In what has become a New Year’s Day tradition, several Salal + Cedar members braved snow and ice this morning to join with roughly 50 others of the Wild Salmon Defenders Alliance and friends along the banks of the Vedder River in Chilliwack. Observed by an eagle, crows, puppies, and other furred, feathered, finned, and leafed relations, Stó:lo elder Eddie Vedder from the Skwah First Nation, led the assembly in songs and prayers to the accompaniment of drums and rattles. In a circle around a sacred fire, participants prayed for purification and renewal, a fresh start, and a beautiful future, and offered gifts, and gave thanks for the sacred elements of water, fire, earth, and air.
About 25 people gathered Saturday morning, December 11th, under the tall cedar tree beside Kwekwecnewtxw, the traditional Coast Salish Watch House on Burnaby Mountain, to hold a sacred water ceremony in honour of water’s importance within God’s creation and to request the healing of human beings’ relationship with Mother Earth. The rains temporarily paused during the ceremony, presided over by two local Indigenous leaders, which commenced at the arrival of a party who had walked from Lower Hume Park, in New Westminster, to the site, carrying water from the Fraser and Brunette rivers. Members and supporters of Salal + Cedar were among the walkers and those participating in the ceremony.
The sacred water pilgrimage completed a journey begun last September at the “Spirit Fast for the Fraser,” when the sacred water was first carried from the Fraser River to Hume Park. A portion of sacred water was poured into nearby creeks, while some was held back for future ceremonies.
Rain was no impediment on Saturday, November 28th, as several Salal + Cedar members met on the grounds behind St. Anselm’s Anglican Church on the unceded traditional territory of the S?wx?wú7mesh Úxwumixw to usher in the Season of Advent. Protected by a pop-up shelter from the deluge that continues to devastate our province, and warmed by a portable hearth, we sipped hot cider in the glow of the fire. As darkness fell, we passed around cuttings from various plants common to this beautiful Fraser River watershed, celebrated the Eucharist, shared stories, laughed, and marveled soberly at the power of nature, embodied in the very large maple tree beside us, ripped from the ground by the recent tornado. Grateful for our relative safety and warmth, we remembered in our prayers and in our hearts those in our community and all our relations, human and otherwise, who are struggling in face of the ongoing heavy rains and rising waters. May God protect us all, keep us safe, dry, warm, and well, and ensure that we all have everything we need.
On the morning of Saturday, Nov. 13th, several members of Salal + Cedar joined with other spiritually motivated eco-justice activists to sit together in contemplative silence for an hour beside Kwekwecnewtxw, the traditional Coast Salish Watch House on Burnaby Mountain. Sorrow over the visible devastation to trees and wildlife from the Trans Mountain tank farm expansion project mixed with the joy participants felt at being together again after nearly 19 months apart due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning in January, the monthly Quaker-inspired meetings will resume on every second Saturday at 10:30am at this sacred site. All respectful participants are welcome! Watch here for more information.