A Beautiful Forest concludes a successful 5 Days for the Forest

cecelia-brooks

Cecelia Brooks, Water Grandmother, in the film, A Beautiful Forest.

The Conservation Council’s first ever “5 Days for the Forest” concluded with another full house of people wanting to celebrate and learn more about our forest. Conserver House was packed for the screening of “A Beautiful Forest,” produced by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and screened as part of the regular Cinema Politica Friday night movie series.

The film was described by those who watched it as stunning and powerful. It strives for respect of the cultural values associated with our forest as opposed to only valuing the forest for its dollar value for timber. The film brought with it a truth and authenticity through the voices of indigenous elders. The filmography was incredibly beautiful, reminding those who watched it how de-sensitized we can become to nature as it surrounds us.

“We still have a chance to get back to that original plan and somehow that has to be the hope of saving this planet, mother earth, and maybe moving it the other way but we are losing it. We have to wake up soon. A sleep walker has to wake up, because the door may be closing. Not something good to say but true,” says Passmaquoddy Chief Hugh Akagi.

“I can actually forget that there is this other world out there. It helps me take my mind to where I can reset. You can’t forget what’s happening because you see the damage around you. I think that’s what the woods does to me. It goes to my heart first and then my brain can process what it wants. It’s enjoyable to be in the woods and say, ok world, come and get me,” said Chief Akagi.

Andrea Bear Nicholas connected the struggle to protect the land to the struggle to protect indigenous languages.

“The land and trees, having access to them, is one of the most important elements of keeping our language alive, because our language is so intricately connected to living off the land, living with the land, and living in the land and there have even been people today, in some other parts of Canada, that have said those languages will never be brought back to full vitality unless people have access to the forests and the lands” says Andrea Bear Nicholas, then Chair of Native Studies at St. Thomas University.

Cecelia Brooks, Water Grandmother, also connected the struggle to protect the forest to the survival of language and culture. She stated: “If we are going to preserve our culture and if we are going to preserve our language, which is part of our culture. Everything we want to preserve our people here, we have to preserve our forest because where I am going to be an Indian?… Where am I going to find a feather? Where am I going to find plants for my medicine and my food?”

Bill Parenteau, a historian from the University of New Brunswick and Lloyd Salomone, a co-producer of the film offered their insights following the film. Parenteau enjoyed the film and said that it reminded him that the dispossession that is occurring is not just material but is also a spiritual dispossession. “If you have forgotten that our forest is beautiful, this film will remind you,” said Parenteau. Salomone was able to answer questions about the film’s production and noted that it is the only film that he knows that includes the province’s four languages, Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, English and French.

Tracy Glynn with the Conservation Council answered questions about what different indigenous groups in the province have been saying about the current forestry strategy and other developments. She spoke about the Mi’kmaq Chiefs lawsuit to stop the forest plan and the Plants & Animals lawsuit against the government over development of snowmobile trails in the Mount Carleton Provincial Park.

She also spoke about the efforts of the Peace & Friendship Alliance, a group of indigenous and non-indigenous allies, who have come together to protect the land in New Brunswick, which is all unceded indigenous territory of the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoq (Maliseet) and Passamaquoddy. The alliance opposes the forest strategy and is working to educate people about the Peace and Friendship Treaties that exist here.

Missed the film? You can watch it online here.

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