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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You Can Claim This Ocean

Jane Stevenson

You can claim this ocean. When you have slept in a boat, curled in the bow, between bait coolers and beer cases. When your hands have bleed because of traps so heavy, ropes so rough, fish so big. 

You can claim this ocean. When you remember the underwater trench the king crabs crawl out of every spring. When you have seen the ocean so calm and flat with mountains and clouds mirrored so perfectly in the still waters you feel like your boat is soaring in the sky.

You can claim this ocean. When the sight of petroglyphs and ancient stone fishing weirs make you cut the engine, fall into silence. When you can’t meet the eye of the nesting eagles. When you stop trying to get a picture of the whales. 

You can claim this ocean. When you stop worrying about how a salmon so big will fit in the frying pan. When you start worrying about how the salmon will be next year. When you see the weather buoys anchored up in a cedar snag after a storm. When you stop believing the weather reports and start believing the ocean sees, feels and hears you. 

Because really. This ocean claims you. When you hear the engine roar and lift over the top of a wave and spin shrill in the air. When you are surprised over and over again that your bow can sink so far into the trough of the wave and still pop back up. When the waves are so tall you see no horizon. When you feel no up or down, no crest or peak, no throttle or slack. 
This ocean claims you. When your bow stays below the wave and all at once you are in the boat yet under the ocean. When you are wave lifted and left wet on the tide line. When you are so cold you can’t sense your limbs, you can’t feel your face on the rocks. When the ocean almost took you in, considered holding you down but didn’t. When your nose streams salt water, your lungs cough up ocean spray. 

This ocean claims you. When you can shift your stiff body around, slide a little on the seaweed and look at the ocean pounding beside you.

When you know that you are not spared, you are not exactly saved but that the ocean has a piece of you now slamming around in the deep and someday she will ask for you to remember and ask for you to stand up and claim what is yours.

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