Editor’s Note: This is part one hundred eighty-five of a series of testimonies given by our aboriginal neighbors. We are posting these in an attempt to allow everyone to better understand just how badly Canada has neglected the first nations of Canada. These are the words submitted to the JRP Hearings, to Enbridge and to the Government of Canada.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS BY THE GITXAALA FIRST NATION CULTURE AND PLACE NAMES PANELS: (Part Two)
MR. JANES: So now back to the panel; I’m going to direct the next question towards Jeannette — Mrs. Moody first and then anybody who’d like to contribute to this can supplement what she says.
Now, Mrs. Moody, yesterday we heard about certain specific areas that are associated with naxnox and had been identified as potentially where we can see spanaxnox.
Can you give us a sense of whether or not there are many places or a few places in Gitxaala territory that are spanaxnox and associate it with naxnox?
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: Yes. It starts from outside the village, there’s a lighthouse there. I had an experience there and that’s why I know there’s a naxnox there.
And down through — where the lighthouse is.
MR. JANES: I think that’s — the problem is going to be is that — oh here we go, somebody will point it out.
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: Outside Gitxaala.
— (A short pause)
THE CHAIRPERSON: Maybe we could have one witness speaking at a time and we can just make sure that the microphones are turned on for any evidence that’s being given.
MR. JANES: So, Mrs. Moody, just make sure your microphone is on when you’re actually giving your evidence.
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: I had an experience there, near home and through the channel, by Ki dzaa there. There’s — by Ki dzaa. All through there, that top one by — there and right across — right across, there’s one there, and move further up, over here, there’s naxnox there.
And further up there — here, yeah, there’s naxnox there. And the end of — there’s — there, Kna Txaw, there’s naxnox there. All through that area where all the water runs, where the fish comes in, there’s naxnox there, all through that territory there.
And I talked earlier about the killer whales by Campania, they stay there; they’re always there by Campania. And we don’t get — we don’t go out there to harvest anything because my husband said it’s naxnox there.
But also the territory, there’s naxnox there, also that area.
MR. JANES: Mr. Bolton, Ernie, I understand that the naxnox at the south end of — near Dory Pass; is that associated with the halibut?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yes, there’s an island there where — I think I mentioned that yesterday, that little island called Kna Txaw. It associates with the halibut, the huge halibut that would appear there.
MR. JANES: So now I’d like to return to the question of some of the important ha’waŧk and just to illustrate some more of this and some its links to harvesting and to food — oh sorry, Matthew, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to cut you off there.
REV. MATTHEW HILL: I’d like to contribute by saying — you’re asking about where the naxnox live, the spanaxnox — the spanaxnox, the dens of the spirit of the animal. They live throughout the territory and mostly where everyone harvests specific foods. And they are within the whole ecosystem. They are on land, water and air and they look after whatever species that they are representing.
And so with the awaawk we’re always careful, as we heard mentioned many times about never abusing it in any way. It’s always with humility when we approach it and whatever we’re going for; whether it’s a deer, seal, fish or whatever. And we’re there as brothers and sisters and they feed us and we help — respect them by helping looking after the whole ecosystem, the environment in which they live.
MR. JANES: Ken?
MR. KEN INNES: I would just like to add that — about the naxnox, the spanaxnox. I know for a fact that there’s one in Laklut. Behind the village there’s a reef there where people go to either pick seaweed, k’na gaax, that there’s a reef there and nearby on a sandy beach my dad encountered one at zero tide.
My mother was picking on the reef and he was just rowing along and all of a sudden he found a den but he didn’t panic; he just slowly rowed away from it so as not to disturb it or awake it.
And I know there’s a couple of other areas around Gam Hayda there, very strong, you would feel it every time you go by there. And it seems to me — and this is my personal opinion — that the naxnox have their spanaxnox that surround Lach Klan where we live. And I believe that they surround our village to protect us, to help us, to look after us, because we respect them.
Like you heard the story of how we feed them, we don’t — we give them food so as not to anger them but show them our respect and that they have a big place in our lives. And I firmly believe that the naxnox is around our community and they protect us.
I just wanted to mention that.
MR. JANES: Did Rita want to add something?
MS. RITA ROBINSON: Yes.
MR. JANES: Mrs. Robinson?
MS. RITA ROBINSON: (Speaking in native language).
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: My sister said a story about the naxnox that my mother shared with her. There’s a place near Kitkatla we call klagan.
— (A short pause)
MS. RITA ROBINSON: I think it’s where the shipwreck is.
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yeah, just above where the shipwreck is in Freeman. There’s a place there —
MR. JANES: Just for the record, so this would be on west side of Porcher Inlet — Porcher — the Porcher Peninsula, yes. Sorry.
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yeah. And there’s a reef there, as he said, where they go and pick seaweed. And there’s a certain area in that area where they weren’t allowed to bring their boat or to anchor in that area because there’s a naxnox there.
And they’d — for my mother to share that they — she didn’t want to stir up the naxnox while they were harvesting. And it looks like a human being when it appears. And there’s a name in that area, our people call that area ŧgugyet. And ŧgugyet means a human being.
MR. JANES: So is there anything else anybody would like to add on the topic of naxnox that we’ve been — spanaxnox that we’ve just been talking about?
It actually occurs to me that as we we’re doing this it would be useful probably if we just clarified two quick items around place names.
First of all, am I correct that when we see the word L-A-X or “Lax” in this context, that’s — actually designates an island?
Is that right?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: Yes.
MR. JANES: And, likewise, when we see the word, and I’m going to slaughter the pronunciation again, but ‘maxla’, M-A-X-L-A, that designates a channel.
So that’s actually the name of a body of water, correct?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: Yes. That’s right.
I’d like to talk about one such area. It’s on the map; it’s Otter pass. It’s the route designated entering towards the terminal. It’s called “maxla kwul doyks, maxla kwul doyks” and if any of you are familiar with the Seymour Narrows, Ripple Rock area, the tide is very swift there. And that’s the way it is in this channel here. Navigational hazards are extreme in this area.
We have to be trained to work in this area. We don’t just go there and just spend time there. You have to be very careful. So it’s a highly respected area by our people.
MR. JANES: Yes.
MEMBER MATTHEWS: That’s helpful.
But I was just also wondering further to our discussion yesterday, can you — I’m not going to pronounce those two words — but in relation to what you’re saying, those two locations there, the island ‘lax’ and the other location there, what do they literally translate to be meaning?
MR. JANES: Is this the one that’s labeled — and I’ll hazard a pronunciation for everybody’s amusement?
MEMBER MATTHEWS: Well, I’ll point.
REV. MATTHEW HILL: I think the word there is referring to — I’m not too sure — those two dots that are placed there, right in the middle of the channel, there’s nothing in the middle of the channel there, but there are islands along the shores.
And I think there’s a misplacement of where that name is referred to. I think that dot should have been up on the land, not on the water.
MR. JANES: But is there a translation of the word, an English translation of the word?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: Yes. It’s “on”, “on the island”. On the Lax ka’ats. It’s on Campania Island is the word on the bottom there.
MEMBER MATTHEWS: I guess what I was getting at is, yesterday we talked about the origin of names, that they may refer to areas of use or significance or some historic activity, a battle or something and I was just wondering, when you said that it had a tide, the tides were swift in that area, I was just wondering if that was the translation for those words?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: The tide is “doyks” in our language, “doyks, maxa kwul doyks”, and that refers to the whole channel.
MR. JANES: I think there’s probably one other place name that I’d like to just point out. Could you just take us up to this?
The place name that occurs right on the red line, am I correct in understanding that that’s actually a reference to the name for Principe Channel as a whole?
— (A short pause)
REV. MATTHEW HILL: That refers to that small island.
MR JANES: That’s just to the island there? Okay.
REV. MATTHEW HILL: Maybe I can share another word that would confuse you more, I guess.
The word ‘lax klan’ in our language – we have no idea where Dolphin Island came from. But the word ‘lax klan’ comes from a word ‘spaxlaansk’ and when the people migrated up when the pandemics hit and they were literally getting wiped out, we heard reference to it on the amount of people that died off so quickly.
The Elders advised the survivors to move north to relocate for survival’s sake, and they travelled up through Granville Channel. And the Elder that told me this story said that they anchored their canoes in Kami’lin on the top end of Granville. There is a little bay there, and up to a few years ago they still had the ropes, cedar ropes that anchored the canoes.
Those ropes have been since destroyed by the logging industry. And, from there, they sent warriors out to find a proper location of where we should relocate, and they decided on that island that we know as “Lax Klan”.
Lax Klan means to unite, to bind together, to support each other, to uplift each other, to encourage each other. It’s one of the most wonderful words I know in our language, and appropriately they applied it to the island where we survived the onslaught of the disease.
And so I wanted to share that, Robert.
MR. JANES: So, next, I want to the ayaanx and there’s a few matters that I just want to go into in that respect.
And so first of all I’ll address these questions to Rita, Jeannette, and Queenie.
So could you explain to us or describe to us what the ayaanx is around when a girl becomes a woman? And what the traditions are in your — what the law is in your society around that?
MS. RITA ROBINSON: (Speaking in native language).
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: I’ll share, translate my sister’s protocol when she first became a woman. There’s protocols to follow, my mother followed about women.
For my sister, when she became a woman, there’s guidelines and rules that she’s supposed to follow. My mother took her and put her in a room and the room has to be dark. My mother had something to keep her occupied in order not to let Rita sleep too much.
And she’s done this then she has to stay in a dark room for 10 days, without eating, in order for her to follow the ayaawx of the woman to be ha’wałk. For 10 days, she will be in her room.
And then, my mother will call the ladies. Now and then, you hear the word “ksi’waatk”. Ksi’waatk for us, the Killer Whale clan, we come from the Raven clan. And these are the people that what my mother would call: my father’s side and my father’s sister and his sister’s name, Beatrice. And that’s Sam Lewis’ mother.
