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Prayer for protection at the Vedder River
A small Idle No More event on the Vedder River on New Year's Day was meant to foster a more harmonious relationship with the natural world.
"This peaceful ceremony marks a really good way to begin a new year and a new era, actually," said Skwah elder Eddie Gardner.
"We're all caught up in our addiction to fossil fuels, but it will come to an end. We're going to hit the wall and when that happens it's going to really hurt."
It's incumbent upon aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike to take action now against the Harper government and Bill C-45, he said, which significantly reduced environmental protection of Canada's lakes and rivers.
"We have to do some things to honour the water, honour the land, and honour the air. These ecosystems are what sustain and nurture human life on the only home we have here, mother earth."
Food offerings were poured into the river in to thank water spirits and ancestors, all to the sound of drumming and singing. Fresh cedar branches were used to brush away bad spirits and energy.
"We have come together to protect what is so precious to us," said Gardner. "The Vedder is a powerful river because it sustains life."
It's not just a socio-political statement being made, but one that emphasized spiritual inter-connectedness.
The New Year's Day gathering at the river could become a unifying annual event, he added.
Grace Kelly of Soowahlie came to welcome everybody, and to have Soowahlie acknowledged.
"We had originally had 1140 acres of land and now we only 400," she told the small crowd. "The 740 acres are now part of Canada Lands which is now part of UFV.
"I am sad because there is no acknowledgement of Soowahlie, and that's why I wanted to come here today to welcome everybody.
"I wanted to acknowledge our ancestors who prepared us for the future and we didn't have a choice in the end, and I'm very sad about that."