Valuing democracy – playing by the rules

I was asked to contribute to the ongoing consultation process for the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan. Here are my thoughts:

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Monolith Mountain in the Tombstone Territorial Park. A protected natural space in the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in traditional territory adjacent to the Peel River watershed.

Feedback Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan Consultation

My personal opinion is that the Peel River region has sufficient natural value to be designated as a whole (=100%) a protected area similar to a National Park. However, I see that various stakeholders have an interest in accessing some resources in the Peel River watershed:

For First Nations it is an area for subsistence, primarily fishing, but also hunting, berry picking and the collection of other plant materials for medicinal uses. As the representatives of a colonial power, the Yukon Government also has to realize that the Peel River watershed has spiritual values to the indigenous people of that area, the people that have lived on the land for centuries, that live on the land today, and the ones yet-to-come. This land is part of the people – a concept that is hard to grasp for us Westerners who have developed property rights, buy and sell real estate like a commodity, with no emotional or spiritual attachment, and see us as enlightened beings separate from the natural world.

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A call for lateral love from down under

Today I learned through a follower of this blog about an important indigenous healing initiative in Australia. It is called Lateral Love Australia and is intended to explore and help overcome the opposite of lateral love: Lateral violence.

Lateral violence happens when people who are both victims of a situation of dominance, in fact turn on each other rather than confront the system that oppresses them both.

I was touched by this initiative. I have witnessed many instances where people in marginalized communities I served in were hurting each other. Instead of pulling together towards healing from various forms of colonial trauma, people engage in acts of lateral violence (gossip, bullying, blaming, alcoholism, drug use, domestic violence, suicide). This only creates more hurt and pain, helps reinforce stereotypes, and perpetuates racism.

Inuit children in Ikaluktutiak/Cambridge Bay practicing lateral love. Family dance Christmas 2008.

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