Water Ceremony

At our May meeting, Salal + Cedar’s Mutual Aid and Solidarity Team decided to contribute funds to the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust’s Water Ceremony so that Elders from out of town could attend. Sacred Trust is an initiative of Tsleil-Waututh Nation focused on stopping the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX), a project approved by the Canadian government without the consent of the Nation and this year Salal + Cedar paid our voluntary “land tax” to TWN Sacred Trust.

On June 25th I attended the ceremony which invited the public to connect and deepen their relationship with water in the face of TMX. Rueben George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and manager of the Sacred Trust Initiative, began the day with a welcome to the territory and gratitude to those that had made the day possible. Paddlers were then called to head out on the water in three 35-foot ocean-going canoes that paddled as close as possible to the Burnaby TMX Westridge Marine Terminal. Near the giant oil drums, they rafted the canoes together as the matriarchs voiced powerful words, songs, and prayers to their ancestors and creator and offered sacred earth to the waters.

Returning from the water a circle of 150 came together to join in the ceremony led by Elder Minnie (Grinder) Kenoras, Red Hummingbird Woman (Judy Wilson) and Sun Woman (JoAnne Buffalo), Xaliya (Ta7ah – Amy George), Ts’simtelot (Charlene Aleck) and Roxanne Charles. The women offered powerful and inspiring words to keep moving this work forward, and to never stop protecting the waters and all living beings. Young water carriers such as Kayah George were called to speak and lifted spirits by saying the orca are probably having a rally right now too.

The ceremony included witnesses from/representing the furthest participants south, east, north and west, two of whom I sat with at the feast and got to know a bit better. Jim Leyden, whom we supported with court costs and with presence at his Supreme Court appeal was there, blanketed, and spoke at the feast. Several members of Salal + Cedar attended and Ruth Ruth Walmsley was blanketed with thanks for her work with the Prayer Circle which gathers at the Watch House on Burnaby Mountain on the Second Saturday of each month.

By Adele Finney (Mutual Aid and Solidarity Team) with information from Sierra Club BC

Reconciliation with Creation

Laurel Dykstra spoke on March 8 as part of the New Westminster Ministerial’s Lenten speaker series on reconciliation. As requested by participants in the event these are Laurel’s speaker notes with links to resources.

My background for approaching these questions

I am the priest of Salal + Cedar -worship outdoors, equip ppl for climate action, for next brave step

8 + years doing work to engage Christians and churches in climate justice work

-started by asking youth

Wild Church movement, – In the past 10 years, dozens of Wild Churches, communities which gather outdoors to pray, have sprung up all over North America. Wild Churches have a range of practices, leadership models, and relationships to denominations and even to Christianity. They are a kind of functional critique of Christianity’s failure to care for creation and most Wild Churches claim to exist as a response to climate crisis or as a place for engaging climate grief.

Watershed Discipleship -older movement with Ched Myers as the key articulator.

A Watershed is the geographical rain catchment area that divides up our land, the area within a circle of mountain peaks that drain into the ocean at the same place. Watershed discipleship plays on two aspects of this word—the first is that the watershed itself—a natural division where species, weather and sometimes Indigenous languages change—is the primary place where we live out our discipleship (more on that later)—the little lifeboat of species with whom we are thrown together.

Watershed is also a word that is used metaphorically—we say that we are at a watershed moment when things are critical—a raindrop above a mountain could go 2 different directions with vastly different outcomes. –and in terms of species extinctions, deforestation, ocean pollution and global climate change we are at a watershed moment. A little difference now could result in a big change.

