The K’ómoks First Nations Guardians attended Project Watershed’s Estuary Working Group (EWG) on the first Friday in February. At the meeting Randy Frank, a Guardian Watchman Program member and local Carver, presented a First Nations’ “talking stick” that he had created to Board Chair Paul Horgen and Estuary Working Group Chair Don Castleden.
In 2011 Project Watershed and the K’ómoks people signed a Memorandum of Agreement to work together to preserve, protect and restore the K’ómoks Estuary. In addition to Randy, Guardian Tony Billie and Guardian Supervisor Cory Frank participated in the monthly meeting; which is open to all stakeholders with an interest in the estuary. The three Guardian Watchmen have worked with Project Watershed on a number of restoration projects in the estuary, which is in their traditional territory, over the last year.
“We have an all volunteer board of seven Directors, and there were seventeen of us, including the Guardians, participating in the EWG meeting when the carving was presented. There is a lot of enthusiastic participation in this important Committee as well as the Project Watershed Board, which leads to spirited discussion. “Keeping order can become a challenge as everyone tends to talk at the same time” says board Chair Paul Horgen. In a traditional council circle, a talking stick is passed around from member to member allowing only the person holding the stick to speak. This enables all those present at a council meeting to be heard. Consensus can force the stick to move along to assure that the “long winded” don’t dominate the discussion; and the person holding the stick may allow others to participate. EWG Chair Don Castleden commented that “the group of seventeen really put the talking stick to work during this meeting”.
In consulting with Frank, it was decided to use two symbols at each end of the stick. the Orca or Killer whale is said to be the guardian of the ocean Frank used an orca at one end of the stick with its tail to let the stick stand upright and its dorsal fin as a kind of handle. At the opposite end of the stick are two salmon, a male and female. The salmon symbolizes instinct, determination and persistence. The salmon is also a provider of life and a pair of salmon are good luck. Salmon are also a symbol of abundance and the Estuary Working Group’s “keeping it living” theme is geared to a return of abundance. The carver chose yellow cedar as a symbol of strength and revitalization.