Saturday, 9 January 2016

Biosolids and First Nations' Traditions

Impact of Biosolids on First Nations' Way of Life


I would like to thank Kay Swakam of the Lower Nicola Band in British Columbia for the following Letter she submitted to the Kelowna newspaper  Apr 23, 2015.

Biosolids are a combination of human and industrial waste accumulated from the urban cities. The secretive systematic approach to dump biosolids in the beautiful Nicola Valley is disgusting.
The First Nations people of the Nicola Valley are shocked by the government's tactic of allowing the biosolids to be dumped on their territories. As a result, the First Nations communities are gathering to protest against the land application of biosolids. The biosolids will endanger the First Nations peoples traditional way of life by affecting their practices of food gathering such as fishing, hunting and picking wild medicinal herbs.

First Nations largely depend on fishing as their source of traditional food for the whole year. It is also used at ceremonies and community gatherings.
The biosolids affect fish and other aquatic life by potentially polluting the water quality of the rivers, lakes and creeks. Biosolids will pose serious concerns for the fish habitat and people who consume fish as part of their daily diet. Biosolids will contaminate the waters where fish live and thrive, which in turn will affect the food chain which aboriginal people depend on. Thus, people will end up having serious health problems.
First Nations people have to make every effort to protect their traditional food source by standing firmly against importing biosolids in the Nicola Valley territory.

The traditional hunting for deer, moose and elk is a way of life for the First Nations people. Traditional foods such as deer, moose and elk are not processed food. This type of wild food is needed because diabetes is so high in aboriginal communities.
Aboriginals are consuming a lot of processed meats and other types of food from the supermarkets which negatively affects their health. Therefore, hunting and consuming wild meat supports and promotes the overall health and wellbeing.
Also, the majority of the First Nations people depend on eating wildlife as they live on a tight budget. Wildlife is also used for ceremonial purposes, funerals and the hides are used for traditional drums and clothing.
Biosolids contain toxic pollutants, nauseous odours, pathogens and harmful metals that can be dangerous to humans and wildlife. People who consume wildlife affected by biosolids may have serious health issues. Therefore, First Nations people must protect their territories and not allow biosolids to come into their territories.

Wild vegetation
Another traditional practice of First Nations people is picking wild medicine plants, herbs and berries. They depend on wild medicinal herbs from the forests for their traditional health and wellness. The types of wild vegetation are wild mushrooms, berries, roots and leaves used for medicinal purposes.
Biosolids are spread through the forests jeopardizing the First Nations practices of eating forest berries and herbs. Biosolids have some harmful heavy metals that could create health problems in humans as well as wild plant growth. Hence, First Nations people must protect their precious wild vegetation to sustain their health and wellness by saying no to biosolids.
This toxic waste will enter the food chain and destroy the wonderful nature that surrounds the Nicola Valley. It will further compromise the First Nations peoples traditional practices such as fishing, hunting and picking the wild medicinal vegetation.
To make matters worse, government officials have kept this land application a secret from people. First Nations people should voice their opinions against the biosolids dumping on their territory. This movement needs not just aboriginals, but people of all backgrounds and cultures to unite and take action to combat biosolids.

Kay Swakum,
Lower Nicola
(and a thanks to Dr. Richard Honour for his photos of sludged forests)