Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Reaching for the Sky

Katitawa School in the rural indigenous community of Salasaca, Ecuador was an amazing place to visit and work as a volunteer teaching English.

I completed this multimedia production in the two weeks prior to returning home to Canada in May 2013 after spending 5 months in Ecuador. And almost 2 years in South America since 2010.

The video needs no introduction. It speaks for itself. Enjoy!

Click 'Vimeo' to view full screen.  And it was produced in HD so best viewed that way!

'Reaching for the Sky' from Doug Pyper on Vimeo.

To learn more about Escuela Katitawa visit their Website and Blog by clicking on the links below:



This incredible alternative education school in the central highlands of Ecuador is made possible solely through generous donations of  supporters worldwide. They do not accept contributions from any political or religious institutions thus maintaining the freedom and integrity of their vision and purpose. 

If you are interested in supporting this wonderful project, even small donations are graciously welcomed and can be made through  their website noted above. And if you're motivated and  wish to engage in a volunteer experience of a lifetime, applications are available on the website as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Food Security in the Modern Global Age.

Local food security may become a survival issue in the very near future. Closer than we all might imagine!

Most of our food here in Canada travels an average of 3000 km. to reach the shelves of the local super markets.

The maintenance and continuance of that scenario depends on fluctuations in management of global food distribution, controlled by huge corporate agri-businesses worldwide and further affected by the availability of diminishing and expensive fossil fuels to provide ongoing transportation of the global food supply.

This sensitive food chain could decline or even crash in the very near future, given the state of the global economy and ongoing political volatility worldwide.

It's continuance is solely based on corporate profit margins, not human need. There is absolutely no consideration given to humanitarian concerns or the survival of humankind in any cultures or countries in our present system.

We in developed counties will suffer the consequences of a crash in the system no less than those in developing countries.

Imagine going to the supermarket and there's no more food on the shelves.

Our food does not come from supermarkets!

Know where your food comes from.....and understand, given the situation, that source may well change or diminish in the very near future.

We must begin again to take at least some responsibility for feeding ourselves. Our global food system is not sustainable, and we must begin to understand that reality and start building some semblance of  local food security for the future.

The following is a multimedia production from a recent panel discussion of food security in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. An area that actually does implement  a certain degree of food security....and it seems there is a growing awareness there of the need for such.

We might all do well to consider the message inherent in this discussion.

Food Security Panel Discussion

from Doug Pyper on Vimeo.

Some 'food' for thought.

Please do offer your comments and thoughts here. It is something we should all be aware of and openly discussing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

  Protecting the Sacred. Reclaiming the Power

International Indigenous Leadership Gathering 2012

by Doug Pyper
The message of ‘protecting the sacred’ here on mother earth was again the official mantra at the 4th Annual International Indigenous Leadership Gathering in Lillooet, BC. And with the ominous predictions of 2012 now looming on the horizon there seemed a subliminal sense of urgency in the air.

Dance and Drumming in the Arbour

The event was held June 21-24 hosted by the Sta’at’imc Chiefs Council representing 11 first nations communities in the territory. Over a thousand people from near and far attended, creating a communal village of like minded people of all origins inhabiting an open meadow near the town of Lillooet. Everyone enjoyed the presentations of world renowned speakers and performers from across Turtle Island and South America. As in the past, the event was made possible entirely through the tireless work of volunteers, including both local organizers and attendees. All food was provided free, prepared and served on site as a gift from the nation.

The flow of messages was clear and consistent. We must save mother earth now and renew our spiritual connection with each other and all living things if we are to endure. We are living in a time of irreversible and catastrophic global destruction. Seemingly our planet can no longer take the abuse that modern humankind has relentlessly inflicted upon her. The 2012 scenario offers varied predictions, the most universal being that we are at the end of a great cycle, a 500 year long spiritual winter. A massive painful transformation is coming, and those who are prepared will move onward into a spiritual spring time.

Many of the eclectic mix of speakers this year were more noticeably aligned with mainstream culture, addressing environmental concerns from a scientific and even political perspective. Issues of global warming and loss of biological diversity were paramount, but often transcended the traditional indigenous spiritual vernacular. The frequent direct reference to politics was perhaps an indication that many feel the planet is under siege from corporate controlled global governments, most notably here in Canada under Stephen Harper.

But the inherent message was we are ‘all’ indigenous, and the truth is the truth no matter how it is wrapped. This earth is not for our material gain, it is our responsibility to revere, nurture and sustain it for future generations.

Among the numerous scheduled speakers was the Honourable Stephen Point, the current and only Indigenous Lieutenant Governor in BC history. In his impassioned speech, often tempered with his characteristic humour, he implied the needed change lies within each of us, by discovering our spirituality and overcoming our self-imposed fear and ignorance.

“I believe that our world is coming around to the understanding that we need change” he said.  “In gatherings like this, where people are focused on the spiritual world is how that change begins. Each of us must learn from the many lessons offered to us daily, and apply those lessons in our lives.  This is necessary for growth and to bring about change within ourselves and our world.”

MaObong Oku, a Nigerian spiritual healer, humanitarian and performing artist currently living in Vancouver gave a gentle and inspirational talk. “Mother earth is the source of our existence. Indigenous people are the guardians of the earth. We must strive to keep our hearts clean. The creator can then work through us and guide us”. She warned “Most problems are with the mind. It is often a source of negativity and the sole cause of all our troubles in the world today. When we have good thoughts we manifest a beautiful and peaceful earth. We must be vigilant to keep our thoughts pure through daily practice.”  