And these are the protocols that our people follow to call when anything happens to a woman or to a boy. So it’s the same rule when we lose a husband or a wife. Same protocol of ha’wałk.
You are not allowed to eat fresh fish, the fresh harvest that they collect. The only food that they can eat is what they provided last year. When my mother go and call these women to nurture her and to teach her, there will be — the ladies that came, there’s ayaawx — ayaawx is our law. It’s for these two ladies to sit with her and they will comb her hair and encouraging her, teaching her the lifestyle that she should live.
And during the 10 days, while she’s in a room, and when there’s time — when there’s a time to come out, the first meal that she would have, my mom would take an egg white and that was her first meal.
Before she was allowed out, my dad had a chore to do for her too. At the very low water, low tide, as the tide goes, my dad would walk down the beach and pick four pebbles. It had to be real smooth pebbles, four of them, and took them home.
And there was a time when my sister here, she was allowed to be out and she was sent to school. Before she left the house, my mother would put those four pebbles under her tongue.
And while she was doing that, putting the rocks in her — under her tongue and she would talk to her.: “There’s a reason why I’m doing this. In order for you, when you come …” –when she approaches problems with her friends or anyone — that’s the meaning of those rocks — that she wouldn’t answer if anyone troubles her. And that’s why they had the rocks in her mouth so that she wouldn’t answer.
“Luloobm goot”, she mentioned. That means she wouldn’t answer to whatever negative issues that come in her.
As she was growing up and there was ayaawx of how your child, they want your child, their child to be. To be aggressive and to be a hard worker, a great successor in the family.
My dad went out and hunted beaver. As my dad skinned the beaver, as you all know, the beaver is a hard-working animal. My dad took this beaver and stripped a little piece on the hands of the beaver; stripped a little piece and dried it.
And my mother would take this strip and mend it together. And that was my sister’s bracelet when she was growing up: In order for her to work hard.
And that still today, it still happens with her. She can’t keep still. She’s always doing something. Believe it or not, she’s over 80 years old, she still chops wood. And she believes that’s the — what they’ve done to her. And every now and then she would thank my mom for doing this to her.
And those pictures on the wall you see, my mother Gertrude, my auntie Grace, and my grandmother behind me, these are the ladies that taught her all these protocols of being a woman. As they sit there, talking to her, teaching her, the ladies back then, they all wear dresses. And these are the ladies that taught her how to sit in public.
And she’s very thankful for these women that taught her. And these are the same women that taught her the songs that she learned and, even today, these are the songs that she passed on to the youth. All these songs that she learned from these women she still has them and I believe there’s 19 songs, Indian songs, that she knows.
If I missed everything — one thing, I would like Jeannette to fill in.
MR. JANES: Mrs. Moody — sorry, Queenie?
MS. QUEENIE MOODY: Being a woman, for one year we didn’t eat fresh food, we didn’t starve, we ate completely dried food.
When the women from the Wet’suwet’en talked to us during the 10 days of solitude, we were told to always have a clean house. It was meant that we should not do anything to shame our house, not to talk out of turn. We should be always mindful of others, human beings as well as animals; everything had a spirit.
During the one year, a girl that becomes a woman she is very strong spiritually. If she eats anything fresh, her family would run into hardship. If she has fresh fish, the fish would move away from where her family gathers fish. This is because the fish itself is a naxnox. And during the one year she is almost a naxnox. She can make the food source scarce for her family.
All living things have spirit. They all have their own naxnox.
A long time ago it was the naxnox that taught our people how to survive. There was a story told about the ‘yaans from our youth panel that showed our people where to go or what to do. It is the naxnox what our people knew about the culture, where the Smgigyet have ranks, why we have ayaawx and adawx and gugwilx’ya’ansk.
The Smgigyet that have names all have ties to the naxnox because the ancestors witness what the naxnox wanted them to know. I am amazed at this because of their knowledge of how to survive to keep their people safe.
Our first fish is boiled. When we’re finished with it, we gather the bones up to burn it. The fish spirit returns home to his spirit of existence.
When our people, die we burn food and clothes for them. There’s a story how the dead was still amongst our people. Their clothes were worn-out clothes. They were seen in a bentwood box rolling with branches from a tree. When they stopped on a beach, they were eating something off the branches that the living could not see. Our people tried to feed them. They would not touch the food that was offered to them.
Well, our people were getting hungry so they started to eat. When they finished, they gathered up all the bones from their food and put it in a fire. When the dead saw it, it was a whole fish again and that’s what they ate from. That is why our people burn things to help them in their spirit world.
One day, the dead all disappeared from our earth. Our time of existence is time immemorial.
If I missed anything, my mom can pick it up.
MR. JANES: Mrs. Moody?
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: I’d like to say why a young woman can’t touch her food or see her food. Again, it’s our ayaawx, our ha’walks. This is why it’s not for the woman itself, it’s for the whole place, our places.
I’ll example myself. I said it before, I was brought up in Banks Island, Kna k’awn. The same thing what Rita said, I had to sit on a flat rock. And I had long black hair and that’s my veil. I’m not allowed to look around, not to look in the ocean. My mom and my dad guide me to the boat.
When we go camping, I always like going down the beach. I’m not allowed to go down there ‘cause everything, they will all disappear. If I look out, if I eat the fresh fish — fresh fish, fresh product, what they got, they will all disappear. They’re not going to get anything.
This is our ayaawx. That’s why the women — they do this to the women ‘cause everything will disappear; and just not my family, the whole family that belongs in that territory will starve.
I brought it up earlier on what happened with the seal, the young man that said “eeh” to the food, it’s the same thing. That’s why the women are kept in the dark ‘cause their spirit is very high; that’s why we’re not allowed to look at other stuff.
When my time came up, my aunty Dorothy here — she’s my aunty — the same thing, she came and combed my hair and she combed it backwards and she braided my hair and said: “Now, you can look around, your year is over. Your year is over, you can look around.” I can go back down the beach.
This is the problem we have today, we have teenagers. In our time, there was none.
I became a woman when I was nine years old and that’s when I stopped being down the beach. I started helping my mom. I started learning how to slice fish, help her hang fish in the smokehouse. All this stuff. How, when seal comes in, we are there helping, and that’s how we are supposed to live. That’s tradition.
Ayaawx and ha’walks, that’s what we were taught during that year. And it’s not just for us, it’s for the fish. Ha’walks, all the things that are in the water even up in the — the birds.
And I’ll tell you, my mom, when my dad died a man came at the door, gave her a bird and she wouldn’t touch it. It’s me that had to take it and put it out of the way for her. And we went over to our other aunty to give it to her ‘cause she’s not allowed to eat it ‘cause it’s a fresh — a fresh product.
All our food, we have them stored. Like fish, we have them stored properly that we have it year round. Halibut is easy to store, dried halibut. And we don’t just eat dried halibut. Again, we soak them back over again.
The same on the abalone, we talked about abalone before, how we store abalone for a year, then we soak them and they’re just soft. And that’s what we eat through that year. It’s not that we don’t have no fish, we have the old product that they have and that’s what we eat.
That’s all I’ve got to say.
MR. JANES: Before we leave this, I just want to ask you a little bit about something you just talked about.
You talked about taking the halibut and reconstituting it or wetting it. Would you use salt water for this?
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: Yes, we use salt water to — to soak the fish and the same on the abalone. And it’s fresh salt water, fresh salt water.
You see, there’s time. It’s summer time. There’s a — it’s like foam in the water. They’re pink. And that’s when we don’t use the salt water. That’s when the sea urchin, the gyenti, when they reproduce and all the chemical comes up and it floats up in the water.
And that’s when we don’t use the salt water because — it’s not all the time. It’s just a short month. It’s one month that the salt water — there’s a word for it, but I couldn’t get it, what we call it.
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Red tide.
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: That’s White man’s word, “Red tide”.
MR. JANES: Aside from halibut and abalone, are there other things that you dry and then reconstitute using seawater?
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: Yes. They dry all the deer.
And I guess that’s how these people know about beef jerky today —
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: — is all from our olden day ways.
And the same on birds. These birds I would talk about come from Aristazabal. There’s hardly any anywhere. My mother dries those and we take it home for the winter. And again, when my dad — he likes to eat with people and she soaks those, soaks the bird and makes soup with that. And these birds we called —
MR. JANES: Do you use the puffins?
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: — a’hoo. A’hoo.
These birds are rare. They’re hardly any — you have a certain place where to get them. And that’s the only place I know is Aristazabal.
And I had a friend that we used to know him. He talked about the a’hoo. The a’hoo eats the same fish what salmon, the Sockeye eats. And he’s — he’s a scientist and he’s — he went to Aristazabal and he said, “Jeannette, do you know the a’hoos are getting extinct?” I said, “The eggs are getting soft. They’re getting soft”. And I do see those birds around.
They’re in the Skeena, and it looks like they have whiskers on them. And those are a’hoo. And they are still around. And that’s what we do. We soak those for the winter with salt water.
MR. JANES: Could I just ask, while we’re talking about the topic, if the panel could comment generally on the importance of having access to clean seawater?
MS. QUEENIE MOODY: Salt water is a medicine, too. You use it for your nose to gargle just to — and just to soak in it for your tired bones. Salt water is used to soften up a bark for clothes, too.
MR. JANES: Matthew?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: The importance of keeping our seawater pure is part of our ayaawx.
It’s how much respect we have for the whole ecosystem because there’s a whole ecosystem that relies on good, clean water. The food chain that we hear about is reliant one on the other, and when there’s contamination, the whole food chain becomes contaminated, including us.
So that’s why our laws are structured in a way that we try to protect the ecosystem and even enhance it if we — where we can.
MR. JANES: How significant would it be to the community if there was a sense that the water had become contaminated by oil or other products?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: I would like to say that we’re still mourning the sinking of the Queen of the North, mainly because our ocean is still contaminated as a result of that mishap. Our supposed guardians didn’t really make the effort they should have made to raise the ship and clean up the mess that was made.