Prior to that I was part of the team preparing for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools

 -for 3 years met with Indigenous and church leaders building relationship

TRC out of process in South Africa

-El Salvador(?), -both offered amnesty in exchange for truth in a situation of extreme power imbalance or imbalance of perpetrators

-Greensborough –Klan shot up a rally,  Detroit -redlining of Black people from housing

I had mentors who worked in each of these processes

I don’t know of a process that I would call an unqualified success -but from my people I know they have sometimes been places of transformation and healing

Why we need to be careful about reconciliation language

In Canada particular caution -even though TRC process was requested by indigenous -residential school survivors it was also a government mandated process

-in my experience right now many more church people are enamoured with the idea/language of reconciliation, and many indigenous people feel very disillusioned

-among the critiques that I hear and these are not all, are:

the truth was not told (esp the way the commission excluded examination of the deaths that occurred at the schools)

-that reconciliation supposes a return to a right, good and equal relationship

Latin roots: to become friendly again, or to reinstate a friendship

 -many ppl this never existed between indigenous and settler people, between Indigenous children and govt. mandated, church-run schools

-the harms of residential schools continue to be perpetrated in ongoing ways and benefitted from, so cannot reconcile (in Christian language) without repentance and without restitution,

Without stopping harm

-despite the fact that “all Canadians are named parties”-side-stepping of responsibility -at the height of the residential school era the vast majority of Canadians identified with one of the denominations that ran RS, people who are not Christians say -it wasn’t us, Christians say it wasn’t our denomination, or we paid our share of the settlement agreement, or that was another generation

-that the Calls to Action of the TRC have mostly been ignored or taken up in less than meaningful ways –as we move to talk about reconciliation with land/creation/ the calls around Indigenous People’s right to Free Prior and Informed consent to what happens on their land is particularly relevant.

Reconciliation with Creation

So we’ve riffed a little on some of the issues with “reconciliation” -let’s talk about creation, the planet, the more than human world.

I cannot overstate the magnitude of climate emergency. The biggest deal in our lifetimes. The future is likely to be very different for young people, in ways that we can’t imagine.

-profound distortion

Anthopocene –age of human impact

Eremocene -age of loneliness (e.o. Wilson)

Is reconciliation the right language?

-yes humans have lived in relationships -mutually nourishing with place, creatures,

Different cultures differently but all of us have an ancestral past that

But some of the same critiques apply

-Are we telling the truth? –Gale Yee Hebrew Bible scholar talks about bible in climate denial, denial about culpability Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice event (Lenten Bible Detox)
Are we committed to not doing harm?
Are we taking meaningful action?

I think it is fantastic that you are embarking on these questions together during the season of Lent  -a time when we think about sin and repentance

-biblically an awful lot of the focus on sin and repentance has nothing to do with individuals and everything to do with nations, cities, peoples, communities. –so individual repentance won’t change corporate sin -are we taking corporate responsibility? And that doesn’t mean beating each other up for using straws or not eating vegan.

But naming and opposing the principalities and powers -that we participate in

Capital-ocene –just ordered a book theology ecologically focused, with solidarity as key

So there are a LOT of cautions and caveats here but if Christians are to seek reconciliation with the more than human world it must be both individual and corporate

What I offer for the rest of my talk is a review of some elements (not a comprehensive program) that I think are core to that work.

Act like it is an emergency

Seth Klein’s book A Good War looks at Canada’s mobilization in WWII as a model for how we might do the corporate work to respond to climate emergency

-policy and funding “do what it takes”

-tell the truth

-leave no one behind

We have to act, and action is an antidote to despair

Mutual Aid and Solidarity -Dean Spade’s book Mutual Aid
Sheryl Johnson’s Serving Money Serving God -on how churches can put our money where our mouth is in terms of justice

Climate Justice Approach

In their unprecedented Joint Message for the Protection of Creation (2021), Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox church, Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church, and the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby leader of the global Anglican Communion echo the language of the climate justice movement saying, “the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.”

