Islanders to celebrate the Salish Sea with paddle

Turning the Tide organizers Sasha Kvakic and Emily Rogers prepare for the annual Peoples’ Paddle for the Salish Sea. Photo Credit: Victoria News

By Lauren Boothby, VICTORIA NEWS

After five days paddling the Salish Sea and breathing the ocean air, Emily Rogers is resolved to fight for what she loves.

In the early morning of Wednesday, Aug. 9, more than 80 people young and old will depart from Dolphin Dock in Swartz Bay on a five-day paddle across the Salish Sea in protest of increased tanker traffic, advocating for greater environmental protection of the waters and the wildlife it sustains.

Rogers is one of the event coordinators for the event called Turning the Tide now in its fourth year. She says paddling the ocean built a bond stronger than any connection she’s experienced in her life.

She hopes the experience of being on the water inspires other participants to advocate for protecting the ocean as well.

“When you’re sitting in the middle of our ocean, it’s impossible to not be awestruck by the beauty and the fragility of our amazing coast,” she said. “It feels very humbling. When you look around and you see the diversity of species that rely upon this body of water, the importance of protecting this place is magnified.”

The journey takes paddlers in their kayaks and canoes from Swartz Bay to Portland Island, Salt Spring Island, North Pender Island, Prevost Island and Moresby Island, for about 29 nautical miles (54 kilometres) in total. Participants stop at each to rest and participate in workshops such as ocean navigation and reading tides.

Jeremy Loveday, a Victoria city councillor and event organizer, sees the event as a way to connect with the community.

“The theme this year is building solidarity across the Salish Sea, so it’s to bring people together, to get that experience of being on the water, to break bread, make those connections and to leave with a stronger network of solidarity across the islands of people who are willing to stand up and fight to protect our coastline,” he said.

Loveday says the trip has been one of the most memorable experiences of his past three summers.

“The highlight for me is getting out on the water and, when you’re travelling in the kayak or a canoe, you’re right down at water level and experiencing it an a very intimate way. There’s no distractions its just you and like-minded people you’re travelling with.”

For more information, visit turningthetide.ca.

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