Are you concerned with the future of Sacred Sḵwx̱wú7mesh

I would like to open this heart felt letter with a not so much protocol, but a true heart felt land acknowledgement. I would like to offer an acknowledge that I am writing this letter from the traditional, ancestral, unceded and occupied Territories of the Coast/Interior Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nation and Líl̓wat7ul (Lil’wat) Nations. I hold my hands up to you in thanks, for the privilege of holding space on your Territory ❤

I have had the privilege of calling this sacred land called Sḵwx̱wú7mesh home on and off for many winter now. In that time of 18 winters, I have noticed great change to the unceded, occupied town called Squamish.

These changes I have witnessed have come in many forms. Both great and some not so much. From the caustic soda spill in the canyon, to the return if the Lummi (the majestic sacred orca), to my memories of Homeless Jimmy, to the Olympics. The reason I added the Olympics is it plays a significant role in both and and bad and in my opinion ties into this letter to you.

What is for certain is the old logging settlement town named Squamish has grown, and still does today at a rate so rapid its mind boggling. The loggers are all but extinct now and I know very little about the relationship between the Stewards of the land being Sḵwx̱wú7mesh peoples and the original logging settlers. I’m sure there is also a ton of both good and bad. I myself do know however, that the old school logger community was just that. A community.

When I say community, I am confident in saying the old school loggers values, were much closer to the traditional Stewards of the lands values in many regards. Even tho they made a living causing harm to the environment, they made a valiant effort to learn sustainability in most small town regards, and they respected nature. They may have done it it a different manner than the original people, but they hunted and gathered and used nature for the purpose it was intended, therefore they respected it and cared for its future.

As mentioned, those people are all but extinct, and we have a new form of people occupying the Traditional, Unceded Lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh peoples. These new people are also hunters and gatherers, but they are of a different cause. These new occupiers are only interested in hunting wealth and property from what I see, and have zero regard for the Original people nor their traditions. There is little care for the future unless it has to do with dollar signs. It is very easy to get caught up in. Most of us have in many ways.

That in itself is the reasoning for me to put this caring letter together. Now let’s get to the bare bones of this letter.

The town Squamish sits on very sacred land. This land is as spiritual as it gets. Very few, are as spiritual as the Coast Salish Peoples. Very few, have experienced the terrible tortures and loss, due to assimilation and colonization as the Coast Salish Peoples. Very few have been displaced like the Coast Salish Peoples. However, through it all, they have remained so spiritual.

I feel the reason for this Strong Spirit is due to some very simple factors. This sacred land has been blessed by the Creator with the most sacred spirit Carriers. This is the land of the Orca, Bald Eagle, Salmon and Bear!

No place on Turtle Island is as sacred as the shores of the Coast/Interior Salish Territories. This creates a very big contrast with the new found hunters and gatherers of this sacred land, and the land itself. The actions and the focus of the new occupiers is one that chases spirit away, it’s one that destroys the natural balance of the land.

As mentioned above, the Orcas are finally back in these Traditional waters, They are feeding on the overpopulated salmon killers, the seals finally. This is bringing the sound back into balance. The less seals means the more salmon, which in turn brings the most sacred of all, the Lummi populations back to health. This year has been remarkable with the Orcas health. 2 new calves and a returning pod. That’s absolutely incredible. However with this great news, brings an old familiar tragedy. The possibility of losing this sacred spirit again.

What would cause this you might ask? Well let’s just say that the future development agenda will all but extinguish these spirits and their Carriers. We now have a possibility of LNG plant, we have the entire waterfront being developed. After how many years of not being able to harvest herring eggs, the spawning grounds have now been torn up, there is an airline already planning flights and a dock, there is already talks of cruise ships coming in. In short, this new found hunter and gatherer will ensure the Spirit, and the Carriers are all gone in exchange for monetary wealth, and the spiritless lifestyle that comes with it.

15 years ago, you could purchase a home on an attainable wage. You could rent on a minimum wage job. Those days are long gone. The truth is, very few if any original people of this Territory, can afford to live here now. This is gentrification in its finest form. This growth and development with continue to increase, pushing the true Stewards away from their land, diminishing any hope of a future on their Traditional lands and extinguishing the Culture and Traditions if the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh peoples.

As an Anishinaabe Ogichidaa, it is my duty to stand for our mother. To uphold the laws of nature for the next 7 Generations. In the spirit of Tseybayotl, I will do everything in my power to protect this sacred waterfront from the destruction and genocide if the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh sacred lands and Peoples. I know its gonna be a very bitter battle, one that I’m willing to offer my life to achieve a victory, for those sacred Spirits and their Carriers.

I also know I cannot do it alone. I ask for any like minded Warriors, who are willing to support in any way possible to reach out.

Together, we can stop this Eco/Genocide!

All my relations!!!

Joe Ojeek

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