Howdy, folks!! Summer vacations are (partly) what makes life worth living, no?
My partner and I flew to Vancouver to visit my Mom and Stepdad July 24. We then we all took ferry rides to reach British Columbia’s Central Coast, namely the town of Bella Coola. I last went here on my own in 2014 for the first time and fell in love with this place. It’s nestled in a valley surrounded by three walls of tall tree-covered mountains where the Bella Coola River meets the ocean. Sir Alexander Mackenzie accomplished the first east to west crossing of North America in 1793, which preceded the more famous Lewis and Clark Expedition by 12 years. However, Indigenous tribes had already been living for 10,000 years, and still do to this day!
I made friends with a Nuxalk elder, Mary Mack, in 2014, and was delighted to reconnect with her in person. This tribe lived in many villages in a 100 square mile radius in this area, but 90 percent of their population was wiped out by smallpox when the Europeans arrived. The Indigenous across Canada tend to be extremely warm and welcoming if you’re warm and welcoming to them, and sweet Mary is a perfect example of such hospitality.
Also, fresh salmon and crab! My partner and I took a boat out to a place where the Nuxalk used to live, Kwatna Bay, and we tried to climb a hill where we would like to live one day. Suffice to say, we only made about 50 meters up the mountain, as trying to climb through undisturbed rainforest growth is quite the challenge! We had fun though, and we’re blessed to watch and listen to hundreds of dolphins feast on fish in the bay. Even though we are heading back to Vancouver tomorrow, this nature retreat was undoubtedly a significant and necessary change to the rat race of Toronto!!
I wish everyone in our world could be so fortunate and privileged to once again live in balance with nature. I believe the Indigenous peoples of Mother Earth hold the knowledge and wisdom to live in balance with nature, as they have been doing just that since homo sapiens began. Beyond climate change agendas and technology, they hold the key to saving our world. All too often though, the Indigenous are marginalized, stigmatized, and are victims of (unacknowledged) racism (in Canada). They also experience six times the rates of disease, addictions, and misfortunes as the average Canadian, are often pawns used for corporate and government interests. Missing and murdered Indigenous women still occur in B.C., and rates of HIV/AIDS in Saskatchewan among their tribes are comparable to those in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Not to mention the legacy of residential schools run by the Catholic, Anglican and United Churches in cooperation with the Canadian government, which did not entirely end until the 1990s. Mary Mack and others have said that 50 percent of the children brought into these schools did not come out alive. Moreover, many of those who survived never saw their parents or spoke their languages again. Mary Mack’s father had the foresight to take his kids into the woods when the Indian Agents came for the Nuxalk kids. However, even in the day-schools that she went to in town, the teachers would beat them if they spoke their native tongue.
Genocide comes in many forms and still goes on around the world. Time for such barbarism to stop, eh?