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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Eloise has been busy weaving her baskets, spending time with her grandchildren, cooking, gardening etc. etc. However last summer she was busy traveling halfway around the world to Cambodia with her sister Anna. Thirty seven years ago the two Charet girls rescued a group of orphaned Cambodian children and with great effort, dealing with multiple jurisdictions and logistical challenges brought them to Canada, saving them from the "killing fields." I will let Eloise speak for herself, about the trip and the documentary, the making of which was the occasion for the trip back to Southeast Asia.


Kim Routhier-Filion, Vannie Prud'homme, my sister Anna, Pamela Lodge, myself and Nick Demers

KAMPUCHEA (CAMBODIA) THE RETURN 37 YEARS LATER

It all started when Gislaine Routhier saw a documentary on TV by Telimagin on orphans of Africa and she told her son Kim Routhier-Filion that he has a good story to tell about being an orphan. He eventually wrote to Yves Bernard, the producer of Telimagin and they presented it to Radio Canada Television to see if it would be accepted. It took a year of sweating it out but it passed and we got the green light to prepare ourselves for a journey that would take us back thirty-seven years, to the date that Kim and many of our orphans were born in Cambodia during the civil war. Our orphanage not only escaped the war in Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge genocide but we had to escape a second war in Vietnam and finally come home to Canada where most of our children grew up.

It was quite the experience to return and try to find anything of the past as so much was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge including our orphanage. We appeared on 'It's not a dream', Khmer Bayon TV looking for any survivors from our staff to any relatives of our children. We were the second orphanage after the state orphanage in Phnom Penh.

We were shocked to find out how bad the situation still is in Cambodia. 5.1 million children, 43% of the population is below the age of fifteen and there are 600,000 orphans. There has been a population explosion since the genocide and many people have not recovered from the brutality. Many families were and still are torn apart, far from their ancestral lands, their multi-generational support and their cultural stories that ties them to a place, to people and gives them a sense of identity and belonging. Many are broken, lost, drinking, drugs, in violent situations especially woman and children.

Cambodian children are among the world’s most deprived and abused. Cambodia has the highest rates of child prostitution, domestic violence and child labor in the world today. The rate of child prostitution and child trafficking is expected to significantly increase without serious, long-term intervention. Poor parents are giving their children up because they feel they cannot afford the education or the food.

It was extremely sad to witness the suffering of people that have already been through enough tragedy. The disparity between the wealthy and the poor was quite visible. Somehow the people managed to smile, were very warm and friendly.

Telimagin filmed us for two weeks tracing our story through the various places in the city helping us relieve the dramatic events that shaped all our lives and brought us together. I am presently finishing the book on our story and the documentary will be in French on Radio Canada Television in the coming year. Hopefully they will do an English translation.

Ladies & Gentlemen, Chum Reap Sua messieurs dames !

While waiting for the documentary, here's a short second amateur video-montage of the back-scenes of the tv production. Enjoy !

(Youtube) Mon Cambodge - The Making Of

www.kimrouthierfilion.com

Kim :-) The second video is Mon Cambodge terre natale, terre d'amour at http://youtu.be/k6a3iDLMiVM

-- *Kim Routhier-Filion*
Directeur Régional Primerica Inc
kim.routhier-filion@primerica.com

Kim,me,Anna, his mom Gislaine, his partner Kim

 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Perry Ridge Update:

On February 25 in BC Supreme Court Justice Willcock made a ruling that essentially denied the existence of the Sinixt, thereby denying them the legal standing to pursue remedies and/or be consulted about resource development on Perry Ridge. Once it is posted online Jan McMurray's coverage concerning this decision can be found in the March 9, 2011 issue of theValley Voice(it is posted now on the front page at- Perry Ridge open to logging after Sinixt lose court case) or currently, at least locally, a dead tree copy can easily be accessed.

