Let’s re­spect our wilder­ness

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION - Edi­tor’s note: the fol­low­ing letter was sent to Premier Kathy Dun­derdale, and copied to En­vi­ron­ment and Con­ser­va­tion Min­is­ter Ross Wise­man, The Com­pass and other me­dia.

Dear Premier Dun­derdale,

As an avid out­doors­man who has had the op­por­tu­nity to travel this great prov­ince and coun­try of ours, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe when it comes to the teach­ings of our an­cient First Na­tions peo­ple. They had a con­nec­tion to the land and it’s crea­tures that the English speak­ing folk of the 21st cen­tury should take a se­ri­ous look at.

Why not in­cor­po­rate re­spect, hon­our, and stew­ard­ship of our re­mote wilder­ness ar­eas as the an­cient El­ders of First Na­tions peo­ple in­stilled in their youth and make it a part of our English school cur­ricu­lum? At the end of the day it doesn’t mat­ter if you’re a white, black or First Na­tions. If we con- tinue to de­stroy re­mote wilder­ness ar­eas like Cliffty Pond with in­dis­crim­i­nate dump­ing and re­mote cabin de­vel­op­ment we will even­tu­ally seal the fate of our own hu­man­ity like we did to the Beothuk In­dian.

Let’s fi­nally show some re­spect here. The First Na­tions peo­ple 10,000 years ago new even then the only true le­gal­i­ties are show­ing re­spect for the pow­ers of na­ture. When I see peo­ple de­stroy re­mote wilder­ness ar­eas like Cliffty Pond and treat their com­mu­ni­ties like a sewer I have to ask the ques­tion: what have we done to the land of the Beothuk and the in­dige­nous crea­tures that in­hab­ited here?

I had the op­por­tu­nity to chat with a First Na­tions man just east of Win­nipeg Man­i­toba a cou­ple of years ago and we started talk­ing about wilder­ness and its ben­e­fits. In the sim­plest terms he stated, “there’s good medicine in wild things” and what na­ture can pro­vide. What great ad­vice for the 21st cen­tury ur­ban­ite and mankind in gen­eral.

Out of re­spect for the Beothuk In­dian who we no longer have with us and the many crea­tures that once in­hab­ited this land in peace, let’s in­cor­po­rate some of this First Na­tions wis­dom into gov­ern­ment poli­cies and ed­u­ca­tion. Re­scind re­mote cabin de­vel­op­ment in Cliffty Pond and re­mote wilder­ness ar­eas; show our youth there is a sense of con­nec­tion in na­ture and a bet­ter way.

The fate of the Beothuk In­dian and how we treated them is a dire ex­am­ple of much­needed change; not ex­cuses. Those brooks, ponds and gul­lies that were once the lifeblood of the Beothuk peo­ple should be re­spected with dig­nity, which is why the obituary of the Beothuk In­dian is bad enough, let alone add more to an al­ready con­vo­luted his­tory of en­vi­ron­men­tal mis­man­age­ment. Tony O’Leary West­ern Bay

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