I had a great conversation with Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation the other day. We talked about everything from colonization and residential schools, to language, to cultural appropriation. The interview below is just an excerpt of our conversation focused on language and identity.
The Squamish Nation is one of 3 nations that call Burrard Inlet home. The others are the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh. For thousands of years this shores of the Burrard Inlet were managed and shared collectively among various Coast Salish people.
Today, the Squamish govern their territory through a council of 16 elected officials that has essentially supplanted the traditional system of 16 hereditary chiefs. Historically, there was great care and concern with managing the land as a resource and each of the chiefs would be responsible for a local area or resource. When Europeans first arrived the combination of the gold rush mentality that sees the land as a vacant resource for the taking (and all the accompanying environmental destruction that goes along with it), disease such as small pox that decimated entire villages, and the intentional cultural genocide through missionary work and residential schools the Squamish nation was left in peril by the time the last residential school on the North Shore was closed in 1956 and the system of hereditary governance was no longer effective.
A slow but deliberate process is taking place to revitalize the Squamish and other local nations. With steps like naming rights, language programs at places like SFU, and the inclusion of indigenous perspectives in education the culture is becoming stronger. And with land use agreements and economic negotiations the Nation is becoming increasingly self-sufficient.
Chief Ian Campbell concludes our interview saying that, “we can’t go backwards to the way it was during my grandparent’s era. It’s about applying traditional knowledge in a modern context”.
Port Moody is a beautiful and bustling little city hiding away at the East end of the Burrard Inlet. I just wanted to get an introduction to the waterfront and go for a quick paddle but it quickly turned into a fascinating tour of a mixed waterfront. Industrial and recreational uses seem to compete for every inch of waterfront and I saw wildlife, commercial shipping operations, high school canoe lessons, lumber mill activities, and more.
Most notably, I watched a chemical tanker, probably loaded with ethylene glycol, pull away from its berth and make its way out towards the second narrows. It was leaving from the Pacific Coast Terminals which is a massive operation specializing in the transportation ethylene glycol and Sulphur – both of which are byproducts from the production of natural gas and petroleum.
After watching the tanker go by I checked out the Burrard Generating Station, sometimes called the Burrard Thermal Plant. It is a 900 megawatt conventional natural gas-fired generating station.
While this tour took on a notably industrial tone I will be back soon to check out the amazing history and geography of the area. I am especially fascinated with the huge shell middens and artifacts from First Nations that have occupied the region for the last 10 thousand years. Just think about that for a moment. That is roughly 400 generations. Compare that to the 9 generations since the first European visitors to Burrard Inlet and the Coast Salish claims to the land become even more formidable.
Enjoy the video!
I headed out from Ambleside beach to check out some of the navigational markers and buoys and established anchorages of English Bay. I saw the port and starboard lateral buoys for False Creek as well as the West Cardinal buoy off of Stanley park. Check out the Vancouver Port safe boating guide to see a full size map of all of Burrard Inlet including anchorages, shipping lanes, fishing areas, boat launches, and more.
Sometimes it may just appear that the large commercial vessels are just parked wherever they can fit but there is significant controls and organization in place to help keep the Inlet safe for the environment and people.
Please enjoy the short video tour of English Bay!
I was lucky enough to get to sit down with Ken Robinson, a B.C. coast pilot for the last 24 years. I enjoyed our conversation immensely and could have asked him questions for hours. He told me about what it is that the pilots do, how the Burrard Inlet commercial operations work, and what industrial life on the inlet is like.
Essentially, the B.C. Coast pilots command any large commercial vessels around 185 meters or longer of a certain weight. This includes freighters, bulk carriers, oil, chemical, and liquid tankers, cruise ships, and so on. They work with the Port of Vancouver to make sure commercial vessels pass through the harbour with the safety of people and the environment in the forefront.
Coming soon is my tour of the Navigational Buoys in English bay that the pilots would use to help guide large vessels in but in the meantime check out Vancouver Port's safe boating guide that clearly shows the designated travel lanes and anchorage spots for all the vessels that use the Inlet.
Please enjoy my conversation with Ken!
I had the chance to speak with Mr. Derek Corrigan, the Mayor of Burnaby for the last 15 years. We talked about a wide range of topics including conservation, the city’s relationship with First Nations, history, demographics, and education, but the issue of Kinder Morgan’s Transmountain Expansion pipeline came up again and again and became the natural focus of our talk. The Mayor’s, the official stance of the city, is adamantly against the project.
For a quick primer on the project check out these two sites for and against:
By now, most people have heard about the project and the main concerns including tanker spills, pipeline safety, and storage safety so close to an urban area. Mr. Corrigan shares these concerns but was also able to articulate a somewhat unique and interesting perspective on the overall project from a global perspective. Watch the full length interview FOLLOW THIS LINK.