The term “climate justice” has been in use since the 1990s, its origin is credited variously to groups from the global south and communities fighting environmental racism in North America. In deliberate contrast with the term environmentalism which positions “the environment” as a backdrop acted upon but separate from humans, climate justice attends to power differences between individuals, communities, and nations related to race, gender, indigeneity, economic status. The impacts of global climate change are not borne equally and neither is the work of responding. Racialized, impoverished, Indigenous, coastal and island peoples experience the greatest impacts while bearing the least responsibility and are at the forefront of movements for land defense, mutual aid, and corporate and governmental accountability globally and in North America. Climate justice reshapes climate action from a technical effort to cut emissions into a just transition that also addresses human rights and social inequality. 

Climate reparations although voluntary were part of the -latest COP gathering

Reconciliation with creation means talking about racial and economic justice and it means being alert to ecofascism (teen Vogue has an excellent primer) -overpopulation in impoverished places as key problem

Interspecies humility, curiosity and reciprocity

Western/Christian worldview is that humans have a special place -above creation -whether that is steward, or extractor

–kin Queer Nature –who I really can’t recommend enough talk about creature-kin and the practice consent with creatures

Robin Wall Kimmerer -potawatimi botanist -braiding sweetgrass, gathering moss

Grammar of animacy, species as sovereign, relationships of reciprocity

“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.”

-not romanticizing wilderness as “untouched and human-free”

Spiritual practice/sacrament

Sallie McFague -work around the sanctity of the more than human world

The earth as God’s body

S+C take traditional sacrament -esp eucharist out of doors

But more importantly to see the sacred in all that is around us

To practice wonder

-around grief, loss, lament, repentance

-listen for the divine word in Scripture and in nature

-is collective

Spiritual Disciplines
not b/c it will change what is wrong in the world -but b/c we hope we will not be changed by the world
We do that in 3 ways—through 3 spiritual disciplines.
To know our story
To know our tradition
To know our place

Most of us in this room are not Halkomelem speaking people but here we are on this land to know our story/or our histories—how did our people come to this lower Fraser Watershed? Our you one of the first people’s whose creation stories are here and whose ancestors have been here for tens of thousands of years? Did your family come 100 years ago? Or 10? Or last year? What are the forces of extraction, migration, flight, conquest that brought you here and how do they connect with the trees, minerals, fish, oceans of this place

knowing our tradition—delving into scripture and church practice to find those places that particularly honour and celebrate our connection to creation and engaging those and applying them here in our watershed. Do you know how many figures in the bible have a great spiritual experience under a tree? By a special body of water? Do you know how many trees have names? That the Land is called a witness and participant in covenant?

knowing our place—also called Watershed Literacy means learning the geography, the geology, the plants and animals of our bioregion. I have heard that on average a child can identify more than 100 corporate logos and fewer that 10 plants. –Can you tell a cedar from a hyssop? Do you know our 5 local species of salmon? Could you tell them apart?

For me this spiritual discipline has been the one with the greatest spiritual richness -coming to know and love my watershed neighbours

Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum said, “we won’t save places we don’t love; we can’t love places we don’t know; and we don’t know places we haven’t learned”

Having plugged others’ work in my talk I want to do a little “shameless self promotion”

Book coming out in the fall –Wildlife Congregations -Hancock House that is about attending spiritually to creatures and the question of interspecies loneliness –really about spending a year visiting as many gatherings -mass congregations of local wild creatures as possible

Invite Salal + Cedar come and animate your Sunday Worship, or Sunday School, or vacation bible school.

And as we move into discussion I’ll leave you some paired concepts to ponder:
Sin and repentance
Collective and individual action
Kinship and wonder

