By Stephenie Charleson
Home is where the heart is. Home is where we come from, where our families come from. Home is where we have a connection. I have a strong connection to my home in Hesquiaht territory.
We have pressure on us to log in our territory, part of a business from years ago when they would clearcut our territory. Our coasts have seen slides and destruction to salmon habitats — ocean side and streams and creeks, lakes — the horrible effects of logging already done in the area. It will take the rest of my life to do the repair work. I am doing it so my children will see the importance of our territory.
Why should we log more? More destruction to our coasts — pristine ecosystems, beautiful ancient rainforests, seafood that is no more, salmon habitat, polluted freshwater — our children’s future! I see all the logging trucks loaded with ancient trees and it breaks my heart to see our lands in the area being stripped. It looks like a moonscape out there. Let’s not let this happen in our Hesquiaht territory again. I say: “NO TO LOGGING!”
Our families have protected and cared for these areas for centuries, lived off the land, only taking what we need, not for greed. Money for our resources only goes so far, lasts so long. We can never replace the pristine old growth that they want to take out of our territory along streams and creeks. Our grandchildren will never know what it was like if we let the logging company go in there and take what they want. Our streams and creeks will suffer more unrepairable damage that will take the rest of our lives to repair and rebuild.
I know because I have walked our streams and creeks, lakes, coastlines, our territory. Our forests are medicine. Our territories are medicine and knowledge. We need to share more knowledge with our children so they are connected to the area. Our elders and those before us held the knowledge, protected and lived off the land. It is still our job to carry on the responsibility of protecting and sharing the knowledge of our people and where we come from. Not to rob and strip our territory of its resources for little profit.
I will continue to do the work in our Hesquiaht territory. I will fight to protect our territory. It is important to me and my family. Our trees are our breath. Our streams are my life. Water is life. One heartbeat, it is all connected. There are other ways to bring more economic opportunities to the community. We have to work on that. Focus on other ways and ideas. Tourism. New clean energy. Restoration.
Nuuchahnulth territory. All stolen land. Our Chiefs territory. Our resources. Our knowledge. Our history. Lets change the future. Protect what is ours. All that is left. Let’s take back our land. For our future, our children, our grandchildren. “NO LOGGING IN HESQUIAT FIRST NATIONS TERRITORY!”