Daniela Ginta writes for the Armchair Mayor News on Fridays
COLUMN — The trails I run on around where we live are but forests of Saskatoon berry bushes. I usually stay away from words that may sound pompous if used in the wrong context but this time is different. Astonishing is the word for the amount of berries that adorn the hillsides, and astonishing is the fact that no one is there picking them.
I have been, every day. Bags of purple beads are now stored in our freezer and more will join them. Many have started drying on the bush and aside from birds and ants, no one really takes an interest in the berries that have the nutritional profile of champions.
According to the Saskatoon Berry Council of Canada (I love it that we have such a council) the berries they represent have the highest content of antioxidants, twice the levels of even the best blueberries. Isn’t that enough to make one run for the hills, provided their hills are equipped with the said berries? I’d think so.
What is most amazing is that these berries grow and mature to their juicy nutritious selves even though they have very little water. Gifts of the land indeed.
It is a never-ending revelation, the richness of the country whose anniversary we celebrated just a couple of days ago.
Every province and every portion of every province has a wealth of goodness to offer. Too often though we look elsewhere and forgo what’s in front of us, from resources to places to see, and we forget to teach our children too about their land. To have is to cherish and protect.
The debates over resource exploitation are at an all-time high in Canada, in British Columbia and Alberta especially. Not just non-renewable resources such as gas and oil and copper or gold, but also natural resources such as lumber, game and fish.
It seems that every type of resource is being eyed by someone, and that someone, most often than not, does not intend to keep and use the said resources here, nor do they intend to have the money derived from it enrich the local economy first and foremost.
But the essence of good (and necessary) economic growth lies with the resources a land offers and the exchange that happens between provinces and/or countries. Yet a second ‘but’ follows swiftly. The land that has so much to offer has to be protected as well. No risk to the land and its people is worth the money that comes with exploiting the gifts, just like no money will ever be able to buy the same resources it once came from.
On Canada Day and every day, to think that we are the guardians of the gifts our land has to offer is an uplifting and honouring thought. We hear of those who put themselves in harm’s way (more so since bill C-51 was passed) to protect unique treasures such as The Great Bear Rainforest from pipelines and logging and fish farms, we hear of people fighting tooth and nail to stop the developing of a mine too close to town, and we read about trophy bears being hunted by foreigners simply because the land allowed them to grow and become of impressive proportions.
Mines with tailing ponds that spilled into clean waters are being once again reopened (yes, Mount Polley) and others by the same (can be assume rather careless) companies are being opened in other pristine areas. More than 100 tailing ponds can be found in our province and one has to wonder about the financial gain that such exploitations bring and to whom.
The wealth of our country is inestimable. From the humble berries that few forage though they rival the best miracle pills out there (and win fair and square), to ocean waters so rich in marine life that is nowadays threatened by disease (see the case of the vanishing sea stars) and pollution (microplastics are now found in the Strait of Georgia in worrying amounts), to rainforests that are unique in the world and grasslands that contain a wealth of species, to breathtaking beauty that is for all to see and wonder at, we are to count our lucky stars again and again.
Once the Canada Day fireworks and streaks of red disappear for another year, our duty is to acknowledge the gifts of our land, and the need to stand up for them, using what’s needed, protecting what needs to be protected and teaching our children that cherishing the land and its resources is never to be taken lightly.