Archive for September 2018

We are the salmon   Leave a comment

Salmon and the circle of life

By Jim Taylor – September 26, 2018

The conference hall was packed full. Five hundred people leaned forward to watch as an elder from a First Nations community along the B.C. coast moved down the aisle towards the microphones on stage. His red-and-black blanket cloak swished as he walked; the mother-of-pearl buttons adorning it flashed back at the spotlights following him.

            This happened long before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for better relationships with Canada’s indigenous peoples. But the church, my church, was making its first tentative moves towards that goal.

            The old man – he may not actually have been old, but he was older than I was, and he had a deeply weathered face – climbed the stairs onto the stage. He took the microphone from its stand. He held it to his mouth.

            We waited, breathlessly, for his words of wisdom.

            “We are the salmon,” he said.

            Then he put the microphone back, and left the stage.

 DSC01012           Well, that may not have been exactly how it happened. But that’s how I remember it. Because anything else, after that opening statement, was padding.

            “We are the salmon” said it all.

            The annual salmon run up B.C. rivers defined the circle of his people’s lives. The food that fed them. The culture that sustained them. The myths and legends that shaped them.

            They and the salmon were one body, indivisible.

All are one

            We who live in an industrial cocoon are slowly learning that truth. Life has no individual components. You can’t treat the salmon, the forest, or bears and wolves, in isolation. They are one integrated whole.

            Botanists wondered why the spruce and firs along spawning rivers grew taller, stronger, than forests a mere hundred metres further back. They found it’s because of the salmon. Bears catch the salmon, drag their catch back into the woods, leave the remains under the trees.

            The rotting fish fertilize the trees. The forest, in turn, controls water flow into the stream. Provide shade to control the stream temperature. Shelter the bears who catch the salmon.

            It is a single interlocking circle of life, and death, and new life.

            This year is supposed to be a dominant sockeye run for the Adams River, possibly the finest display of spawning salmon in the entire province. At its peak, 10 million deep red salmon look like a solid mass filling the river’s pools.

            But only about two out of every 100 fertilized eggs will survive a winter in the river gravels, a year in fresh water, the long migration down to the ocean, two years roaming wild in the Pacific, and then 500 kilometres back up the rushing Fraser, Thompson, and Adams river to spawn and start the cycle again.

            The river flow, the forests along the river banks, the sediment runoff, even the smells in the water that the salmon follow to their home ground – all can be affected by as little as a slight change in temperature.

            Tinkering with one variable in the great equation of life affects the total outcome.

            Including the lives of the People of the Salmon.

            It took me more than 500 words to express that concept. It took the elder in his buttoned blanket only four.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

                  To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

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Posted September 26, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society, econotheism, Environment

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One Face of resistance in Ontario   Leave a comment

Sally McLean was arrested after she refused to leave the Ontario legislature’s public gallery in an act of protest. This courageous 73 year-old woman explains why she thinks she is obligated to stand up for democracy, and against injustice.

https://ucobserver.org/society/2018/09/sally_mclean_queens_park_arrest/

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Take Responsibility

 

Posted September 21, 2018 by allanbaker in Canadian society, Politics

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