Action dispels despair: Turning the tide

A conservation paddle from Nathalie Chambers

Conservation Tip #1: Action dispels despair

Feeling inspired, I have just arrived back home from the second annual People’s Paddle for the Salish Sea.  “Turning the Tide” on pipelines and tanker traffic turned out to be an even greater success than last year.

Turning the tide route map - Dan Collins
Map of the 2015 People’s Paddle for the Salish Sea route. Map by Dan Collins.

On July 22, 2015, my Raincoast colleague Lori Waters and I set off with over 100 brave hearted paddlers. We departed from Swartz Bay, paddled to Salt Spring Island, Mayne, Pender Island, and then back home to Swartz Bay on July 26 to demonstrate our collective love of the Salish Sea!

Even the weather chimed in with Gulf Island solidarity after a long summer drought,  bringing buckets full of rain, thunder, and wind. However, this did not dampen our spirits.  In fact, it was a further testament to just how far coastal communities are willing to go to protect the waters and species of the Salish Sea from pipelines, increased tanker traffic, and oil spills.

Personally, the trip was no easy feat for me. It was the first time that I had ever canoed more than three hours in my life, and my unstable, overloaded craft threatened to throw me off course of my goal to finish. The experienced paddlers kept telling me to just keep paddling; momentum is stability.

The thunderclouds were directly on our heels as we crossed Active Pass, but we held our course with vigilance, perseverance, and determination.

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Together we can protect the Salish Sea 

Suddenly, I heard the faint sounds of bagpipes in the misty distance, and my Scottish ancestry was awakened. As we rounded Razor Point on Pender Island, I noticed that people were waving and cheering from their patios and many were standing on shore. It was an incredible feeling. My salty tears mixed and fell deep into the Salish Sea.

Kayaks on a beach during the Peoples Paddle for the Salish Sea 2015
Kayaks and canoes on a beach during the paddle.

The phrase “momentum is stability” remains in my memory. As my sleeping bag and gear dry on my clothesline, I redouble my efforts towards our collective goal, which is to preserve and protect the Salish Sea. The momentum is growing. A tipping point is on the horizon.

From my experience working in conservation for the last ten years, I have witnessed some extraordinary human acts, which is a testament to the power of  people. Paradoxically, while we humans are the problem, we are also the solution.  We are hardwired to conserve, as it is integral to our survival. I believe when we work together we can move mountains.  And with the hardworking scientists at Raincoast continuing to inform the public about the risks associated with increased tanker traffic, we can harness our collective power!

Yours in conservation,

Nathalie Chambers

Nathalie Chambers, Major Gifts and Donor Relations

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Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.