My friends, yesterday I attended
a most inspiring event.
At the Kwisitis Centre, at Wickaninnish Beach,
representatives of the Nuu chah nulth bands
of the West Coast,
and of the villages of Tofino and Ucluelet,
came together to speak of living together
in this wonderful place,
to talk of reconciliation and moving forward
from the wounds of the past
to the First Nations of this land.
We were invited in by the sound of the drums.
On the beach, salmon was being prepared
in the traditional way,
for our feast
Singing and drumming
by the Ahousaht band
Tofino's wonderful mayor, Josie Osborne,
told a story of being warmly welcomed
on a visit to Ahousaht,
and encouraged Tofino residents to welcome
visitors to our town as warmly. Then she invited
some of the local poets to come forward
and read poems about life on the West Coast
Many speakers addressed reconciliation.
An elder said words that struck my heart:
"Speak without giving offence.
Listen without feeling offended."
That is respect, in a nutshell.
People listened with attentiveness to the speeches,
and demonstrated a great desire to live amicably
and respectfully with those around us,
to remember that we are living
on unceded land, in traditional territory.
We are guests here,
as we are on Mother Earth.
These people of the land and water
know that everything is one, and interconnected.
They have much to teach we newcomers
about how to live with and on the land.
This was the day we had. In the morning,
there was a cloudburst, but West Coasters
are not daunted by rain.
We donned rain gear, and the event was well attended.
At noon, the sun came out, unexpectedly,
to our delight. Bubbles soared through the air,
children got their faces painted and, though I missed it,
arial dancers were dancing in the treetops down at the parking lot.
Using ropes, they performed among the tops of the trees.
It must have been a wonderful sight.
I had waves to my heart's delight.
A most wonderful and enriching day.