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About thirty minutes north of Stanley, near Napadogan, New Brunswick, a group of Wolustukyik land and water defenders are building a culture and language camp. I was grateful for the invitation and opportunity to visit them a few weeks ago with my family, and they’ve not only built an impressive foundation for a lodge, but they’ve also successfully bartered for additional construction materials.

It’s cold and getting colder, and until they can get their winter shelter up, these women are living full time in a collection of tents and camping trailers. It’s very cozy in the trailers, but they have a continuous need for fuel (firewood + gas and propane for their generators), not to mention other essential supplies. Other ongoing construction projects include the installation of plumbing services — and everything costs money!

As Settlers who live and make our family’s living in this territory, my partner and I have been doing what we can to support the mothers and grandmothers and their camp. We are uninvited guests in this territory, and these women are protecting the land and water for ALL of our babies and grand babies. This is what true leadership looks like. The price of tungsten has recently rebounded, and this camp is already an active frontline of defence against Northcliff Resources’s plans to poison crucial headwaters in this region. Please understand that as of today, the mothers and grandmothers are being actively bullied, intimidated, and surveilled by industry representatives, by RCMP, and by Settlers who support the mine — and all this while the Sisson Brook project sits (for the time being) dormant.

As the Wolustukyik have always done, these women are showing us how to live in balance in this territory, how to be good neighbours, how to live in concert (rather than in power) with the more-than-human beings of the land, and how to take care of one another in the long term. As Settlers, we need to show that we’re listening and that we are doing our best to learn and to follow their important lead. So it was an honour and a privilege to cozy into one of these trailers, to sit with these women for a few hours, to talk about measurable ways in which we could lend our skills and show our support, to chat and to listen to their stories. My son watched a Toy Story DVD while my daughter crawled around happily with a runny nose, and when we left, we did so with a new jar of bear grease that quickly soothed the raw skin on her upper lip.

I left behind two copies of my book, and one of those copies is currently up for grabs, along with many beautiful items, in a basket raffle. Here’s an image of just some of the items included in the basket:

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Most of these items were made by the mothers and grandmothers, and every dollar raised will support the construction of the camp. Tickets are $20 CAD and can be easily purchased through Andrea Polchies on Facebook.

A beaver was killed near the camp this week. He had been working hard alongside his kin relations to flood a key road leading to the proposed mine site. For taking measures to protect his land, water, and medicines, someone shot him — and they left him dead in the roadway for the the mothers and grandmothers to find. They are understandably heartsick, and yet they are working, as ever, to build their winter shelter.

Our actions and inactions reveal important things about what we value, how we see the world, how we see ourselves and our neighbours within worlds. What do the actions of this killer tell us about the settler society’s capacity for violence? What might silence and inaction say about where a person stands on this issue and about who they support? If you live in Wolustukyik territory, are you actively supporting the mothers and grandmothers, or are you acting as though they aren’t there? Irving acted like the mothers and grandmothers weren’t there when they sprayed them (twice) with glyphosate through arial applications.

As of today, the mothers and grandmothers are being actively bullied, intimidated, and surveilled by industry representatives, by RCMP, and by Settlers who support the mine. Please take this opportunity to support them actively!

 

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