I heard a person refer to the signs on the highway, “Do not litter” posted by our provincial government. And if you litter, there’s a fine. But when they litter, it’s okay. And for us in our culture, it’s not okay.
The — I happen to be on the command post. I was one of the few from Gitxaala that was on the command post when the mishap happened, and it was a very frustrating experience because we had to go through all kinds of hurdles that was put in the way of us to try and make suggestions of how we can raise the ship and clean up the mess. And the mess was far and wide because the area where the Queen of the North went down is the exact area that will be transient on the proposed route.
It’s just off of Gil Island. And the tidal action there is horrendous. It’s a junction where tidal areas meet and there’s about five, six — six tidal directions heading into that area. That’s — there it is, right where the Queen of the North went down. It’s right at the bottom end of Douglas Channel.
And we were told that the fuel did not travel that far, and we knew better.
They focused on where, where the bulk of the fuel was found, but they didn’t go beyond that to see how far and wide it spread until we travelled from Hartley Bay to Kitkatla with the officials to consult with the public and try and reassure the public that everything was okay. I suggested we go up Principe Channel because the debris was found up Grenville Channel and all around Fin Island.
And when we went up Principe Channel, to their astonishment, there was a lot of debris up there. And as I’d shared earlier, the tidal action of Otter Pass is swift, and so the fuel went even beyond that and the west coast of Banks Island suffered contamination also because our people, later on, shortly after that, went out seaweed picking. And the seaweed was contaminated. Those that were able to harvest, they ended up just throwing them away again because they were — they couldn’t use them. It was just beyond human consumption.
And so that’s why we have all these concerns because we — I was a fisherman, I know that area, I know the tidal actions that happen there and the destruction of what happens when Mother Nature is tampered with, it’s quite severe.
So I thought I’d share an example of what our concerns are about. And like I say, we still mourn that because fuel is still leaking out up the channel from — in Grenville, the Zalinski still sitting on the bottom of the water in Grenville Channel off of Lowe Inlet and it’s still seeping oil today. And that ship went down during the Second World War and it’s still loaded with explosives and nothing was ever done about it.
These are the fears that we have about why we wanted to participate in this process to try and bring to your attention exactly what our laws — how our laws apply to our culture, our lives and how we respect it so that none of this contamination happens to our ecosystem.
MR. JANES: Mrs. Moody, I believe you have something you’d like to add.
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: We talked about ayaawx, we talked about ha’wałk, we talked about giguulx yaansk. This is Gitxaala, Gitxaala. This is our strength, these three I mentioned. This is like getting all our people together, that’s the meaning of these, what I said.
You talk about an oil spill, how would we feel about it. You know, it’s not just me, it’s the unborn ones that will suffer. It’s not me that’s going to break our law, our ayaawx, our tradition, our giguulx yaansk, it’s not me; we still pass them on to our children.
And you put a question out, what are we going to do with an oil spill? It hurts me very much. What would happen to my people, Gitxaala I’m talking about. We already showed you how much we have that we own. It’s ours, it’s no one else’s home, it’s Gitxaala’s home.
It’s not an easy thing to think about of how would I feel if there’s an oil spill because these are our laws. Also, down to ‘Nagun aks, we hold that very highly, our tradition. It hurts me thinking what to do with an oil spill.
What would you do when you have no water running in your house, there’s no lake where you can run to get your water; you’re going to be devastated. You’re going to be devastated feeling that and that’s how I feel.
To me, it’s like a big monster that’s coming our way. I cried, this is not easy for me to sit here trying to go back of what I was taught as a young girl. I cried, I pray, I went on the Bible, and I said, “Lord, you create a big monster, giant man”, I said, “give us the strength to do this too”.
I just want to tell you how much of a burden I have because I call this a monster of what’s coming to our territory.
Thank you very much for listening.
MR. BRUCE WATKINSON: It’s — in regards to the question that was posed about how would we feel if something were to happen —
MR. JANES: Sorry, to the — in respect of the availability of clean water.
MR. BRUCE WATKINSON: Clean water. It’s been mentioned previously how the clean water supports the things and supports all the animals and the plants.
And I want to put it in in this perspective, a very personal perspective. We all have something, like mom’s apple pie. I don’t know if we all have something, if you’re off at college and you couldn’t wait to get home because, you know, you all had something your mom made. And it taste — it wouldn’t taste the same if Aunt Bettie made it. It had to be made by mom.
In a large respects that’s how I feel about our food. I struggle to put it into words, but it tastes better when it’s from our village, from our territory. And through the winter months, when the weather’s not as predictable, it’s harder for me to get out to the village.
So I set my crab pots right here in Prince Rupert Harbour, and we have no trouble catching crab. We take them home and we boil them up and we eat them and it tastes very good. But my wife and I always comment, it’s not the same as the crabs we eat from out home.
Again it’s — hopefully we all have those experiences that we can relate to that. It’s — and when we eat our fish, when we eat our clams and cockles and crab and our seaweed from out home, from our territory, there’s a sense of pride in knowing that it’s safe to eat because we’ve done our jobs. We’ve followed our adawx and our ayaawx, and we’ve kept the environment, we’ve kept the water clean.
And if something were to happen, a spill, even a small spill in a specific little place, I don’t know if I could trust the food from that area. I don’t know if those clams and cockles would ever taste the same.
And I guess coming to where I started, it’s like never having mom’s apple pie again.
MR. JANES: So now what I’d like to do is just actually go back again. And I’d like to go back to — essentially I think we’re going to go to the men’s part of the panel for a moment.
And I would like you to just address whether or not there are laws around young men when they grow up and have the opportunity to do their first kill and when they harvest the first fish, if there’s ayaawx around that. Clarence?
MR. CLARENCE INNIS: I was going to leave that to my Elders to respond to that question.
There is ayaawx, there is guidelines that need to be followed. When a boy becomes a man, he’s mentored. From the day he was born, he was mentored on the things he needed to do.
There are steps that he needed to follow. He has to go — when he first goes out hunting, he’s taught about the values and the respect he needs to know about hunting, the respect he needs to have for the things that he’s hunting.
We heard yesterday in one of the discussions how you need to focus on what you need to — what your intent is when — what you’re hunting. A cleansing needs to happen before you go out. And when you’re ready and you’re successful in your hunt, the first kill is usually shared.
31588. It is shared with the wil ksi waatk. Whether it’s fish, deer, seal, that is shared with the wil ksi waatk. That is ayaawx. That’s in recognition that the boy is finally becoming a man, a hunter.
I’m going to leave the rest to the — my Elders here to really respond to that.
MR. JANES: Gentlemen, is there anything that you’d like to add to what Clarence had to say?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: I think a lot has been shared already. The ayaawx in the various stages of life, right from — right from conception to death, ayaawx is applied throughout the various stages.
We are — as I’ve said, we are a part of the ecosystem so we must show the highest respect and the teaching is so important. And so when you see a family, a successful family enjoying life you know that they were taught well. And the harvesting practices and methods and everything is — when it’s done according to the ayaawx it’s very evident.
The uncles have a big role in — throughout the stages of life in teaching. Clarence referred to the wil ksi waatk. The wil ksi waatk has many responsibilities. The father clan has many responsibilities throughout the different stages of life as the transitions happen, and they’re always called upon and they’re always given gifts, being acknowledged for what they do. It’s not a payment, it’s acknowledging that they are upholding our ayaawx.
So I’d like to say if you think that I’m a little bit frustrated at times when I try to speak, it’s trying to find some English words that are equivalent to our words. And there’s really none and so we go in a roundabout way to try and explain certain things.
We heard about — towards the end, we heard about the burning of food, so even after a person passes on, we still show the highest respect to their spirit and we communicate with them through the burning of food.
And we don’t just — when they die, we don’t just forget about them; we still have the highest respect. We paused for a moment before prayer this morning to honour them and all the teachings that they bestowed on us, to ensure that our resources would be intact.
We’ve enjoyed the richness of our resources for thousands of years and it’s our duty to ensure that these resources be — be available thousands of years from now. We don’t want to see them tarnished or destroyed in any way. And so we have these methods of communicating with them and one of them is through burning of the food.
I had an experience not too long ago and being a part of a canoe journey and it related to residential school. And I had been angry at my parents, thinking that they abandoned me, which they didn’t when I finally realized. I was given an opportunity over a campfire with youth to burn some food and to communicate with them and I asked them to forgive me for my harshness about them, that I had hurt their spirits.
And I now realize that they had nothing to do with the situation why I was sent away. And just unloading that was — a huge healing happened. And I know they received the message; my nightmares went away, I slept a lot better, I rested better and so on.
And the youth around us responded in a way that the leadership didn’t expect because little did we know that there was a suicide that happened after the previous canoe journey, and one of the leader’s sons took his own life.
And the brother and the sister came forward, realizing now that they can communicate with those that have passed on. And they talked about forgiveness, forgiving him for what had happened, and so did the father.
And when the youth understood about this, they participated. And we were around the fire until 4:00 in — 4:30 in the morning when it had to be called off because people opened up and a lot of healing happened.
So a lot of these practices, the ayaawx is real in our culture. It’s real and our concerns are very valid because we’ve maintained who we are for thousands of years and we want to maintain who we are for thousands of more years.
I bought a magazine yesterday, and on it was written something that I’d like to share. It says: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. And we want to maintain our roots. We want to keep nurturing our roots and building it up the way the salmon have nurtured the trees along the river, the streams. And that’s how we want to maintain who we are.
MR. JANES: This would actually be a good time for a break, if that’s appropriate.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Just before that, Mr. Bateman has a question.
MEMBER BATEMAN: Thank you to the witness panel for the discussion of the transition of a young woman and a young man.
Ms. Moody, you had referred to teenagers today. Are the traditions that have been explained, the year period of a girl’s transition to a complete woman, are they practised today with your teenagers?
