Every once in a while, something simple can change the way you look at the world. Just today, a friend explained how a clear explanation of entropy helped her accept the fact that she would die someday.
A report on Coastal First Nations stewardship practices, Staying the Course, Staying Alive, did not solve my existential angst. But it was able to shine a clarifying light onto the history, culture, food, nature and stories of coastal British Columbia. These things are not just intertwined or inseparable: they are a single entity.
The report was compiled by Frank Brown and Y. Kathy Brown, who sought advice from elders living in coastal First Nations. The project emerged from Frank Brown's desire both to show and to strengthen the connection between science and traditional knowledge. He had a sense that Coastal First Nations cultures had "core principles" or "fundamental truths" about biodiversity, sustainability and stewardship.
The interviews are interspersed with traditional stories about the approach and practices for harvesting herring and roe on kelp, as well as the construction and use of fish traps and clam gardens. Although Staying the Course, Staying Alive focuses on the bounty of the ocean and First Nations' relationship to it, the report does have a section on berries, cedar and other land-based resource management.
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I would love to see this republished as a book, so that it receives a wider audience. Regardless, it should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of the First Nations of coastal British Columbia, fisheries management or sustainability. Now's the time for resource managers to adopt the seven "fundamental truths" that they distilled from the interviews as the foundation for their decisions.
The Seven Fundamental Truths:
Fundamental Truth 1: Creation
Fundamental Truth 2: Connection to Nature
Fundamental Truth 3: Respect
Fundamental Truth 4: Knowledge
Fundamental Truth 5: Stewardship
Fundamental Truth 6: Sharing
Fundamental Truth 7: Adapting to Change