Say the Names...

Al Purdy wrote a wonderful poem called "Say the names say the names" which celebrates the names of Canadian rivers - Tulameen, Kleena Kleene, Similkameen, Nahanni, Kluane and on and on in a celebratory song.

Enbridge is planning to build a dual pipeline that will carry bitumen and condensate across hundreds of waterways between Edmonton and Kitimat. Some of these waterways are rivers like the Parsnip (or what's left of it), the Nechako, the Morice and others are smaller creeks whose names are often known only to the folks who live along their banks or who fish in their shadows or who bend to wash or drink as they cross paths.

I want to collect the names of these rivers and creeks, to collect your stories, your poems, your songs so we can collectively give voice to the land living under the line Enbridge plans to draw.

People have also sent me copies of their presentations to the community oral presentations. If you'd like to add your voice, email me ( your stories and I'll post them for you. The copyright remains with you.

All the best.
Sheila Peters

Friday, October 15, 2010

Old Woman River

We plant ourselves on the banks of the Morice River
our black rubber boots stand between
the multitude of bear and deer prints
where they lay pressed like a mosaic to the grey, black sand
these being the neighbours in this neighbourhood

She.... the wide river
is swift in this location
no meandering creek spilling into nothingness here
rather a energy of life ripping its way through the landscape
A natural drive like the monthly course of a woman bleeding
creating a lay of the land the map of a place
a very old place

We've travelled here today because 40 years ago this was my frequent place
Putting in at mile 22 meant
Weekly expeditions for numerous years
manoeuvring through life in a canoe
understanding to expect the unexpected
log jams, deadfalls, rapids
watching my teacher lose his life to her strength
learning more in one day than it takes in a life time

As we sip our hot tea and breathe in the pungent scent of rotting pinks and composting vegetation
we can't help but wonder about people who know nothing about place.
Who know nothing about the sacredness of this place.
Who hold no stories in their veins.
How can these who wish to plant pipelines
full of poison
on this very bank
to jeopardize her health and well being?
To accept the idea would be like consenting to a rape.
The rape of an old woman.

Linda Stringfellow 2010

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