As soon as my GreatBear SUP trip ended I was immediately back to the GreatBear Rainforest and Hartley Bay to work with Ian McAllister from Pacific Wild and Christina Mittermeier, Executive Director of the International League of Conservation Photographers. The iLCP was bringing some of the worlds best photographers right here to Hartley Bay and the GreatBear to perform a RAVE(Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) of the area and its people to help bring awareness to the potential threat of oil tankers on our north coast. I first met Christina and National Geographic Photographer and Canadian, Paul Nicklen, in Bella Bella when I was finishing my last SUP strokes on my Standup4GreatBear Expedition. My role over the next couple of weeks was to work with Ian and to be the liaison between all of the photographers, media and the community of Hartley Bay. I also provided local knowledge and expertise of the area and the people, and accompanied some of the photographers into strategic shooting areas of the GreatBear. This RAVE was quite the undertaking with 9 photographers, numerous support staff, boats, planes, helicopters and media that included CTV, Global TV, and ABC Nightline. This iLCP Rave would bring international attention to this ridiculous proposal of Enbridge wanting to build a 1200km pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C. and then transport that oil on supertankers through one of the most special and magical areas in the world. I watched these photographers take mind-blowing images, working 14-16 hours a day. Most of us just shook our heads at what these pro’s had captured. The whole project was very inspiring and as local Gitga’at Guide, friend and leader, Marvin Robinson re iterated, “we are not alone in our fight.”
On September 13th, myself, Marvin, Ian, and pilot Julian McQueen flew from Hartley Bay to Vancouver for the press conference aboard his 1950’s Widgeon(baby goose) for the September 14th iLCP press conference and gala evening. It was a stirring flight as we flew up ancient river valleys and outer island beaches as Ian talked about the many environmental battles he has waged over his 20 year career in the Great Bear, some won, others lost. Julian himself brought a powerful story to the project. Julian, like all of the photographers and boat drivers donated his time and plane to help the RAVE. Julian is a world-class guy. He owns a chain of hotels in Pensacola Florida and lost half his business overnight with the BP Gulf Spill. Florida has banned offshore drilling along their coast for fear of wiping out a billion dollar tourism industry but he was affected anyways in a spill 3 states away. He brought a perspective that not many people have and we were really happy to have him with us.
The morning press conference at VanCity Theatre was a huge success. I listened intently and proudly as Christina, Ian, Paul, Marvin and Gerald Amos spoke passionately and emotionally about what’s at risk and the lengths they will go to put a stop to this. It was hard to keep a dry eye. This is real. The evening gala brought together environmentalits, Coastal First Nations, adventurers, photographers, media and those concerned. It was a lot of fun as the photographers had some of their incredible work from the past couple of weeks on display and silent auction for the over 350 people who were there. Again, there were amazing speeches while stunning wildlife and landscape images rolled in the background. The climax of the evening was a 5-minute video presentation created on short notice by iLCP team member, Jenny Nichols. I felt really good watching this and it is a must that you view this. I will post on this blog when I find it. I was fortunate to have bid on one of Thomas Peshack ‘s images taken from the outer Anderson Islands, an area I visited on my Standup4GreatBear expedition. This will hang in my house for all to see as a memento and reminder of a Great time and a Great collection of people working hard to protect the Great Bear.
Click Here for an evening recap produced by Damien Gillis.
Thanks to Ian and Karen McAllister from Pacific Wild for the chance to work on such a great project. Thanks to Christina for bringing her iLCP team, Trevor, Jenny Trip, Andy and Marshal to the coast. Thanks to the iLCP photographers, Paul Nicklen, Thomas Peshack, Florian Shultz, Joe Riis, Jack Dykinga, Daniel Beltra, Marven Robinson, Jason Sturgis and Ian McAllister. To the boat support, Lex on the Pacific Pioneer, Harry on Mi Alma, Jim and Tammy on the Tammy J, Ian on Habitat, Mike with KPL and the dynamic duo of Bruce Hill and Gerald Amos from the Headwaters Initiative and their boat the Suncrest. Thanks to Michael Uehara and King Pacific Lodge for accommodations, helicopter and boat support.
Also, congratulations to Frank Wolfe and Todd McGowan who recently completed their On the Line expedition. The arrived late one night in Harltey Bay while we were enjoying time on the Suncrest. Frank and Todd walked, biked and rafted the whole 1200km pipeline route and then paddled from Kitimat to Hartley Bay. They came back with incredulous stories. Stay tuned for their upcoming movie on the project.
Most importantly thank you to the community of Hartley Bay for opening your arms to us, for your patience, generosity, knowledge and sharing. You are not alone in your battle. Thank you for enriching all of our lives.