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Archive for the ‘South March Highlands’ Category

I watch the Hiawa resin become a boiling liquid uniting tobacco and sage, nourishing a lovely orange flame. Nestled within the shell given to me on the South March Highlands by Charles. The local and Rupununi Medicines meld into an aromatic honouring of the Full Snow Moon and of the Land. It is now midnight. A year ago at this time, I was hoping to steal a few hours sleep before meeting with over 20 people, pre-dawn, to surround the cutting machine at the Beaver Pond Forest.

I have just attended a meeting about the South March Highlands (SMH). I like that the meeting is on the full moon. Those working to protect SMH noticed good things often happened for the Forest on the full moon. Good seeds were planted at the meeting, seeds that will grow up strong and help to save this beautiful Land.  The loss of the Beaver Pond Forest part of SMH was a heartbreaking defeat.  But there is much to Celebrate, too.

After the meeting, Martin kindly takes Kurtis and I to the work-site where we took Action a year ago.  Over the summer, the Forest was recovering.  But just over a month ago, the site was stumped.  I go deeper onto the Land than my friends, searching for something. All is still, brightly lit by the moon, and strange.  I follow the icy machine path through tall snow-topped piles of shredded wood that had once been stumps.  I realize I’m hoping, irrationally, to find the Five Trunked Tree.  I turn back to rejoin the others.  Such a beautiful, clear, full moon night, and our Sacred ground freshly wounded.  Again.

Kurtis is interested in trying a tree-sit, and I suggest he do it in solidarity with the proposed Occupation of the Land threatened by the Expansion of Highway A5, near Wakefield.  Which reminds me of Albert Dumont‘s Ceremony a few days before, in honour of the Tree “who’s seen 300 Winters”.  I bounced ideas off Albert that the Gatineau Hills and the South March Highlands were two high points, back 10,000 years ago when the Champlain Sea covered the Ottawa Valley. So I feel protecting one benefits both. And that we should build solidarity between these Movements.  My first visit to the 300 and 200 year old trees, I was delighted by the Tree Art – and all the ribbons. Reminded me of going out under the Dec 2010 full moon to tie the first wave of Prayer Ribbons on the Trees at the Beaver Pond Forest.

Resistance is Beautiful.

Each of us has unique gifts to give this world, and in these particular struggles, a unique and important role to play. Together, we form a wondrous web of light, a web of light that shines in defeat and in victory. A web that stretches from the Highlands to the Gatineau Hills to the Hiawa Trees on Surama Mountain, and beyond.  Let’s help each other shine bright!

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(Une version française suit le texte anglais)

Kurtis Benedetti set out from Cape Breton on 4 July, determined to bike the 2100km back home to the South March Highlands (SMH) to raise awareness about the Forest. He’s on track to reach Ottawa on Thursday. Please join us to welcome him home!!! Thurs 28 July 12:oo (noon) at the Human Rights Monument (City Hall). There will be:
– Updates on the current status of Ottawa’s Great Forest
– Kurtis will tell us about his journey
– Songs
– Information on Next Steps
– After the rally, approx 1pm: Option to bike with Kurtis for the last leg of his journey, to SMH! Approx. 20km ride.

What a great way to spend your lunch hour! And…maybe knock off work early for a bike ride to Ottawa’s Great Forest!

Detailed schedule to follow here. Please bring a sign if you can, about why this Green Gem should be protected.

See you there!

Invite your friends on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=231055003601876
More about Kurtis’ journey: http://www.emckanata.ca/20​110714/news/Kanata+man+emb​arks+on+2,100-kilometre+cy​cling+journey,+Hopes+to+ra​ise+awareness+about+concer​n+for+South+March+Highland​s

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Kurtis Benedetti est parti de Cap Breton le 4 juillet, fermement décidé à pédaler les 2100km qui le séparent de chez lui, dans les Hautes terres de South March (South March Highlands), afin de sensibiliser la population au sujet de la forêt. Il arrivera à Ottawa jeudi. SVP joignez-vous à nous pour l’accueillir!!

Jeudi 28 juillet à midi au Monument des droits de la personne (Hôtel de ville, coin Elgin et Lisgar). Il y aura :

-Des mises à jour sur le statut de la Grande Forêt d’Ottawa
-Kurtis nous racontera son voyage
-Des chansons
-Des informations sur les prochaines étapes
-Après le rassemblement, vers 13h (1pm) environ : il sera possible d’accompagner Kurtis, à vélo, jusqu’aux Hautes terres de South March (environ 20km)

C’est une super manière de passer votre heure de lunch! Et peut-être de quitter le travail tôt pour faire un tour en vélo aux Hautes terres de South March!

SVP, apporter une pancarte si vous pouvez, afin de souligner l’importance de protéger ce joyau vert.

Partagez cet évènement avec un grand nombre de personnes! À jeudi!

