An opportunity to hear stories told by an Indigenous chief, then view petroglyphs dating back thousands of years played out in a pristine corner of South Surrey last weekend, as events and activities organized to mark Earth Day 2023 were held around the globe.
Surrounded by mature firs and maples, in the middle of the precious greenspace that is Kwomais Point Park, children and adults alike sat captivated on Saturday (April 22) as Chief Phil Lane Jr. shared tales of nature and Indigenous import.
“I was sharing stories from the Dakota culture… that teach lessons,” Lane said Tuesday.
“That teach us how to be more loving and kind and compassionate human beings, to ourselves and all life, including our animal relatives.”
The White Rock senior was invited to lead the storytime by White Rock & South Surrey Jewish Community Centre officials, as part of a Shomreh Adamah Program planned for Shabbat Earth Day.
Lane said having stories engage attendees as young as two years old up to elders was a challenge – but one he was up for.
“Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and have a good time,” he said, noting he comes “from a family of storytellers.”
“I’ve been on this path since 1967,” he added.
Lane is chair of Four Worlds International Institute, a White Rock-based organization focused “on the importance of culture and spirituality in all elements of development.”
According to information at fwii.net and 4worlds.org, he is an enrolled member of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations and an internationally recognized leader in human, community, and economic development. He was formally recognized as a hereditary Chief in 1992.
Eighteen people participated at the Kwomais Point Park event Saturday, taking in what WRSSJCC director of community development Rebecca Tobias described as “Indigenous beauty right in our neighbourhood.”
Following Lane’s animated presentation, attendees were treated to a petroglyph tour on Crescent Beach, led by educator and field guide Robert Hallum, and accompanied by Don Welsh, consulting archaeologist for the Semiahmoo First Nation.
The tour provided a peek at some of the area’s history that many don’t even know exists, said Tobias.
She described the event as “a great success.”
The program was part of Surrey Environmental Extravaganza, which continues through June 11, offering in-person, self-guided and virtual events ranging from bird walks and tree plantings to invasive-plant removals and more.
For more information, or to check out what’s planned for May and June, visit surrey.ca
The same day, urban forester Alexander Martin was scheduled to speak at Ocean Park’s Sanford Hall.
The presentation was part of Surrey’s 2023 Environmental Extravaganza lineup, and served as an opportunity to “discover and learn how the public and urban foresters alike can help drive change in perceptions of urban forest management, aiding in preserving canopy cover and habitat for urban wildlife conservation.”
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