Yellowkinfe — You stand in the hush of a landscape that contains everything and nothing at the same time. Everywhere is the sound of a great coming together. The sound of time and timelessness arching across this flat, sinuous geography so that if you stand here long enough you come to know how forever might feel if we could stretch the limits of our lives to encompass it.
The Dene, Dogrib and Inuit whose territories converge here understood this well. Their pre-settlement lives were predicated on a daily interaction with this great silence that has such a magnificent voice. This land. This living, breathing entity that sustained, defined and perpetuated them. They learned to listen to her, to hear her and to become beings in harmony with her.
That’s the spiritual payoff of a resonant relationship with the planet. You come to find harmony and you always feel at home. That’s why the issue with the proposed Ajax mine is so perplexing. Beyond the science, environmental angst and speculative economic payoff to Kamloops over time, lies the issue of our relationship with the planet.
Resource companies and governments, whose capitalist backbones stiffen at the environmental rabble challenging their notions of progress, have become rapacious and they treat the planet as though we had another one to move to. We don’t. Projects like the Ajax mine are spun into a sort of benign weightlessness and the absence of really hard science goes unremarked upon except by that clamorous rabble.
You get the sense that money buys silence or some sort of mute acceptance, a casual shrugging of the shoulders at what’s deemed inevitable. I missed the rally in Kamloops this past weekend but I was asked to speak there and I would have were I not on the road. Too bad. Because I would have spoken about harmony.
I would have spoken about the feeling that comes over you when you stand on the skin of the planet and recognize its wholeness, its perfection, it absolute interconnectedness. I would have had to speak about the woe that falls over you when you contemplate how much damage we have caused her. The pain of knowing we exist in an unequal relationship. This would mean that my speech would have included the Native credo that the honour of one thing is the honour of all and its corollary; the dishonour of one thing is the dishonour of all.
Do we rupture another part of the planet so another corporation can grow fatter? Or do we say, no, that the well being of our collective home serves a far greater need? Do we continue to follow the march of progress or do we instead seek a return to harmony, all things ringing true together?
The Dene, Dogrib and Inuit know what their choice would be. Here, where the shimmer of the Northern Lights dazzles the eye with mystery, they would choose to honour the land. Rupturing is not honouring. They’ve learned that from watching mines pock the surface of their once pristine homelands.
Harmony means all things ringing true together. If there is even a shred of doubt about the effect of a mine on the planet, or the lives of the people who occupy it, then choosing its development is not harmony. It's greed masked as progress and it always has been. It's disregard for the sanctity of the one planetary home we have. It's disregarding the sanctity of ourselves — the total absence of harmony.