Friday, February 14, 2020
I wondered what I was going to write for my prompt at Earthweal on Monday: Finding Hope. Why is it so hard, knowing all I know, to write about having hope? Why is it so much easier to write about all that is wrong and needs changing?
But then, today, Valentine's Day, I attended a Tla-o-qui-aht-led gathering of women (and a secondary circle of men who came to support the women) at the totem pole park on the harbour. The gathering was in remembrance of the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada. Concern was spoken for the safety of Wet'suwet'en women, as a 450-man camp is proposed in their area, where GasLink plans to build a pipeline, with government support, right through Wet'suwet'en territory. On unceded land, that belongs to the Wet'suwet'en people.
Time for the Canadian government to stop using the word "Reconciliation" with regards to their relationship with the First People of this land.
There was a small contained fire, and we were invited to make small tobacco medicine bundles imbued with our prayers. When we were ready to let them go, we put them in the fire, so our prayers could go to Creator and out into the universe. There was drumming, and singing, and Tla-o-qui-aht women spoke, along with a few non-native women. "It is time to step into your courage," one young mother said. "We need to think of the world we are passing onto the children."
We sent love and strength to the front lines of the Wet'suwet'en people, where elders and others have been arrested in a series of arrests by militarized police. Protecting corporate interests, as always, over the rights of the First Peoples of this land.
In protest, land defenders and supporters shut down government offices, bridges, intersections, railways and ports all across Canada this week. Since the only thing that matters to government is money, this has gotten a reaction. Government people are now meeting with the hereditary chiefs. It would be nice if they could listen with their hearts instead of their bankbooks.
This pipeline has already cost billions of dollars and it hasn't been built yet. It is economic and ecological insanity. Not to mention, the Supreme Court of Canada AND the United Nations have declared the Wet'suwet'en peoples' absolute rights to their land and both entities have said they cannot be removed from it.
Supporters have shown up in big numbers in rallies across the country. First Nations are not alone; they have allies. If environmentalists and First Nations join together, we have powerful numbers and a strong voice.
There were things I felt and wanted to share with the circle. But it was a day for First Nations voices, and I am lucky. I can come home and share my thoughts with you.
I wanted to say my heart hurt when I watched the video above, of the elder being led away DURING PRAYER AND CEREMONY. I heard the grief in her wail, being taken off her land, heartbroken but still singing. Red dresses had been hung along the blockade in honour of the missing and murdered women. As arrests were made, I saw some dresses on the ground in the snow, and felt such disrespect being shown as the police took down the ones still hanging. They have no clue about the sacredness of what they are encountering. They blunder; do not listen; do not try to HEAR. No respect.
I wanted to say I stand with First Nations here and all across the country, as I always have. That I mind wearing this white skin, the skin of the oppressor of indigenous people all over the world. That my heart is theirs in friendship and solidarity.
I hope my continued presence at these gatherings lets them know I am a friend.
Our gathering closed as we women walked around the fire in a circle, singing. I felt the power of women, of mothers, of matriarchs, of grandmothers, of the long line of women who walked here before us. We have strong medicine when we come together. It is not a loud strength that needs a lot of chest-thumping. It is a quiet knowing that there is a better way. When we finally sit in council, governing, as we once did long ago, this will be a better world. I am not sure how much longer that will take or if the world will survive long enough for it to happen. But women bear life, we value life, we nurture it. We know how to help it grow.
In that circle of women, as I gazed at birds in flight overhead, and traced the beauty of mist and clouds decorating Wah'nah'juss, I realized: this is where I find my hope, in a gathering of women speaking truth, sharing sorrow at injustice, encouraging action, both personal and in community, for the change that has to happen.
I found some hope this morning. It lifted my heart.
for my prompt at Earthweal on Monday: Finding Hope