BLUE ECOLOGY WORKSHOP: “Water is our lifeblood as Musqueam,” says Morgan Guerin – he will provide the First Nations welcome to address protocol and set the table for workshop guests at Richmond venue (Nov 28)
Note to Reader:
Morgan Guerin, secəlenəχʷ, who is a Fisheries Officer and an elected Councillor for the Musqueam Indian Band, was born on Musqueam territory and raised by his parents and grandparents on the Musqueam reserve. From a young age, he learned to hunt, fish, and recognize the importance of his land.
In an interview published in 2016, Morgan Guerin explained that in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, Musqueam’s language, the word for ‘Native person’ translates almost exactly to “a person of the earth.” He noted that Musqueam people are taught to “look after your environment and be a steward to your environment, because that is a part of you—that’s how you’re tied to who you are.”
Interweaving Indigenous and Western Thought
Guided by a water-first vision for setting priorities, Blue Ecology is a message of hope. It is an ecological philosophy that looks at the water cycle differently.
“The Blue Ecology Workshop is being held in the City of Richmond, in the traditional territory of the Musqueam First Nation,” states Kim Stephens, Executive Director, Partnership for Water Sustainability in British Columbia. “Because the over-arching theme of the workshop is interweaving Indigenous and Western thought, we invited the Musqueam to attend and provide a traditional welcome. We also asked whether the Musqueam had a water storyteller to set the context for the workshop.
“We were delighted when we learned that Morgan Guerin would represent the Musqueam. When I met with Morgan to review the Blue Ecology program design, the first thing he told me was that his name means ‘water guardian’. The second thing he told me was how excited he was to be involved in the program. Perfect, I said.”
“Michael Blackstock, who created the vision for Blue Ecology, explains that interweaving is a collaborative process where apparently contradictory ways of knowing water, such as Western Science and Indigenous Knowledge, are brought together as coexisting threads to produce a new cooperative theory called Blue Ecology.
“Interweaving requires humility and hope from both partners, as they weave each other’s contributing threads of knowledge into a new vision for our future – a new attitude towards water which will unlock creativity to solve climate change problems.”
A Conversation with Morgan Guerin
“Water is our lifeblood, as Musqueam,” stated Morgan Guerin.”For that reason, I am excited to help contribute to the success of the Blue Ecology Workshop.”
I explained that our goal in introducing Michael Blackstock’s interweaving concept is simply to plant seeds.
“Yes,” responded Morgan, “It is easier to plant seeds than give someone a tree. If you say something enough times, people will hear it.”
That led us into a discussion of how his welcome would be an opportunity for Morgan to foreshadow and connect the dots to what Michael Blackstock would say in the final module of the program, titled Blue Ecology – An Attitude Switch!
“In doing the welcome,” stated Morgan, “I will address the ancient protocol to set the table for our guests. In setting the table on behalf of Michael Blackstock and his vision for Blue Ecology, I will explain what interweaving means to the Musqueam. Most importantly, in expressing the welcome protocol, what I say will be the same as what my Musqueam ancestors said when they greeted the first Europeans.”
Land and Water – Inseparable!
We then talked about how land and water our viewed by most people as silos, yet one’s land ethic (or lack) has direct consequences for water and the health of streams.
“Water and land are inseparable,” agreed Morgan. “They are inseparable just like you cannot separate blood from the body. Because then both would die.”
This led us into a discussion of how land development alters the natural water balance and results in cumulative effects (or impacts).
“It is death by a 1000 cuts. As a fisheries officer, I see those consequences. We must do business differently,” said Morgan.
Cathedral Thinking / Seven Generations
At this point in the conversation, something that Morgan said led me to ask whether he is familiar with cathedral thinking and the work of Rick Antonson.
Morgan smiled. “Yes, I know Rick and have worked with him. The Musqueam equivalent of cathedral thinking is called ‘seven generations’. We look back seven generations. You have to look back far in order to be able to look far ahead.”
That brought us back to the purpose in planting seeds.
“Plant seeds in minds. Think about what you want in the future,” emphasized Morgan. “Say something enough times and people will hear it.”
“It is not about race. It is how you live. We all belong to the Earth,” concluded Morgan Guerin.
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