BC's incoming government must act swiftly
It was really hard to leave BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. Every day the Coast brought unforgettable moments:
1. A sea lion thrashing around for fish outside my window, arousing me from my slumber
2. The high-pitched piping of eagles gliding from snag to snag
3. A bed of purple sunstars I discovered during my morning swim
4. The rich earthy rainforest scent mingled with ocean brine
5. The citrusy flavour of young Pacific silver fir tips
6. The largest downed spruce tree I’ve ever walked across, covered in a shag carpet of moss.
But above all, what will stay with me when I am far from this place, are the stories I was lucky enough to hear. They came from those who are fortunate enough to visit - and who inevitably fall in love with the Coast.
“We need to get all the [Gitga’at] elders out to Kiel this year. It might be our last,” Helen Clifton, an elder said earlier this year. Kiel is the Gitga’at spring camp, where the community harvests seaweed and halibut to dry every spring. Another Gitga’at member told me he remembers going to Kiel with his grandparents every year when he was young.
I was discussing the devastation tankers would bring to the Coast with an American who has been coming to the coast every year for nearly a decade. She warned me, “It’s not going to be my responsibility, because I’m going to be gone soon. It’ll be your problem and your kid’s problem to clean up.”
On my last morning, I had breakfast with Janie Wray, the lead whale researcher at Cetacea Lab. Janie explained that her studies have shown an exponential increase in the population of whales (in absolute numbers) and in the number of species on the North Coast over the past 11 years. I totaled the number of tankers that could be introduced to the coast: over 250 crude carriers and 300 liquefied natural gas tankers.
While talking to Janie, the sum of all that could be lost weighed on my heart, and I admit I began to cry. I have been to the Coast many times, but never have I felt as strong a connection. Never has there been such an enormous threat as pipelines and tankers.
This land is the planet’s largest intact stretch of temperate rainforest, the only place on Earth you’ll find the Spirit bear, and one of the few places where North America’s indigenous cultures continue to thrive. Isn’t this land in the global interest to protect?