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: Yes, we still hold onto that because it’s our ayaawx and that’s why we still do.
MEMBER BATEMAN: Thank you.
MR. JANES: And just in that regard, I just note there was actually some testimony about that in the youth panel. One of the witnesses testified to her going through that process.
So with that —
THE CHAIRPERSON: Terrific. Let’s take a 15-minute break and come back at 10:45.
Thank you everyone.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much everyone.
If we could come back to order, we’ll continue with receiving of the oral evidence.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS BY THE GITXAALA FIRST NATION CULTURE AND PLACE NAMES PANELS: (Continued/Suite)
MR. JANES: So I’m going to pose a broad question here and ask you to address it but I may sort of try to refine the questions a bit as you give your answers.
And the question that I have for you — and it’s a double-barrelled question — is I’d like you to address the question of how is the culture passed on? And in particular what is the link to the land and being able to harvest resources in your territory and being able to keep the culture of Gitxaala alive and passed on to future generations?
And Mrs. Moody looks like I’ve perhaps not made the question clear enough. Which is really — I’m interested in you addressing how important is it to be able to use the territory and harvest in passing on your culture to future generations?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: I’ll just start it off. For us it’s very important and I think the — we alluded to some references and stories of the transition stages of life where teachings were happening. And we heard from the ladies on the panel about the young girl — young girl’s transitions and some young men’s transition.
A lot of these are taught through the ayaawx system. A lot of it is taught in the feasting system and the importance of people coming to the feast to witness and to hear the various transitions where a person, for example, would inherit a name and a territory.
I think Clarence has the best example among us here that he shared right at the onset with a slide presentation, and the teachings that are received prior to taking the steps of accepting those positions.
I’d like to say that at the feasting system that the Smgigyets also have authority where, if an individual is rushed into an area, they may say: “Hey, just a minute, he’s not ready”; they can say that. And so a lot of work has to be done to ensure that the individual is at the stage where he is ready before being stood up.
And so, respect — respect is taught at an early age. I think the teachings at home is very important where respect is taught early to the young child and, then, as they progress they start filling in all the other areas in the various stages of life.
So for us to be able to hand over, it’s obligation. It’s a duty and an obligation for aunts and uncles, grandparents, parents to ensure that the young individuals are taught at the different stages and to ensure that they are respectful and obedient and to demonstrate that they have learned something and to show how much they have learned.
So I hope that gives it a good start. Thank you.
MR. JANES: Bruce?
MR. BRUCE WATKINSON: To me, you cannot separate that connection to the lands and waters and resources from the learning of our culture. It’s a living culture, you have to get out there and feel it.
I could read a book on swimming; I could read many books on swimming and learn the techniques; I could practice them in my living-room, my strokes, my arm movements, my kicking, but if I never go in the water, do I really know how to swim. I don’t know. I don’t think so.
And it’s the same with our culture: learning to hunt, learning to fish, you have to get out there and do it.
Another analogy, I guess, if you bought a flight simulator program for your computer and then you sat there at your living-room or your kitchen table and learned to fly a plane, I mean, do you really know how to fly unless you get in a real plane?
So that’s the connection. It’s when we’re harvesting, when we’re out fishing, when we’re out on the beaches, when we’re out on the rocks, we’re practicing our culture and we’re teaching it to our children and that’s about as real as it gets.
And the other thing, the other important function of being able to go out on the land, on the water is that’s where you really learn the ayaawx. Again, you can tell — tell children, tell young adults about certain things, what they have to do to prepare themselves, what they have to do to respect the naxnox, but unless you’re really out there you don’t feel it, you don’t get it.
And I think to keep a very long story short, my grandfather was the one that taught me how to hunt, and one of the things — you know, after learning how to properly handle a firearm and all that kind of thing, he took me out into the woods and — without a rifle, and I — “Grandfather,” — I mean, I was probably 12 at the time — “this isn’t hunting. I thought you were going to teach me how to hunt?” and he said: “Well, I’m teaching you.”
And he used to tell me to listen to the wind going through the trees, listen to the birds, listen to the different sounds, and that’s the stuff you can’t learn in a book, you can’t learn in a living-room, you have to be out there doing it.
And, to me, that — I don’t know how you can separate that connection between the lands and the resources, the animals — and, to me, that’s the only way you learn is being out there doing it.
MR. JANES: Clarence?
MR. CLARENCE INNIS: I agree with what’s already been said, it does start when you’re very young.
You’re being taught everyday as situations arises. You’re being taught when you go to feasts. There’s reasons why you get invited to a feast. You’re there to witness and learn our protocols. Our ayaawx is being passed on.
Every feast you go to, we have laws that govern us. We witness those at our feasts. We see ayaawx in practice. We see adawx in practice, gugwilx’ya’ansk being practised, even today.
Those are one of the ways that we pass on our tradition and our culture. And a lot of time it happens around the supper table when we’re all sitting around the table and we listen to our Elders talk adawx, ha’walk. All these things we’ve been talking about is passed on around the supper table.
I remember that being passed on to me very young at Kidzaa when my grandparents, my uncle and my aunty Jeannette — I remember once she was there — that was being taught. Every time we sat at the table that was being passed on.
And basically, you really have to go out on the land and the territory. You’re taught how to harvest. You’re taught how to prepare. You’re taught how to respect and how to treat one another. You’re taught how to behave. “Be careful of what you say”, my grandmother used to tell me. I can still hear her voice today: (speaking in native language). “Be very careful of what you say because words can really hurt. You never say anything out of anger.”
You’re taught how to work hard. Actually, you’re very encouraged to work hard.
One of the things my grandmother used to say to me: “Don’t keep your hands in your pocket, it’s a sign of a lazy man.”, so I’d always make sure I was working hard. Those are one of the values that I was taught: How to work hard, how to be successful. Be careful of what you say.
I remember one time, my first experience hunting. I was very young, out with my grandfather when he took me out on the land. His name was Jacob, Jacob Aster. He had one leg. And I used to go out on his canoe. And he’d be talking to me as we went out on the land: “Who’s territory are we going through?”
I remember one time when we stopped at Knagan ‘watsa — we heard them — Ernie talking about it, his dad’s place, Knagan ‘watsa. He also pointed out naxnox exactly where Ernie talked of. He showed me — I was there — not to go there.
My first experience with hunting. Can you just imagine us on that canoe? I’m the one on the bow, and we were coming up to a rock and it was full of seals. By the time we got close to that rock, all the seals went over. But we continued on to that rock, all the seals were on the other side. And he told me, “Put on those hip boots there and put on that raincoat”. A big — I don’t know whether it was a Helly Hansen back then, but he told me to put it on and crawl up that rock and start barking like a seal.
That was my first experience as a hunter, we were — I wasn’t successful. I think the seals were wondering, gee —
MR. CLARENCE INNIS: — that baby’s got a white face.
MR. CLARENCE INNIS: Anyway, he had a good laugh out of that and I thought it was at my expense because when we got home, him and a bunch of Elders sat around at the supper table talking about our hunting experience. But I still remember today that was my first experience in the things that he was starting to teach me. I really thank him very much for that.
But that’s how you pass on culture. That’s how you pass on tradition, by actually going out and learning. I know today it’s still going on. I see uncles going out and taking their nephews and their children out, out on the land; that’s still going on.
It’s a different environment when you try to learn like Bruce says, “Off books” or in a classroom. You have to really get out and feel nature when you’re out there.
So, for me I actually learned as I was growing up how to work hard and keep my hands out of my pocket when my grandmother came around.
MR. JANES: Actually, before you finish, Clarence, let me just ask you — just a follow-up question on that.
How important is it for you to learn, not just on the land but on your land, on the territory of Gitxaala and of the territory of your house?
MR. CLARENCE INNIS: It’s very important because I can’t go anywhere else as Git’nagunaks, as we’re passing this knowledge down, I can’t go anywhere else in our own territory or any other nation’s territory if something were to happen to this territory. We can’t practice that anywhere else.
This is our place that was given to us by our Creator, our connection with nature itself, naxnox. I can’t duplicate it anywhere else. If that were contaminated, destroyed, disrespected, this is it. This is what was given, giguulx yaansk, to my house to look after. It can’t be duplicated anywhere else.
I have to use this for an example, whenever I travel, whenever I go anywhere, I always have a longing to get back home. Whenever I travel inland, I actually start to feel like a fish out of water; I need to get back to the ocean. There’s nowhere else on this earth that I would rather be than in Git’nagunaks Gitxaala territory. It can’t be duplicated anywhere else, won’t be allowed to.
I have to use this for an example, if Canada were to destroy this country, we as Canadians can’t go to another country and practice our culture. This is it. It’s like life itself; we get one chance on the — and we do the best we can.
MR. JANES: Mrs. Moody?
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: We talk about culture; do we still pass it on? Yes.
As a young — a young person, a young child, when we go to dig clams, we take them with us and this is the learning experience for them because there are so many varieties of clams that we don’t eat, and that’s when we show them. Younger age — I was young when I went with my dad, my two sisters when we went around Banks Island.
As a young girl we were picking abalone, we don’t run a 100 miles to look for abalone, they just walk up. That’s how abundant abalone is. And again, I tried to pick a real small one and my mom hollers, “Don’t you touch the small one”. I was very young. The sound of the abalone when they walk up is a different sound, and I cried, I got scared; but that’s our tradition.
I was taken out at a young age and we still do that today. There was pictures on the walls that’s supposed to be there of young women trying to learn how to slice fish. They were very young and we had pictures.
We talk about everything in the water, we also have medicine, we also have tea. And we have a potion medicine that the naxnox gave it to us to learn. We have different varieties of our medicine from the leaves from the tree.
I was eight years old when my dad died of cancer and my Auntie Dorothy took me in the bushes; me and her walked, she cried cause we couldn’t find a specific tree she’s looking for. And she kept talking while we’re walking, talking to the higher being asking, “Can you give me this, can you give me this”.
