photo of a valley from a high vantage point. a river nestled neatly between two roads is in the foreground, and much of the image is of farmland, with mountains in the background

I am drawn to the river, whether I’m on the unceded land of the Treaty 7 people where I now live as an uninvited settler, on the territories of the Sylix Nation where my family’s livelihood depends on rivers and land, or visiting my birthplace, the land of five rivers: Punjab. The river is more than a body of water for my people: it is a place of gathering, the site of worship and ceremony, a source of survival, and a resting place for the dead. My ancestors live in the slow-moving perennial rivers that criss-cross the arid plains of Punjab, while my sister rests in the Fraser River and my father in the Okanagan River. Perhaps that is what calls me to the river, the continuous ebb and flow of their spirits.