Updated: Nov 8, 2022
When I was 10 years old, my parents drove my family in a VW camper van from Calgary to the furthest point west on Vancouver Island - Pacific Rim National Park. It is a place that is beyond beautiful - the land transcends an aesthetic that leans towards the spiritual. If you find your way to this part of the world and slow down for long enough you are bound to feel its presence. Thick, dark forests filled with gigantic Douglas firs, enormous cedars entangled with moss and ferns, and long swaths of beaches where the wind sings alongside the oyster catchers.
It was 1981 when my folks drove our rented VW to the Greenpoint campground at 5 am in the days long before online bookings. We spent a few days wandering down Long Beach exploring the rocky shoreline. The wind blew off the Pacific Ocean and the air was filled with ocean mist. We saw a small crowd of people up ahead so we walked further to see what it was. A humpback whale lying on its side on the beach with a large gash in its belly. I remember its mouth was open and we saw the baleen strands tangled with flotsam. We stood for a long time observing the enormity of the moment, aware of her massive eye and eyelid, the blowhole and the size of her intestines that were hanging out of the gash. It was a moment that would change my life forever as I would eventually work on a directed studies project on marine mammal strandings and to this day I continue to search for ways to be in better relationship with the whales, oceans and ecosystems I inhabit.
How might we find new ways to be together on this planet and to find ways to live in a system that honors every living being from the plankton to the whale to the barnacles on its belly?
Over 80 percent of Canadians live in cities and the trend is holding globally. Our ecological footprint is 8 times the size of the planet. That means we need 8 earths to maintain our current levels of consumption in North America. There is a lot of work to be done. Make sure to get out and vote in your local election and choose folks who are leading the conversation on climate change and biodiversity. It matters a whole lot.