World Nature Conservation Day is a time to reflect on how we can best preserve a healthy environment, rich biodiversity and protect natural resources.
We thank Indigneous activists like Paul Chiyokten Wagner, member of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) Tribe of southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, who have dedicated their lives to tirelessly conserving the lands and waters of Planet Earth.
I’m here, primarily to help this world heal. So it does not continue in a direction of disrespect and death. Here in the Salish Sea we’ve got 98 per cent of the ancient forest annihilated, 95 per cent of the natural animals annihilated and 95 per cent percent of Indigenous human beings annihilated in 160 odd years.
As the First Peoples, Elder society people have co-created paradise not harming even one of these ancient trees for tens of thousands of years. We need these intact ecosystems to remain with an Indigenous action and Indigenous heart. And to remain in balance and to offer the children a future. A livable future. These things are essential. They’re mandatory.
And yet there’s only 2.7 per cent left of any ancient tree that’s 150 to 250 years old. When this Government will lie and say that there are 25 per cent left. Very thorough research shows, the remaining percentage is no taller than five feet tall. So we’re here fighting for the last little tiniest bit of ecosystem that literally keeps us alive. Ancient forest is fire proof. It doesn’t burn. It holds water. Two years ago the Arctic was on fire. Every Nation that is inside of the Arctic Circle was a blazing wildfire, and we can’t live that way.
So for the children’s future I stand up to protect the ancient forests of our people. Our people are W̱SÁNEĆ people. I’m proud of our W̱SÁNEĆ people. I raise my hands to our ancestors. To our Elders and our Matriarchs who allowed us to understand our responsibility as a human being.
Our place amongst all other beings, every being the creator ever put here was as the creator put them here. For tens of thousands of years.
Follow Chiyokten’s work and activism on Instagram @protectors.salish.sea