And me and her sat down because she’s tired, a long walk, we sat down and she explained to me what kind of medicine she’s looking for. And while she was talking she was pointing at the trees, and there it was all on the tree what she was looking for. She said to me, “You take every one of them off”, and she had a pillowcase where she put them in.
And I’ve been asking questions to the Elders what this medicine is? I know what it is, but today they showed me a different one and what I know what that medicine was. And you learn at a young age — you learn this at a young age/
We take our children down with us. Like I said before, I was brought up in Banks Island. The same thing with all the families, when they move — when they get on a boat the first person that gets on the boat is an Elder; they take down to the boat, then the kids. That’s the first one then all the luggage came on and they go.
Even the Elders, they go with them, the same with the young kids. And that’s how we learn of our culture, were taken with them.
And when we pass through people’s territory — and, again, it’s our captain. Our captain is our dad. And that’s when he spoke, “Oong kyinaa na waalt dugwa’a. Oong kyinaa na waalt dugwa’a.” Because we don’t have to ask questions. This is the law.
You’re not going to ask questions when you’re on a boat and say, “Where are we?” We’re not allowed to do that. And that’s why he does that.
And it’s another learning experience for us to know the land and who owns them. And that’s our culture. We learn it at an early age.
MR. JANES: Is there anybody else who would like to add anything to this question of the connection between the land, the waters, and passing on culture to future generations?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: I forgot to mention, in 1906, my dad was born halfway down a mountain. He was so tiny that they held him in the palm of their hands. It was a premature birth. And his skin had not formed on his body yet.
So they took the moss and they laid him in there and brought him back down. It was in September, the people were up berry picking on the mountain. So upon his birth, his grandparents took over looking after him.
Premature births, today, is still a difficult situation for babies to survive despite the new technology they have. But you can imagine, 1906, what was available then.
What was available then was lots of love and tender care. And the Elders and the extended family offered that to him. There was, he was being nurtured in a little shoebox until one of the Elders built a cradle for him. And at the head of the cradle is an eagle. This cradle is in a museum in Victoria now.
And so the people recognized how special this individual was and they treated him as such. During the process, he got to learn a wealth of knowledge that many of us were not privileged to really learn the depth of it.
He was raised as a brother to one of his grandfathers, to one of his fathers. And his daughter, my oldest sister, was raised as his sister. That’s three generations being raised together. And they were taught basically the same.
And so I just thought I’d put this in because there’s another teaching method there and another situation where lots of love was required for survival.
MR. JANES: So before we move on to talking about the songs, is there anything that anybody would like to comment upon about the connection between what we’ve been talking about here in discussing culture and your concerns about the Enbridge process or the Enbridge project that we haven’t already discussed?
And in asking that question, I would just get ahead of I’m sure what may come up as a possible issue. Just remember that we’re here to deal with the evidence portion, you know, rather than sort of an argument.
So if there’s anything that anybody would like to add to this question of, like: “Why is it that this Enbridge process causes such concern regarding the continuing of your culture that you haven’t expressed before that you’d like to add to your evidence? Would you — this is probably the best time to address that.
MR. BRUCE WATKINSON: Sorry Robert, I’m going to back up a bit before we get to that question.
There was, I want to tell you a bit of a story. My personal experience in learning culture.
And it’s not, I spoke earlier about the connection between the land and resources and the water but I want to talk the same thing about learning culture and the — you just have to do it to learn it. And this relates to our governance and our ayaawx.
You know, I didn’t grow up in our village and it wasn’t until after I completed my university studies that I had a chance to move back to the village and work for our First Nation.
And one of the Elders that was instrumental in me ‘coming home’, so to speak, was a man named Johnson Gordon. And I met him in Vancouver, I told him about myself, how I had completed my schooling and he asked me who my grandmother was and I told him who my grandmother was. And he immediately knew what house I belonged to and that.
So when I moved back to Kitkatla Lax clan in 1998-99, he was one of the guys that just kind of took me in like a long-lost nephew and he would start to teach me things. And he wasn’t shy about telling me things about our culture, about our ayaawx.
And every time there was a function in the community, a wedding or some kind of special event, I would always go and sit with him and he would tell me things. And I would ask him questions and he never looked down upon me. There was never a stupid question. He was very open about things.
And when he passed on, the protocols needed to be followed. And he was a Killer Whale, a Gigbutwada. So it was up to the Gigbutwada at that time to prepare for the funeral feast and to do all the protocols.
And so that time, I was in my mid-twenties, I was still young, relatively young. And I know a lot of the Elders used to refer to me as the boy who works down at the office.
There was Larry Bolton and Ernie Bolton who just took me and said: “You know what? We got to go to the meeting for the Gigbutwada leaders. We have to discuss the preparations for Johnson’s funeral and what not.”
Here I am, I didn’t know a lick about the culture. I didn’t know a lick about what this important protocol that was followed. I was quite intimidated by sitting amongst these leaders and chiefs of the Gigbutwada.
And they brought me to the meeting at David Moodie’s house. And they just started. There was no other way to learn it. They didn’t tell me to sit back and listen, they just threw me in. And here I am sitting at the table, they’re discussing the business.
And every once in a while, they would stop and pause, “Do you understand what we’re talking about?”
“Yeah,” or “No, I don’t get that part.” And they would tell me.
And so the next day, we go to the feast and Johnson was a very respected leader in our community. It was a very important feast and everybody was worried it had to be done properly to honour Johnson.
And at the feast, there’s a table where all these Gigbutwada leaders would sit. The heads of the different Gigbutwada houses and that. And they would take care of the business and that.
And I remember going over to them, asking them if they needed anything. And one of them said: “Well, sit down, sit down with us.” And, you know, I had no right to be there. I wasn’t a chief. I was just this young kid fresh out of university. But they took me under their wing and they were telling me how it works. This is what you have to know.
And part of the protocol, when you’re at a feast, whichever tribe is hosting it, there’s a portion when, halfway through the meal, someone gets up and Sa aamtooxgasm, Sa aamtooxgasm. There’s lots of food; help yourself.
And it was Russell Gamble who just kind of wrote it on a napkin and gave it to me, told me to stand up and do it. Holy crap, there’s three or 400 people in our hall. I don’t even — I couldn’t even say my name in Sm’algyax at the time. And they just told me do it.
And that’s — that’s our culture. And these men just — you know, they didn’t — they just threw me in the fire, so to speak. And that was the introduction to my cultural learnings. And it’s amazing, and I thank those men for it.
MR. JANES: Ken, I believe there’s something you wanted to say in relation to these questions.
MR. KEN INNES: Yes, I just want to add a couple of things, and it has to do with — the first one to do with saltwater. And the second one, again, will do with — from my personal experience with the passing of our culture.
With the saltwater, you heard our stories about how — the importance it plays in our lives and how we use saltwater for our — for our daily use. But also from personal experience, the animals, the deer, at low tide they would come down from the forest and go to the edge of the water and they would eat kelp or other nutrients that had salt in them. They needed the salt also.
So the salt plays a very important role with the deer, the wolves and the other things that rely on pure saltwater. If you see a deer, they are excellent swimmers. Their fur keeps them drifting high, and so they can swim very fast. And if there were — there was something wrong with the water and something got on their fur, like the ducks that get exposed to oil spills, they would sink. They would no longer be able to travel back and forth from island to mainland or to whatever.
So clean saltwater is also very, very important to the animals, to the birds and the things that live in the water.
And with the passing of our culture, it’s very important for me that I know that in this building right now that some of my teachers are here, my uncles. I want to acknowledge, first of all, on my wilksi’waatk side that really helped me to learn how to hunt and to fish is the son of my — my late father was named Albert Innes, and he had a brother named Waller Innes. My father’s passed away now for maybe 34, 35 years.
And one of the sons of Waller Innes that took me under their wing and taught me how to really hunt and how to fish and especially catch halibut, one of my main teachers was Willy Innes. Willy. Is Willy in here? There’s Willy Innes, he’s one of my wilksi’waatk on my dad’s side. And he had a brother named Steve. I don’t know if Steve is here or not, but his brother, Willy. And the other one is Tim.
They’re all on my dad’s side. It is their job to take me as I was growing up and pass on their knowledge about hunting and fishing.
I remember clearly one incident when I was gillnetting with my dad and when the weekend came fishing was over and we were on our way to town. And Willy was just on his way out. He had ice and he was going to go halibut fishing. And I really didn’t want to come to town; so I phoned Willy and asked him if I could go with him. And Willy stopped his boat, my dad stopped his boat. I just grabbed my sleeping bag and my gear and I jumped on Willy’s boat and I went out halibut fishing with Willy.
And I was — he taught me so much about halibut fishing, hunting. So did Steve. These men are all on my wilksi’waatk side, on my dad’s side.
And on my mother’s side, again, my uncles — one of them is here right now, the only one uncle left on my mom’s side is my Uncle Sam. Sm’oogit Dzowa’laks sitting right there.
He took me under his wing. He helped me through the hard times of my life. In the darkest time of my life he showed me light, he gave me hope. And his brothers, Magnus and Dwyer also took me out and taught me about hunting and gathering food. They passed on their traditional knowledge to me.
If it wasn’t for my big family I would still be lost in the world of darkness today. They passed their knowledge about our culture, our way of life, not only to me, but to the rest of their nephews. And the ladies, they pass their knowledge on to our nieces.
I have two sons that I’m trying my best to pass on my knowledge, all the knowledge and information, traditional knowledge that my uncles who I’ve introduced that are here taught me. And I’m trying to pass my knowledge on to my sons and to my stepsons.
My daughters have grandkids. I have two natural daughters and two daughters that I take also as my own, Lily, Crystal, Jocelyn, Melissa. My grandsons from these kids are Kaylen, Leland, Evan Jr., Joseph, Elmer, Damien and Tyson. These are my grandkids and it’s going to be a part of my job to help them, to teach them of our culture, everything that I have been taught through my uncles and my aunties.
