The videos message
From the fragile lessons of the past…
We call back the ancient fertility of the soil.
We must do this through the relationship, we as humans, have with the land,
or the last of the remaining undercarriage in the ancient forests will be extinct.
An extinction event is occurring...
By cutting the remaining old growth forest, thousands of species and organisms on the planet will be lost forever. We must bring our truest expression and emotions in our response to climate change.
This song, simply titled Grief, is inspired from an Irish poem and a Finnish 'keens' overlay, followed by a Coast Salish women's warrior song. This video is dedicated to the diverse living ecosystem of thousands of unique and rare species, of organisms, insects, plants, lichen and animals currently in the undercarriage of the Ancient Old Growth Forest at Fairy Creek, on Vancouver Island, Canada. This undercarriage is at risk of extinction due to government sanctioned logging. This precious and vulnerable ecosystem will never be replaced upon our Earth once taken. If the last remaining thousand-year-old forest is gone, this delicate and diverse undercarriage will no longer exist.
The song 'Grief', was inspired by a poem titled, The Lament for Art O' Laoghaire ('Caoineadh Airt UI' Laoghaire') by Eibhlin Dhubh Ni Chonaill (May 4, 1743). This poem is recognized by scholars as perhaps the greatest lament ever written in the Irish language.
The poem was written by Art's widow, Eibhli'n Dubh Ni Chonaill, to honour his life and death and was sung over his dead body in Carriginima. This poem was preserved by a professional keener ('bean caoindh' - 'a crying woman') No'ra Ni' Shindle, in the late 1790s, when she sung the poem to a scribe, Eamonn de Bha'l, preserving the poem in its entirety for posterity.
The lament is about the loss of Eibhlin's beloved husband who was ambushed and killed by the English colonizers. This, to me, is the same as the grief we feel for our beloved forests that are being destroyed by colonization. Like the English colonizers that murdered Art, our government is responsible for the slaughter of our precious and beloved ancient forests.The Indigenous First Nations peoples have been preserving and tending these sacred forests for thousands and thousands of years. In the last hundred years, the provincial government of B.C. had sanctioned logging to wipe out the old growth forest completely.
I have used the inspiration of this song to create my own keen and verse to highlight a similar tragedy: that of a colonization process that ambushes and kills our beloved forest and the colonization of the First Nations Peoples of these lands. The tremendous loss of an ancient and sacred forest is irreplaceable in the biodiversity of the undercarriage and the destruction of the rivers and streams that feed that region.
Irish 'Caoine', meaning crying or keening in English, is a traditional way that women sing laments for the dying or the dead, not only in Ireland, but in many cultures around the world. In Ireland and Scotland these songs are known to be sung by 'bean caoinadh', or crying women, or keening women. In Finland these songs and women are called crying songs, crying women, or sorrow singing. The 'keen', is ceremonial way of singing, constructed in elements of a poetic improvisation, usually listing the genealogy of the deceased, giving praise for the deceased, emphasizing the woeful conditions of those left behind. In some practices it is a call to the dying person's ancestors to come gather the person's soul, in the dying process. Some keening women guide the soul back to the afterlife through their singing. Keening women were an important part of a community, doing grief ceremonies, administering to individuals, as well to large community gatherings to help people shed grief, loss and sorrow in ritualistic ways. Generally, keening was carried out by one woman; yet sometimes several women would be involved in singing, crying, toning and helping others do the same. Physical movements by the keening women involve rocking their bodies, kneeling, covering parts of their faces with a cloth or apron, weeping or clapping. These women were known in some cultures as medicine women, spiritual women and healers who were called forth to serve their communities for [their] grief services and healing.
The English words of this song 'Grief' (sung in Irish Galic and Finnish in the video)
The words of the poem changed to reflect the grief of a colonized forest.
Ahone - grief, grief, I am in deep sorrow,
For my beloved land, my treasure.
Having a profound love and devotion to the land.
My steadfast love,
My heart cries out in anger and grief for the oppression by the colonizers,
Long bitter grief, tearing at your roots come from the ground.
The song segment at the end of the video is a First Nations Women's Warrior song, led by Grandma Rose, filmed at Fairy Creek blockage site, with other forest defenders.