stop TMX solidarity events

support land defenders
Ruth Walmsley of the Burnaby Mountain Prayer Circle has compiled this list of solidarity opportunities:
Thursday January 19, 6:30-10pmSecwepemc Sovereignty Fundraiser Concert Russian Hall, 600 Campbell Avenue, Vancouver, BC Secwepemc land defenders and their supporters have been convicted for protecting ancestral lands while holding ceremonies in October 2020. After over 20 days in court and inhumane and unjust treatment from the BC Court system, all 8 will be sentenced the week of Feb 21st 2023. The crown prosecutor is seeking a range of 1 – 6 months of jail time. The group includes: Hereditary Chief Saw ses, Secwepemc Matriarchs Miranda Dick and April Thomas, Nlaka’pamux land protector Billie Pierre and four settler supporters; Romilly Cavanaugh, Heather Lamoureux, Susan Bibbings and Laura Zadorozny. We will have a T-shirts for sale and food by donation. All funds will support fees for the sentencing lawyer and necessary food and travel funds for the sentencing process. Register to attend the fundraising event here:https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/secwepemc-sovereignty-fundraiser-tickets-510794268407
Please consider donating to their legal support efforts here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/protect-sqeqpetsin-stop-tmx-trial-support.

Tuesday January 24, 2023, 8:30 AMCourt Support – Stand with Will!BC Supreme Court, 800 Smithe St. Please join us at the BC Supreme Court to support courageous land defender Will George from Tsleil Waututh, at 8:30 am on Tues Jan 24. Will has to turn himself in to the court at 9 am at the 800 Smithe entrance, and his appeal will be heard in the BC Court of Appeal that day.  Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/3dMf1scii

Thursday January 26, 6:30-8pmHidden Costs of Canada’s Fossil Energy Expansion Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue SFU – 580 West Hastings Street – Vancouver The UN Secretary General is very clear and vocal about the threat to global health and well-being from climate change. Secretary Guterres is also clear that no new fossil energy infrastructure should be built. The Government of Canada, however, argues that we should be allowed to continue expanding our oil and gas emissions well past 2030 and justifies this position based upon the profits to be made. This panel will examine the hidden costs of major Canadian fossil energy projects using the Trans Mountain Expansion project as a case-study, with consideration of work planned and ongoing on Wet’suet’en territory in Northern BC. Join us for an informative dialogue on January 26. Free; Reserve a spot: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-hidden-costs-of-canadas-fossil-energy-expansion-tickets-490789323077

Friday January 27, 9am (rally), 10am (trial)“Dino” Court Support BC Supreme Court, 800 Smithe St. Come and support Emily & Lucy who are facing criminal contempt of court charges for blocking TMX pipeline construction (wearing T.Rex costumes) on unceded Coast Salish Territory in Burnaby and are each expected to be sentenced to three weeks in prison. Come support the T.Rex and sit in the gallery!

Tuesday February 21, 8:30amBC Supreme Court, 800 Smithe St. Eight Indigenous and settler land defenders, who took their case to trial and were convicted of criminal contempt last month for violating the TMX injunction in Secwepemc territory, will have their sentencing hearing on February 21 in Kamloops. Rallies in support of the land defenders will be held on Tuesday, February 21 at 8:30am in both Kamloops and Vancouver.
Please consider donating to their legal support efforts here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/protect-sqeqpetsin-stop-tmx-trial-support.

Resurrection Run Rampant

by Melanie Delva
This community is resurrection run rampant in the best possible way.
Throughout the last year and a half, Erin and I have been painfully honest about the many systems that failed us after the fire, and again after the floods – governments and charities and NGOs and ….Where the systems failed us, individuals and communities of radical generosity based in respectful relationships emerged and held us up. Salal and Cedar Watershed Discipleship Community – both as a community and the individuals who make it up is one of them. In fact, S+C were already showing us the ways they were willing to show up in real time – driving up from Vancouver to show solidarity with our Auntie Vivian who called us to shut down Hwy 1 in honour of the 215+. They stood with us – literally – in 39° Lytton heat. The community rallied around us after we lost everything in the Lytton fire. They started a fundraiser for us, managed all contact for us in the early days after when we were too traumatized to answer anyone.Months later, as we sat on the train bridge in Tl’kemtsin (Lytton) to prevent trains from interrupting a gathering in protest of climate injustice where elders and youth were speaking, members of Salal+Cedar were standing in the cold rain in downtown Vancouver holding signs in solidarity with #nlakapamuxstrong#lyttonstrong. When given the opportunity to speak at a major climate event, they raised up local Indigenous voices. Members of the community have bought us a solar panel, sent us gift cards, arranged donations (and that’s just us!)…and we are now learning how to be part of giving back. I support this community because I know what they are doing with what I give and it aligns with what Jesus said I am supposed to do..tend to the sick, feed the hungry, protect the vulnerable, seek justice for prisoners, protect the earth and all creatures. Friends and relatives (particularly those of privilege), I invite you to check out their work and support it. Feel free to reach out to me if you want more info. In solidarity! Melanie
Go here to support Salal + Cedar’s Mutual Aid and Solidarity Fund https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/help-salal-cedar-raise-7500-for-mutual-aid-and-sol/