I have aunties here that really stepped in also to help me after my mother passed away. My Auntie Agnes is here, Auntie Aggie. She’s sitting down right over there in the middle with the wheelchair; Auntie Maudie sitting towards the back there; my Auntie Vi is down Vancouver with a son who has cancer. And I have another Auntie Sarah and Auntie Maggie that lives down in Campbell River. She too has cancer.
These are all my aunties and uncles on my mother’s side, and on my wilksi’waatk. I have the utmost of respect and love for these people because if it wasn’t for them I would have no clue, no idea about my culture, about things that we’re supposed to do, about the things that are ha’watk. They took me and they showed it to me.
This is from my experience, and I know that they have other nephews and nieces that they also taught. And if it wasn’t for them teaching me I would be just lost.
The values that these people taught me, the respect that they taught me — I’m the oldest in my family. I have brothers and sisters but I’m the oldest. And when my parents passed away I had no one to look to. I had nobody to turn to and ask for help. I had nobody’s shoulder to cry on. And then my extended family stepped in and helped me.
That’s why I’m still here today. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today. They taught me so much about our culture; they passed it on to me. And knowing how I feel and how much hurt I went through, it is my job to pass on this, my knowledge about our culture, our way of life to my kids, to my grandkids and the kids yet to come.
And as Mr. David Moody told me, that it’s part of my job, and all of us, to teach all our kids and our grandkids about our culture, our language, our spirituality, everything about who we are and mainly to protect it so we don’t lose it because the Kitkatla territory, in my opinion, is our heaven.
MR. JANES: Queenie?
MS. QUEENIE MOODY: The water is a living breathing culture with all the animals that live in it. Our coastline is a living museum, the legacy that our ancestors left behind to help teach us. When you do something to the naxnox, your oil dumps, we will lose our culture, our governing structure. You will not only kill the living creatures in the water you will destroy a living nation.
MR. JANES: Are there any further thoughts that people want to add to the connection between what we’ve been talking about over the last day in the culture panel and the concerns about Enbridge before we move on to discussing the two songs?
MR. DOUG BROWN: Yes.
When I look at that chart, and everybody does, what do you see? I see islands all surrounded by the ocean.
Up to 90 percent of our territory consists of islands, big and small. The only time we’re on the mainland is when we’re sitting right here. We’re on the mainland here now and we can’t wait to get off it and go back out to those islands again. As Clarence said, that’s where our hearts and souls are.
And the clarity of that ocean is most imperative. It has to be kept clean because our very existence depends on it. Without a clean ocean, what are we going to do? You can’t drive from island to island; you go on the sea, on the ocean.
A spill amongst those islands with the tide going at 10 to 15 knots an hour, and tides fall and rise every six hours, you can’t even begin to imagine the destruction that one single tide will cause.
And about passing our different cultures onto our young people and how it was passed onto us, just a little story about my first clam digging adventure with my grandmother. I was just a little boy, maybe four or five years old, but I remember this distinctly, like it happened yesterday.
Back then, apple boxes were made of wood. When the tide was out and it was time to go and dig a bucket of clams, she put a blanket in this wooden apple box, picked me up and put me in the apple box with the blanket. She picked the box up and put it on her shoulder, over here was a pail and a clam fork, and off we went down to the beach, me riding on her shoulders and her walking down the beach.
When she came to the spot she wanted to dig, she took the box off her shoulder and planted me right there on the beach. And I was sitting in the box with my hands out like this and looking. Then, she started to dig clams right beside me, and I watched her, I was sitting in this — covered in a blanket. And when there wasn’t many there, she wasn’t satisfied with that, up I went back on her shoulder again and away we went down the beach.
Yeah, I remember that clearly. I thought I was just having a great adventure, but when you think of it, I was being taught something. Those were so many stories like this, so many little stories that when all accumulated together has a great influence in your life. And that was one of the lessons I learned from my grandma.
And you heard so many examples of lessons being taught. We didn’t know they were lessons, we through we were just having a great time; but, in reality, they were lessons, and that was one of mine.
So if anything should happen to those islands, a great tragedy. It’s almost scary just to think about it.
And that’s my story of my first lesson and my concerns about what could happen to those places.
MR. JANES: Actually, Ernie and then Matthew?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Thank you.
Sitting here a second day learning about our culture, hearing how we prepare our food, drying, smoking, every which way that our ancestors taught us. In today’s world, we have fridges and deep freezes. I sit here listening, wondering what’s going to happen to our resources if anything happens to Enbridge. What’s going to be damaged?
Our ancestors knew about our tides, when to go. There are signs out there, like, on the ground. There are certain leaves that grow that we were told when to go and pick, especially seaweed. Certain length of these plants that grow around us, that’s when my mother would say, “It’s time to go.”
And the same thing with my dad, I don’t just go out and fish any time, it’s certain tides. Before low water that’s when he’ll take me and take me to his spots where he’ll catch fish.
Sitting here for the past few day, one from Kitkatla, trying to give all our evidence about how we live, but one thing I’d like to show you, our deep freeze, our fridges is out there. By tides, when it’s time, those ancestors — my people know when it’s low water, the sign is the moon. When it’s a full moon that’s when the tides are down and that’s when you go and harvest some of our food. And this is one of our deep freeze is out there, out in the ocean, in our resources. That’s our deep freeze.
If that deep freeze of mine is damaged, it will be really devastating to my people. That open that — when that deep freeze opens for us it’s by tide. This is what I like to show and share with you. And I really pray in my heart this will never, ever happen in our territory.
MR. JANES: Reverend Hill?
REV. MATTHEW HILL: Thank you. I want to say thank you for the opportunity to participate in the panel here. And I think our leadership chose wisely in deciding to participate in the joint review process because it is an education process.
We could be out there ranting and raving along with all the other people in protest against this. But we want the world to know exactly who we are, what we’re about, and what we could lose. The destruction of a nation could happen. And so we hope the word gets out there effectively.
I know that there was one decision made already through the TERMPOL study that was made. Some information came out on that, but we weren’t consulted in that process and that’s sad when these steps happen and we’re bypassed.
And they’re trying to convince us that they’re doing something good. It just shows the kind of respect they have, which is none.
Human error is evident world-wide. Destructions of environments around the world have happened already. The lack of clean-up is evident already, despite what government rules and regulations exist.
Companies have bottomless pockets that fight off the commitment that was made to ensure that nothing happens to the ecosystem. They’re fought off and they’re bought off.
I shared the example of the Queen of the North. It’s a small example, but there’s a world-wide example of many mishaps that have happened already. And failing to consider all the efforts that were made on our behalf here and proceeding would be an infringement of our title and rights.
We hope that this education process will really sink home as to how important it is for Canada — not just the Gitxaala nation, but for Canada — to continue to lead the world by example as to what respect is about, what safety is about, and what building a nation up is about. Not destroying the environment but learning from our ancestors about how to look after the world.
We’re suffering already with global warming. In our legend, there’s a man named Txamsm that went to the moon and the sun. And he warned us that we should not penetrate the ozone layer; that we would harm the world if we do.
That warning was unheeded and we’re suffering with global warming. Our tides aren’t going as low as they used to. And our tides are higher and higher. So we are suffering already the effects just by global warming.
And so I hope and I pray that the information shared here would really open the eyes of the world to see what is happening when greed and a lack of respect is practiced continuously.
MR. JANES: Mrs. Moody.
MS. JEANNETTE MOODY: We talk of respect. It goes to everything; our culture, we’re taught to respect everything in life. Another thing that we left out in talking is don’t be greedy. Don’t be greedy and take too much food that you don’t need. Just take the amount you need. Like Ernie said, our deepfreeze, our fresh food that we get when the tide goes down, we come with fresh food.
Greediness, I see a lot today. They look at money, they want money. They don’t respect that they have food on their table. What they’re looking at is money, money, money; they don’t respect anything around them.
When we see — when we have visitor out home we are told to respect them, respect the people, respect everyone. We have a friend, he’s from the Vancouver Island there. And when he comes up this way — he told my husband, my late husband, he said when he gets to Bella Bella, he said you see people nod at him all the way up this part. I said people are friendly because we are told to respect everyone; right down to our food to people.
But that’s the thing that I see today is greed. And this is this thing that we were taught; don’t be greedy, don’t take too much food. And this is not done in this world today. I see a lot of this. I just want to point this out.
MR. JANES: Bruce?
MR. BRUCE WATKINSON: It’s been an honour to represent our people the last couple days. And I hope that when you guys leave you’ll leave — you leave with a sense that our culture is still strong. Even in the face of the many challenges we face today, our culture is still strong. It’s continued to be practiced. It still guides our way of life and it’s still taught to our children.
Just the other — last week I was out, we were doing some work and we took advantage of the good weather, we were jigging in Beaver Pass. And I caught myself daydreaming, wondering who was in that spot a thousand years ago jigging. Who would be there a thousand years from now in that same spot jigging. And that’s the thoughts and the feelings I have when I’m out there.
You know my concerns are not directed at stopping progress. My concerns are for the preservation of our culture. When you start to think of potential impacts, to me, it’s the very nature of our existence that’s at risk. It’s the continued survival and practice of our culture that’s at risk. It’s our right to self-determination, self-governance, and our spirituality that’s at risk.
And the last thing I want to say is that the authority and jurisdiction over our territory, over our lands, over our waters, exists with our people, with our smgigyet.
MR. JANES: Clarence?
MR. CLARENCE INNIS: Thank you, Robert.
What I wanted to point out to the Panel is Gitxaala — Gitxaala is in reference to the people. It’s not a place. This is what we seek to protect, what we control, our ayaawx, our adawx and giguulx yaansk. The place we live is in Lach Klan but Gitxaala is the people.
The information that we’ve been sharing is really just the tip of the iceberg. This process here doesn’t really give it justice, to Gitxaala. Everyone in this room here, everyone from Gitxaala has history. They have knowledge, they have adawx, they have g’guulxyaansk.
