When I talk about Kitlope and my dad, the Chief Gupsgolox, mama’u, Clifford, Kenny Hall, I feel so, so blessed that I — that they’re still here with me. I talk to Kenny Hall a lot about Kitlope, reminisce, nusa. Up there in Kitlope is where we come from, right in there. Gosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there.
The Gupsgolox pole was taken from Mis’kusa, which belongs to my dad, Chief Gupsgolox. It sat in Misk’usa. In 2006 we went to Sweden to pick up that pole. It is now sitting below my dad’s house waiting to go back home in March when eulachon season is on. Hopefully there will be eulachons this year were it lay back to rest.
When we come back from Butedale — that was our summer home — my dad was a fisherman, and I’d come up here and live with my grandparents, as you’re kind of coming up the channel there, you could see the yellow of buttercups, the blue of the forget-me-nots as you were coming in. You don’t see that any more.
A river, Minette Bay, the grass was brown. When Eurocan left, as a bus driver, I started noticing that the green grass, the eel grass was coming back. I started noticing the seals coming in, the fish coming in. Just to witness the seal when they’d get a fish in its mouth and it would come up from the water and shake its head and just play around with that fish and throw it around.
The geese, the ducks that are coming back. The eel grass starting to turn green, a beautiful green, some of our birds, I notice, are starting to come back, pigeons. We used to see that all the time and I just noticed some pigeons the other day.
It was last year, I got a call from my boss, said, “Marilyn, hurry up and get those kids over here, you’ve got to see this”. I said, “I can’t”. I said, “It’s 50 kilometres an hour on this road, I’ll get caught for sure”.
When the porpoises come in and the witnesses said it sounded like a big, big noise coming into our channel. Turned around close to Alcan, went back out. The killer whales come in. The flowers are now starting to come back.
I so believe that everything happens for a reason. So I can teach my grandchildren, be observant, respect our lands. Even taking your garbage out of the bush is pollution, take your garbage out with you. Don’t throw a piece of paper on the floor, don’t throw a piece of paper on the road because that’s pollution.
The family crest on my blanket is the moon and the star. What I have on my blanket tells the story of the man who turned stone, T’ismista, that’s up in Kitlope. I have on there the killer whale fin, it’s from my grandmother’s side; I have an eagle on there from my dad’s side; I have a beaver on there from my mom’s side.
I would like to add a frog on mine. I noticed on dad’s regalia that he has a frog. I asked him, “Why do you have a frog on there?” The Chief — the Gupsgolox pole, when it was taken from Misk’usa, the base was a frog. When they cut it off, they left the frog behind. That’s what’s missing on my blanket, is a frog, because I never knew there was a frog on the bottom.
I have a daughter and two sons, four grandchildren. My daughter, Indian name is Stauogh, from her great-grandmother with Boone, the late Violet Wilson. Her children, 11 and 13, also have an Indian name, which was from their baba’u, Dan Paul, Senior Chief Gupsgolox. My daughters — my granddaughter, Sienna, got her name from Nanny Lorna Bolton mugee (ph) with Boone. My other granddaughter is Msaxw, which means Rainbow.
They get their traditional food from moojith (ph) with Boone, Lorna Bolton. Lorna prepares and gives them the smoked fish, smoked eulachons and they love their dried halibut and the seaweed. Her husband Jay is non-First Nations, he also loves this food.
If there’s ever an oil spill they will have nothing. They’ll have nothing to put on their dinner plate.
The last time my two children — my two oldest children harvested any eulachons in our river right by Kitimat River bridge was in 1972. We scooped it up with fish nets and put it in an ice cream pail and brought it home and cooked it fresh. That was the very last time we ever went into the Kitimat River for eulachons.
I have seen a lot of our resources depleted, some of them are coming back. I am very worried about the Northern Gateway Pipeline, how the spill would impact our territory. I don’t want to accept such a risk to our territory, to our lands and to our resources, neither would my mama’u, my baba’u, Walter Wilson, and all my other mama’u’s. Johnny Bolton who sits up there is my great-great grandfather. I feel them here, all of them, in here.
My youngest son is not married yet so I have to think of his children, my future grandchildren. It is going to be their uncles that will teach them this, about our resources and how important it is, when I’m gone, when my parents are gone.
I don’t want the resources which we use to teach our children of our culture to be destroyed. I honour mama’u, baba’u, our ancestors that are gone that are counting on us to keep our lands and resources free from any oil spill.
Wah. Thank you