Almost asleep, you think you make out
her breath, the rasp of abalone
scraping the walls of the abyss. Imagine
how strong they are, pink flesh pulling
to the rock with a single touch. Your tongue
swirling in the empty, iridescent shell.
—  From Trapline by Caroline Goodwin, San Mateo County poet laureate. Read Lisa Cheby’s full review over at The Rumpus!
First Nations fight to halt resource development in northeast B.C.
The group says rights granted by Treaty 8 more than 100 years ago to protect harvesting are being destroyed by industrial activity

The Blueberry River First Nations are arguing in court that based on promises made by the Crown in 1899, resource development should be halted in a huge swath of northeast British Columbia, an area that encompases some of the most intense oil and gas, pipeline and logging activity in the province.

In an injunction application made Monday in the Supreme Court of B.C. the BRFN seek to protect hunting, trapping and fishing rights which they say were guaranteed by Treaty 8 more than 100 years ago. They claim those rights are now being destroyed by the cumulative impact of developments.

BRFN lawyer Maegen Giltrow told court that many areas within the traditional territory of the bands are “perceived as being spoiled or unsafe” because of industrial activity.

She said as roads, gas wells, pipelines and other developments take place, game animals become increasingly scarce and traplines become less productive, forcing people to travel increasingly farther from their homes to harvest from the land.

Ms. Giltrow said sites that have lost game are described as having “gone dark” by BRFN members and that darkness has been spreading rapidly across the landscape near Fort St. John where they live.

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My Dog ‘Mede Saves my Ass

by  Saṃsāran

In my youth, before I was awakened to the sanctity of all life, I spent a winter trapping mink and fox in the Alaskan bush. My Aunt and Uncle homesteaded in the 1960s and now ran a hunting camp. Since I was Cheechako, a city kid, and not qualified as a guide I was given the job of manning a trapline. The trapline was set along a creek some forty miles by air from the main camp. There was a small “cabin” with a wood stove and a 55 gallon barrel of gasoline with a hand cranked pump  used to fill the tank of the snow machine. 

 I was riding the trapline with my dog ‘mede running alongside the snow machine. I came around a bend and saw a wolf pack tearing apart my catch. Now generally wolves don’t attack hunters but this was a particularly cold winter and food was damned scarce. I guess they were pissed at my interrupting their feed. Two of the wolves rushed me and I panicked.

Yep, panicked at the worst possible time. I fell off the snow machine into a snow bank. My rifle was still in its holster on the now overturned machine. Then without a thought ‘mede just jumped in the middle of that pack. Bravest damn thing I have ever seen. I got up, fumbled for a bit and dug my rifle out. I let off a wild shot and winged one of the wolves and they all bolted. Snarling at me as if to say “you got lucky this time human”.

Old ‘mede was more or less fine. He was chewed up a bit and had his ear torn but it was nothing a week of rest and a few salmon wouldn’t fix. That dog wasn’t afraid of anything. He would have charged Satan himself had the old bastard been man enough to show himself. I didn’t know it then but this was only the first of two times ole ‘Mede was going to save me that winter. Two ravens like a couple of old Indian men settled on a scrub spruce and laughed at me as if this was the funniest thing they had ever seen. As for me … well let’s just say I didn’t stop shakin’ until I was back in the cabin zipped into my mummy bag with two shots of Jack Daniels in me.

Waswanipi Cree of Northern Quebec make last stand to save their forest
About 90 per cent of the forest in the Waswanipi's traditional trapping areas has already been logged. The community is fighting to preserve the untouched portion.

Waswanipi — Negotiating rough forestry roads in his black Ford F150 pickup, Don Saganash explains how he came to lead the Waswanipi Cree of Northern Quebec in their battle to save the last intact boreal forest on their territory.

“My late dad, a year before he passed away, he appointed me as a tallyman,” Saganash recalls.

The role of the tallyman, a term dating back to fur-trading days, is to manage the traplines where beavers and other fur-bearing animals are caught, and also to safeguard the forest, rivers and lakes, as well as the fish, mammals and game birds that provide food for Cree communities.

The boreal forest north of the Waswanipi townsite is divided into 52 designated traplines, each averaging about 700 square kilometres in size.

“You take care of the trapline,” Allan Saganash Sr. told his son in 2006, adding this condition: “You have to try to block the forestry (industry).”

According to the Waswanipi Forest Authority, forestry companies now extract about 15 million trees a year from the 35,000-square-kilometre Waswanipi Eeyou Istchee (as the local Cree call their land). That’s an area about half the size of New Brunswick.

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