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First nite at the Dreaming Festival

This last weekend I left the beloved Permaforest Trust (I’ll post more reflections on all that later) after doing two weeks there and learning a great deal from that experience and headed off with Sophie & other crew from the trust to the Dreaming Festival. For those that don’t know the Dreaming Festival is a gathering of all the aboriginal people from around Australia to celebrate the culture & arts of their people. So I spent four solid days taking in some amazing things including some pretty special theatre pieces, movies, and stories about what has happened to these people.

Much of the healing of this country is currently happening now. It’s humbling to know that frankly while healing they are still embracing the government and people that put them in this situation. I really felt an amazing connection, spirit, and intensity at this festival (that had about 3000 people attending which was really nice cause everyone was super cruisy, friendly, kind, and great). These people have been through a great deal in their time and to see them still striving to keep their cultures alive and strong makes me feel good inside. Makes me want to help them out. Makes me respect them. And makes me want to grow with all of that. Respect them and myself too.

In the process of being around such intense feelings (movies/theatre/songs about what has happened to them in the last 100 years) it created a great sense of emotional connection. I was happy to be a part of that. It also caused a great deal of introspective digging on my part too. It felt good to look back at myself in the last 10 years and think of where I’ve gotten to. How proud I am of how I continue to grow and just need to be conscious (as we all do) of what we are doing in the world, to the earth, to ourselves, in our communities, how we relate to others, what community means, and just being present in the moment.

I probably should have broken the Lake Cowal episode into two points but I didn’t cause I was trying to deal with it I suppose.

There was still some points that I wanted to get off my mind but that last post turned more into some epic novel of sorts.

What bothers me in this day in age is that we are really focussed as countries (Canada/Australia) on trying to solve other countries problems like Iraq/Iran/[insert country here] and not spending much time dealing with our own internal problems. Why is it acceptable to ignore the rights of indigenous people here in Australia or even in Canada? Why is it that New Zealand seems to show the most respect (as far as I can tell) with regards to the development of relationships between the government and the Maori people. I mean Canada prides itself in being a peacekeeping country and goes around to other countries trying to ensure that there is less bloodshed, things can get resolved, etc. Yet like Australia or own country does very little to properly deal with the First Nations/Indigenous peoples land claims or at the very least demands for respect of sacred burial grounds. It upsets me that we would treat people that way.

I spent some time up in KohuKohu and apparently they were expanding the road up there when a worker cutting down a tree came across some bones that fell out of the tree stump. All the work was haulted, elders were called in to figure out how big the burial grounds were/bless things, and further discussions were done to figure out the next course of action. It means that everyone was equal at the bargaining table and that they figure out a solution together because they wanted to show respect for peoples that have been there long before New Zealanders settled. I don’t think that type of negotiation is that hard! Frankly, you’d have a lot less people protesting or having to occupy sacred grounds to prevent golf course expansions. Seriously folks don’t you think there is some compremise. We should be resolving these issues so that the children (your children) don’t have the carry the weight that we have all been carrying from the mistreatment of these people.

Native Rights Drawing

[I’m warning you this is going to be a loooooooooooooooooong post. Lots of stuff happened this weekend that I am trying hard to deal with]

Save Lake CowalAs some of you might know (or not know) this weekend I headed to Lake Cowal to support a 5 year running protest against Barrick Gold (gold mining company from Canada tragically) who has been exploiting the land at Lake Cowal in several ways.

My time at the camp during the three days was beautiful once we finally got there as it was spent with beautiful people from all over Australia and the world! These included a few different family of fun kids, indigenous people, and others from around Australia and the world. Tragically, Maurice, Andrew, & I received a few (read: 20 I believe was the last count) flat tires on our ride out to the site and finally gave up and had to call in backup vehicle support to come get us.

“Our Aboriginal People are being denied access to our sacred ground. Protestors from around the world are here to support our claim for access to our ancient lands. Australian Aboriginal Peoples have the oldest continuing living culture in the world. We Wiradjuri People are also being denied the right of spiritual and religious freedom under s.116 of the Australian Constitution,” Mr Williams said.

“Barrick is desecrating our sacred site and Dreaming Place and denying us access to our traditional lands. The company has moved or destroyed more than 10 000 artefacts including marked trees, damaging the integrity of the area forever.”

“Despite Barrick’s assertion that we are misleading people, what we are doing is our ancient cultural duty to protect our sacred Country for the generations to come. We are also raising awareness of the dangers of cyanide leach gold mining and the mine’s excessive use of precious water in the middle of the worst drought on record. The fullest dams, in the very parched countryside between Condobolin and the mine, are the toxic tailings ponds west of the open cut pit, which extends into the lakebed.”

