Wolverine’s Garden continues to fuel frontline land defenders

Canadians preparing to reunite with their families over Thanksgiving weekend should be wondering what exactly they are celebrating, Secwépemc hereditary matriarch Miranda Dick said.

In May, Tk’emlups te Secwépemc leadership share that 215 anonymous graves had been discovered on the former grounds of a church-run institution known as the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

This painful revelation has sparked a series of announcements from other nations across the country that are doing the job of revealing anonymous graves in former religious and government institutions known as “schools” for indigenous children.

“Acts of genocide are the elephant in the room,” Dick says, and it “continues”.

She wants people to remember that many indigenous people still do not have access to drinking water, that they always fight against the exploitation of their lands and for the revitalization of their languages.

“Every extractive industry, you name it, [has] impacted indigenous communities.

Indigenous peoples “saved these people from near hunger,” she says. “Where we are now is a total turnaround of the script. We never thought that would happen to our indigenous peoples. “

That said, there is something to celebrate this weekend, she says.

And it is the food security and sovereignty we enjoy today thanks to ancestors like Dick’s late grandfather Secwepemc Elder William Jones “Wolverine” Ignatius – who nurtured his frontline land defenders. garden.

Wolverine’s Garden

Wolverine and his wife Flora Sampson, also known as Ke7e Flo, started their garden decades ago in C’yele in Secwépemc Territory outside of Chase, British Columbia, about 57 km to east of Tk’emlups [Kamloops].

It became well known as a means of food for land defenders as the couple traveled throughout Turtle Island to bring food to the front lines – long before the 1995 dead end of Gustafsen lake really put Wolverine’s garden on the map.

Vegetables from Wolverine’s garden adorn the table during IndigiNews’ interview with Miranda Dick and Anushka Azadi on October 6. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

According to research compiled on the University of British Columbia Indigenous Foundations website, the standoff, involving the BC RCMP, was sparked by a title dispute between a rancher who claimed the land to graze his cattle and Sundancers who met “every summer at a specific site near the lake. Gustafsen “as part of” a multi-year cycle of ceremonial engagement.

Ts’Peten’s defenders argued that the land had never been signed, ceded or ceded – and that it had a deep ceremonial purpose. Wolverine fought to defend the earth and he spent time in prison for that, like reported by APTN.

In 2016, Wolverine moved to the Spirit World, but the seeds he planted decades ago continue to nourish people.

Onions bloom from seed on stock in Wolverine Gardens in Secwépemc territory, just west of the South Thompson River, which supplies salmon to surrounding communities. Photo by Kelsie Kilwana

Dick says his grandfather envisioned a garden that would support a healthy, self-reliant community, ensuring “food sovereignty and food security”.

In sqilxw culture, it is an act of love to feed people.

In most sqilxw ceremonies and traditions, there is a time for feasting and a time for fasting, but when people get together, food is almost always at the center. It is important to pour teachings on the food prepared by laughter and prayer. And it is important that the food is harvested by the hands of people who do it for the love of others.

Wolverine was inspired by his trips to Chiapas, Mexico, says Dick.

“[He] met the land defenders there – where they had created their own autonomous community, ”she shares. “He wanted to develop some of that from their role model.”

Today Wolverine’s garden is a bit smaller than the original garden he cultivated, due to irrigation issues, but Dick believes he has so far fed thousands of people and advocates. lands.

Engaging with seeds is “medicine for everyone”

Anushka Azadi, a friend and family lawyer, met members of Wolverine’s family on the front lines at various locations and was told to go see Wolverine. She did, returning to the gardens several times, before making it her home for five seasons now.

She took care of the maintenance of the gardens, alongside Ke7e Flo.

“Before coming to Secwépemc territory and meeting Miranda and Gwa [Miranda’s sister] and the family, I didn’t know what it meant to live, ”says Azadi.

Anushka Azadi stands in her Personal Medicine Garden, which is next to Wolverine and Ke7e Flo’s Garden. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna

“I think as a Canadian living in society you quickly find yourself in life and working in the city. Then you find yourself stuck in a lifelong payment cycle for city living, and you’re not okay.

She says Wolverine gave her a place to root and come back.

“The garden has become such an important thing because to do activism and gatherings is one thing, but then to engage in sacred ceremonies and fires and to engage with seeds and real earth is something. totally separate and is a medicine for everyone, ”she said.

Dick says she appreciates the role Azadi plays today in fueling the front lines in many territories – and in carrying on the teachings of her grandfather.

“You feed everyone,” says Azadi. “Everyone eats together, you give so much food, you keep… It’s the motivation… your will to live.

‘No thanks, don’t give’

This weekend, Dick says she and her family will enjoy a traditional feast picked from their land. They call it “No thanks, no donation” – and it’s a tradition they started a few years ago to celebrate food sovereignty and sustainability.

“We still have all the food in the garden, salmon, we have deer, we have everything. But no thank you, no donation… because we’re not going to do it anymore. Why would we sit at the same table and act like there is nothing wrong with the way Canada has treated its own people?

It is about “obtaining[ting] our way, ”she says.

It’s about honoring our own abundance as a people who have received “no thanks,” and it’s about “not giving” to the country that continues to ignore indigenous peoples, she said.

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