from Knowing the Land is Resistance
The papers have been hyping it all week and it’s finally here: Thursday July 21st, the supposed hottest day of the year. We’re in downtown St Catherines, watching as the scorching heat pushes everyone off the north side of St Paul st in favour of the shady south side.
We talk about this kind of scorching, desert-like heat as completely unnatural for this area. It’s a consequence of cutting down all the trees and replacing them with ridiculous concrete wastelands like this one. From St Paul st and Ontario st, we cut South-East, taking a foot bridge over the highway and descending down to the banks of Twelve Mile Creek. If this heat is unnatural, then the best way to beat it is by getting into spaces that are.
We hurry through the meadow and into the welcoming shade of the forest on the creek’s east bank. The relief is immediate – we slow down to savour the cool of the creek and the trees it supports. On a narrow peninsula that extends out into the creek, we find comfy spots in the shade and relax. On one side, the water runs fast and high, flooding the Elms and Willows that grow low on the bank – on the other, sheltered by the peninusla, the water pools, making space for Cattails, Lilies, Ducks, and Herons.
Our hosts in St Catharines are from a group called DIG (Develop Integrate Grow) who, among other things, work to connect people in their community with the food they eat by developing community gardens. Agriculture has been a consistent theme throughout the Seeds of Resistance tour, with all but one of our hosts being farmers or community gardeners. In chatting with the DIGers, our minds turn to workers in the fields under the nowmidday sun. We imagine the exposed soil of a ploughed field baking to dust in today’s heat and the huge amount of water being drawn up to keep sensitive crops alive.
One question we always ask at our workshops is, “What are the scars of colonization on this land?” and the DIGers are quick to answer. They tell us that the land upstream is cleared and divided by fences, and that the farming there is of the heavily polluting, energy intensive, industrial cash-crop variety. Although significant stretches of Upper Twelve Mile Creek have some form of protection, the water is much warmer, more polluted, and more difficult to migrate along than most creatures can handle.