I went there to help represent the indigenous people of this country (read: each area that is occupied by a different indigenous country in Australia is called a country here..which I love) .

The actions of the day were quite successful in bringing awareness to the fact that this issue is still taking place. I spent my day performing native dances, doing a sit outside the gates, and supporting other protesters who were entering the mines. Oh and at one point I became the food man bringing food around to people that I had stocked up before we left our camp. It would have been nice to see more people out there but I still think we had an impact (have a look at this rad video of the Tranny Minors that performed). I saw some really fuckin brave people out there getting arrested for what they believe in. It was kinda unfortunate I couldn’t have participated more although I feel my actions were useful too.

But really folks did you realize that cyanide is waste product in the processing of gold. It’s tragic that on such a special lake we would want to introduce a poison that will threaten many different species of birds. Especially, when this lake is recognized as a special place recognized as being one of Australia’s Important Wetlands. Alright so what can I do? Write a letter (pre-made and handcrafted right here!) to these folks here and make sure that your investments are contributing to this destruction. Barricks doesn’t care that they have depleted loads of the water on this lake already even during a massive drought or that indigenous people of this area don’t agree with the settlement made.

[Warning: This bit is quite long and more about the traumatic experience that happened to me while there…I’m still trying to deal with it all actually]

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“One of the biggest killers on this planet is apathy. I read a thing in an internet cafe calendar in Galway, Ireland, yesterday that read ‘why are the people who have all the answers to world problems taxi drivers and hair dressers?’ This was a very good skit on human behaviour in general where people have all the answers and don’t act on their ideas. Why not?” — Venus Kamura from On Fire: The battle of Genoa and the anti-capitalist movement.

Yes everyone knows I read a lot of different things and although this book is a little patchy there are some areas of it that I find quite interesting and to the point.

I’ve now received a few messages from friends saying that they’ve felt as though they want to make some changes in their lives, and have been disheartened by it all in the past. Now they are committing to something new and want to integrate changes in their lives to make change in their own world! YAAH to you guys! WOOT WOOT

Well it’s not that hard to imagine it to be difficult really.

I think whether you are an activist or not you know that change needs to happen in our world so that it’s a place that the children of the future can enjoy. No one wants to leave a huge mess for them to cleanup as we have been left from past generations. It’s our responsibility to be role models, elders, and guardians for Mumma E (read: mother earth).

I think that all this boils down to a few things for me at least.

Firstly, be careful how many things you take on in your life. Keeping things really simple, breath easy, and focus your attention on a few actions that you can handle to start. Branch when you are comfortable. No one likes peanut that is thinly spread on many slices of bread so why would you spread your skills thinly across different type of issues. It’ll only weaken your ability. Plus you don’t want to walk away feeling jaded or tired or burnt out at the end of the day.

Secondly, and probably most importantly is my general philosophy since Otesha. I have them thank for this philosophy. When trying to adopt change in your life start by adopting something small, once you get comfortable, adopt something else that is new and will influence change. This is how we encourage youth on our bike tour to make changes in their lives. If you take baby steps life is more manageable and you won’t feeling like giving it all up because it appears to “be to much to handle.” This is the only way that our world will change in one big revolution. Apathy is an easy out especially when you think of all the huge things we need to take on a society to change it. But I never look at it like that. I’m thankful for the decisions I make each day to try and reduce my imprint and talk to people about issues that I see around me.

Lastly, the Dalai Lama knew it best when he said “Be the change you want to see in the world today.” It’s just that easy. Well sorta. Take a deep breath, be proud of where you are at, and remember that growth is about knowledge, learning, and change. At no point do we ever stop changing or growing and all those actions we take are causing other actions and movements to happen. Children watch us as the elders of the future.

Yeah it’s not really something that relates to my travels but I feel now strongly about this as I travel around New Zealand and yet to find activists. Perhaps they are hiding or just underground who knows. But at least I can be my own activist right?

WORD TO YAH MOTHA

Shane

PS – You have to remember that if you make one action today…think about if everyone took that action. Think about what happens when someone sees you taking that action and then questions you about it. Oh yes then the revolution starts!

There is something about riding on the highway with passing vehicles and taking in the terrain around you.

I arrived in Triabunna after a short bus ride and a great chat with a girl about all things environment! Nick was waiting for me at the station with a huge HUGE hug and big smile. As we walked my bike and gear back to the sleeping location I was greeted by four other peeps and more hugs (ahh shit do I ever love hugs). In total the tour consisted of Ang, Nick, Michelle, and Mary-Anne. It was sweet to have riden with them for the entire week as we had a lot to share together.

