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Protecting Canada's Forests

Protecting Canada’s forests

Alberta Forest-Outdoor Council of Canada
Alberta Forest-Outdoor Council of Canada

“As long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the river flows.”— Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island have distilled and implemented this famous quote. 

Connection to this land goes beyond walking amongst the land; we’re spiritually and materially connected. Most Indigenous Peoples are taught from a young age that if we take from Mother Earth, we give something back and only take what is needed. If everyone who walks the earth did the same, I think we would live a different story.

What does protecting the forest mean? As we look at the science and diversity of our national resources, we see critical elements continually being extracted from Mother Earth. When one’s natural resource is affected, the whole ecosystem suffers. Mother Earth is exhausted. We have a huge fight on our hands.

“Collective impact” matters. It’s not up to one individual to make a difference. It begins with one person, group, organization, community, province, or nation working collectively to make the greatest impact. We, as humankind, are innovators and leaders in creating ways to become more sustainable and resourceful with the daily demands of society. Innovation includes bringing back the old traditional ways of living. We need to ask ourselves how much innovation is needed for us to succeed in keeping Mother Earth healthy. 

For the original peoples of the land, all the elements of the land are a gift. We acknowledge and give respect to all living things. Daily, we ask ourselves what we can do to protect the forests. We ask, “how do we reduce our natural resource demand .” As we have an unbalanced ecosystem worldwide, maybe it’s time for all of us to engage and be a leader in our domain. As Indigenous Peoples fight to protect their homelands and sacred sites, maybe it’s time that we consider all our land sacred and fight for our Mother together as one.

This quote from an ancestor rings true today and carries with it the teachings from our parents, grandparents, and knowledge keepers.  

“It’s hard for me to understand a culture that not only hates and fights his brothers but even attacks nature and abuses her. Man must love all creations, or he will love none of it. Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it. Without love, our self-esteem weakens. Without it, our courage fails. Without love, we can no longer look out confidently at the world. Instead, we turn inwardly and begin to feed upon our own personalities and little by little, we destroy ourselves.” — Chief Dan George. 

As a national organization, the Outdoor Council of Canada understands that we work, play, and live in beautiful landscapes across Canada. Respect for the lands is incorporated into what we do. Outdoor education is key to our organization. This is how we encourage respect in the younger generation and all those that are leaders in the outdoor community. 

Love for our forests is created by spending time within them. We believe the best way to protect, honour, and celebrate our unique Canadian forests is to bring as many people as possible outside. There we can offer powerful experiences where each of us can create our own connection and understanding of the relationships humans have with the world.

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