David Suzuki – “What we are seeing here is a battle of mindsets”

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David Suzuki
David Suzuki

David Suzuki
David Suzuki

VANCOUVER – I did want to start by speaking with the RCMP first. The RCMP, I come before you with great respect. You know as police officers how the tremendous respect Canadians hold for the RCMP.

I want to tell you, during World War Two, there were Japanese Canadians like you and me that were born in this country that were declared enemy aliens, and the RCMP had to look after us when we were in jail in the interior, and I can tell you they treated us like human beings.

They were very kind and I have nothing but great thought towards the RCMP.

But now you are here to enforce the law. That does not mean that you are above the law, or that you make your own law. My grandson, was dragged across the line yesterday, and arrested! You are breaking the law!

And I am disappointed… I am disappointed and it grieves me, because of the respect that we hold for you!

Now I want to say to the people here, thank you for coming, this is unceded land and we have much to learn from the original people that cared for this land for thousands of years.

What we are seeing here, and what is going on all around the world now, is a battle between mindsets. A mindset on the one hand of the people who have lived in place for thousands of years and understand what it means to have respect for the land that gives them their lives. There’s a battle between bad, the indigenous perspective, and the dominant societies now, the dominant world view, that sees this not as sacred territory, but as opportunity. As potential resources.

And I just want to tell you a story, but I don’t want to go on too long. In the 1990’s, before Hong Kong was going to revert back to China, a great deal of money was coming out of Hong Kong and invested in British Columbia. I received a letter in the mail:

‘Now that offshore money is pouring into Canada, now is a good time to sell your property and buy up.’

I had never heard the idea of buying property and ‘buying up’, and that pissed me off. So I said okay, if I’m going to sell my home, what are the things in my home that make it so valuable to me?

The first thing I put down was the fact that when we bought the house, I asked my father-in-law and mother-in-law to move in with us. And they have for 40 years, lived upstairs, so my children have known grandma and granddad upstairs all their lives.

And I put that down.

My father was a cabinet maker, and when Tara and I were married 45 years ago, he built a kitchen cabinet for our apartment. When we bought the house, I pulled that cabinet out and put it into the house. Looks like hell! But every time I pull out those doors… I think of my father.

And I put that down.

My best friend from Toronto came out to stay with me for a week, and I had built a fence. He had spent a long time carving out the handles for the gate. Now every time I open that gate I think of my best friend.

And I put that down.

My children have dragged in dead snakes, and birds, and roadkill, and we have a little animal cemetery under the dogwood tree.

And I put that down.

And as I made that list, I realized those are the things that make my property… my home. And they are priceless! But on the market they are worthless, and that is our problem.

If we continue to look at the world and the land around is just in terms of dollars and cents, we are going to destroy the very things that make that land so precious to us, the very things that keep us alive and healthy.

That is what this battle is about.
Thank you for coming.”

-D.Suzuki