Clear Cut Colonization–Not Trees Solidarity with Nuchatlaht First Nation

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

Adele and Tracy at the court support for Nuchatlaht

Pray for the Brunette 6

Bill, Zane, Tim, Catherine, Janette and Ruth have taken direct action to protect the salmon-bearing Brunette River from the devastating impacts of the Trans Mountain Pipeline -in trees, on the ground, and praying in the path of heavy equipment on unceded Coast Salish Territory. Tim, Zane and Bill are in court this week, Janette, Ruth and Catherine members of the Prayer Circle direct action group were sentenced to 14 days have asked us to pray with them. Catherine will spend her 80th birthday in jail.

From February 14th to 27th, at 7a.m., 12noon, and/or 7p.m., for 30 minutes, as you are able, we ask that you hold us in your prayers, but most importantly, we ask that you pray for the suffering being caused by climate change. This is happening now. We ARE in a climate emergency. Let’s act like it and have governments take actions too. Our ‘business as usual’ stance and addiction to fossil fuels is destroying God’s beautiful creation, causing hardships and displacement around the world and here in BC too. Please also imagine the good and what life and our world can be like, and pray for this, and start living with love and care for God’s creation. Amen.

Prayers on the Mountain

In the February sun, under an old cedar tree beside a massive industrial facility, a circle of twenty bundled figures sat in a silence broken by the occasional bird call (varied thrush, chickadee, flicker) or word of prayer. The prayer circle, begun in a Quaker tradition, has been meeting mostly by Kwekwecnewtxw the Watch House near the Trans Mountain tank facility on Burnaby Mountain. This week our prayer had a special focus and urgency as three of our members will appear in court on Monday morning and expect to be in jail that evening. Sometimes when the circle meets to pray it is also an act of protection for this sacred land and solidarity with Indigenous land and water protectors, we pray in front of heavy equipment or at the foot of trees slated for removal.
Our circle held Ruth, Janette and Catherine at the centre as we blessed them and prayed that they would be strengthened by their connection to the water, the mountain, the cedars and community. And that they would have Saint Valentine’s fierce love in the face of death.
It is a powerful thing that our friends appear in court on February 14, a day when for 30 years families and supporters have gathered to honour and remember missing and murdered mostly Indigenous women and Two Spirit persons in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Violence against Indigenous women is deeply tied to extraction of resources from the land. The commercial celebration of Valentine’s Day is about romantic love, but the tradition comes from the letters Valentine wrote from jail before he was executed by the Roman emperor for performing marriages that allowed young men to escape military conscription.
So love and land, jail and empire, small attempts at solidarity, and hopeful action in the face of deathly institutions are how we pray.
Court support, prayers and ceremony: 9 am Feb 14 at Nelson and Hornby.
Women’s Memorial March: 12 noon Feb 14 at Main and Hastings.
Next Prayer Circle: Saturday March 12, 10:30 AM Kwekwecnewtxw Watch House, Burnaby Mountain

prayer circle equipment blockade near the Brunette River -summer 2021