Feature Story Friday, January 9, 2015
First Morning Songs & Spirituality
Salmon and water blessing at the Vedder River
Women drummers join Eddie Gardner in song at the Vedder River New Year's morning.
s in years gone by, Stó:lō elder and medicine man, Eddie Gardner, spent part of his New Year's Day singing and drumming at the Vedder River on the Trans Canada Trail next to the bridge.
His strong, familiar voice leads a small group of people, some clutching drums, standing in a circle and listening to each other's stories of a time when there were so many salmon, you could "walk across the river on them".
“We need renewable energy that will work with the natural world instead of trying to dominate it. We all have a special gift that we can offer the world and make this a good place to be. We're going to continue to share, and share our good energy, and live in peace and harmony in 2015 and do the work we need to do for future generations,” said Gardner before launching into his Spirit Bear Song.
Afterward, Gardner told The Voice that they were there on the first morning to honour what he calls “the river of life” and wild salmon.
“It was really good to see so many people come from as far as Vancouver up here to join in the ceremony to start the year in a good way; to honour the salmon which is at the centre of the industrial storm that has overtaken BC right now,” he said. “Salmon are being threatened by fracking, by oil and the plans for pipelines and supertankers, and the industrial fish farms in the coastal waters.”
“When we say that ‘as the salmon goes, so do we’, that means that salmon is the true barometer as to the health of this part of the world we call ‘Supernatural BC’. If the salmon goes, it means our river of life is destroyed, it means that the coastal waters are destroyed, it means that there's going to be all the diverse and broad range of animals and birds and other fish that depend on wild salmon. They won't have that anymore and that will be a horrible impact on the environment and on us as human beings.”
Gardner says that in the spring they’re planning a Wild Salmon Caravan awareness campaign regarding issues and threats to wild salmon, and look for solutions.
“It will come down all the way from the headwaters of the Fraser River and we're going to be stopping all along the way have communities. We want awareness on both of those counts all across BC, especially during the election time so that we can hold all the candidates to task to respond and say; What are you doing? What are you actually going to do about saving wild salmon from all these threats?
Waterwealth director Ian Stephen was also there. He told The Voice he wanted to start the year and maintain a spiritual connection to water and salmon and acknowledge the role that the iconic fish plays in the coastal ecological system.
“I was just reading recently that 137 species rely on the salmon. I guess between the ocean and the land, like Eddie said, the wildlife; the eagles, the wolves and the bears and the salmon spend their time out in the ocean and they grow large and they bring all that back as nutrients,” explains Stephen.
“All the species that live inland when the salmon come in then pull that out along the river banks and it feeds the trees and everything else. So, it's an opportunity to connect with that the contemplate that.”
Stephen says Waterwealth has some exciting new programs to look forward to in the coming year.
“We're going to be doing a series of walks over the course of the year to sort of connect people to the water looking at ecological, and economical and spiritual locations, particular locations around the region and we're working with Watershed Watch to do a small series of Watershed Yoga.”
Watershed Yoga highlights the connection between healthy waterways and healthy people, healthy environment and healthy lives.
According to Stephen, Waterwealth had some specialized equipment donated Zo Ann Morten at Pacific Streamkeepers Federation.
“She came out and gave us an initial training, so we'll be expanding on that and getting more people involved,” he said.
Stephen is looking forward to working with David Blair from the City to ensure that the work Waterwealth is doing compliments the work they are doing. So, they need volunteers to help.
“We've only had the one training, so we're going to get out and make sure we're clear on what we're doing, and then start bringing in other people and kind of sharing that with them. I have great hopes that it will grow and lots of people will get involved and out on the water and doing some valuable work.”
Concerned residents can attend an Ocean Farmed Salmon Boycott Rally that is planned for noon on January 10 at Superstore on Luckakuck.
Download Spirit Bear Song here. See more photos below.
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