July 26, 2016

WE ARE ALL CONNECTED: a poem by Beau Dick, shared with the Spaceship Earth International Research Roundtable at the Peter Wall Institute, spring 2014. 

We have endured as First Nation people
near annihilation. We have been subject
to poverty, diseases infected on us,
homelessness, alcoholism, drug addiction.
Now our waters are being poisoned,
our homelands being destroyed.
Old-growth forests are disappearing, 
animal species are being wiped out
from the face of the earth and the sea 
in an accelerating rate in the last 150 years.
These are dangerous times.

We need to make all people aware 
that First Nations peoples of this nation 
we call Canada are probably the only
people who can stand up for the forests  
that are integral part of our lives
together with the rivers and the sea,
all of which are First Nations’ issues
not just in Canada, but in the broadest sense,
to all the planet Earth since this is global.
Every single human being is affected 
by decisions we make in our daily lives. 

What kind of people have we become?
In our healing we regain the dignity
of our culture, we regain our pride
as people, members of the human family,
our connectedness with Mother Earth
and to the great Creator as illustrated
throughout our cultures, our connectedness
to all other beings that are on this planet,
the animals of the forests, the birds in the sky
all others who live in the rivers,  lakes and sea.
We are all connected. We must embrace this connection.

We need to shift our values and realize
that there is something more important 
than money, the monetary system that has been
imposed on us, that in my judgment, is immoral, 
corrupt and unjust. It’s time to shift our values
so that we may have hope to create a better world
for our children and our grandchildren, and those
yet unborn, and in doing so, honor our ancestors
who brought us here and gave us this great gift, life.
We need to care more. We need to embrace each other,
appreciate our differences throughout the whole world.

Let us set an example for the rest of the world.
We want to do good things. May we fulfill a vision 
of all people coming together and paddling 
from their homelands on their great thunder canoes
to find a common ground for the betterment of all.
In our healing we seek truth, and the truth is
that we all need each other. If we are to survive,
we need each other. We’re part of a bigger thing now.
It isn’t just a First Nations’ thing. We call on all our fellow
human beings to open your hearts and understand,
that we may all come together and be as one people.

Be good people together, heal together to find a path 
to righteousness, so that we may be protectors,
guardians of the precious gift of life we share
with all living beings on the blue planet we call Earth,
the mighty forests that point to the sky, the placid lakes
that are mirrors to the clouds, the flowing rivers 
that are the laughter of the land and our lives 
that go down to the big blue ocean, the big mother 
of all creatures, the source of the rain clouds.
May we embrace, protect, cherish the forests,
the birds, the fish, the sea. We are all one! 

Beau Dick – Born in 1955 in Alert Bay and grew up until age five in Kingcom Inlet, deep on a coastal fjord. He was extracted from the village and placed into an urban setting public school in the lower mainland. By 14, he was able to return home and begin his real education with a deep hunger to learn about his Kwakwaka’wakw heritage. In the villages, Beau reconnected with his true teachers who were his grandparents, uncles and aunties, and dad. Both his dad and granddad linked him to a long line of master carvers.

After a few years, Beau Dick went to study with the some of the great masters based in Victoria and Vancouver. He fell into the arms of pak’ala who are the holders of knowledge, the knowledge keepers, who could train him in the traditions while traveling up and down the British Columbia coast.

Returning to Alert Bay, he in turn began a life serving as mentor to generations of up and coming artists and ceremonial practitioners. His mission is to preserve and conserve his culture, and contribute to environmental activism.