Some background and explanation (as well as what would appear to be prediction of the outcome) can be found in Jan's earlier article from the end of January, when the case had been temporarily postponed, called Sinixt court case complicated by Attorney General challenge.

In this first step of the case, the Attorney General of BC is challenging the legal standing of the people named as the petitioners to represent the Sinixt Nation in these proceedings.
The justice, by agreeing with the AG's challenge, thereby dismissed the petition to prevent logging and road construction resulting in another blockade being set up on March 1. Currently the Sinixt are intending to appeal Justice Willcock's decision, but haven't been able to file an appeal pending the release of the decision in written form. In spite of a request to have an interim order prohibiting logging and road building, Sunshine Logging did manage to secure an injunction which resulted in a dozen or more police cars showing up and insisting that the blockade be taken down and progress (?) allowed to move forward on the exploitation of Perry Ridge.

Currently the Perry Ridge Water Users Association is considering possible legal action and donations towards this effort can be made to www.sinixtnation.org.

Communiqué from Eloise

Perry Ridge Protection Camp
March 9th, Ash Wednesday.

The Sinixt lost their court case trying to prove they come from here. It was a slap in the face for people who have the oldest and largest pit house in North America. Soon afterwards a winter camp was set up on the Perry Ridge road. Just a few tarps and a small fire pit. I joined in at times and spent a night under the stars wrapped in three sleeping bags.

Harvest and her son spent the night at the camp. She had a dream that five councils came together concerning Perry Ridge. By morning, around fifty people gathered from all walks of life and generations to stand by the Ridge. It was around ten a.m. when Sunshine logging arrived with a couple of men. Someone counted 11 squad cars and a couple of unmarked cars, some pulled up while others were strategically placed down the Ridge. We started singing 'Born of Water' by Jack Ross. The RCMP stood in a neat and orderly alignment while Jeff Mattes spoke to the people assembled around the fire. He stated that he held an injunction and that nobody should impede his right to work.

He stared at everybody, recognized me and said: �Hi Eloise, I knew you would be here.�

I walked up, shook his hand and told him: �It's an honor to deal with you again Jeff.�

Then, I thought I should say something: �Perry Ridge is dear to all of us, especially the Sinixt whose roots run deep into this land. We are people who live here and we not here to confront or disrupt but rather wish to convey our feelings and our determination to save Perry Ridge. We will chose to step aside today to allow the road clearing and put our effort into the appeal by the Perry Ridge Water Users Association. Marilyn Burgoon feels confident hat the data she has collected over twenty years will prove the instability of the Ridge. And, most important that we should all search into our hearts and souls about what we are doing to the earth, what feels right and wrong. This is not a civil or criminal issue but a moral issue of our times. In the mountains, we are the watersheds of this land in a world running out of fresh water and trees. A world in crisis. It is our duty to stand here today and learn to work together to Leave a living legacy for future generations.�

There was a moment of silence and people stood aside. Two constables came forward and shook my hand saying thank you and it's an honor to deal with people in such a peaceful way. One was Kent from New Denver and I told him we were neighbors. He spoke about preferring to be called peacekeepers rather than law enforcers. Another RCMP from Nakusp worried about his four children access to fresh water in the future. Many felt comfortable in the Kootenays, kinda home-fries but few knew much about our history from the Sinixt to the Doukhabors and the internment camps.

I shook everybody's hands, welcomed them to our home and thanked them for their patience. The road was open and most of the people wanted to keep the camp up but Jeff and the police insisted it come down. It took hours to accomplish. An older RCMP officer, sporting a moustache and a fur cap, called me over to voice his concern. I replied: �The Slocan is called the Slow-As-You-Can Valley.� He was impressed with us anyways and said: �This is the most peaceful scene he ever experienced in his lengthy career.

By 3 p.m, everybody was leaving, waving goodbye and a bald eagle circled overhead.

