Saturday, September 22, saw about 50 people gathered around the peace pole on the lawn of St. Saviour’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral on Ward Street.
They were called together by the prayerful drumming of a Sinixt drum circle from Inchelium, Washington. The Rev. Jeff Donnelly spoke of the significance of the peace pole and led the group in reading prayers for peace from the Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, and Christian traditions.
The group then moved into the church to hear speakers on relations between First Nations and settlers in this area. Muriel Walton from Castlegar brought three photo panels which describe the historic Sinixt and Doukhobor presence at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. Nelson author, Eileen Delehanty-Pearkes, described her experience of discovering evidence of the presence of First Nations people in this area and how it led to her writing The Geography of Memory: Recovering Stories of a Landscape's First People. Debbie Desautel-Duce, a Sinixt woman, spoke movingly of discovering her connection to the land, feeling the prayers of her ancestors as she walks the land, and how we must all care for the land for generations to come.
Rick Desautel told of being sent by the Colville Confederated Tribes to hunt in this area as a challenge to the Canadian government’s 1956 declaration that the Sinixt are extinct. He has won two lower court cases and is now before the BC Court of Appeal in Vancouver.
After a refreshment break, people gathered in small groups to talk about where we all come from and how we relate to one another and the land. Conversations were wide ranging covering hunting, respect for the land, and treasuring the water.
The afternoon closed with the Nelson Interfaith Climate Action Collaborative’s monthly climate vigil at the peace pole. With drumming and a reading of the Thanksgiving Address from the Six Nations Confederacy we acknowledged that our lives are totally dependent on the Earth, water, fish, plants, animals, sun, moon, stars, and all aspects of nature.