It costs $2400-$4500 to rent a house in the North Okanagan. Really. Look.
In comparison, a wasp just needs to find a hidden place out of the rain.
It costs an average of $1,131,800 to buy a house in Kelowna, at the old crossing halfway down Okanagan Lake, in what Canadians call “The Central Okanagan.” Here’s one:
It makes renting look cheap. Here’s a black widow’s home on Turtle Mountain:
If we ever wanted an image of what the project of colonialism in Canada costs, these images tell the story well. Ultimately, they tell of how there are two separate Okanagans in the same place. One is a valley, in which wasps, spiders, bears, humans, deer, and everyone else live, right out in the open air.
The other is a series of cultural relationships, in which wasps, spiders, bears, deer, badgers and everyone else live, right out in the open air, while humans live in structures designed not to give them shelter within the environment they share with bees, frogs, snakes, moose, kingbirds and everyone else but to replace it, which includes digging around in the Earth and making a bit of a mess and barring entrance to any non-human creature other than a trusted pet.
No pests (spiders, ants, wasps and so on) or even red willow or wavy thistle or wild clematis (weeds) wanted. The point of these shelters is dual: 1. to separate humans from the so-called pests and weeds, and 2. to shelter them and their possessions from other humans. So it is when you belong to a top-predator species that both lives within and preys upon both physical and social environments, including fellow species members. Because of human vulnerability, a living, sheltering, nurturing environment is used as a source for building the world that replaces it. Whether one calls this development or mining, it is the same act.
The image above, at the very beginning of settler culture in the Okanogoan, was part of a process by which 13 men looking for gold in holes including this one removed indigenous humans from all the land between the crest of the Cascade Range and the Okanogan and Columbia Rivers, from Wenatchee in the South to the British border in the North (now the US-Canadian Border). This hole was on a Smelqmix village of some 2,000 people, dating back nearly 12,000 years. As creatures of this Earth, they were excluded from the new living space, just as surely as the new inhabitants were excluded from living openly on the Earth by actions that gave them power in distant worlds, and protection from the angry people living on the Earth. This divide in understandings got built right into the social and political structures of human life in these parts. It remains unresolved. It was not all done with malice, but it does mean that houses are out of reach for our young people, no matter whether they are Indigenous youth living on tiny fragments salvaged from a land base at the beginning of the settler colonial project or non-Indigenous youth preyed upon economically by land ownership rules set at the same time. If we are going to solve this, we are going to have to look at beginnings and see what still lies open for us. Next week, we’ll get started on that. Until then, be kind to the wasps, eh.
The thistle above helps to keep the world alive. We can, too.