As we celebrate those amazing women who gave us life, my mind thinks of Mother Earth and how we need to celebrate her as well.
Mother Earth gives us the food and water that gives us life, the air which we can breathe by, the sun which gives us light and warmth, the wind that refreshes us and the beauty that empowers us.
There is nothing more powerful for me than being on the land in Hupacasath territory where my ancestors have utilized the resources on the land and in the water and have practiced our spiritual rituals since time immemorial.
As I see eagles fly above or perched in trees I think about how different the world is now for them and for us as peoples from when my ancestors were wealthy with all the riches they reaped from Mother Earth.
The rivers no longer bring so many salmon we can walk across the streams on their backs, the forests no longer contain our power places or are third or fourth growth with ecosystems that no longer have our medicinal plants we once used. Our way of life has changed as developments increase.
Men in their greed have ravaged Mother Earth, thinking she can give and give and give without thought for the impact we are having on her. For what is left, we need to use and manage more prudently for if we don’t, we will cause our own demise.
I was very happy this week when the members of the Lax Kw’alaams voted for Mother Earth, for keeping the mouth of the Skeena River protected so their sea resources would not be at risk. Money isn’t everything. A billion dollars can never replace this generation and future generations ability to exercise their right to fish. Not just the right to fish, the right to fish quality salmon that are not poisoned or affected by pollutants from the LNG facility and other infrastructure.
A billion dollars can never bring back the fish, way of life, and gathering of strong medicinal plants, and the importance of the role of the Lax Kw’alaams in their responsibilities as stewards of the lands and waters. There was no question in the minds of the members at the two meetings that were held so far that they weren’t even tempted by the billion dollars. Their values and teachings are so embedded in their minds and hearts that they wouldn’t go against what they are and what is vital to them.
I am sure there were many out there that cannot believe that the Lax Kw’alaams are turning down a billion dollars. This clash of values causes a huge chasm between First Nations people and many non First Nations people. It is a clash that happens every day as the government and industry bring development initiatives that will either take away in whole or in part our rights. First Nations connection to the land goes deep within us, one that was instilled in us from our ancestors that occupied our lands.
This clash of values is one that is at times insurmountable and developments are approved over First Nations objections. As First Nations people describe to a Joint Panel or a Minister or other government representative what the land, burial or sacred site means to us, they cannot fully understand or grasp the depth of why the site or right mean to us. During the hearings on Enbridge, First Nation people one after the other communicated the importance of the land and water to them and why. I am sure at some point the panel members shut off their hearts and stopped listening because they just didn’t understand, did not share the same values and felt jobs and money was more important. That is why Northern Gateway Project and Site C were approved, was the failure of the Panels to comprehend First Nations values.
As all people who live in Canada we all have our own areas we treasure for its majesty, its beauty and the peace and strength we feel. We love the pristine wilderness, the waters that we use for many purposes, and watching the four legged and the winged ones that bring us pleasure and wonder. How much are you willing to do to keep those places on Mother Earth intact?
People are looking to First Nations to stop some of those projects that will obliterate what they love such as the river valleys along the Peace River that will be flooded for Site C. They are looking to First Nations to stop pipelines and tankers so that there won’t be environmental disasters and change the landscape forever.
We all need to be strong like the people of the Lax Kwa’laams and stand up and celebrate Mother Earth. We all need to speak out and work against those projects that will negatively impact on Mother Earth and the quality of our lives.
As I flew across the Salish Sea on Friday, the wonder of the ocean, the beauty of the islands, the home of the whales and seals, were sparkling. We have been blessed with a bountiful land but unless we are careful, development will quicken climate change, sea levels will rise, and the earth will warm so much that the ecosystems that support the environment we live in will completely change. We are experiencing that already.
On this day where we celebrate mothers, let us also celebrate Mother Earth and take action to protect what we value and make wise choices for the sake of our children today and future generations. Go out today with those you love and admire the lovely vistas all around us and make your commitment to act in the best interests of Mother Earth that supports and nurtures us while there is still time.