Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 6: Soil Ingestion Research Project ~ Cold Lake First Nations (English Bay)

Day 6:

Please forgive my spelling errors etc., I’ve usually had a long day by the time I get to typing my journal & just want to get in my warm bed by the time I’m finished posting.  Also, I want to share with you so you are aware that all I write is my personal perceptive experience.  I also want to keep my fellow First Nations peers anonymity &/or will only use first names throughout this project.  However, the researchers names etc. are public knowledge.  It isn’t my place to share their experiences or perceptions, only mine but at the same time, we are all part of this together. They are all aware of my journaling & actually quite enjoy me reading it to them, when ever I can.  It isn’t that this project is a secret, it’s just that I want to be respectful of the others involved in this project. 

Beautiful Lands...
an Industrial Plant is just a hop skip & a jump away
Well, we had another busy day collecting samples this time most of the day.  The researchers wanted to get sediment samples from Ethel Lake this time.  So they went out on the boat & my other female peer & I were pretty much little scientists for the day collecting medicine, food, bear scat, & soil samples east of Ethel Lake because our coordinator advised us not to eat any of the gathering foods in the area because we are so close to industry.  This lake is also where a Cold Lake band member had bought land around the lake, a few years back, & the soil & water was so contaminated, she had to sell her land & move elsewhere.  It's scary to think people are still living & building beautiful cottages & homes around the lake.  It would be interesting (interesting as in curiosity only) to have a longitudinal study of all the residents over 20 years & see how their health is over those years right next to an oil plant....hmmmm...after all we are part of the environment...

Muskeg ~ excellent tea to clean the blood
Therefore, us two woman worked as a team & collected samples for the researchers.  It was hard not to eat the berries though because they were nice & juicy looking.  We work well together & as we gather more & more, we are becoming more aware of the environment and noticing the differences in vegetation health.  For instance, we are starting to notice which areas are affected by industry & which aren’t so much just by the look of the trees, plants etc..  It’s actually really obvious after you spent days out there gathering like we have, in different areas.  Another instance, was we went near the Esso plant area to see what medicines were out there & it was quite obvious as we got closer the trees & vegetation looked more sickly the more north we drove.  There was one spot where we parked in the bush along the border of the Esso plant (we could hear the plant in the distance), we saw floating oil & other pollutants beside a abandoned beaver dam & slough.  I was taking a soil sample & later realized the polluted water & the remnant’s of a dead bear scattered all throughout the bush.  I warned our researchers not to be surprised if they have bear cells in their sample.  It was so evident of the damage because most of the willow trees were dead from some unknown reason.  I have to go back there though tomorrow, to get more soil samples because I ran out of sample bags.

As we drove back to base camp, we went to go visit the Cold Lake Peace Camp north of Sandy Beach to see what the camp looks like & see what the peacekeepers are wanting to preserve.  We had a good 30 minute visit & left.  As we were driving along the road, we saw a beaver house, so we stopped & we hit the jackpot ~ MINT woo hoo!  We had been looking for mint for a few days now but it was hard to find, a lot of beaver houses had been abandoned or destroyed.  As few days before, I made mint tea for all of us & the others shared how much they enjoyed the tea because they slept like babies & a few even said they slept in but felt great.  Mint is a great sleep aid, good for colds, for fatigue, & other remedies.  We picked enough to take back to camp & we had a great evening with mint tea & laughs around the camp fire.  I don’t think we can go a day without teasing, laughing but tonight we are all pretty tired & the evening was quiet.  I was glad Ken came to visit for a while & he’s supposed to come back tomorrow & bring a few guns so we can go out & hunt more north of our base camp.

Graham expressed how much he wishes we could find more blueberries because he’s hooked on our rubarb-blueberry, & honey dessert.  The group was all impressed how good the dessert was yesterday without sugar & only honey.  As a result, when Ken came to visit tonight, they told him how much they enjoyed the honey.  Therefore, he promised to bring a pail of it, instead of the teaser sized one we demolished lol.  The organic honey, we buy from the Brown family across Kehewin Lake ~ it’s a hit!  I like using honey in my cooking, coffee, teas etc. instead of sugar.  It’s better anyways, when you think about it.

Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada's Northwest Boreal Forest
I've been using a excellent book called Aboriginal Plant Use in Canada's Northwest Boreal Forest ( thank you my friend, Roger McDonnell for the gift), as a guide, for finding medicines.  It was done years ago with the participation of Aboriginal people.  It's been a great guide along with the Aboriginal knowledge shared by Elders & active grassroots people raised & living off the land.  I am still learning, I don't claim to know all, I am a humble student of the land & our people.  I believe it is my responsibility to learn as much as I can since I am going to be taking on a great responsibility as a teacher next year.  I can't not take this responsibility lightly & I humbly accept it but know the weight I must bare.

As I type, I just received a text from Ken letting me know a thunder storm is approaching us.  I can hear it off in the distance & It sounds beautiful & tranquil.  I love thunderstorms, the thunder & the rain are comforting to me, I will sleep like a baby tonight!

Downside, I’ve gotten so much sun that ~ I look like a red-nosed alcoholic raccoon when I remove my glasses (lol jks) ~ it’s quite funny…I so have to use more sunscreen lol…oh well, that’s life I guess but the upside is I’m getting my vitamin D (haa, haa).

Sweet dreams all.  I am grateful for this opportunity to learn so much from the people, the land, the Creator!  The gifts out here are so amazing…I have seen so much beauty, now this is living!

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