April 2020 Newsletter
Hi everyone, I hope you’re all in good health, and you haven’t lost your mind yet. If you want a cheering thought, imagine if we hadn’t had a mostly gorgeous April. I hope you’ve been able to get out and enjoy nature while keeping a good distance between you and other revellers.
We are starting to settle into a groove, but policies and guidelines continue to change on a daily basis. For the most current and up-to-date information, courtesy from our EOC, click here.
It sounds at this point that Bonnie Henry and our provincial government have done a good job managing the situation, and we are seeing some easing in the restrictions soon. Don’t expect to be hanging out in larger groups for quite some time yet, though. Let’s hope we can can enjoy our summer to some extent. I suspect I won’t be going on my annual rafting trip in the US this year, as they seem to be handling things a lot differently.
Climate Change and COVID 19
I’ve been observing with interest the amount of resources, effort, and sacrifices humanity is willing to make when there is an immediate threat to humans, yet we conveniently ignore the scientists yelling in the corner that if we don’t do something regarding climate change that millions of species, including human existence as we know it, are at risk. The only difference is that the threat isn’t imminent or immediately apparent. Yet it is so much bigger. I hope that something in humanity shifts to acknowledge this threat now that we have seen what this pandemic can do, considering that this has happened several times throughout history and has been a mere temporary setback every time. Rapid, anthropogenic Climate Change will have a much bigger impact. Estimates are that COVID will add $400 billion to our national debt, leaving us hobbled for a future of necessary climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
For you, my faithful readers, the increase in utility rates comes as no surprise. After all I wrote about it extensively in my December and February Newsletters. Thanks to COVID 19 and other distractions, we admittedly dropped the ball on adequately communicating this increase to the rest of the fine folks on the Coast. We are sorry, and our inboxes have been full as a result. Staff have now put out an FAQ on the SCRD website.
Highway signs and renaming of places
Director McMahon and I attended a presentation by Squamish Nation Spokesperson Khelsilem titled “beyond reconciliation” and I thought it was a very worthwhile talk that was thought-provoking. It pointed out the current gap between acknowledging that we want to implement the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), and what it actually means to implement it. We essentially need to de-colonize Canada, and this means that the First Nations are not only another body of government, but they have the rights and title to this land. Imagine the first white settlers came to this continent and rather than creating their own government, and running rough-shod over the rights of indigenous people, filed an application for citizenship and then slowly over time worked their way into co-governing this continent. Renaming some of the places into what they used to be called for thousands of years is one of the steps towards acknowledging that this continues to be First Nation Land. Roberts Creek (yes, the actual creek) roughly marks the boundary between Squamish and Shishalh Nation territories, so if you live east of Roberts Creek, you live in Squamish territory, in Stelḵáya (pronounced, to my best knowledge, as Stal-khaya, where the kh is more like the sound of ch in German, done with air passing over the back of the throat). If you live west of the Creek, you live in Shishalh territory, in xwesam (pronounced Wha-sum), which apparently means big salmon. So far we have not had any proposals to actually rename Roberts Creek, but the highway signs now reflect the shishalh names within their territory. The proposal to officially rename some places on the Coast came at almost the same time as the highway signs. These two are separate initiatives, although somewhat connected through the foundation agreement the Shishalh Nation has signed with the Province. There is a proposal that Wilson Creek is to be renamed to ts’ukw’um, and Madeira Park salalus, and it has caught many people by surprise. I think the way this was rolled out could have been handled better, with more community involvement, and I think an opportunity was missed to share the shishalh story as part of this initiative. I can’t speak to other communities and what their attitudes are towards renaming, but I personally would be in support of renaming Roberts Creek, if that were to be desired. Renaming is nothing new, and it is part of the reconciliation that is necessary. Mumbai used to be called Bombay. Myanmar used to be called Burma. It is time we acknowledge that people lived here before the settlers came, and that their history and culture needs to be celebrated and part of our history, too.
I’ll leave it here for now, but there are other things going on, and Donna McMahon’s newsletter is always worth reading. If you want to read about water restrictions starting May 1 and what our response to the BC Timber Sales Operational Plan was, among other things, head over there. In the meantime, we’ll zoom along merrily, and you can catch us online on youtube.
See you next month. In case you have any questions or concerns, you can always email me.