kelsie-kilawna-december-2023-4

Rooted in reciprocity, love, joy and care

In this week’s newsletter, journalist kelsie kilawna talks about the syilx teachings that guide the conservation and community-building work of land Guardians on her Homelands

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a photo from behind of Tim Lezard and Weston Roberds standing atop a mountain in the syilx Homelands, looking out at the landscape before them, with grasses in the foreground

“I love the land and the land loves me.”

That’s a syilx saying rooted in reciprocity, love, joy and care for the land and the people who take care of it. It’s also one of the teachings land Guardians for the Penticton Indian Band embody as the caretakers of sn’pink’tn (Penticton).

This summer, journalist kelsie kilawna hopped into a truck with two Guardians — Tim Lezard and his nephew Weston Roberds — to see exactly what urban land stewardship looks like on her Homelands.

sn’pink’tn is one of over 170 First Nations with Guardians programs. The Okanagan Valley, which is within syilx Homelands, is one of the most sensitive and ecologically diverse landscapes in B.C. The Guardians are tasked with conserving it. 

When you think about conservation you might not picture picking up garbage or figuring out what to do with an abandoned mining truck tire. 

But for the land Guardians of Penticton Indian Band, cleaning up the land is simply part of their work
 
A photo Tim Lezard behind the wheel of his vehicle with the rolling mountains of the Okanagan seen through the windows behind him

“When people leave things we can’t just leave it, no matter how disgusting it is. We can’t just leave it, we pick it up,” Lezard told kelsie. 

Here the caretakers not only monitor owl nests, sacred sites and salmon spawning creeks, but they also clean up litter along the Penticton River Channel to protect sensitive ecosystems.

For kelsie, the work done by the Guardians signifies two things: “Our people are still actively occupying our land — and that we are still caretaking our responsibilities to the land. That’s never stopped and it never will stop.”

Go read kelsie’s on-the-ground feature here.

Take care of yourself — and the land,

Karan Saxena
Audience engagement editor
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This week in The Narwhal

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What we’re reading


Thirty months into following the story of protests against old-growth logging at Fairy Creek, Jimmy Thomson finally got his hands on a document that raises questions about the B.C. government’s possible influence over Pacheedaht First Nation’s 2021 statement — which was an ideological bomb for protesters and their supporters. Read his story in The Walrus.

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