Sails, Stewards, and Sunshine

by Diana Chan

Last week Tavish Campbell, Max Bakken, and I were joined by six SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) interns from Bella Bella, Klemtu, and Hartley Bay for our inaugural sail training program.  During our five days aboard SV Habitat, we covered a lot of ground…and ocean.

As we sailed around the rugged outer coast of the Great Bear Rainforest, we combined classroom-style learning with hands-on experience focusing on topics like sail theory, knots, chartwork, anchoring, and tides. Each day we made sure to get ashore to stretch our legs and also do some exploring by foot. We hiked through the forest and found CMTs, tromped along streams and saw the first of the salmon returning, and beach combed until we found coveted glass ball floats. Throw in some aerial photography by kite flying, man overboard rescue drills, and plentiful huckleberry picking and we had ourselves a full week!

The lessons that we taught and the practical skills that the interns learned were only part of the experience.  As we watched them grow more confident on the water, taking on more and more responsibilities in running the vessel, we also watched them teach one another and develop friendships.  Cole and Chantal from Klemtu described their recent experience traveling to Kitamat to probe the Enbridge representative there on the issues.  Linden and Dominic from Hartley Bay and Gene and Greg from Bella Bella exchanged information on the marine acoustics research that they have participated in in their respective communities. The interns shared stories and traditional knowledge of their territories, and an eagerness to learn more.

Someday soon these six young men and women will undoubtedly be leaders in their coastal communities. Perhaps some of them will even work together as they manage their precious resources.  They can look back and remember the first time that they came together, took the helm, and explored the pristine waters of the Great Bear Sea.

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