Vision fast fruits: protect bees from buzz kill!

Wonderful womenFasting in the desert… again!

I just returned from a women’s vision fast in California, where I met a fabulous group of women and reconnected with some of the wonderful women guides I have apprenticed with in the past. The reason I chose to fast at this time was to celebrate the sale of Monkey Valley and to contemplate where I am at this point in my life. It is a pause between the old and the new. One of the guides, Silvia, offered the view that Monkey Valley had kicked me out—told me to leave and start the next phase of my life. I liked that!

Part of my 4-day fast mirrored the move from Monkey Valley back to Vancouver, from solitude to being close to my people. It is magical how nature can mirror us to ourselves! In this case, with the help of some yellow ants on a yellow mountain. An invading army of Crazy guidesthe ants helped shoo me off the mountain to a place that was within earshot of the laughter in base camp. The new spot was near a road, and I saw people from our group walking there every day. It was a new way to be in the ceremony, and I learned about allowing myself to be impacted by people. Very heart-warming! I was impacted by each of the women in the group, and found it was a gift to be able to feel how each of these unique souls felt as they struggled and thrived in their journey through life. Thank you, dear women!

That old nature-human heart connection

BristleconeThe time in the high mountain desert affirmed that my connection to nature is a permanent part of my life and being. Living in a city does not change that. (Especially a city like Vancouver!) A golden eagle guided me to a path that led to an ancient bristlecone pine tree. I’ll write more about these amazing trees later, but in short, they are the oldest living creatures on this earth—some of them almost 5,000 years old! During my fasting time I spent many hours in the shaded shelter of juniper trees, gazing at the sky and performing ceremony via beadwork. The ancestral spirits of the land liked the beadwork, and I could hear their voices chanting on the wind. They taught me a chant of celebration. What a blessing!

One of the things I always wonder about when I go on a vision fast is what is my purpose in life? What are the gifts I bring my people? What am I supposed to do?! I’ve learned over the years that I have many gifts, and I’ve come to the point where I don’t think I need to do anything in particular. This is a freedom and lightening of the weight on my shoulders. But that doesn’t mean I will do nothing! It just means that I have a different relationship to service and contribution. I feel more open and receptive to noticing where I am called to serve.

Serving the place I live in

Shoreline cleanup groupThere are so many ways to serve: to act for political justice and human rights; to help heal people emotionally, physically, and spiritually; to protect the environment. I really believe in serving where my heart feels called to serve, in a way that brings me joy. On the weekend of the fall equinox, I joined the many Vancouverites who participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, together with my highschool friend Stefan Bilalakis. We picked up trash along the Trans Canada Trail. I felt happy to care for the earth this way, especially as I would directly benefit by being able to run along a clean trail!

Helping protect Canada’s food supply

Today the cause is bees. The Western Canada Wilderness Committee has a campaign on to help protect bees. You have probably heard that bee populations are declining. I learned some interesting facts in the WC2 newsletter:

  • At least one third of the food we eat is dependant on pollination.
  • Canada has lost 35 per cent of its honey bee colonies annually for the past three years.
  • There is strong scientific evidence that insecticides containing neonicotinoids are causing bees to die and creating other harmful effects to the ones who live, such as memory loss that prevents them from finding their way back to the hive.

Check out the WC2 website if you’d like to find out more or make a contribution to their campaign. I sent them $25 today, and this email to Stephen Harper:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada,
 There is strong scientific evidence that neonicotinoid-containing pesticides are killing bees and other pollinators. Honey bee populations in Canada have declined by 35% per year for the past three years. Did you know that bees and other pollinators are required to grow fully one third of the food we eat?
I am writing to request that you help protect Canada’s food supply by enacting a complete nation-wide ban on all neonicotinoid pesticides. I ask that you honour your duty to protect this land and people by protecting the bees and other pollinators that we depend upon.
Respectfully yours,
Karen Rempel

Karen & ChristyHere are the email addresses I sent this letter to:

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is seeking public comments regarding its suggested measures to protect bees from the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (neo-nicoteen-oids). These bee-killing pesticides have been banned by the European Union, and the State of Oregon has also placed restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids. The WC2 website has a letter form that you can fill in to write to the PMRA.

I believe that each letter or email, each dollar donated, each conversation with a friend, makes a difference.

Persistence pays off?

I received a letter from Health Canada in response to my letter. Their letter stated they are investigating the evidence about neonicotinoids, but still recommending use of this type of pesticide on seeds for Canadian farmers in 2014. Ouch! Ever since reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (published in 1962), about the devastating effects of pesticide use since World War II, I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that humans are insane. Greedy and insane. But 10 years after her book came out, in 1972, the use of DDT was banned in the U.S. Carson’s book was instrumental in this win, and credited with starting the North American Environmental movement. Persistence does pay off!