Rising Tide: Building Resistance Tour – Unceded Secwepemc Territory – May 8th

We had a busy day in Kamloops, the first stop on our tour. We began by visiting two different High schools, facilitating climate justice workshops with four classes. Teresa, one of the Rising Tide members on our tour reflects on the experience at the school:

We spent our first hour at Sa Hali on Secwepemc territory. We did a few activities to tease out what they knew about climate change and climate justice. As a recently “retired” teacher of high school students I was encouraged to know that kids were being exposed to issues that matter to them. They were making great connections and asking good questions. We then went down the hill to South Kamloops Secondary where Peter’s uncle teaches to do the presentation again. It was interesting to see the difference in sensitivities. This group seemed a bit more pessimistic but Emil gave a rousing charge at the end highlighting the power they have as young people.

After the high school presentations, we headed down to the Smorgasbord Deli to meet with the Kamloops Council of Canadians and learn about the proposed Ajax mine. The Ajax copper and gold mine would be located right on the Kamloops city boundary. Residents of Kamloops, including the high school students, expressed concern about both environmental and health impacts that could result from the proposed mine. Kamloops city council is waiting for environmental assessments to be complete before they make any decisions.

Our last meeting of the day was near Chase, where we spoke with grassroots organizers from the Scewepemc Nation. Members of the Secwepemc have written a declaration to protect their sacred waters and defend their territories from destructive projects, saying that neither government nor corporations have rights to make decisions that compromise their stewardship efforts. One of those destructive projects is Imperial Metal’s proposed Ruddock Creek project. Imperial Metal’s proposed lead and zinc mine would be located at the headwaters of the Adams River, posing serious threat to the world’s largest run of sockeye salmon as well as other threatened species in the area. Imperial Metals, a company with 50% of its investors in Japan, has proposed five new mines in BC. The situation is definitely daunting but the opposition is strong and uncompromising. We hope that Secwepemc demands to scrap the proposed Imperial Mines on Unceded traditional territories will be heard by investors, and that there will continue to be growing support for the grassroots organizing that is stopping these projects.

Here are Teresa’s reflections on speaking with grassroots Scewepemc:

Three mothers sitting round a fire circle with us

A cup of water in the center…

“Water is central…

it has become our practice when we meet to put a cup of water in the center and when we are done we drink it togetsaher…”

What did we do together?

They talked; we listened.

Their struggle is deep and dark

like the mines being proposed

in the territory where the salmon run,

have always run…thick still.

“In other territories they don’t get no salmon anymore.”

They are gone.

There is deep concern for future generations.

What will they live on?

What will they celebrate each spring at the salmon festival?

There is a deep tiredness…

But then there is a stirring when talk turns to

disrupting

They’ve been planning

to act –

have been planning with other activists,

other front line communities

up against these CEO’s

of death dealing destructive

corporations

backed by governments

and Captains of Industry

bent on bottom lines

and the bottom dollar.

They want to read out their Water Declaration

for the Unceded, Unsurrendered, Scewepemcul’ecw Territory.

A declaration

of the sacredness of water and salmon,

of their responsibility to uphold Natural Laws

of protection of water in their territory

of denial of anyone other than them to make decisions on their land or water

of refusal to co-operate through signing off on joint revue sharing

of commitment to refuse incentives offered.

They want to present this declaration

to those who think they have a right

to the scared waters of the

Secwepemcul’ecc

They want it over the news wires. They want it known. They will not surrender!

I was grateful to be in that circle around that cup of water

as the light began to fade

and Janice got up to take her

granddaughter – 3rd generation living, maybe 4 – to bed,

with those strong women.

Warriors for their children

and hoped to be able

to be a part of their

resistance.

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