The Scw’exmx Community Health Services Society launched separate food and field guides on Wednesday, during a salmon barbecue celebration.

One book is designed for the coffee table, while the other is smaller and can be taken on excursions.

“One will show you stuff like what a fauna looks like and when to pick it,” said Jim Adams, executive director of the Scw’exmx Community. “It tells you about different features, like how salmon oil is an antidote for mosquitoes. It tells you all kinds of neat stuff.”

The food guide talks about the importance of farming land in its natural state, which allows it to be nourished so that it can regrow. It also contains recipes and nutritional information.

“These are the heritage foods, the traditional foods of the people,” he said. “The whole point is to have [the people] look at the health benefits of their traditional foods and give them some guidance on how to get to them and how to pick them.”

Each book is about 10 years in the making and was developed by Merritt’s own Esh-Kn-Am Cultural Resources Management Services for Heskw’en’scutxe Health Services Society, Siska Traditions Society and for Adams’ Scw’exmx Community Health Services Society.

All of the food items have a picture to go along with them, meaning photographers were needed year-round to capture each item’s image when it was in season. Some photos were contributed by Wikipedia.

Elders put in many hours of work advising about the various foods found in the bush.

Organizers arrived on Wednesday to set up teepees, tables and barbecue equipment at approximately 6:30 a.m., before guests started arriving at around 11 a.m.

The salmon was donated by members of the society.

Workers from the health care team were available to meet with clients during the event.

“We like to meet our people,” Adams said. “This is really just a celebration of life.”

The guides and a calendar are being distributed for free to each household that the society represents, which includes the Shackan, Coldwater and Nooaitch Indian Bands. This includes the Siska and Cook’s Ferry communities.

The guides are also available for free to members of the three bands at the society’s 2090 Coutlee Ave. office.

Five people work at the office and in the field in the mental health division and are trained counsellors.

Two nurses and three support staff are also employed there to complete public health and home care.

“We’ve got a mental health group and a nursing group, which are our primaries,” Adams said. “We do a lot of client services in the communities. About 70 per cent of our service is with the clients in the home or in the community.”

Scw’exmx health has been in the community since 1994 and is funded out of Health Canada.

The society works closely with the Interior Health Authority.

Brenda Aljam, department manager for Esh-Kn-Am, declined to comment about the group’s participation.