Feature Story                                                                                             Sunday, January 5, 2013


That Which Sustains Us

A spiritual reckoning on the first morn

Staff/Voice photos


Eddie Gardner (C), leads a drum circle on the Trans Canada Trail at the Vedder Bridge on New Year's day.


he most precious thing in the universe is water. On New Year's morning, a small cluster of people, led by Stó:lō elder Eddie Gardner, gathered on the bank of the Vedder to acknowledge that in a ceremony honouring the "water spirits" and wild salmon.


Their faces glowed with hope as they sang and prayed. Each in turn holding up slice of salmon on a bed of freshly cut cedar branches in offering to show their appreciation for the life-giving sustenance of water.


Gardner explained in detail the meaning behind the drum circle that day.


“People are now coming to realize how important it is for us to have a special relationship with what sustains us as human beings,” he said.


Last year, there was a huge outcry when Fraser Health issued a public decree that the City of Chilliwack was going to have to start chlorinating the water after trace amounts of E Coli bacteria were found in it.


Gardner says it was unavoidable, but also added a caveat that water is a finite resource and cited Kinder Morgan, Enbridge and the incoming super tankers that he says will be plying BC waters.


“If we're not careful as human beings, we may not have any more clean water, and we can prove it with what is going on with fracking for gas. We see what is going on with all the oil spills, all across North America from the pipelines,” he said.


Gardner spoke about how awareness around clean water was growing but warned that clean water can not be taken for granted.


Eddie Gardiner sings his Eagle Vision song on the bank of the Vedder River Tuesday. 


“We have Forest Ethics. We have Living Oceans, the David Suzuki Foundation, WaterWealth and the Pipe-Up group. There are many proliferating all around and we need to encourage this and support it the best way we can,” he said.


“Today, what we're going to do is recommit ourselves in a very reverent manner about how we relate to the sacred waters and the sacred salmon, because our sacred salmon are being threatened by the open-net fish farms,” said Gardner.


Water is looked at as a spigot of money. Fracking for natural gas takes billions of gallons of water out of the cycle permanently by turning it into a poisonous, cancer-causing slurry.


"Water Wealth Project sparked protests against Nestlé Company that was drawing massive amounts of water from the Fraser Valley aquifers to bottle, and sell to people in Western Canada. This resulted in the BC Liberal government putting forth the proposed “Water Sustainability Act” that requires Nestlé to pay fees to the province and have some regulations in place,” explained Gardner in a release Tuesday.


“Although the fees proposed to date are ridiculously low, the new legislation is at least a small beginning to protect our sacred waters from needless exploitation. Out of this controversy, global warming was featured as a major concern and people are coming to realize that water is a shrinking, finite resource that cannot be taken for granted," wrote Gardner.


Human beings are facing some of the toughest environmental challenges in our abbreviated history and we're only just beginning to understand the ramifications of what decades of environmental disregard has done.


An insatiable desire for carbon-based energy will continue to put the planet in a precarious situation. Pollution will be pounded into the ground by the forces of weather to where the planet will have to digest and convert it into something else if humans are going to survive.


"Global warming is resulting from human behavior that goes against natural laws. Kinder Morgan, Enbridge, and “Fracking for Gas” all go against natural laws. In 2014, we are coming to a fork in the road in BC. All British Columbians will need to be fully informed and engaged in choosing short-term benefits and long-term costs to our economy, environment and human health these projects have to offer, or prevent a disaster by saying “NO” to these projects to protect the current economy and the environment, and push for reducing fossil fuel dependency and moving towards clean energy technologies," he said.


"The Net-Cage Aquaculture industry poses great threats to the marine environment and to the survival of wild salmon, a key stone species to BC’s ecosystem that includes supporting a lucrative economy involving sports fisheries, eco-tourism and Indigenous fisheries. Let us continue to strongly advocate for the removal of net cage fish farms from the migration routes of Fraser River sockeye salmon," concluded Gardner.


Fukushima has been unleashed on the planet. There has been recent reports the disabled Japanese reactor is now venting into the atmosphere and the US government has ordered 14 million iodine pills which help the body fight the effects of radiation.


We can't eat the pacific tuna now because of the radiation plume from the stricken plant is beginning to hit the West Coast and has contaminated them. Salmon now face that additional peril. The Fukushima disaster will have to be dealt with for decades — or longer — until the technology exists to stop this monster.


In the near future, we won't be testing water samples with Geiger counters, we'll be testing for toxicity in human hair.



Unit (oil) Trains are tumbling off the rails at an alarming rate. It's just a matter of time before one derails in the Fraser Canyon on it's way to Ioco and Burnaby refineries. If it happens, it'll toast the waterway for generations. The biggest salmon producing river in the world will be finished over a little Unit Train.


If humanity is going to survive we're going to have to find a way to get off of oil even it if takes the rest of the twenty-first century to do it.


But, we're stuck in our belief systems and afraid to question things.


What do you do when the fish are gone, the land can't produce and you intentionally contaminate these massive bodies of water? You die.


People need to live at a place of strength and realize how how incredibly powerful each person can be.


The salient point here is that we really have to be thinking about the children.




Download Eddie Gardner's talk in MP3 format here.



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