Lament For The Rivers Finlay, Parsnip and Peace ( Poem )

This poem was inspired by the interviews by Earl K. Pollon and S. S. Matheson conducted with native Sekanni peoples who were negatively effected by the flooding of their communal homelands by the building of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. “This Was Our Valley” tells that story of injustice. 640 square miles of riverfront and hunting territory would be flooded to form Williston Lake. The Sekanni peoples were driven from their ancestral homeland and dispersed.


The Shopping Cart Injustice

People, place and spirit

All were our relations

Biopeds, quadrupeds, beings with wings and fins –

River language told us so.

Fishing rocks spoke the run

Where the riffles and the rapids talked.

Ancestors told living stories where

Running the river banks, the children played.

The land was a book written in forms.

We made our mark with love, community

Fishing weirs, aspen dugout canoes,

Hunting trails, camps and sacred sites.

Always traders, we traded furs with

White settlers when they arrived

On the rivers Parsnip, Finlay and Peace at

Finlay Forks, Fort Grahame, Fort McLeod.

We added pack trains, teams of pack horses

River freighters, flat bottom ‘longboats’

For supplies and for mail delivery.

It seemed we could live together.

Then one day a government agent said

That shopping carts were coming

They would flood our world

Water rising everywhere

Shopping carts fast to check out,

Shopping carts, electric this, electric that

Shopping carts, shopping carts.

Check out, check out, check out.

They would make our rivers into a lake

We would move or drown.

Our elders did not believe it.

That was the consultations!

Soon Saskatoon berries all under water

Next, the banks sloughed back to graveyards

Next cliffs crumbled, and banks fell into rising lake

Houses of the villages slipped and floated

Coffins, bones and bodies strewed the shore

Where tangled trees, debris and more

Eddied with flotsam in the wind.

We wept for our ancestors!

We weep for our children.

We had to flee the destruction

Caused by tree grinders, D-9 bull dozers

The dam construction.

Now they want to take more

Another dam for more shopping carts.

Please stop Site ‘C’. By Wally du Temple

About the author : Wally du Temple

Books written by Wally du Temple are sold by where author information is available in English.