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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Raft Cove and Cape Palmerston cleanups

By Carmen Pendleton

Cleaning up the remote beaches of northwest Vancouver Island is an ongoing challenge. This summer the Clear the Coast campaign is focusing on a large expedition to Sea Otter Cove in early August. In addition to this we are also monitoring collector bags at remote beach locations.

Clear the Coast's Will Soltau lowers a
collector bag from a tree at Cape Palmerston.
Collector bags are made of retired fishing net that is sewn into a large sack. A rebar hoop is threaded through the top of the bag and they are hung from trees at remote beaches. We knew that there were at least three full collector bags at the Cape Palmerston recreation area that needed to be removed. As luck would have it the Vancouver Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation was also doing a remote beach cleanup nearby at Raft Cove and agreed to share helicopter time. This is an area where we had maintained collector bags last summer so we were interested to see the condition of that beach this summer.

We set off on the first ferry Monday morning and, after a short stop in Port McNeill for supplies and radios, we were headed to the west coast. On the way we also stopped at the local landfill to drop off 20 kilograms of Styrofoam from our last cleanup on Malcolm Island. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it was a full truckload! Shortly after the landfill, we hit the logging roads. About 70 bumpy kilometers later we made it to the Raft Cove parking lot for our first hike of the day!

A hike of about 40 minutes through mud and tree roots brought us to the long sandy expanse of Raft Cove. It was another 20 minutes walk along the beach to where the Surfrider group had piled some of their debris. After dropping off a radio we chatted with them about data collection, debris and how their trip had gone. They mentioned that the area around where our collector bags were placed last year had been fairly clean and they had focused their attention on other areas, which was great to hear. After a well deserved lunch break we were back on the trail and hiking up to the truck to drive over to Cape Palmerston.

A helpful kayaker helped Carmen Pendleton and Will Soltau move
the third collector bag of marine debris to the pick up point.
The short drive and hike to the beach at Cape Palmerston was followed by a longer hike to the cabin, where we had been told there were three full collector bags. When we arrived at the cabin, however, we could only see two bags. This lead to a search along the beach where we found the third bag about 500 metres from the cabin, where we needed it to be for the helicopter lift the following morning. Luckily, a kayaker had just arrived at the beach and volunteered to help us move the bag which was so full it took the three of us about 45 minutes to move it to the cabin.

We spent the night camped at Cape Palmerston and after a good rest were ready for the excitement of the helicopter. Tuesday morning was perfect weather for the helicopter and after a short delay, the three bags of debris were picked up and deposited about a metre from our truck. Nice aim! There was too much debris to fit in the truck so we’ll be back later to load up the rest of it as well as the collector bag from the campsite. Thanks to all of the volunteers who pitched in to help Clear the Coast!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chilcotin is Tsilhqot'in

By guest blogger Tim Lash Tim Lash

The unanimous Supreme Court of Canada ruling on the Tsilhqot'in case from 1983 is good news. Here's my ridiculous opinion. 

1. For us to realize a diverse and fair society in Canada, each culture needs its own sources of authority and legitimacy affirmed in Canada-wide institutions we all share. Reconciliation requires respect (if not, the reconciled co-existence won't spring back when there's occasional or mid-term subordination of some by others). Our society evolves, under pressures. The Supreme Court of Canada, and Parliament when it's working right, are our best institutions for marrying human respect with the authority of Canadian law.

2. Our mainstream civil law culture, so far, mostly respects property and exclusive ownership (rather than say, community, or ecological dependence). So affirming Tsilhqot'in title—not just hunting and fishing rights—gives the Tsilhqot'in a new deep source of respect in our culture. With title, they don't just have opinions about the resources they depend on. They make decisions about the land they own.

3. This Supreme Court decision is primarily about First Nations who haven't signed things over in treaties. But I imagine its long run effects will support respect and reconciliation Canada-wide.

4. The Court recognizes nomadic use as a valid human relation to natural resources, as an entitling relationship that confers legal standing. This is elevating. It raises legal eyes up from "fenced farm, fixed frontiers" cultures, to cultures that are more attuned and responsive to larger-scale shifting patterns of living nature. Like climate, weather, geographic range of animals and plants, forest succession, natural 'disasters.' We're going to need this legal shift.

5. I don't see exactly how, yet, but this decision is going to give more legal value to "the commons." The timing of this SCC decision, at the same time as the Global Ocean Commission's report "Mission Ocean" calling for new UN and national action for the commons of the High Seas is fortunate, in a conservation and sustainability worldview.

6. Next evolution: This Tsilhqot'in decision still gives a lot of weight to geographic exclusion of others as a test for their own legitimate decision powers about natural resources. Two potential paths for strengthening the roles of nature and of community inclusion in our individual-based decision rules are by elaborating 
7. Like other best decisions by the Supreme Court, this one is beautifully and clearly written. The opening section, pp 5 to 11, explains the reasoning in easy-to-understand human terms.