Canada: Salmon Are Sacred Walk

May 17, 2010

Salmon Are Sacred Walk, Vancouver Island

Alexandra Morton

Salmon Are Sacred: May 4, 2010


Walking through the communities of Vancouver Island on the Get Out Migration has been a powerfully emotional experience. We are walking to tell people that if they simply stand up and make themselves visible to government, there is no reason we have to lose our wild salmon.  But as we walk into towns with our flags flying, brilliant salmon signs, singing “we are walking to Victoria to save our fish,” an entirely unexpected thing is happening.  People are coming up to me and holding me – crying.  They are speaking about schools without children, independent livelihoods lost, communities dying. This is about much more than fish.

This is about the independent way of life that built these communities going extinct. As we walk I see a land of beautiful clear streams, fertile soil green with life, air sweet with flowers and then I enter towns so burdened by global corporate markets that they can no longer thrive on the richness of this land.  There is something very wrong here, it is painful to witness and people are sad.

Somehow we have become blind to our public resource – millions of salmon flowing annually to our doorstep, feeding people and our economy province wide. We have somehow been convinced that Atlantic salmon, dyed pink, vaccinated, fed Chilean fish, in pens where we cannot catch them, infesting our fish with lice – are better. We believe there are jobs even as the Norwegian companies are mechanizing as fast as they can to reduce the number of jobs.  When people see us they know we have been duped and they don’t know how to turn this around.  The Get Out Migration has been protected, blessed, gifted and honored by the First Nations who know best what has been lost. Everyday more people are joining our trek – weathering storms in tents, waving at thousand honking motorists on the road to Victoria.  Our ranks swell as we enter the towns, white doves have been released, First Nation canoes parallel us, songs have been written, feasts laid out, flotillas surround us, people are awakening.

Do we still live in a democracy?  Our essential rights and freedoms are being lost as foreign shareholders decide our fate, what happens on our land, dividing our communities, in an equation where they get more as we get less.  As our salmon go so we go, they are a lifeline to the powerful natural world that gave birth to us.  We must lead our governments back to where we can survive.  Walk with us.  Be there for our salmon, our towns, our children for yourself. If you want to be represented you must represent yourself.
Alexandra Morton

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