“What’s your favourite things about living in Saskatoon?” I asked her, my host whom I hadn’t met until I arrived at her doorstep at 11:30 pm the night before.
She had welcomed me with warm mint tea, poetic insights, and a comfy bed to rest my head for the night. We awoke in the morning and set off to have breakfast before she would drop me off to meet up with the rest of the Treaty 8 Justice for the Peace Caravan.
“It would have to be the river, that is my favourite thing about living here,” she answered as we walked down the wet sidewalk towards the diner.
Immediately I hoped that she wouldn’t reciprocate the question and ask me what my favourite things are about where I live. Her answer was full of warm feelings and a sense of awe in regards to the river. The stories that emerged over the next hour and a half depicted the rivers ability to provide enjoyment but also establish a connection to home, the water makes it home. The night before we talked in poetic terms about the real tie between women and water.
The water has made me whole again.
The water has cleansed me
The river has given me teachings.
I tell her about how a film maker friend of mine told me a story of a recent trip in the ocean where a storm ensued. She listed off the things that got swept away.
“There’s a poem there somewhere I know it. It could be called, The Things We Lost to the Water”, I said to her.
Although a more accurate application of the poem to my life would be, The Things We Lost When We Lost the Water.
She didn’t ask me what my favourite things are about my home and I was glad. My answer would have been the same as hers.
The reality is I am on a Caravan across the country to talk about the Site C Hydroelectric dam and its impacts on our Treaty Rights. I would not have been able to give a simple answer without feeling the melancholy and the weight of a possible loss of the river hanging on to my spirit. I would not have been able to answer the question without feeling riddled up by the continued colonial legacy. I look away from her, thinking about this show of force that the Governments have been taking by continuing to push the project forward while there are matters by First Nations still in court regarding the project. I don’t understand how they can do this, after our territory has given so much of its self to the oil and gas industry. When will it be enough?
Her words were full of good energy that took flight whereas mine would have been a stone casted into the sky, blotting out the sun momentarily before it fell to the ground. I wanted to enjoy that moment with her and experience the town and the river, a river left unthreatened.
We stopped along the river and she showed me her favourite places and I was grateful for the stranger taking me into her home and showing me what she loved.
Love will make you do crazy things.
Love for the people. Love for land. Love for the ancestors. Love for the water. Love for the medicines. Love for the children.
Love has me all twisted and knotted up on a bus full of people travelling to Winnipeg at this very moment. I had an interview before I left Fort St. John and he said in his introduction, “…will be travelling with a bus of protestors to Montreal…”
It isn’t an act of protest god damn it, it’s an act of love for the people, the land, and the waters. Remember that.