BY ALDYN CHWELOS
A unique collaboration between Victoria-based ecologyst and artist Rande Cook is helping raise funds for the Ma’amtagila First Nation.
The sustainable clothing company has teamed up with the artist, Ma’amtagila Hereditary Chief Makwala, to create a special Ecology Today collection. The t-shirts and pullovers display prints of an original Cook cedar carving. Twenty per cent of all proceeds from the Ecology Today collection go to support the Ma’amtagila legal fight.
The Ma’amtagila are members of the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw and their traditional lands are located in what’s known as Johnstone Strait and their territory is currently in treaty negotiations between various governments without the Ma’amtagila’s knowledge or consent. The Ma’amtagila Nation is now fighting through the courts for recognition of its leadership and jurisdiction within these traditional territories. Through a series of initiatives, ecologyst is helping raise funds to support the legal costs associated with this process.
To date, the ecologyst team has raised $40,000 and counting for the Ma’amtagila Legal Fund.
As part of their fundraising initiative, ecologyst hosted a pre-showing of their in-house film production studio’s latest creation, Before They Fall. This documentary explores the importance of old-growth forests to Vancouver Island ecosystems and includes footage from the Fairy Creek Blockades. The sweeping history of these lands and the significance of this fight is told through the stories of Ma’amtagila Chief Rande Cook, land defender Rainbow Eyes, environmental photographer TJ Watts, and forest ecologist Suzanne Simard among others.
In a question period at the event, Cook and Watts spoke about the importance of this continued fight and how they both maintain their dedication in the face of mounting adversity.
“I have more hope now than I have in a long time,” said Watts about the latest developments in old-growth activism and logging deferrals.
The Ma’amtagila Nation is still raising money as they move forward in their fight to regain their land title. The traditional Ma’amtagila lands are home to some of the province’s limited remaining old-growth forests and are currently involved in cut block negotiations. The fight to regain governance of their lands is also a fight to protect these ancient trees.
“The more work we can do in fighting this is good for all of us,” says Rande Cook. “The healing journey I’m on could be a healing journey for all of us.”