of local women, photographing their moments during ivy-pulling parties and exhibiting them on April 27th at Colliery Dam Park Pulling To Gather Earth Day celebration!

This event is taking place during SAVE 21 ACRES & OPEN HOUSE EVENT at Wildwood Ecoforest.


C’tasi:a Geraldine Manson

‘Elder-in-Resident’ since 2008 with Vancouver Island University located in Nanaimo.

A key part of Manson’s role is supporting the movement of  aboriginal knowledge related to Traditional Protocols and history of Snuneymuxw First Nation into the existing curriculum offered at the University.  Her passion is history connected to the surrounding mountains, rivers that flow into the ocean and all resources each contain.  Geraldine has recently published two books that offer insight to history of her Ancestor’s legacy. At present she is focused on her third book titled, “Medicinal Bundles”.

Nancy Turner

An ethnobotanist, and a retired Professor, from the University of Victoria here in BC. She has worked with First Nations elders and cultural specialists in northwestern North America for over 50 years, helping to document, retain and promote their botanical and environmental expertise. Her 2-volume award-winning book, Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge (2014; MQUP), integrates her long-term research. She has authored/co-authored/co-edited 30 other books, including: The Earth’s Blanket (2005); “Keeping it Living”(2005); Plants, People and Places (2020); Plants of Haida Gwaii (2021); and Luschiim’s Plants (2021), and over 150 book chapters and papers. She has received a number of awards for her work, including Order of British Columbia (1999) and Order of Canada (2009), and honorary degrees from VIU, UNBC, SFU and UBC.


Mayita Mendez is a professional photographer born in El Salvador, raised in NYC, and living in BC Canada. She worked as a photojournalist in New York and was on staff for the daily New York City based newspaper Newsday. Her photography has been featured in major newspapers across the USA, from The New York Times to the Los Angeles Times. She was a awarded a Presidential Scholarship at the Rhode Island School of Design where she received her MFA. She has exhibited her work on both Protection Island and galleries in New York City. She is currently working on a project that investigates women’s relationships with the natural world.

We acknowledge that the City of Nanaimo resides on the Traditional Territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. We recognize and honor their enduring connection to this land, their stewardship of its resources, and their rich cultural heritage. We offer our gratitude for the opportunity to live, work, and learn on this territory, and we commit to fostering meaningful relationships built on respect, understanding, and reconciliation.

In the foreground center, a water droplet hangs from a filament of moss growing from the side of a tree at the left side. Trees blur in the background on the right side.

Who And What We Are

Pulling To Gather is a community-driven eco-art project bringing art and ecological restoration together.

This project brings together artists’ desire for creative action and land stewards’ aim to raise awareness through art. The spread of invasive species threatens ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to climate disasters and cultural loss.

Informed by teachings from Snuneymuxw Elders on medicinal plants, we recognize the urgent need to protect endangered ecosystems. Our objective is to empower artists and participants by sharing knowledge, facilitating hands-on experiences to restore ecological balance, and engaging in collaborative art projects to promote climate resilience.

Over 12 weeks (March to May), we will host intensive Earth Activities, culminating in a celebratory event at Colliery Dam Park, heavily affected by English Ivy infestation.The celebration, presented by the City of Nanaimo on April 27th (Earth Day Weekend), will feature renowned Snuneymuxw storyteller Celestine Aleck’s storytelling and an exhibition of artworks inspired by the Earth Activities.

Throughout the project, we will organize ten ivy pulling parties at the park, involving community members in removing invasive ivy. These gatherings offer opportunities for artists to collaborate and provide ivy vines harvested during the events for their creative endeavors.

Project Leaders

Minah Lee

Art Action Earwig

Wryly Andherson

Art Action Earwig

Michael Geselbracht

Nanaimo Forest School

Check out what we’ve been up to!

The following images were taken at our plant pulling sessions down at Colliery Dam.

Thank you to our sponsors and supporters!

Nanaimo Forest School
Crimson Coast Dance
City of Nanaimo
Nanaimo & area Land Trust
Canada Council For The ARts