Everything begins with a vision. First the idea, then the brainstorming, then the steps along the path to fruition. And once we start walking that path we realize that ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ as Solomon said thousands of years ago. Which is a good thing because it’s an advantage to have wisdom and advice to lean on, to have someone tell us about the pitfalls along the way. That doesn’t lessen our vision but makes it stronger.
There’s much concern about increased traffic in the Salish Sea, especially plowing through the gulf islands waters. The concerns center around the orcas and other marine life, not only about possible collisions but also noise pollution and potential oil spills.
How do we deal with these issues here along the southern coast of British Columbia? How do we lessen the impact of more tanker traffic, and not only tankers, but the ever more popular recreational use of these invaluable waters?
There’s been much talk about some kind of monitoring or protection program around the gulf islands. It didn’t take much research to find that what we sought is already in place and working well along the northern coast of BC.
The Northern Coastal First Nation are an alliance of nine First Nations, banded together to protect the northern lands and waters and the Great Bear Rainforest. They have worked hand in hand with Vancouver Island University to educate their youth through the Stewardship Technicians Training Program. The program was custom designed in collaboration with Coastal First Nations Stewardship offices to provide members the applied skills and knowledge required to work in the field of resource stewardship.
Where better to turn for answers than to the peoples who have been protecting these sacred waters for thousands of years and know more about them than most and feel true kinship with them. As a friend of ours said, “the orcas are our brothers and sisters, as is all marine life, the trees are our cousins and the land is our home”.
Can we create a guardian program too? Shouldn’t the whole coast of BC be protected? Could this lead to employment opportunities for First Nation youth around the gulf islands and Vancouver Island? Could this lead to First Nation social enterprises based on cultural knowledge and educational programs on the regenerative, circular economy?
There have already been courses initiated on some of the islands that have brought the environmental wisdom of our First Nations to the forefront. Let’s build on these and continue the pursuit of protecting our lands and waterways before it really is too late.
Step by step and goal by goal we travel along the path towards the vision. Together, with all peoples, regardless of any perceived differences. Our hearts and our purposes draw us together.