Personne contact pour les média (bilingue) : Daniel “Amikwabe” Bernard 416-876-3051, dan_bernard@rogers.com

Informations supplémentaires sur les Hautes terres de South March:

www.union-algonquin-union.com/south-march-highlands/
http://southmarch.wordpress.com/
www.ottawasgreatforest.com

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this is the hearts in the snow video, the song that sprang from the poem about our experience of stopping the cutting Machine at Beaver Pond Forest on 8 February.  it is dedicated to the beautiful, brave, wonderful people who made that circle around the Machine possible.  the first time it was sung in public was at the rally after the closing ceremony for the Sacred Fire.  the Fire burned day and night from 9 to 13 February at Queen’s Park, Toronto, for the Forest.   mid-song, two redtailed hawks soared overhead.  i’m honoured and glad they chose to join us.

today Urbandale will finish cutting down the Forest we fought so hard to protect.  this song is sad, but don’t despair, there are more songs to come, more battles to win, and our resistance is beautiful.

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walk together through living forest

beautiful in pre-dawn

then into the cleared land

the giant machine terrible leggo-like

cutting blades huge yet strangely dull

like monstrous lobster claws

our human circle around

the human made Machine

a thin line of flesh and spirit

to contain a monster made of

metal wrenched out of the Earth

seizing ancient sun’s power

for fossil-fueled destruction.

we sing, try to keep joy & warmth

amid piles of tree corpses

in neatly stacked rows

trees we love

words can’t quite capture

blood memory,

voices of the land

why the heart beat knows

we must be there to protect

the Beaver Pond Forest

i stumble over words for media

just words, only words

 

as i leave, i go to the five-trunked tree

each trunk severed

no more fingers reaching for sky

i draw hearts

on the snow

on the severed trunks.

hearts on the five-trunked tree. photo credit: Chris Bisson, 8 Feb 2011

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The snow fell steadily as we assembled, Ogui duct-taping posts to the beautiful signs Stefan had created for our rally.   As I tried (unsuccessfully) to figure out how to use the megaphone, a SUV pulled up and I spotted Grandfather William Commanda and his assistant, Romola.  I raced over to greet them.  We had not known if 97 year old Grandfather Commanda would be up for the journey over to join us.

Once people had their signs, we formed a circle, with Grandfather able to stay seated in the vehicle.  Elder Albert Dumont gave a beautiful opening Blessing for our rally and march, reminding us to be mindful with every step we took that it was a step to help save the Forest.  Paul Renaud then gave an impassioned speech, challenging the City of Ottawa to do the right thing and demand a new Archeological Assessment, which would halt destruction of the Forest until spring.

Then Grandfather Commanda prayed for the land (in three languages) and offered tobacco.   Those of us who have worked together to save the Beaver Pond Forest over these months (and for some, these decades), were moved and grateful.   In a letter to City Council, the Premiere, and others, Grandfather wrote that the Beaver Pond Forest is “[a] living temple, a place of Manitou, a special place of nature, and that precious reality also demands immediate protection and reverence.”

As the protesters marched off, all the more eager due to the cold, I went to thank Grandfather.  He held my hand and spoke to me mostly in French, at first it was difficult to hear his words due to the good-natured clamour of those marching to the Urbandale Sales office.   As it became quiet, only a few of us with Grandfather,  I could hear his words.  But his message went beyond words.  It was about living a good life.  More than anything, I felt it was validating my efforts, and it inspires me to continue to put my energy into helping nurture a sense of interconnectedness with each other, the land, and other species.

After Romola gently reminded him a few times that I was the Rally’s emcee, he finally released my hand, and they gave me a lift to join the rest of the group.  But I would have happily listened to him for the rest of the day.

Many more powerful words, drumbeats, and songs were shared at the Urbandale Sales Office.  The crowd was eager to keep fighting,

Elder Albert Dumont at the 8 Jan 2011 rally

to keep our candle of hope burning bright for this Land.   We each know Beaver Pond Forest has a powerful and beautiful energy that fuels and inspires our efforts to save it.

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This song was inspired by the South March Highlands and those fighting courageously and creatively to stop it from being clear-cut & blown-up next week.  There is something beautiful and powerful about the Forest we can’t quite explain, but it fuels our ability to work tirelessly (or despite being tired!) to save it.   And people keep coming forward to help us, as my friends Stefan, Ogui, Jessica, Michael, and Ed did to get a rough version of this song recorded before the Jan 8 rally.

Rough Cut: Beaver Pond Forest Song

So much noise out there

It can be hard to hear your own voice

So much power used against us

make ya feel you have no choice

We may each feel small

But together we stand tall

So wake up and raise your voice

Go on and make your choice

Who’s gonna fix this

If we back down

Who’s  gonna save

Our sacred ground

Its an old story

We don’t have much time

To stop the chainsaws

To stop this crime

A beautiful forest

Home to many species

Bit by bit

Cut into tiny pieces

No one paid

To take the long view

Except developers

Makin’ profits for the few

The rich play golf

While the forest crashes down

Basements get flooded

Can we turn this around?

