Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada (June 2016)
I was out today with the camera down along one of the winding arms in the delta lands of the Fraser River. It was glorious of course, but the strongest experience of the day was recognizing just how much the cultural history of this place is still reflected in the day-to-day. The river, and the land that rises from it, houses people. There are lush horses adjacent to many of its larger homes. Those narrow roads from the town down to the river lined with flushing streams, those houses come at the world like little castles behind dredged moats.
To the region’s credit, not all of these homes are owned by white people. I’m glad about that, because our history, like all others, does not skimp on racial fear and its resulting hatreds. I know more about this history than some, and considerably less than others; that knowing makes me appreciate what I see. Knowing allows me to feel at home. Not like an owner of the land, but like one of a hundred small boats on the river. Moving, but afloat in the world. Part of the history, but also channeled by it. So I go out into the lands that the river made, knowing about our history of immigration, desperation and hope, the history of salmon, of the rocks and dirt pulled down from the eastern mountains to land here at the edge of the sea, of the river, of Indigenous resistance and tenacity.
When I take photographs, all that knowing circulates, mostly mindlessly, but sometimes becomes a neat little swirl on the surface of my life. Like these agricultural workers with rice straw hats farming across the lane from a western European artist community on land that has never been ceded by the local tribes, near a road called “Finn” because the guy was a Finlander, and whose descendants still live and work in the slough, near enough to the Asian families who farm, and the Indigenous families who never left, who hold local property and jobs. And mixed me, whose work it is to document, to write, to walk along the river.