To: Justice Willcock
From: Eloise

Honorable Sir,

I am Eloise Charet of the Bear Clan of Turtle-Island, the territory you call Canada. In my culture Turtle-Island is the eldest name for mother earth. The Canadian Shield is the thickest and oldest plate on earth. As clan mothers and grandmothers, we are the guardians of the cradle of genesis and we take our 'jobs' seriously.

I am appealing to you today to reconsider your decision concerning the injunction on Perry Ridge.

I work and make my living from the forest. I weave hats and baskets and I make healing salves with tree sap. I have a deep respect for the land and its creatures, I never take without asking and making an offering for that life -be it a plant or animal. The earth is sacred, all life has spirit and we should respect nature as we respect one another.

In the Kootenays we have known great suffering from the dams destroying farms and declaring the Sinixt extinct to the removal of the Doukhabor children and the WWII Japanese internment camp. In 1990, 89 people were arrested in the Kootenays for trying to save their watershed from logging and it was logged anyways. In 1997, 33 were arrested trying to save their watersheds. My eleven year old daughter and I were arrested and I spent 2 months in jail fasting for my water and for the nineteen days worth of wood that went to the mill. The next year, I walked across Canada for water. It frightened me how little pure water and few trees were left in this beautiful country.

I have worked alongside loggers demonstrating that we can have more than one way of life concerning our forest, that we can work together and slow down out rate of which we are eradicating our trees. A forest is a complete ecosystem. The sponge beneath the trees keeps the moisture in and needs the canopy to shade it. The roots hold the earth. These mountains are the watershed of this country, the source of life.

The Ministry of Forest ran in the red for years and now B.C. Timbers has been in the red for years. In other words, we the taxpayers are paying to have our watersheds logged. The forest industry is in a period of collapse because we are running out of trees. Our loggers are driving large distances to get what's left. We are in a state of crisis right now and we have to come to terms with it before nothing is left.

Where have all the trees gone? Accounting is the greatest storage being occupied on earth at the cost of people going homeless. Even a lawyer has to keep a hard copy of all legal proceedings and will have a garage full by the end of their career.

We need to work together as a community with our loggers and develop a plan that aims at sustaining what is left, developing more transformative industry in our area rather than shipping out raw logs. We have a lot of people making doors, building houses, wood artisans and so much more. In the mountains we are people of the trees.

I would like to suggest and ask the Sinixt if they will conduct such a meeting in our area, open to all people, with an invitation to any nation who can help us to plan a healthier future for all our children.

I would like to suggest a moratorium on all clearcut logging, a moratorium on debt owed by logging families and I would ask the Banks to eliminate all interest on their loans to help them get through this transition. I don't have all the solutions but I feel if we work together, we can leave a living legacy.

I am but a simple woman but I live a life that is close to nature. I see the signs of a dying forest, dried out from exposure to hot sun. I see streambeds drying up or polluted to the point that they are full of toxic chemicals. We have affected the fragile ecosystem that nourishes and sustains a healthy life. We are getting sick and dying from three different types of cancer. What kind of quality of life is that? Our glaciers are melting, the climate is shifting and we are experiencing immense tragedies all over the world with species disappearing daily.

I am appealing to you as a mother and grandmother, a wisdom bearer. A forest needs its elders, its grandparents and parents to be present as examples to the next generations, to shade and protect the seedlings. All species need family to grow and not be raised in uniform nurseries or fish tanks. We need to change our way of assuming we can manage nature and start cooperating with it and with one another.

Beyond all laws is a divine justice that we all have to try and live up to. The continuity of our forest and water is not just a legal issue but a moral issue that we all have to take to heart. In my culture we try not to pass judgment on people or things because it closes the door to mediation. All decisions are weighted by how they will affect the next seven generations and most important is that when dealing with one another we show respect and compassion for all life forms.

It's with the greatest hope for peace on earth that I write this today.

To all my relations,

Eloise of the Bear Clan




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Eloise Charet

(250) 358-7237
eloise@eloisecharet.ca

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