Herbert Hammond, a Forest Ecologist from the Slocan Valley in southern BC was one of the non-indigenous speakers at the event. Among a myriad of other accomplishments he has worked extensively with first nations developing eco-system based conservation plans. He believes we have given up much of our power to bring about change in the modern age.
Herb Hammond
“We elect governments believing they will take care of us and solve all our problems. In reality they are often not acting in our interest at all. Similarly, we’ve become dependent on large environmental organizations to protect our biological and physical world. These organizations often have become well paid environmental bureaucracies whose goal is to create a political compromise. In both cases, we do not get the results and changes we need, since the systems are designed for proliferation of the status quo” he stated.

“We can survive 3 to 8 minutes without oxygen, without water for 8 to 14 days and without food for up to 4 weeks” he noted.  “In one year a large tree provides enough oxygen for two people and pumps several hundred gallons of water into the ecosystem. However, we ignore these benefits of healthy ecosystems in pursuit of short term monetary profit that degrade and destroy the natural integrity of our home” he said. 

He went on to explain that our current world view is based on an 'Anthropocentric' ethic. "This ethic holds that ecosystems have little value until they provide resources for monetary profit.  It teaches that the earth was created exclusively for human benefit" he said. "It promotes the necessity of a corporate consumer-based economy to prosper and relies on perpetual economic growth by creating 'artificial needs'. We are pillaging our life support system in this pursuit. Such an approach is clearly not sustainable".

A more appropriate ethic is a Kincentric approach which respects the earth and other living things. What we do to the earth we do to ourselves. "This world view sees us as related to all other life forms. With this understanding we have the responsibility to protect all life forms, while using some of them wisely for our needs." he stated.  

These words perfectly echo what the indigenous elders have taught for centuries through spiritual beliefs, making his thoughts very appropriate and meaningful for the Gathering.

Peace and Dignity Runners from Mexico.

His solution to our current global crisis and devastation our planet is ecosystem-based conservation plans that facilitate sustainable 'community-based economies' around the world. We must become involved on a grass roots community level (whether rural or urban), taking back our power in dignified yet firm ways, while educating each other. We must regress back to a simpler way of living. And we must do so with or without permission and support from our elected governments.

Our future is the responsibility of each and everyone of us. It is time to begin.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Hoofs and Heroes

Skijoring Comes to the Kootenays
By Doug Pyper

A recent 'Skijoring' event in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia may well have set in motion a new local tradition.

When Diane Kinrade, Program Director for The West Kootenay Therapeutic Riding Association, began brainstorming ideas for a fundraiser it almost seemed like a no brainer.

“I’d been a ski patrol for 15 years, and have been equestrian riding and instructing for 35 years. And I knew all about Skijoring, because I’m Norwegian and the sport originated in my homeland” she says.

What she didn’t realize was this would be the first recorded organized competition of its kind in western Canada.

Equestrian Skijoring is a variation of the canine powered sport, which is widespread in our country, especially as part of regional sled dog competitions. But one must cross the border to places like Montana and Colorado, where ranches and ski resorts share a common turf, to experience the hoofed version of the activity. With few exceptions Skijoring as a competitive sport in Canada has involved dogs, not horses. One such exception is the recently sanctioned NASJA races that began just two years ago at the Quebec Winter Carnival.

The use of horses adds more speed and excitement to the sport. Competitors use downhill skis and snowboards as opposed to Nordic skis used in canine events. And jump ramps, navigating through cones and speed are definitely part of the mix. This high energy contest is geared for those with plenty of fitness and skill mixed with a good measure of madness.

One might question why horse drawn Skijoring didn’t find a home here in the Kootenays years ago. It seems a perfect match. With a well spring of local riders and horses and an indigenous culture of adrenalin driven skiers and snowboarders that hang at Whitewater and Red Mountain Ski Resorts, it should have naturally evolved over time.

Well, it’s here to stay now as of March 11/2012. Plans are already in motion to make this an annual event in Nelson, BC. The Nelson Riding Club arena will be expanded next season to make the existing course longer and lines will be cast to draw competitors from a larger area. Hopes are high to bring the local ski resorts on board as marketing partners.

This inaugural event was rather small and intimate with mostly local entries. And first place honours went to snowboarder Josh Ross (21) pulled by Katarina Burkhardt (18) riding a Palomino quarter horse named 'Latte'. This should spur some friendly rivalry next year from all those on skis!

The WKTRA is a non-profit organization founded in 1999 whose purpose is to help challenged individuals with physical and mental disabilities. Diane Kinrade, who is also a registered nurse, explains “We offer a physical rehabilitation program, a mental health therapy program and a sport recreation program. We put people in the saddle and give them a program to help meet the challenges in their life”.

The fundraising from this event will help, over the years, to fulfill a dream of building an indoor riding arena for the WKTRA. Donations to the cause are welcomed at http://www.kootenayridingtherapy.org/

View 40 more images of this very special event here:http://dougpyper.photoshelter.com/gallery/Skijoring-Nelson-BC/G0000aPYm9anUnOM/