Tragically, I was to late to help them present the OZ version of the Otesha skit. The next day was actually they’re day off so we headed to Maria Island (close by) for a ride along a rocky roadway to a beautiful beach. I could hear Erica’s voice saying to me that riding on the track (read: road / path) wasn’t smart on thin walled tires but I did it anyway. Upon returning to the ferry about 5 minutes before I got there my tire blew. Phewfff.

The next day was our first ride out to complete the journey and to get things started I blew my tire once (replaced it with a fresh one = problem solved) and then had some serious issues with my panniers but fixed that later in the day thanks to Nick, a piece of metal found on the road, and duct tape around my water bottle (that’s right Wheats I still use your trick). HAAA HAA.

The terrian was freakin beautiful and smokey because of the degree of the forest fires that are ravaging this country-side. It’s tragic and real here as they are going through serious droughts and fires are ripping right through the country at fast rates.

Along the week long treck there was some really amazing steep hills, amazing connections, and lots of shared love. It was nice to at least share stories from our various tours, compare notes, and talk about different environmental issues.

Along the way I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Gee an amazing activist, writer, and energetic women. The night we stayed with Bob & Helen was full of lively discussion, understanding of the issues (on my part), and interesting perspectives. I felt super lucky to have been a part of those conversations and experience. She is heavily involved in fighting Tasmania Old Growth cutting.

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“There are trees on the coast stripped of bark, stark silver white, and without the bark one can see how the very wood is twisted so the dead tree seems to be like a corkscrew rooted in the earth. There are those who think that only people have emotions like pride, fear and joy, but those who know will tell you all things are alive, perhaps not in the same way we are alive, but each in its own way, as it should be, for we are not all the same. And though different from us in shape and lifespan, different in Time and Knowing, yet are trees alive. And rocks and water. And all know emotion.” Daughters of Copper Women by Anne Cameron

This book has been a great reminder of the importance of cherishing nature, remembering the hardships that natives have had to live through because of colonialism, and how much I respect indigenous people in the world. They have a good understanding of the world, earth, and cherish it more than most of us do. Why? Because it’s completely engraned in their culture to do so!

Warm thoughts,

Shane

No WAR!

I have talked with each one of you off and on about war, and I think all of you agreed that it’s not the way to move our society along. That people are dying for no reason. And that we don’t agree with Canada’s participation in this American war.

Well…if you want to make a peaceful statement here’s how.

BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW! Demonstration
Pan-Canadian Day of Action!
Where: Saturday October 28, 2006
When: Rally at 12 noon, Harry Hays Federal building (220 4 ave SE)
Who:
Everyone Welcome! Bring Signs and Banners

Followed by:
Afghanistan: 5 Years On
Panel on Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, from 1-:30 at Parkdale United Church (2919 8th Ave NW)

Last thought. You might think that this is ineffective and that you can’t make change this way. But really don’t you think that Harper will listen when people are getting together all around the country (which is what is planned) to rally against war on this day. To many soldiers are dying tragically, people in countries “accidently being killed”, and to not enough real progress is happening in the countries being attacked. End the occupation. I for one want to show my support against what I don’t believe in.

Hugs, love, and patience,

Shane

PS – Pass this around so we can make waves [even if you can’t go :)]

So yesterday I headed out to the “One Dead Indian” screening for the Calgary International Film festival. I was lucky enough to get a free pass to any movie I wanted to see there from a guy who ordered a coffee at Good Earth cafe where I work. It’s a pretty sweet tip considering the tickets are worth $15+. The movie is based on a book about a peaceful protest that some aboriginal people took part in Ipperwash Provincial Park near Sarnia, Ontario by the Stony Point Natives. It was old land that the Canadian government had taken from the natives in order to build a military base during war times. They were told that once the war had ended they would be able to return to the land and live there again. Tragically, it had been turned into a provincial park and the original natives land owners were told it was no longer there land. The story is about a peaceful protest that turns completely wrong as one Stony Point Native is shot and killed during a police invasion.

I highly recommend this movie/book.

I think that our treatment of North American natives is disgusting and something that I’m ashamed to admit that I’m Canadian because of this fact. I think that all to often we find it easier to to things that would compromise their rights then try and negotiate a resolution that would be adequate and fair to these people. They lived here longer than us so to the politicians I say “remove thy head from thy ass”.

Yesterday was the first time I think I felt a little alone. I spent the entire movie crying and really needed some comfort afterwards. Lindsay (who I went with) and I went out for dinner afterwards which was really rad! But I still felt like it was oen of those nights I would have loved to just cuddle with someone. Yah I was a little upset.

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