September 30, 2022
Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories / Vancouver, BC – Another year has passed since the federal government announced that September 30th would be known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As the second Indigenous Executive Director of CPAWS-BC, I wish to say on behalf of the Board and staff, that CPAWS-BC once again reaffirms our solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in observation of this effort to advance Truth and Reconciliation. With the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we acknowledge that there are many conflicting emotions among Indigenous Peoples regarding how colonization has changed forever the lives of Indigenous Peoples.
The conservation movement itself is part of that history, where even Indigenous People who often did not cede their lands were prohibited from cultural activities within designated parks, such as not being permitted to gather medicines. Thankfully, that has changed for the most part.
We further acknowledge how so many unmarked graves at former residential schools have re-opened wounds. The multi-generational trauma that comes with so many losses in different ways is slowly being healed, but at times there are setbacks. I offer this visual to perhaps help understand trauma: if you had two glasses of water, and you place one inside the other, the water simply will spill out and overflow. That is what happens when Indigenous people experience a new trauma or get a wound reopened: the cup is full and simply spills over.
Healing can and does occur though, and there are many Indigenous and non-Indigenous people actively working to make sure Mother Earth has fewer negative impacts so we can protect biodiversity. CPAWS-BC, in a spirit of allyship, will continue on the path of decolonization to support more Indigenous-led conservation efforts. We offer our support, where needed and sought, to advocate for more parks and protected areas. With our current and hopefully new Indigenous partners, we will bring together both Indigenous knowledge and western science so that lands and waters are not only protected but thrive in healthy ecosystems.
In closing, I am proud to say that CPAWS-BC and its many supporters stand with Indigenous people to heal the past, create a new day, and build a better future that we all can enjoy. We are in this together. I hope all Canadians learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) Calls to Action. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will be broadcasting and live streaming a special one-hour show today titled “Remembering the Children: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at 10am PT on APTN.
Kevin Barlow (Mi’kmaw)
Executive Director, CPAWS-BC
For more information please contact:
604-685-7445 (x 23)