We’ve just shared a very small portion of what our structure is like. I want to say to you when I think of the new technologies in the era we’re in today, when I think of the memories that the white men are remembering today about the Titanic, on what they said and when it was built, “brand new, unsinkable, never happen”. We all know what happened 100 years ago. We all know the rest of that story.
Enbridge will say to you, “We won’t have an oil spill, probably every thousand years”. For us that creates uncertainty. Is it going to happen in my lifetime, my children’s or my grandchildren?
This has to be all taken into consideration. The risk that we’re taking is too great. For us to try and show the world who we are and what’s at stake, we say no to Enbridge coming through our territory.
I speak on behalf of the Gitxaala, I speak on behalf of Smgigyets of Gitxaala. We say, “No, we don’t want to risk it”.
MR. JANES: Thank you.
And I believe that’s the lunch time break that we discussed. What will happen — after lunch, essentially, we’ll have a period where we explain the two songs. There’ll be some testimony just giving a context to the songs, and then there’ll be a performance of the songs and then we’ll be done, subject of course to any questions you have.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Janes.
If we were to reconvene at one o’clock, would that give everybody enough time to get lunch?
Absolutely. Yes, if 1:15 works better, let’s do that. So we’ll come back at 1:15.
Thank you everyone.
— Upon resuming at 1:18 p.m.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you very much everyone.
Mr. Janes, I turn it over to you to continue.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS BY THE GITXAALA FIRST NATION CULTURE AND PLACE NAMES PANELS: (Continued/Suite)
MR. JANES: So in terms of this afternoon, just so the steps are in place, I propose to ask some questions with respect to setting the stage for the songs so people will understand what the songs are.
And then we’ll move into performing the songs. And I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, are we going to do the La’ooy Song first or the Hunter’s Song? Rita?
No, no, no, I just want to know which song you’re going to do first. La’ooy, okay.
And, as a part of the La’ooy song, there is some protocol that has to be followed involving Reverend Sam Lewis, who — if you remember back in the evidence — one of his traditional names is La’ooy; and as this will be explained.
And so what I anticipate is that Ernie will give some explanation of the Hunter Song which is the other song that will be sung, and Reverend Sam Lewis will give an explanation of the La’ooy Song.
And I’ll just remind he’s actually been sworn previously in this.
And then I guess the question I would ask for the Panel is, we end it without you addressing any of your outstanding questions and I just wondered, would you prefer to do that before I went into dealing with the songs or before the songs are performed?
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thanks for checking, Mr. Janes.
The Panel has no outstanding questions.
MR. JANES: And so then the last step would be, is that the drummers are going to essentially take the smgiyget out at the end of the ceremony.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Did I understand we were going to have a closing prayer and, if so, I would just close off the formal hearings prior to the closing prayer and the drumming out ceremony.
MR. JANES: Then we’ll do it that way. That sounds good to me.
— (A short pause)
MR. JANES: So are you ready, Ernie and Rita?
Ernie — Ernie, before we actually go and start the songs I just have a few quick questions I want to ask, just so that everybody understands what’s happening; would that be okay?
So I just want to clarify, so these two songs are traditional songs and would actually be owned by various houses and people; is that correct?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yes.
MR. JANES: And the Hunter Song belongs to a house in the Raven clan; is that correct?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yes.
MR. JANES: And in order to sing the songs, as I understand it, is that there had to be proper permissions obtained to perform the songs?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yes.
MR JANES: And in the case of the Hunter Song, those permissions have been obtained from the Raven — from the appropriate Raven clan holders of the name?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yes.
MR JANES: And in the case of the La’ooy Song, that belongs to La’ooy who is Sam Lewis; correct?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Correct.
MR. JANES: And could you just describe to us the protocol that’s involved in properly getting Reverend Sam’s permission to sing the song and what we’ll see here this afternoon?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yes. We will demonstrate protocol.
MR. JANES: Okay. And as Reverend Lewis will explain the La’ooy Song, I just would ask if you could take a moment, Ernie, and just explain what the Hunter’s Song is about so that we can just perform the two songs back-to-back?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: The Hunter Song is all about the food that we eat and these hunters that collect it. It all includes — and you’ll hear it in the song. And that song that came about and you’ll hear who sang the song, a naxnox. And this song was sung by ‘yaans, a chiton. And there’s a story — this song is real long story and there’s so many — so many food that this naxnox provided to this couple of hunters.
So we’ll get into that when the song begins.
MR. JANES: And then just to finish off, I take it that it’s actually going to be Rita’s granddaughter, Wendy Nelson, who’ll be drumming for these songs; is that right?
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Yes, Wendy.
MR. JANES: So with that, I will turn it over to the two of you to tend to the rest of the ceremonies and protocols.
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Thank you.
(Speaking in native language)
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: We would like to demonstrate the protocol of the duties that my sister has — my sister knows some song from a different tribe and we would like to demonstrate how we go about it to do this process.
(Speaking in native language)
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Thank you.
(Speaking in native language)
REV. MATTHEW HILL: Ladies and gentlemen, I thank God to be still alive here today to see that the people of the saltwater still hangs on to our ayaawx, our adawx, what was taught and handed down to them.
For the last few meetings we had seen and questions been asked, and I thank God to this afternoon, before lunch, that you see one of my nephew, Ken.
I’m going to ask Ken to stand by me, Ken?
Our ayaawx as the Chief, he looks at his nephews to take his place when he falls, when his life’s end.
That is why it’s so important for these people that are sitting at the back there, the women, Chiefs, matriarchs, they’re looking at someone who’s fit, who’s going to support the tribe when he goes. This young man here, one of my sister’s that has gone, and the reason why I picked Kenny to stand in my ground and the other one is Ritchie.
I’ve got two names, I wear two names; I wear the La’ooy for 47 years, how long I wear that name. Five years ago I got another one, Txalaxhaat. This land here is one of my chosen one and Ritchie Tolmie (ph) is the other one.
Why do I look at these young and yet I got all different kinds of nephews. My older sister sitting in the back there, Agnes, 98 years old, she’s got a son. But the reason why I chose Kenny, the reason why I chose Ritchie, because they’re interested. Kenny phones me almost every week, “Want to know, how you’re doing, uncle. Is there anything I can do”; the same way with Ritchie.
They live a decent life, they know how to survive, they know what to do for their survival and that’s the purpose of all those guys sitting in the back there, that’s what they’re looking for; for their nephews, for their nieces, who’s going to survive.
We’ve heard from the very beginning the traditions of a young woman when she turns into a young woman. That’s part of this what we’re going to do tonight.
We heard their stories about a man when he first make his kill. I too made my first kill. I was so happy when I caught my first spring salmon. I run up, I never felt the ground, run up with my big fish, walked into my mom’s house, our family house.
What did my mom do? She looked at me and she cried. I said, “Mom, I caught a first fish, cook it”. She cried, “Son, you’re not going to even taste it”. I think I was kind of shocked.
The reason why she said and done this, she called all those kind of people that are sitting in the back there, the Smgigyets, they’re the ones that’s going to share and eat my first kill, because my mom wanted me to be one of those guys.
That’s the purpose. If I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have been recognized where I am standing here today. That’s the purpose of the first kill of a young boy. And it’s all got to do with all those guys, Chiefs.
They recognize a family that’s generous. They recognize the one that’s going to survive to catch their own food just the way I said to Kenny this afternoon. I choose him. Yet I got so many nephews out there that belongs to my sisters, but I choose him because you heard him this morning at his presentation of how he learned, how hard he tried no matter what he goes through.
That’s what the Chiefs are looking for. That’s what those people over there are looking for. They never take the name and put it onto anybody that’s not fit to look after a family.
We talk about this naxnox, spanaxnox, God’s creation on this earth which those big monsters there were the first one, they look after the territories. They look after the whole thing and that’s why we honour them. We’re not going to destroy.
And I wanted to say this today; doing what my wilksi’waatk says, my dad comes out of these family here, Killer Whale clan. My sisters over here, my nephew, we are the Raven tribe.
Anything happen to me this family here’s going to be the undertaker for all of us. And that’s how important it is. Every time Rita or anybody ask to sing La’ooy song — look what Ernie did, he asked me publicly if he could sing it, and I said yes. In other words, they can’t sing it without asking me.
That’s why I was so well pleased today to hear the panel that’s sitting on the table here telling you guys stories, telling you guys the adawx, how strong the people of the saltwater, that’s us, Gitxaala, is. We stand our grounds. We don’t depend on somebody else.
I wanted to share this tonight. You see, my sister here is the oldest one in the village, she’s 98 years old. Believe me, I learned a lot from her and her husband when he was alive. She taught me a lot of things and she tell me a lot of things.
I was so one of the unfortunate boy that my dad died when I was very, very young. And up to today I never did know how to call anybody dad. But what happened? I used this, I used my ears; I hear and take it in and put it up here so that I’ll have it with me.
Maybe that’s why I want to reach the age where my older sister is, 98 years old. Coming July the 14th, she’ll be 98. But me, I’m way down yet; coming this Friday, I’ll be only 76, which I feel bad about it. But I’m looking forward to it.
And that’s what I want to say, my final words to you; look how far and how the lawyer wants to hear La’ooy song. And I want to share this to each and every one of the panels. We live 40 miles from here, Kitkatla. La’ooy Island is out that way, just past the pass of Metlakatla Pass, called Tugwall. That’s La’ooy tribe lives there.
And to prove it to you why we — I say this is Gitxaala people lives all over the place. Ed Gladstone is sitting here, I went fishing with his dad in Vancouver Island and we seen some people playing softball on one of the little island — living on the boat for four weeks straight. No stores, no nothing. So we decided to ask permission and watch and play ball. And they quickly accepted us and they made a chair to where we sit down.
On Vancouver Island, that’s the west coast of Vancouver. I don’t know how many miles from here. Take us three and a half days to get to that place going out — going out Port Hardy way.
