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

Monday, September 5, 2011

Naming the Rivers: Hirsch Creek

Joan Conway

In August when summer has not let go
of dappled green sunlight,
liquid reflections capture red bodies like ruby jewels
slipping through speckled gravel beds rubbed smooth
by their return.

We witness salmon's quiet determination,
bring our visitors awestruck
by this turbulent journey
from the ocean.

One visitor, a monk in exile from Tibet
stops at the river bank to rest from his teachings,
steps into Hirsch Creek,
his sandaled feet brush the ever moving bodies
a mirror to his own journey
where stories anchored
in another place in time
too search for their birth place.

His crimson robes are gathered in folds
above the moving water
as though these sockeye have exploded
in waves about his shoulders,
for a moment free to travel
unencumbered in a current of wind
a flag warning us
of this ever fragile landscape.

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