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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Home 1/4

Barbara Robin

Good morning Sheila, Joyce has told me that you’re collecting stories from the areas  where the Enbridge pipe line is slated to cross, in our case the Necoslie or Nak’azdli as the First Nations people know it. Joyce suggested I send you this story poem I wrote back in 1996. At the time I owned a small real estate office in the ‘Fort and one of the properties I had listed was a ¼ section on the north side of the Necoslie River. It was like many larger parcels out in that country in that it had been logged in the early 1980’s under an agricultural lease. The spring I listed the property my partner, Roger Clark, and I hauled our horses out there on a beautiful Sunday in May, saddled up and crossed the Necoslie River on the old log bridge to the south side and spent some time exploring old abandoned homestead.  Several years later when the river was in full flood the bridge was swept away and was never replaced. 
Out on the Necoslie Road
about 8 miles east of town
I had listed a ¼ section
that was neglected and badly run down.

It had been logged in the early 80’s
and once seeded to alfalfa and brome
but now only rose bushes and willows                                                                                                                                                                           
were all that seemed to be grown.

It was ¾ of a mile from hydro
along a rutted dirt trail
and the moose and the deer had finished
any sign of a fence post or rail.

Now, I like to think I’m a good Realtor
at least that’s what I’ve been told
but I knew it would take some fast talking
to get that 160 acres sold.

Then one day a couple walked into my office
it was getting on late in the fall
they said they wanted a little homestead
a place to get away from it all.

Well, have I got the property for you I said
as I hustled them in to my truck  
and off we went in pursuit of their dream
with no mind to the ruts and the muck.

Well, we walked every foot of that quarter
tho, I may as well not have been there
with them talking of horses and cattle
and the work and the fun they would share.

So, we went back to town and I wrote up the sale
they offered the owner full sum
he accepted their offer, we had a deal
and they thanked me for what I had done.

I see the new owners in town now and then
and they look pretty content I’d say
they’ve built a big barn and a little log house
and this year had their first crop of hay.

Their happiness just goes to show you
there’s a place for everyone
where I saw only weeds and neglect
they saw a place to call home.    

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