World Oceans Day with Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams, Squamish Nation Member & linguist

False Creek Friends was honored to welcome Aaron Williams, a Squamish Nation member and linguist, to join us aboard the tug Seren Claer.

We asked Aaron to help us understand the historical significance of Sen̓áḵw (False Creek) and how we might help people reconnect with the lands and waters. 

Aaron shared with us some of the Squamish names and meanings of the places in and around False Creek that have been virtually lost to today’s generations that live, travel and play in the area. Being a linguist, he took time to help us with pronunciation of the places and shared the sometimes sad associations or meanings.

When we asked Aaron what could be done to help ensure that the lands and waters are respected, he reminded us that we live in an all too disconnected world. A world that no longer visits or even knows our neighbours. He pointed to the tall condo buildings surrounding False Creek and talked about the lack of an “open door” that exists in the world today where people no longer spend time getting to know even the people living on the same floor as them. A world where children are more connected to their phones and screens than they are to the environment around them. His answer to our question: “If you teach people how to use the water, utilize the resources in the water, you teach people to respect the water,” he said. “This is very easy. But if you don’t do that, you will not have people respect the water.”

On this day, World Ocean Day, we are asking, how do we teach people to regain their connection with the water? How do we get them to respectfully utilize the resources of the water so they respect the water and don’t just see it as a dumping ground for their garbage or a pump-out station for their boat.

The stories Aaron shared with us made us think but they also made us laugh.

Aaron Williams and Yash Mehta aboard Seren Claer
Aaron and UBC Sustainability Scholar Yash Mehta

Especially when he himself laughed wholeheartedly as he told the story of his Aunty fishing sturgeon in False Creek and being dragged around by the fish she had caught while trying not to lose it.

In the meantime, let’s do our part to help teach our neighbours, friends and family how to “use the waters and the water’s resources” so we can help restore the respect that it deserves. 

Happy World Ocean Day! #OceanInTheRoom