The cumulative effects on First Nations land are a complex tapestry woven by the interplay of various factors, each contributing to the overall impact on our indigenous territories. Over time, these effects have manifested in a multitude of ways, from environmental degradation to cultural erosion. The encroachment of industrial activities, such as mining, logging, and energy extraction, has taken a toll on the delicate balance that our traditional communities maintain with their surroundings. Pollution, habitat destruction, and resource depletion have become unwelcome companions on the history of our First Nations peoples. Moreover, the cumulative weight of historical injustices, dispossession, and systemic marginalization further worsens the challenges faced by the communities. Recognizing and addressing these cumulative effects necessitates a rounded approach that respects indigenous sovereignty, incorporates traditional knowledge, and creates sustainable practices to preserve both the land and the rich cultural heritage it carries.
Taking care of the land is not merely a responsibility but a profound commitment to nurturing the very essence of our existence. It involves a continuous lesson with nature, where each step is taken with the understanding that the land is not just a resource but a living, breathing being deserving of respect. Conservation practices, sustainable agriculture, and responsible resource management form the core of this caretaking endeavor.
It also entails preserving biodiversity, respecting ecosystems, and modifying the impact of human activities. Our Indigenous knowledge often plays a crucial role in this situation, as it summarizes generations of knowledge on living in relationship with the environment. Taking care of the land extends beyond physical conservation; it involves advocating for policies that prioritize environmental protection, raising awareness about the interconnectedness of all living things, and fostering a collective sense of responsibility for the well-being of our land. It’s a commitment that transcends individual actions and embraces a shared vision of a sustainable and flourishing Nation.
“Its really important, us as a people the cumulative effects that the industries and European culture has done to affect our people, land, animals, and our medicines. It has been a struggle for us from day one as a people to deal with Government and Indian Affairs. It is still a struggle to this day to claim what was rightfully ours, rightfully yours. Seeing what the industry is doing to the land, plants, animals, and even the water; they are destroying it. At some point, the land will not be enough to support us all. That is why this is so important and I thank each and everyone of you for attending.” said elder Bruce Lee.
Ermineskin Industrial Relations are currently in the planning phases to create a census for all our nation’s members, whether be on and off reserve, to collect hard data on our current ways of living. It is with great importance that we collect such data so we are able to present it to our Chief and Council as well as the Government of Alberta to show defined statistics on our nation’s people and the conditions and effects we face when it comes to our ways of living.
For many of us, the land is seen as a living entity, with its own spirit and energy. It’s a source of sustenance, providing not just physical resources but also spiritual nourishment. Traditional practices, ceremonies, and teachings are often tied to specific landscapes, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all living things.
Historically, First Nations people have faced the impacts of colonization, which often involved dispossession from their traditional lands. Today, land rights and reconciliation are key issues, as a lot of our indigenous communities are seeking to reclaim, protect, and manage their ancestral grounds. Understanding the significance of land to First Nations people is crucial in fostering respect, cooperation, and meaningful dialogue between different communities and cultures. It’s about recognizing the value of diverse perspectives and histories in shaping our collective understanding of the land.
“ Our elders are not going to be here forever. It’s our turn to really make a difference in what’s happening. It’s not just for us but it’s for our kids, our grandkids. Our mosums and kokoms had to face this without any laws in place to protect them. We have these laws now, to our advantages. That is why this census that is coming is so important.” says Marleigh Cutarm.
If you want to learn more or educated yourself further in cumulative effects on Ermineskin land, you can contact Danny Bellrose (E.C.N Consultation Coordinator) or Carol Wildcat (E.C.N Consultation Director) at Industrial Relations 780-585-3779.
Article by Kayla Cutarm, ECN Newsletter Editor