|Presenting Standup4Greatbear at Mulgrave School
Last week I had four students from Mulgrave School in West Vancouver contact me about wanting to interview me for a project they were working on, focused on the Greatbear Rainforest and oil tankers. Whenever, I have the opportunity to talk to youth I jump at it, especially students who are already engaged in what’s happening on our coast and throughout our province. They also wanted me to show them the Standup4Greatbear Documentary. I got down there early so Grade 6 young men, Alex, Aiden, Grayson and Jaime, could interview me. They had watched the film SPOIL last week, so they were well informed and their questions reflected that. One of the toughest questions was what my most memorable moment in the Greatbear has been. It was tough since there have been countless magical moments in the Greatbear but I expressed seeing my first Spirit Bear, the opening of the Raven Longhouse in Cornwall Inlet and my adoption into the Raven Clan of Hartley Bay as tops on my list. Another tough question for me was what would I do if tankers were allowed to go through…I hesitated, never actually picturing it and said, “I would be very sad, a piece of me will have died.”
From the interview we headed into the classroom with close to over 60 Grade 5 and 6 students ready to watch the film. They sat excited as they watched the whales, sea lions, vast intertidal life and traditional foods. Afterward we had a question and answer period and I was impressed by the insightful questions posed to me. The one that was memorable was posed by a bright young student, originally from Mexico, who seemed to have a different perspective and seemed lit up by the Greatbear and it’s challenges. He innocently asked, “if this is such an incredible place, and all these people need these traditional foods to survive, and there are so many people who do not want oil tankers, WHY DOES THE GOVERNMENT WANT TO DO THIS.” After handing out Standup4Greatbear wrist bands and stickers I left feeling good knowing that we have groups of youth like this who will carry the torch into the future and help with the protection of special places. Thanks to Aiden, Grayson, Jaime and Alex for asking me to come down to the class and for father and fellow standup paddleboarder, Declan Sacre for making the connection to the school for me.
A few days later, the student’s teacher, Christine, emailed me and sent these letters of reflection from the four boys on the Greatbear Rainforest, Spirit Bears and Oil. Here they are…
Creatures so majestic
Strolling in the forest
Looking quite terrific,
With their creamy coats
And their capable claws
They look like walking boats,
Creatures that are so solitary
And are often seen as slow
They are massive and hairy,
Located in a special place
The Great Bear Rain Forest
Where one forgets time and space,
Thrashing in the sparkling streams
Pursuing the silvery salmon,
They are very observant
Loved by Natives
They are from heaven sent.
By Jamie, Grade 6
The Eighth Wonder of the World
by Grayson, Grade 6
I love everything Norman Hann is doing to raise awareness of the risk to the Great Bear Rainforest and the urgent need to protect it. During the Canucks vs. Red Wings hockey game on February 23rd, 2012 there was a spot featuring the Red Wing, Quincey, who also loves to paddleboard and owns a surfboard company. They mentioned that he would be joining Norman Hann to paddleboard through the Queen Charlottes to raise awareness about protecting the environment and the proposed pipeline. I think it is so hopeful that the threat to the rainforest is becoming public.
The Spirit Bear, one of the most wonderful animals on the planet, lives in the Great Bear Rainforest. This beautiful, white bear is not an albino and not a polar bear. Since there is only 200-400 left on the planet, they are extremely endangered. We need to protect these animals from logging which would cause panic in the rain forest and kill many animals as well as cause a lot of species, like the Spirit bear, to become extinct.
The once untouched land that provided food, shelter, and water to these and many more animals, is at risk due to logging for the planned Enbridge oil pipeline. Currently, only 50% of this precious habitat is safe from the project. This is not enough. The cities are rising and the rain forests are falling. But the animals are the ones losing their homes not us. We need to grow trees not cut them down. It would be terrible to lose the forest habitat to logging for the oil pipeline.
Another place that would be so sad to lose is the waters. The loss of this ecosystem would affect the whole rain forest because the forest relies on the waters for food. If an oil spill were to happen, it would ruin the healthy life cycle in the rainforest. Unfortunately, something like this has already happened. There was a BC ferry that crashed in the area of the Great Bear Rainforest. Still, people cannot fish anywhere close to the ferry because 4 litres of oil still leaks out of it every day. This is another factor that is greatly affecting the wonderful forest.
