Connections are at the heart of what we do.  In celebration of World Rivers Day – held annually on the fourth Sunday in September – we gathered at Bright Angel Park in the forest above the Xwulqw’selu Sta’lo’ (Koksilah River) to connect with people, plants, and place.  We visited and learned with folks alongside community partners taking part in the Quw’utsun Sta’lo’ Skweyul event in the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds. Here are some of the connections we witnessed. 

(Photo by Jennifer Shepherd)

Connections with People and Science 

  • A child’s highlight of the day was taking scientific measurements. He loved pressing buttons on the water sampling tool and learning about differences in water samples taken from throughout the watershed.   
  • Another child looked intently at the pumping water diorama. He was watching blue and red liquids move through layers of rocks and sand. When Jennifer asked him to tell her about it, he clearly explained where the water came from and where it was going, and he wondered aloud what would happen to fruit trees growing in the soil above. If they drank contaminated water from the ground, the fruit tree would get sick and people could get sick from eating the fruit.  
  • Adults behind him listened in and asked questions about shallow wells and deep wells, and the impact of pumping on streams, rivers and lakes. David spoke about the opportunity for communities to talk about this and the future they want to create.  

(Photo by Jennifer Shepherd)

Connections with Plants 

  • PLANT MEDICINES: Several folks shared what they learned from Elder Della during her medicine walk. This rich experience was the highlight of their day. 
  • INVASIVE SPECIES: One woman explored with others what to do about invasive species: “Should I pull them out?” “They are plant medicine for the people who brought them here.” Her frame of thinking shifted about how to be in relationship with “invasive” plants, their stories, and choosing what actions to take.  She became keen to learn to weave with plants and she registered for an upcoming workshop. 
  • CEDAR WEAVING: Many folks gathered around Karla as she started to weave a hat and briefly demonstrated how to weave a rose. They marvelled at how quickly Karla’s hands worked to make a rose in about five minutes. A child took great interest in what Karla was doing as she twined around the hat. He asked her questions and he wanted to touch the materials.  

Connections with Place 

  • RIVER CONNECTION:  Several folks walked down to the river to swim or get their feet wet. A man shared how concerned he is that the water is so low in the river.A woman shared that when she goes in the water, it takes her cares away. She shared how surprised she was about how warm the water is.   
  • WATERSHED CONNECTION: Folks in the crowd travelled throughout the watershed to participate in activities at five event sites in the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds. They visited with places they hadn’t seen before and gained a new appreciation for what they saw and sensed. 
  • SPIRITUAL CONNECTION: A woman came up the path from the river. Her eyes were shining brightly and she was smiling. Jennifer said, “I love the look in your eyes.” “Oh, you can see it?” she asked. And that was the beginning of a deep conversation about their connections with xpey’ (cedar), water, language learning, listening in place, and communicating with energy, not words. They invited each other to six upcoming community happenings and marvelled: who knows where one heartfelt reflection will take you! 

What connections are you making with people, plants, and place in the watershed?