Cultural river bank restauration in Lillooet, BC
In Lillooet, British Columbia, about 250 km north of Vancouver, I was involved in helping a small group of First Nations’ volunteers from the Sekw’el’was tribe and some conservationist scholars who had been working to restore a riparian (i.e. a piece of land close to water, a river, a lake, etc. Here it is the Fraser river banks) piece of land in their community. First Nation is the official name native people from the Canadian part of Northern America call themselves, and the T’it’q’et First Nation band lives in Lillooet. For a number of years they have been removing traces of non-local invasive plants, removing traces of sub-culture (such as 4-wheel drive access, drunk driving and unauthorized fires) and try to put this specific piece of land back in its original condition. Land has multiple ecoservice and spiritual value for First Nations, especially riparian zones, and often it is surrounded by highways, power plant, etc. This one is also situated very close to modern “civilization” artifacts, but when one is inside it, one can feel nature coming back. It is a very slow process: weeding, re-creating wildlife habitat, seeding and planting specific species, etc.
In addition to the overall cultural and pedagogical experience of a field trip with the class of Forestry from UBC, this day taught me one thing: if one wants to have an impact one shouldn’t vent about one’s powerlessness but start doing something, even if only local, for inspiration comes from action. I was happy to help planting some shrubs and berry trees, and sharing time with the volunteers for a couple of hours.