And when we were sitting there, these guys were so happy to see us – we told them where we come from and they said, “Oh, Gitxaala”. Yeah, we are Gitxaala. They were really happy, and so were we.
And later on during that softball game they brought a little old man out on a chair like this chair here my sister’s got. And he wheeled it to where we were sitting, Edward and I, Victor, there was quite a few of us watching the ball game. And that old man spoke, “Am I glad to see you guys, Gitxaala people”.
He said, “Do you see that island over there”, he pointed way up in the inlet. He said, “That big one on this side, south side, is a Gitxaala island. This one on the left-hand side is the Haidas own”. He said, “And then we moved from that long inlet there; we run away and live on this little island here”.
Then he said, “Why? That’s when the Gitxaala people came and slaughtered our people, so we run away and we’re the only survivors on this island. The Haidas, Gitxaala people were having wars. I don’t know why”.
But the minute he said that, well, we look at each other and let’s go back on the boat.
I share this to each and every one of you today to show you that Gitxaala people lives all over the place. They live up and down the coast, and that’s why we’re called the people of saltwater.
Today, the Killer Whale, Rita — I’m proud of Rita. Rita, dad who’s my own uncle, and he said the Killer Whale tribe, we honour the Killer Whale tribe. If anything ever happens to my sisters here, they are the undertakers. There’s a — I could stand here days and days, tell you this story but I won’t take too much time because every time we meet it seems time goes flying and we never get nowhere.
I said it to the lawyers every time they sit; it takes months and months to solve things. But I say it again on behalf of myself, my family, to each and every panels on the table, lawyers and all, it pays to listen.
You heard it on the panel table. You want to live long, listen, honour the ayaawx, then you’re going to live long. My sister here did it. My other sister did it. These two, they work like men when I started to realize how hard they work, and I learn a lot of both of them because they work extra hard and their teaching is so valuable to us.
So again, Rita, thank you. Ernie, your granddaughter, I hope and I pray that this is going to carry on and on and on because, as far as I know, there’s songs for every occasion in our Tribe. There’s songs for mourning, songs for happiness, songs for rejoicing. There’s wars songs, prayer songs, there’s all different kinds.
Today, you’re going to hear La’ooy song. And I gave God the praise for Rita because she listens and she understood and I think she’s about the only one who knows it, with her children and her grandchildren. And I hope that she should carry on.
So I want to thank God for each and every one of you today and, if we ever meet again, I hope it will be a good happy rejoicing time, a good celebration for what we’re fighting for.
I too am really concerned about these oil tankers because I’ve seen a lot of things in my childhood, good and bad.
Thank you and God bless everyone here.
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Thank you.
I would like to acknowledge Sam, his dad. His Indian name was Inta ‘wii Waap. And my brother holds that name. And I would like to acknowledge another family, my grandfather Janet Moody. Her father is Ga-aim skwa (ph). And Randy Lewis holds that name today.
Before my sister is going to sing the song, she would like to say a few words.
MS. RITA ROBINSON: I want to thank Sam for this maksgutaa (ph) and these two Elders here.
And I want to acknowledge my Elders. The picture over there, my mom, her name was Nts’I'its K’ayeeyt, it’s what I got. And my auntie Grace Mason, her name — I forgot her name, Goodeem (ph). And my grandmother over here, Dorothy Brown.
These are the Elders that leave these songs behind for me. Every time I do something at the village, they always call me. I’m involved with the Elders. And that’s where all the songs come from — the one I teach the dancers or drummers — these Elders we see on the wall here.
And I thank God that I’m still around. I’m 85 years old, to stand here with my tgu txa’oo.
— (Sings La’ooy Song)
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Thank you.
REV. SAM LEWIS: I just want to show these ubchiwatz (ph) how we honoured our Tribe Wuksuwat (ph) . You noticed Rita always said: “You don’t have to give me anything.” But we do. That’s why I give God the praise with my sister here.
I didn’t ask them to help, but they dig in their pocket, they pay Rita. Why? Because they highly respect me as a brother. And so does my nephew here Kenny.
And I give God the praise, and I thank God for each and everyone of you. All the Smgiyet Gitxaala, the people of Gitxaala. Stick together, we’re going to win the battle some day.
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Thank you.
Thank you for your patience. And, to the people that are not familiar for our culture. it takes time to follow protocol, to prepare and to be ready. It doesn’t just — we just sing the song, there’s protocol into everything that we do. And that’s part of our ayaawx. And I’m very thankful to demonstrate it here today.
Our next song is a hunter song. I’ll be just brief about this story. A couple of gentlemen from Gitxaała decided to go hunting. They rowed, they paddled in their canoe to harvest. At that day, they were harvesting seal.
In this area, we call it in our language Knagangyet, Chief Point. It’s not too far from Kitkatla. Where they started to hunt. There’s always someone in a canoe with a sharp shooter and it happened to be one of the men.
They came across something, they really didn’t know what it was, and they decided to take it.
So the person that steered the canoe gently approached what they saw and his partner was ready to spear. When he speared it and this animal disappeared. And
I can’t remember what this rope is called that was tied onto the spear. This line ran out and the steer man said, “Let it go. Let it go, we won’t be able to take it”; so the hunter let it go.
At the end of the line, the end of the rope that he held, this rope didn’t want to let go. He dropped it. And every move that this man made — tried to cut this line, every time he cut the line would move down under the canoe until he couldn’t reach as he was cutting it, and this naxnox took these two gentlemen.
They travelled — this naxnox took this canoe and travelled. As the night falls and these gentlemen were tired and when they came to in the morning and they came across the one beach. And this is where the song starts.
And I mentioned that the creature that sang this song this forward is ‘yaans. When they got up this man heard the song, it was low tide.
And she’ll sing putting every species. This song is very long. We only chose four animals and I will use. So it would be p’oon for a seal — k’oon is for a seal, and p’oon is sea otter, and t’iibn is a sea lion, and a łbuun is a whale. These are the only four species that my sister will put into the song.
— (Song – Hunter’s Song)
MR. ERNIE BOLTON: Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, speaking on behalf of my sister and my granddaughter Wendy, I’m very honoured for my granddaughter to listen to her gii (ph) for teaching the songs that she knows.
And tonight with the La’ooy Song (speaking in native language), your nephews, your sisters, gives — my sister gives thanks for what you have given her. She told me “I always say I didn’t want anything” but still it’s part of the ayaawx, she will honour that.
T’ooyaxsa Dzowalaks ŧxanii mkwdiin. Thank you very much.
MR. JANES: And we’d like to say thank you; thank you, Rita; thank you, Ernie, Wendy, and thank you, Sam, for giving permission.
And with that, that concludes our evidence.
THE CHAIRPERSON: Thank you, Mr. Janes.
Thank you very much to the Gitxaala. I’ve been practicing it in my head so I’m trying — one thing I’ve learned is it’s not Gitxaala, it’s Gitxaala. So I’ve learned much more than that but I just haven’t had the opportunity to practice it out loud.
But I would like to turn it over to Mr. Bateman and Mr. Matthews first to say their thank you’s and then we’ll conclude.
MEMBER BATEMAN: Thank you to everyone, to the Hereditary Chiefs, to the respected women, to the witness panel.
It’s been four months now that the Panel, the Joint Review Panel have been gathering with various groups to receive traditional oral evidence and it has been a remarkable journey.
I have been very touched by the wisdom, the information, and more importantly the feelings and the things that you carry in your hearts. And that has been transferred and transmitted to us in a very meaningful way. It assists us greatly in the decisions that we have to make, which will come in the future. But we have been greatly benefited; I have been greatly benefited and thank all of you for taking the time and sharing as you have chosen to do.
MEMBER MATTHEWS: Well, I feel like a very special person sitting up here because I’m honoured and privileged to receive sacred knowledge or knowledge from your community, which is a real challenge for most communities to share the knowledge of their community and the sacred songs and the stories.
So I really appreciate the fact that you’ve shared that with me. And I should be paying back to you; okay? And I really appreciate that.
And I want to thank the Smgigyet and the Elders and the women of high esteem for coming back and presenting their evidence. And I, like Kenneth, have really learned a lot over the last four months. And it’s something that I want to share with my community about the great people that I’ve met.
Okay, so with that, thanks.
THE CHAIRPERSON: I think the words “honour” and “privilege” continue to come forward. From speaking from — on behalf of myself personally, it has been an absolute honour and privilege to have the opportunity to hear from you.
You tell us that you’ve shared so very little with us, and yet it means so very much to me that you’ve chosen to share the knowledge that you have shared with us. And I feel as a person I have much more to grow and I am inspired by what I’ve heard in the evidence that you’ve provided to us and by sharing so much with us; the prayers, the songs.
It’s been very inspiring, and I thank you greatly for it.
Just before we close, the Panel does have an offering of appreciation to Reverend Hill for the prayers that he’s shared with us. I know, Reverend Hill, you’ll be sharing another one after this, but I don’t want to interrupt the drumming and the drumming out of the hereditary Chiefs. So at this point, we’ll just give you a small token of our appreciation for the sharings of prayers that you’ve given us throughout these last two days.
— (A short pause)
THE CHAIRPERSON: With that, we will close the Prince Rupert community hearings that have happened over the last two days and turn it over for the closing prayer and the ceremony. Thank you all.
REV. MATTHEW HILL: (Speaking in native language)
I thank the Gitxaala Nation for showing their respect and honour by standing behind the panel and the Smgigyets through the process.
We thank the Creator for responding to our prayers as we heard the comments, the closing comments, of the JRP Panel on what they’ve received. We thank them for the love and the peace that they stand with and that there is a feeling that is expressed in response. Lots of lessons for each and every one of us.
And I know that as we continue to unite into the future that a lot of good things will happen for our Nation, for the individuals.
And so I ask everyone to stand, and we will return thanks.
JLS ……For What It’s Worth