Words, rhythms and songs of the Forest Funeral at Province House, Nova Scotia, Oct 19, 2017

In case you missed it…

Top: Trombonist Danny Martin sets the tone (Chopin’s Piano Sonata No.2) for the procession. Mid: On to Province House. Bottom: Melissa Labrador, assisted by her children, performs a smudge

About 600 souls participated in a Forest Funeral on Thursday afternoon, assembling in the Grand Parade Square and proceeding to Province House, the air filled with the solemn notes of a Funeral March played on a trombone.

An open pine casket holding “match-stick”-sized logs was carried by six pall-bearers, while mourners carried (stuffed) animals of the Acadian forest.

The casket was set down at Province House, and the wildlife set out before it.

Dedications, music, song, prayers and testaments followed as listed below with the corresponding audio files.

The event was organized by the Healthy Forest Coalition and the Ecology Action Centre to highlight and mourn the losses of mature and old growth Acadian forest and associated wildlife due to extensive clearcutting over the last 50+ years. The clearcutting has taken place under the tenure of governments variously formed by the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP.

The event made the front page of Friday’s Chronicle Herald; the online version features a short video of the event. There were also reports in Metro News, Nova Scotia Advocate, Global News.

‘Best to listen to the speakers themselves, though, for a sense of what it was all about:

Introductions/(Welcome / Pjila’si / Bienvenue)
Officiators Donna Crossland & Jamie SimpsonWhen we kill the forest we also kill those who live in the forest… hence we have deep forest-dwelling species in front of us, fisher, martin, moose… 

Audios may take 30 seconds or so to begin.
Click on photos for larger versions.

Formal Opening – Obituary
Mike Lancaster; Jamie Simpson fiddle accompanimentWe meet on unceded, un-surrendered Mi’kmaq territory…this remarkable amalgamation of the boreal and the temperate forest evolved into existence…these [Acadian] forests are now so rare many do not even recognize them, it is for these forests that we today mourn..
Smudge Ceremony
Melissa Labrador: Opening hearts and minds to speak truthI offer this smudge to clear the air and to only bring speaking from our heart and to promote positivity in this journey…
Prayer for Mother Earth
Dorene Bernard, Professional drummer and Water WalkerIt’s important we recognize that the trees, the water, and all life are part of Mother Earth, so I like to say a prayer for Mother Earth…
Political Parties speak
Lisa Roberts,  MLA and NDP Natural Resources critic
(All sitting parties were invited to participate and address the assembly. The leader of the NDP joined the procession; the Liberals and Conservatives did not send representatives.)I choose to live in hope… so I want to recast the moment we are in and think of it not as a funeral but the end of a difficult birth for a new forestry for Nova Scotia
A lament to Forest Wildlife – Dr. Soren Bondrup-Nielsen, Professor of Biology, Acadia University

The inhumanity of clearcutting is that it creates wildlife refugees…


Who cooks for you?
Composition by Ashley Moffat (Little Miss Moffat)“Who cooks for you” (hoots the barred owl)  hunting from the treetops above…
Loss of ancestral knowledge from loss of the forest
Dr. Sherry Pictou
, Mount St Vincent UniversityThese are interconnected ecosystems and we as humans are part of that ecosystem… for the indigenous people, this is what we depend on… the source of our food and shelter, the land dictates the law to us not the other way around. Clearcutting is violence to the land.
Honour Song
Dorene Bernard and groupThe Mi’kmaq Honour song honours all life…everything that has a spirit including the trees.
Eulogy: Tribute to the forest
Bob Bancroft, DNR wildlife biologist, retiredNova Scotia needs ecologically healthy working forests that connect isolated patches of protected areas to one-another. If such corridors existed, wildlife could once again be able to move freely througout the province…clearcuts are too drastic a change for Nova Scotia’s forests…
Tribute to forest songbirds and fallen-silent forests 
Dr Cindy Staicer, ornithologist, Professor Biology, Dalhousie U.Thanks for this opportunity to share my loss, the loss of birds of older forests as a direct or indirect result of habitat loss or degradation due to some of the harvesting practices we see in Nova Scotia.
Sad as a Forest
Old Man LuedeckeI’m sad as a forest
I’m sad as a forest
I’m sad as a forest
That’s all been cut down
Saving our forests from the politics of pulp 
Joan Baxter…the button I am wearing says “Stop Clearcutting in Nova Scotia; it’s 30 years old! The first funeral for the forests was held up near Tatamagouche in 1990..
What’s progress in the forest?
Introduction to Lee Keating by Donna CrosslandDNR came out with a 5-year report on progress…I realized they have made no progress at all [with the Natural Resources Strategy]
‘Hymn’: Progress Lee Keating, logger, paddler, guide

We knew about logs in the water and how to run them with seldom a slip… in the 50s we turned to the chainsaw, wonderful progress indeed, one man could replace half a dozen but some how we could never dream of a machine called feller buncher…


A good day in the woods
Danny George, loggerI do selection harvests of quality hardwoods…I had less than 90 liters of fuel burnt in a chainsaw to harvest $60,000 worth of wood…
Whence the Natural Resource Strategy?
Raymond Plourde, Ecology Action CentreThe bureaucrats undermined and usurped public process, due public process and public policy reached through that process…
Thank you and Closing Benediction
Jamie SimpsonWe have a real future if we cut logs like Danny George

ADDENDUM Oct 22, 2017
Tim Reeves-Horton of Picnic Studios is sharing a short video of the event. View Funeral for Nova Scotia’s Forests, posted on Vimeo, Oct 21, 2017. Thanks, Tim.

Nov 1, 2017
Mourning the loss of Nova Scotia’s forests
Zack Metcalfe writes about the event Under his column The Endangered Perspective, Oct 30, 2017

Nov 13, 2017: Discussing a sustainable, profitable lumber industry in Nova Scotia
Zack Metcalfe, November 13, 2017 in the Chronicle Herald. “Since the forest funeral held in Halifax Grand Parade, Thursday, Oct. 19, I’ve heard quite a bit of criticism, some directed at the character of the people who participated and others at myself for having written favourably about the event…”


Funeral for Nova Scotia’s Forests from PicnicStudios on Vimeo.

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