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Eloise Charet - Bear Clan CONTACT|
Eloise Charet-Calles, Bear Clan of Turtle-Island, was born May 20, 1951, in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and grew up primarily in Montreal and on the family farm in Montebello, Quebec.
“I was born when Trois-Rivieres was the biggest exporter of paper on earth. The spring rains had come, washing away the topsoil and engorging the rivers. The bridge fell and they had to take my mother across on a boat to the hospital as her waters broke as well. I was the third eldest of ten children: five girls and five boys.”
Eloise's up-bringing led her to seek a life of humanitarian service working in Mexico with local street children and in Morocco teaching the children of nomadic shepherds.
In 1974, Eloise and her sister Anna opened and directed "Canada House"- an orphanage in war torn Phnom-Penh, Cambodia. Their work succeeded in enabling the successful airlift and placement of 70 Cambodian and Vietnamese children to waiting families in Canada and the U.S.
“We refused to leave without our babies and drew world attention to our cause. We stood by our motherly instincts and survived incredible tragedies to save the seed of a generation that was wiped out in Cambodia.”
From 1976-78, Eloise continued her work as a volunteer with several orphanages in Dacca, Bangladesh, returning to British Columbia, Canada to marry and bear four children.
“I had a gardening/landscaping business in Vancouver, B.C. until my marriage broke up; then I had a huge garage sale and departed for Katmandu.”
In 1986 Eloise and her children left Canada for Nepal, where she helped coordinate the production of the book Erosion and Sedimentation in the Nepal Himalaya, for which Dr. Galay won the "Canadian Engineer of the Year" award in 1988. During her time in Nepal, Eloise established a local restaurant, organized a soup kitchen and undertook home care for several handicapped orphans from Mother Theresa's Sister of Charity Foundation.
Returning to Canada in 1988, she lived at the family farm in Quebec and continued her interest in herbal medicine, health, nutrition and the raising of her five children. In 1990, she moved her family back to British Columbia and finally settled in the Kootenays.
“After a year on the coast where I worried about the kids swimming in polluted waters, we drove all around B.C. to find a safe environment to raise a healthy family.”
Eloise helped to organize a cooperative and store for cedar basket weavers in the small village of New Denver, located on Slocan Lake in the West Kootenays. On July 22, 1997 she hung up her apron and stood on the Old Sandon Road in New Denver, where she was arrested for defying a court order to clear the road so that logging equipment could proceed into the watershed area of Denver Flats. She chose to spend the next 55 days fasting in the maximum security Detention Centre for Women in Burnaby, B.C. rather than sign the undertaking assuring her compliance.
“I had a great time in jail, a holiday from the kids. They told me it was the only vacation I could afford. I was presented with a petition signed by every woman in jail in support of their sister Eloise and her cause for water. It was one of the most touching moments of my life. Throughout the court process I realized that corporations had more rights to water than the people.”
Eloise began the Cross-Canada WaterWalk on May 8, 1998 at Mile 0 of the Trans-Canada Highway in Victoria, British Columbia. In early June 1998, she took a break from walking to receive the Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition medal, presented by the Governor General of British Columbia. Eloise and her fellow WaterWalkers arrived in Ottawa, Canada's national capital, on October 2, 1998.
“I discovered how tainted our water was and witnessed the suffering of many communities. In Winnipeg, the heart of Turtle-Island, I crossed paths with Bear Grandfather, who was sent by the Bear Grandmothers from the East to walk from Montreal to Vancouver for water. We both followed the red road, the path of legends. We both were cleansed in many sweats across the nation, and the water blessing ceremonies became more intense."
"Two Bear Grandmothers stood at the entrance to Ottawa with big braids of sweet grass to honor the WaterWalk pilgrimage. That’s how I became Bear Clan, because as mothers we are very protective of the next generation and all generations to come. As Grandmothers, our duty is to care for the earth and the source of life.”
Beginning in November 1999, Eloise stood outside for three cold months in front of the Nelson court house with her trans-Canada water samples, attempting to draw attention to our Canadian (Turtle-Island) water crisis during the federal election campaign which was then taking place.
In 2003, she was arrested at the Smallwood Creek blockade in Winlaw. She made an appeal from her Bear Clan status to preserve our watersheds and pressed for community eco-logging, part of her evidence being her water samples. She was found not guilty because the road builders did not turn on their machines and show intent to work.
From the year 2000 on, Eloise has taught cedar and other fiber collecting and weaving, claiming that we can get as much money in baskets from a tree as can be gotten in boards. She sometimes worked alongside loggers when gathering cedar bark in the hopes of encouraging a more transformative industry in the area. She also traveled to schools, first nations meetings and conferences to speak for water, demonstrating her water samples and talking about her experiences.
In the fall of 2005, Eloise held a roadblock in the Incomapleux with Henry Hutter for two weeks until the police arrived for arrest. Both Eloise and Henry stepped aside and let workers through, but maintained their position as an information camp. The very next day, a rock cliff slid onto a bridge and blocked the road, forcing all loggers to evacuate the valley. The Incomapleux was preserved another year. Pope and Talbot, the company involved, is suing Eloise and Henry.
Eloise is presently finishing her book on Cambodia and looking forward to the Jumbo, the Incomapleux, the Caribou and Peace on Earth campaigns going on. There is no giving-up, no burn-out when it comes to mother earth.
“It’s hard to imagine that in these modern civilized times, we, the little people, are being branded as criminals and almost terrorist by the State or ‘Crown’. Good governing is equal to the quality of water given to all our children and that means pure, natural, clean water, not tainted and bleached as we are witnessing today. To pervert water and convince everybody that it is healthy is morally wrong. To legally permit any industry to destroy watersheds and to allow corporations to buy up all the sources on earth and sell bottled water is a sin. Profit and business must never rule over life. To use, abuse or molest our sources of life is a consciousness that does not stop at the one thing, it taints and penetrates everything. Managing nature is the arrogance of all time. Our primitive, ancient indigenous roots and our ancestors taught us that we are a small piece of this immense web of life and we must learn to respect all living entities as we should respect ourselves. The Middle-Eastern, European religions teach one to love another as brother and sister. The Eastern Religion teaches that a plant, a worm and even bugs are with soul. The Western religions speak of rocks possessing spirit. We must bring back the sacred into our lives and live accordingly, honor the earth and Leave a Living Legacy for future generations.”
"Upon my release from jail in 1997 a triple rainbow appeared after many cold rainy days. During Waterwalk, there were many eagles and rainbows during auspicious times. An eagle flew over us when we were confronted by the herbicide sprayers on a bridge in the Duncan, and then when we won, the end of a rainbow illuminated our campsite. At more than one demonstration at the Ministry of Forests, more double rainbows. In the Incomapleux, a rainbow came right down the side of the mountain, amazing all of us, and this was just before the rockslide blocked the road."
"The present youth are considered the rainbow generation, when all colors and races will mingle and learn to live as one people of many cultures. I believe in signs and miracles - they have been an inspiration to all of us. In these harsh times, it feels like the Great Spirit (God) is watching and manifesting these symbols to remind us of our alliance with the source of all life, encouraging us to stand strong in our faith and our love for mother earth."
WALKING THE RAINBOW ROAD
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