June 22 2023
‘Witnessing the Water – an authentic relationship’ aims to make a splash in community
Looking for the perfect colourful conservation piece for your coffee table? The Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society will be selling their 56 page, full-colour softback coffee-table book Witnessing the Water – an authentic relationship on June 15 through their website.
They will also host two launches on June 23, and 24 in the art galley located beside the Duncan library with a light lunch served at 12:30 p.m. and a sharing circle at 2:15 p.m. to engage attendees in river-centered conversation with local water stewards such as Q’utxulenuhw Tim Kulchyski, Joe Saysell, Heather Pritchard, Qwiyahwulthw Robert George, and Genevieve Singleton. Space is limited, so those interested in attending either launch should RSVP Judy Brayden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The launch itself is a gesture of appreciation to the many individuals and groups who supported the endeavour in principle or financially,” said CLRSS project lead Judy Brayden. “The concept of a ‘sharing circle’ is emblematic of the very first and most important step of ‘listening’ to the wisdom of the stewards. This book respects the traditional teaching of the Quw’utsun Mustimuhw Cowichan People because their Snuw’uy’ulh Teachings express succinctly the role of stewardship. Respecting those teachings, this book endeavours to tell a holistic story of Qa’ (water), one that is reciprocal, interconnected, and interdependent. We have included many Hul’q’umi’num’ words in this book and are honoured to have the authentic voices of several Quw’utsun Mustimuhw Cowichan People included in these pages as well.”
Complimenting the 14 heartfelt witnessing statements are stunning photos by noted Chemainus photographer Cim MacDonald and dedicated endorsements from MP Alistair MacGregor, MLA Sonia Fursteneau, and the David Suzuki Foundation. It will aim to be available at local tourism locations, libraries, bookstores, and museums with all proceeds going to support the important work of CLRSS.
The backstory: in 2019, CLRSS produced a piece of interactive art for the community art show Watershed Through the Lens of Art, held in the Cowichan Valley Arts Council Gallery. Witnessing the Water – a Ribbon of River art installation was a 70-foot-long and 14-inch-wide photographic journey that crossed the entire gallery ceiling, enabling viewers to walk the length of the ribbon while witnessing compiled images of the majestic Heritage Cowichan River (Quw’utsun Sta’lo’) through the eyes of other community members. After its resounding success, this new book aims to make a splash by reinforcing that everything is interconnected — human, salmon, pollinator, water, rock, and tree. The intent of this work is to implore the community to visit the watershed with the intention of witnessing the actual molecules called Qa’ (water), holding the moment and seeing beyond immediate need to the significance of all interconnected life forces and energy on this planet.
As Qwiyahwultuhw Robert George says in the book, “Before entering the water, throw a pebble into it and ask for permission to enter. We don’t just go and force our way into the space. There’s been too much of that happening in this world. And when we leave the water, share something with it that can travel with the water as it moves across the lands and to different places on the earth. Spread the virtues of our love, kindness, respect, and generosity so that energy travels in that water that travels all around the world. Whatever thoughts go into the water, travel. It may help somebody, a plant or an animal somewhere along the way.”
Readers will also learn more about the Cowichan River’s weir at it’s head and that it is one of the few Island rivers where flows can be monitiored, and why understanding more about the history and culture of this river is so important to our collective futures.
“This book is yet another tool for use by all citizens to educate themselves and others about the value of water on this planet and specifically that of the Heritage Quw’utsun Sta’lo’ Cowichan River,” said Brayden. “It is our sincere hope that the marvelous pictures and poignant words will inspire self-analysis and the awakening of an authentic relationship in the minds of those who take the concept of ‘witnessing’ to heart.”