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Trina Flett – Ochiwasahow- Our ResponsibilityOctober 29th, 2010
By Bev Geddes
You have a choice. And a responsibility.
Trina Flett would like you to think about that. Her home community sits on the shores of Lake Winnipeg surrounded by one of the largest tracts of boreal forest in Canada.
The Ochiwasahow, Cree for Fisher Bay, Park Reserve provides interim protection from industrial developments, protecting the area’s thriving biological diversity, long sandy beaches, old growth forests and the waters of the lake. As the planet’s biggest land-based storehouse of carbon, the boreal forest provides a “filter” for clean air and fresh water. It also plays an important role in regulating global climate. The boreal forest is an essential part of the earth’s life support system.
It is also home to the Fisher River Cree Nation. The community depends on the boreal forest and the lake for traditional activities and economic sustainability. For centuries, the people have utilized Fisher Bay’s resources while maintaining its well being through caring stewardship.
The Fisher River community has shouldered its responsibility to further protect the lands that surround their traditional home. Together with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, they have garnered tremendous support for a provincial park on the south-west basin of Lake Winnipeg. And it has paid off as the government of Manitoba has now committed to establishing the park.
And now Trina Flett would like the rest of us to support her community’s efforts to make the Ochiwasahow Park a reality. As the Manitoba government’s Protected Area Initiative crawls at a snail’s pace, there is concern that a lack of political will may stall the process, allowing the designation to lapse.
If we consider Trina’s message of personal accountability to be of significance, our responsibility is clear. Support of the proposal to protect this large area of boreal forest can come in the way of letters to the government, signing a postcard, or becoming involved in a more active manner.
Why bother? In our busy world of jobs and children and other responsibilities that impact our daily life, why concern ourselves with something that is outside our realm of experience?
Because we have a choice and a responsibility.
Trina Flett lives that creed. Her involvement with the environment and Aboriginal issues stretches back most of her life. Awareness of her own personal impact on her surroundings led her first to support an Aboriginal environmental non-profit organization. But she knew that she could do more and that she needed more knowledge. And so she became involved with the United Way, learning the tools and strategies of that organization with the long range goal of providing First Nations peoples with the tools they need to achieve their potential for environmental stewardship.
Trina then became involved with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society due to their involvement with the Ochiwasahow Park designation. She appreciated the organization because she felt it gave a real voice to people involved with the process. She now sits on the CPAWS fundraising/development committee and continues to be impressed with their capacity to listen to the issues of stakeholders and respect their desires.
Not every person can have the passion and commitment that Trina exhibits for her cause but this dedicated woman would like everyone to understand that we can all make a choice for positive change. You “don’t need a degree or a lot of money to take action” she insists and believes that “everyone has an obligation to know as much as they can” about the environment and their own personal impact on it. “One person, one question, one choice at a time.”
Trina would like you to consider your choices the next time you dump paint thinner down your drain. What you choose to do without a thought makes its way down the river, into Lake Winnipeg and to her home waters of Fisher Bay. She wants you to think of small ways to lessen that impact every day and not allow convenience to overshadow a need that grows at an alarming rate. Protecting the lake and the boreal forest surrounding her home is the responsibility of all Manitobans. She would like you to take the time to learn how you can make a difference.
Trina Flett has made a choice to live her life in accordance with traditional values of stewardship and environmental responsibility.
What will each of us choose to do with our responsibility?