As a non-Indigenous person witnessing the current jurisdictional dispute between traditional Wet’suwet’en land defenders and the aligned forces of globalized corporations and our provincial and federal governments, I have to acknowledge that this is not my fight. That said, I have chosen sides.
I have a point of view about the health that stems from exploration on a personal level and as a physician who has worked in general practice and as a medical health officer in resource extraction settings in Northern BC and the Yukon over the course of a lifetime.
To try to put it in a nutshell: Health is generated in communities that are stable, and where people of all ages have a sense of belonging and agency, and where the physical environment, be it air, water or land, is clean and healthy rather than polluted and sick-making.
At the heart of the Wet’suwet’en occupation of their land there is a Healing Center which expresses a vision of health that runs counter to the prevailing notions of industrial health care whereby land destruction is converted into money to buy “services” like treatment centers for addictions and depression, hospitals for chronic diseases caused by sugar and stress, and where case by case treatments and pharmaceutical symptom suppression cost more than even an aggressive corporate agenda can hope to generate.
The wisdom here is that the land itself is understood as inherently healing; both physically and as a source of community and culture.
This is something we all know but have collectively forgotten in our blind adherence to economic dogma and the need to have a “healthy economy”. It’s why we go on vacation to try to heal a bit in the most unspoiled places we can afford.
I stand with Wet’suwet’en because all of the evidence along with my heart knows that their vision for healing and health based on respect and reverence for the land offers hope to a world that desperately needs it.
To see militarized police deployed to suppress and extinguish that vision is heartbreaking.
In my view, it’s a symptom of just how completely we have lost sight of our common humanity and our own fundamental need for health and healing, especially just now, when our survival as a species is hanging in the balance.