En Colombie Britannique, des représentants de la culture des "Indiens du Nord - Ouest" occupent 2 fermes d'aquaculture de saumon de l'Atlantique, dans le Nord de l'île Vancouver. Les occupants font valoir que cette activité met en péril les populations de saumons du Pacifique, et ne quitteront les lieux qu'après le démantèlement des établissements. Hakai Magazine, hier.
D'autre part (si l'on peut dire), en Colombie britannique, les orques épaulards sédentaires et piscivores ont vu leur population décliner de près de 25 % en un peu plus de deux décennies. Voir Global News, hier. Jesse Ferreras et Linda Aylesworth.
BALEINE BLANCHE AGONISANTE. Dans la même région, la réduction comme peau de chagrin du glacier Comox est en train de détruire la culture locale. Pour les riverains, le glacier est Queneesh, une grande baleine blanche, qui, lors d'un terrible déluge, tracta des survivants dans leurs pirogues en bois de cèdre, qui avaient attaché leurs embarcations à sa queue à l'aide de cordes, et qui les déposa sur une montagne où elle s'échoua quand les eaux se furent retirées, et se transforma en glacier...
To live for 500 years: a person can’t do it, but a culture can. In his shore-front house on the K’ómoks First Nation reserve, Andy Everson says he can’t remember when he first knew the Comox Glacier by its older name, Queneesh. He supposes he learned the story from his mother, who learned it from her mother, and so on.
In the version that Everson tells, an old chief is forewarned by the Creator to prepare four canoes for a coming flood. The floodwaters ultimately cover the land completely, leaving the people in the canoes adrift until they’re able to fasten ropes to a giant white whale: Queneesh. At last, as the waters begin to recede, the whale beaches itself on the mountains, and is transformed into a glacier.
Most people in the Comox Valley know the Queneesh narrative, with its curious resonance to the biblical story of Noah. One detail from Everson’s telling, however, is often left out: Queneesh didn’t just save the K’ómoks—it anchored them in place. “You almost can consider this an origin story,” Everson says.
Above the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island the white, frozen ice of the Comox Glacier presides majestically over the inhabitants. To the Comox First Nation's People, the valley's original inhabitants, this glacier is more affectionately known as Queneesh - the great white whale.
The glacier is a perpetual sheet of frozen water curling and grinding its way over the top of the mountains the way a fog bank sweeps in over the ocean enveloping everything in its path. Residents of the Comox Valley (Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland) can view the glacier from their main street and for many it is one of their lifetime ambitions to climb to the summit.
The glacier has become a focal point for many of the valley artists and its outline can be seen on business cards, tourist brochures, postcards and magazines. These advertisements in turn attract many visitors to the recreational capital of Canada, as the valley is known, to come and see the glacier shimmering in the afternoon sun.
The Comox Glacier has been there since time immemorial and the legend of Queneesh has played an important role for the First Nations. It gives the present people knowledge of the past and a pride in their ancestors. It recounts the time when there was a great flood that inundated the land and is similar to the biblical story of Noah and his Ark.
In the Comox Valley, the legend of Queneesh tells how an old man had a dream where he was told to warn the Comox people to prepare for a coming disaster.
The voice in the dream tells him that soon the rain will begin to fall and it will not stop for a long, long time. This constant rain will result in tremendous flooding and the people must work hard to prepare themselves for this time. The Comox chief listens to the old man's story and due to his respect for their elders, decides to take his advice.
Groups were assigned various tasks, some to build more canoes; others to harvest much cedar bark and then have it prepared for weaving, as many miles of rope will be needed. Fish had to be smoked, seafood dried and preserved, deer hunted and the meat cured and made ready. Yet others were to make capes and woven hats that would be needed to shed the rain. Even the young children had to give up their games in order to help with the preparations.
Finally everything was ready and just in time. As the voice in the dream predicted, the rain began. A group of the strongest and wisest men was sent to the top of the glacier where they were to find the ideal location to attach the cedar ropes. The place of attachment was crucial as the very future of the people depended on their correct choice.
Before long the rivers began to flood so the canoes were loaded with their provisions, necessities and people, and attached to the cedar ropes from the glacier. Soon the waters rose above the totem poles and each day, they saw things that there was no room for in their canoes, float by.
The rain continued to pour, the people became more frightened and the canoes required constant bailing. Days and nights passed and the waters rose up the sides of the mountains. The rain was relentless. Eventually the day came when the glacier was almost covered and every person began to pray to the great spirit, and then something they had never dreamed possible occurred. The glacier, the very one that they had seen and watched from a distance for many years, suddenly took on a life of its own. It began to float and broke through the surface of the flood waters, the way a great whale breeches. At first the people were in awe of this unusual spectacle but they soon began to understand what was happening. The people began to laugh and cheer, and cry out to each other. "The glacier is a huge white whale!" they say. "Queneesh."
Soon, to their joy, the rain stopped and for the first night in a long time they were able to have a comfortable sleep in their canoes.
Next morning the sun shone through brightly and there was great excitement in the canoes. There was laughter and words of praise in their voices. The people began planning celebrations for when they would be safely back at the site of their village. As the waters subsided, Queneesh began to settle back into his former position where the people see him ad admire him to this very day - overlooking the whole Comox valley as if he were resting upon a throne.
So honoured is Queneesh that on the tribal grounds by the Comox estuary he is symbolized in paint on the front of one of the remaining long houses. Here the people assemble, dance and sing in the shadow of Queneesh.
For many people these mountains are nothing more than rock and ice, a frigid cold place where no one lives. But as we can see from these stories told by indigenous people, they are the homes of animals and mythical creatures, maybe we too can see the spirits they talk about and honor.
La civilisation des "indiens du Nord Ouest" n'est pas limitée à la côte Pacifique du Canada. Elle occupe tout l'arc du Pacifique Nord, ainsi qu'une partie de la Sibérie du Nord - Est. La Colombie britannique, avec Queneesh, et le Kamtchatka, avec Mitg (le grand poisson pourvoyeur de saumons) abritent la même culture.
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