I think that the Great Bear Rain Forest should be considered one of the natural wonders of the world. It is an amazing place that is 25% of the world’s remaining temperate rain forest. The waters are home to a wide variety of aquatic life. It has the spirit bear that is a white black bear that is the heart of the rain forest. There should be eight natural wonders of the world and the Great Bear Rain Forest would be one.
By Aiden, Grade 6
In the night sky, as yellow and blue stars shone and twinkled with intense emotion, a small white creature treaded through the forest. Its furry paws dug into the wet soil as it turned its head side to side, admiring the tall green trees. He rubbed his back up against a huge cedar, trying to mark his scent as high up as possible. As he continued to stumble through the army of greenery, the Bear came across a river. The rushing water was filled with a thick black substance, and oily bubbles formed at the top of the flowing liquid. The creature’s eyes widened with confusion and fear, as he stared at unknown matter. It wasn’t there yesterday! The place where he had always hunted and bathed under the hot sun, and sometimes took a dip under the shining stars, was gone, replaced with a river of garbage. He ran. No… almost galloped on his four paws, through the dense trees, slowly following it up stream, trying to find the source. After a couple of minutes, he arrived at a sharp curve, close to where the rivers met the sea, and found what he was looking for.
The massive red ship sat still. Its right side jammed against the jagged grey rocks that shimmered from the moonlight. Thick oil leached from the hull, and its bow slowly lowered into the sea, sinking towards the depths. A whimper of sadness escaped the bear’s mouth, and his eyes turned watery with tears. A super tanker. Its huge body was disgusting, but fascinating at the same time. It took him a minute before he realized that a bit of the oil was washing up around his paws from the tide. He stepped back, and watched, as the matter dripped from what was once pure white fur.
The animal ran again from the alien like substance, trying to find fresh water, but everywhere he went, there it was, bubbling and slopping around abnormally. At one point, he ran into a clearing, where tons of stumps sat, looking sad as the clouds covered the moon for a moment, before moving onwards in the sky. Huge machines lifted the bodies of the massive plants, and in the distance, the Spirit Bear could hear whimpers and cries as animals were hunted and killed. Was this the new world? A place where water was replaced with gunk… and tall trees were taken down until only their bases remained. Yes…it was. A place of greed and destruction. A place where being human wasn’t about survival, but instead about luxury. A place where madness ruled. It was the future… and this wasn’t right. Not right at all.
My Perspective On The Enbridge Proposal
Enbridge, a large pipeline company has recently proposed to build an oil pipeline through BC and Alberta. Oil from this pipeline would be carried by large tankers along the coast of BC. In the following, I will explain my perspective on this proposition.
The oil pipeline will start in the tar sands oil mine in Alberta and will pass by hundreds of lakes and rivers in Alberta and BC. The oil would flow to the west coast of BC and be transferred to tankers to be shipped to China. The pipeline will carry some of the world’s dirtiest oil, bitumen. If it were to leak into a water source, it would have devastating effects on the environment. I think this would be terrible because all of the animals that live there could be poisoned and maybe killed by this crude oil. This is my perspective on the proposed pipeline.
Now, I will explain my perspective on the tanker route proposal. The tankers that would be used to carry the bitumen would be the largest and loudest supertankers in the world. They would be three times the size of the freighters you can see carrying containers and other types of cargo. Also, they are so loud that if they were to travel the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest, they would vanquish all of the singing of the whales living in the area. The rainforest is in fact one of the last places on earth where humpback whales can be spotted. These tankers would have to make many turns to get out of the forest area and on their way to China. If they were to miss just one of these turns, unimaginable amounts of oil could leak into the surrounding area and destroy the wonder that is the Great Bear Rainforest. This is my perspective on the proposed tanker route.
In conclusion, if Enbridge were allowed to go ahead with these projects it would be only a matter of time before there would be a tremendous disaster. This is my perspective on the Enbridge oil pipeline and tanker project.