In my two minute statement I spoke to a critical teaching from my home territory W̱SÁNEĆ about the importance of looking after each other, all species as if they are our relatives.
There is an important teaching in W̱SÁNEĆ. We are reminded of the teaching through the stories of the Creator, XÁLS. Landing the canoe at TIXEN XÁLS gathered some black stones from the beach, casting one of them to the horizon. The sacred mountain known as ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ rose up. Putting a few more black stones into the basket, XÁLS climbed to the top of ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ and created all the mountains that we see in this beautiful place today.
Some W̱ILṈEW̱, people, followed XÁLS up the mountain, and watched as the mountains were created. When XÁLS had exhausted all the black stones, the Creator turned to the W̱ILṈEW̱ and cast the most honourable of them out into the ocean. With each one, XÁLS said: “QEN,T TŦEN SĆÁLEĆE. You look after your relatives.”
Rooting themselves into the ocean, each one of them became ṮEṮ,ÁĆES, or an island, or roughly translated, relatives of the deep. After casting the last of our ancestors into the ocean, XÁLS turned to the remaining W̱ILṈEW̱ on the mountain and said: “I, QEN,T SE SW̱ TŦEN SĆÁLEĆE. And you look after your relatives.”
When you open your mind to the worldview of “QEN,T TŦEN SĆÁLEĆE,” all the living things that we see today, all the creatures big and small are transformed from our W̱ILṈEW̱ ancestors into the fishes, the wild game, the trees, and so on. They begin to look a lot less like resources for our exploitation, and a lot more like our relatives.
Whether human or otherwise, when we look after them and they look after us, we achieve equilibrium in our territory. It’s a contract and the way we honour the sacred responsibility given to us by XÁLS. It’s a wise teaching. So, I ask: are we living up to our end of the agreement?