February 7, 2010

Sustainable cultures that lived here before

I've been returning to my roots, family and the ecosystems of my youth and facing the connections and significance my past has to my life right now.

One of my favorite place of old is a remarkable spit with a gary oak and arbutus hook and a grassy trombolo on Saltspring Island called Walker's Hook. It is an ancient Salish sacred village Syuhe'mun, whose significance was trounced 5 years ago with the leasing of the (private) land to a Sablefish (black cod) "farm".

The trombolo drains the effluent from the fish farm above and pushes through an estimated 700 ancestors of Kuper Island Penelakut. The excavation for wells and pipes dug up 13 skeletons.

In my new home, on a lower oxbow of the Annapolis river, the Mi'kmaq, the black loyalists and former slaves, and the Acadians have been almost completely erased from the physical and cultural landscape.

The inhabitants of Africville who were removed from their community received an apology today and the land to rebuild a church and cultural center. This is a good beginning toward reconciliation to the Black loyalist settlers and descendants of Nova Scotia's first slaves. It comes in a week there is some discourse on the racism that surfaces on a regular basis for people of colour (and diversity in general) among some "long" rooted people (ancestors of the British/Scottish, planters and loyalists settlers) In the Black Heritage month it has erupted again with a cross burning on a multiracial couple's lawn in the Windsor area.

I believe it is essential to recognize the history of slavery, expulsion and genocide of this place in Nova Scotia. Without wide eyed open reconciliation, racism has a place to root. I am reflecting on how best to acknowledge, honour and celebrate Acadian and Mi'kmaq and black settler presence in my neighbourhood in the lower Annapolis River. Whether this cultural renewel can be aided by writing, archeology, memorial stones and fences, multi racial immigration , I'm unsure. What can I do to remember the people who lived gently on the land ...is a question I have to ask.

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