By Tracy Tobin
This past Saturday afternoon, while gathered in her backyard with Salal + Cedar in worship together, Sister Vikki motioned for me to come closer. I sat beside her and we chatted briefly. Her gregarious invitation for me to bring her “Clear Cut Colonization—Not Trees” painting to the Courthouse–– in support of the Nuchatlaht First Nation––was joyfully accepted. The artwork was carefully handed off and my mission for the following Monday determined.
A slight chill in the air and blanketed in soft rain, more than one hundred faithful supporters gathered at the steps of B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver to champion Nuchatlaht’s rights and title to their traditional lands. Traditional Cedar bark woven hats and headbands, vibrantly painted Nuchatlaht solidarity posters, intricately painted drums, and hand painted signs were peppered through the crowd. ‘Every Child Matters,’ ‘Support,’ ‘Clear-Cut Colonization -Not Trees,’ and large ‘Nuchatlaht Land Back’ signs declared boldly the intentions of those who held them and those in attendance.
Joining in this act of witness I carried around my neck a prophetic proclamation painted by our very own Sister Vikki. A forest of barren trees and stumps boldly calling for resistance, the image is a stark one, evocative of loss and the suffering of creation. Instantly recognised, strangers approached me with astonished voices. “Ohhh,” ‘that’s Vikki’s painting!” “Can I take a picture?” Humbled and proud, connected and connecting, sharing in presenting Vikki’s gift was such an experience of blessing others, and being blessed myself.
I must confess that the plight of the Nuchatlaht First Nation was unfamiliar to me. After a Google indulged Internet deep-dive I learned a few things about these absolutely stunning lands and ancient peoples.
Approximately three hours west of Campbell River, and around 200 square kilometers in size, Nuchatlaht is a small community of about 150 members, with 20 living on reserve, remotely nestled off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Nuchatlaht ancestors have lived on Nootka Island and the surrounding coastline since the late 1700s. One of fourteen members of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council in ongoing treaty processes with the Provincial Government.
The Tyee has a great