Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Three Sisters

The three Sisters this morning are backed by fog on the opposite harbor side and so, look like floating islands, discreet and resplendent in brown and green. They are unimaginatively named, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Sister. They are mostly uninhabited since they have no potable water . They are not parks ,but we all treat them as such for excursions to what is called Chocolate Beach, on the middle Sister. The beach is completely composed of finely, tide deposited, ground sea shell, as the islands were used as a Salish aboriginal gathering place for shellfish processing in the long distant past. Chocolate beach is not named for the chocolate candy, but for the Chocolate Lily, (Frittillaria camschatsensis), that grows there. The Salish first nations used the bulbs as a food source. Woe betide anyone who picks this protected species now. The beach is a favorite spot for novice tourist kayakers. For the pianist and me, it used to be 700 pulls of the rowboat oars to the Chocolate beach. Our kids used to explore the islands since there were several haunted squatter's shacks at one time. Now we have no kids, there are no shacks ,and we only watch. Since we have moved toward renaming, what still is the Gulf of Georgia, to call it the Salish Sea, we could give the Sisters more romantic Salish names in keeping with their centuries of use. Since George the third lost, to the now, Americans, in the Revolutionary war, I think it reasonable that we change the Gulf of Georgia along with these islands to names reflective of those original inhabitants. John Ralston Saul, in his most recent book, A Fair Country, makes the point that Canadian identity is greatly influenced by the aboriginal healing circles, justice and mediation. Maybe we need to acknowledge that, by having these historic islands renamed by our First Nations!

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