Coming down to earth after incredible journey

Brandon Gabriel shares his thoughts about 75-day canoe journey up the coast, and its purpose.

Brandon Gabriel of the Kwantlen First Nation took part in the 75-Day Spirit of the Coast canoe journey

Editor: It has taken me a few weeks to find my feet planted back on terra firma after my 75-day Spirit of the Coast canoe journey. I am just now responding to Frank Bucholtz’s article, (The Times, Aug. 19).

The journey was, in a word, amazing. In many words, there aren’t enough to explain in a sentence or a paragraph of the extraordinary experiences and vistas our paddle crews experienced along the 1,200 km of rugged coastline of British Columbia.

Despite some reports that our skipper was disillusioned by media coverage, I would like to point out that I wholeheartedly agree with observation in The Times that our journey was well covered by media.

We made headlines in local newspapers all the way from Langley to Alaska, we did television interviews, magazine interviews, and got air time on radio stations all the way up the coast. We also  had a solid and substantial following of supporters on social media throughout the 75-day odyssey.

Yes, this journey was about our environment and how we treat and interact with it. Yes, we wanted to educate people about our finite natural resources, and to a large degree we did those things we set out to do.

It is not our intention to assert our values or beliefs onto others, but to show our support to communities threatened by coercive foreign organizations like Enbridge and that of our very own provincial governments.

We witnessed the careless and reckless refuse left by successive waves of industry along this coast, be it from generations of clear-cut logging, industrial commercial fishery operations, and mining. All industries are backed, regulated, and subsidized by government ministries.

We now see open pen fish farming burgeoning across the coastline, and now there is a potential of oil pipelines. The one common denominator of all these developments is that every single operation which sucked whatever resources dry, just picked up and left and went to other communities to exploit those same resources elsewhere.

They did not care what waste they left behind, and did not care what happens to the people in those communities, or the irreparable harm scarred onto the earth in their wake.

What I witnessed was resounding opposition up and down this coastline, as people are fed up with the way successive waves of governments do business, and the corporate tyrants they represent.

No, it is not the intention of this journey we embarked on and the sacrifices we made spending away from our comforts of home and families to impose the idea that we need to go back to the stone age with energy use and exploitation.

It was instead to remind ourselves that the current ways we inhabit the earth and treat the environment, as well as treat our fellow man, are just as primitive as the stagnated ideologies of resource and human exploitation in the name of money.

Brandon Gabriel,

Kwantlen First Nation

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