it feels like I’ve been here longer than a few days. I guess that’s what is bound to happen when you add heart, spirit and story to those facts and charts, those news reports and data that you read- time, space, life thickens. I feel thicker now.
yesterday was the healing walk. elders, babies and folks in between, slowly touching earth to remember it and to remember ourselves. hundreds from all over canada, from different first nations and clans, from the u.s., from other countries of the world, all came to show solidarity for the struggle to get tar sands off of indigenous lands.
but amidst our connection came contrast.
green oceanic grasslands contrasted with knowing that this isn’t what used to be here, that it was put here to erase a deforested boreal forest.
the many lakes mirroring the sky contrasted with knowing that they are tailing ponds where dirty toxins like bitumen, cyanide and ammonia are stored.
where water has always been a life force, here, here it is death.
where silence would exist, the silence of being removed from the bellows of the city into the quiet of the forest, what exist instead are booming air canons, traumatizing sounds used to frighten birds from landing onto the ponds- they would die if they do, anything would.
towards the last leg of the walk at the point where exhaustion was falling upon the hundreds of folks there, we hear news: there was another oil spill of 100 km on the athabasca river, the river supporting the sustenance of the local athabasca chipewyan first nation peoples.
i wondered how often they receive such news, how they must feel to have these words enter their bones. i wondered how it feels to witness the slow corrosion of their food, water and sovereignty , to have to know that their own bodies and children are not safe on their land.
tar sands oil and the keystone xl pipeline, the 2 largest industrial projects in the world, will affect us all. so far, only 3% of crude tar sands oil has been extracted and already waterways are poisoned miles and miles downstream, already cancer rates have skyrocketed, already animal populations, like the caribou, are becoming extinct, already carbon emissions are increasing. and if the rest are extracted, there will be no reversal, literally. that’s it folks.
the elements of the earth have always been our nourishment, our story tellers, our keepers of hystory, but now, now they are being used against us. and in our capitalist economy, where nothing and no one is beyond commodity, they will continue to be used against us.
not until we realize that this is our fight
not until we organize our communities
not until we become a threat
will any of us be safe.
[originally published on july 7th, 2013 on buddhist peace fellowship]