Where is Ottawa City Hall?

Where’s the NCC?

Where is the province?

Why is it just you & me?

Why do humans use our power against life

Against life

Against life

And that is our fight

for life

that is our fight

for life

that is our fight

for life

Beaver Pond Forest

took centuries to grow

A week to destroy

This is our chance to show

That we’ve become wiser

That we fix mistakes

That we value life

That we’ve got what it takes

Will we listen to our Elders?

Which path will we choose

This is a key time

Not a moment to lose

So get up and raise your voice

Go on and make your choice

Who’s gonna fix this

If we back down

Who’s  gonna save

Our sacred ground

Vote with your dollar

picket Urbandale

prove this is the wrong way

to make a sale

Cut through the busy

You know its right

Save Beaver Pond Forest

Please join our fight!

So get up and raise your voice

Go on and make your choice

Who’s gonna fix this

If we back down

Who’s gonna save

Our sacred ground

Light  your candle for hope

Don’t give in

The truth will rise,

we can all still win

Light that candle

Don’t give in

Truth will rise,

we can all still win.

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Pressed gently to my heart, swaddled in my sweater with only her head visible, the young Green Heron’s startling yellow eyes seem to hold ancient understanding of this land.  She must be in pain, with two broken legs, but those eyes betray nothing.  No hope, no fear, only an intense interest.


injured green heron just before capture. photo credit: Bertie Xavier

I brought my Guyanese friend, Bertie, to the Beaver Pond Forest part of the South March Highlands in Ottawa the

morning before our Panel Discussion on Research, Transformation, and Indigenous Societies.   Bertie, from rural Guyana, S.A.,  is his village’s leader (amongst many other roles!).  It was important to bring him to this beautiful and vibrant old growth forest which is slated to be cut down by Urbandale and Richcraft to build yet more houses.   Bertie has faced similar struggles.   I hope his visit will make more connections between North and South to help find ways to protect vital, irreplaceable land like the South March Highlands.

We only have time for the loop around the Beaver Pond (sadly for Bertie, no beaver to be seen).  We reach the road and head back towards the parking lot when we notice a small commotion in the forest just off our path.  We investigate: it is an injured bird.  Bertie identifies it  as a kind of heron.   At first it seems like a wing injury, then it becomes clear it is the legs.

What to do?  Should we intervene?  Or let Nature take her course?  I struggle with this question.  If we don’t help, is it really because “we shouldn’t intervene”, or just because we have a lunch appointment and are looking for an excuse to walk away from a fellow creature in pain?

“She’ll be fine,” offers Bertie.  But I don’t think so.

“I think we should catch her.   I’m pretty sure there’s a wild bird rescue place.”

“You have things like that here?”

So Bertie wades further into the bush and grabs the heron, which I wrap into my sweater.  It goes so smoothly, you could ALMOST be fooled into thinking we know what we are doing.

The sun shines but the breeze is cool as we walk to the car.  I don’t dare take a hand off my charge, so Bertie mans the cell as I try to figure out where to take the heron.

who's afraid of a little "incredible recoil action"? photo credit: Bertie Xavier

“Hi, we’ve just rescued an injured bird, some kind of heron…”

“OK, where are you?”

“Well, actually, I’m calling for directions so we can bring her…”

“You mean you caught the heron?!?”

“Um, yah…”

“Watch the beak, they’ve got incredible recoil action!!!”

I’m not exactly sure what the volunteer means, but it sounds worrisome that only my sweater is between my heart and this “incredible recoil action”.   However, her beak is actually facing Bertie, on my left holding the cell to my ear.  I warn him, but he’s pretty confident the heron is too injured to “fight up”.

The heron is calm for the 10 minute drive to the Wild Bird Care Centre.  Once brought inside, it turns out she is a Green Heron, only the third to be brought into the Centre over the past 5 years.  I find out about the policies there: they only rehabilitate if it looks likely the bird can be released back to the Wild.   Two broken legs is not good.  But the volunteer tells me to call back in a few days.  At the very least, our intervention means the heron will get a gentle death.

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I call the Centre on 14 Sept, anxious to find out the green heron’s fate.

Good News!  The heron is doing well!!!   The volunteer thinks the heron will recover in time to be released for the fall migration.

But will she have a home to return to?

It’s up to you.   Ottawa City Council votes on 6 October 2010 on whether to save this land.  Please tell your City Councillor to vote FOR buying/expropriating the Beaver Pond Forest.

Beaver Pond in the South March Highlands, Kanata, ON. Photo credit Rob Hambly, HamblyPhotography

Thank you.

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