Turning the Tide is an ongoing public awareness campaign culminating with a multi day human powered journey through the Salish Sea. Our goal is to do more than simply demonstrate our opposition to new pipelines and increased tanker traffic, but also build organizational capacity and links of solidarity among concerned citizens in coastal communities. We see this campaign as a piece to a larger movement to protect our coastal environment and resource economy and build a broad-based mass movement focussed on building solutions beyond the petroleum based economy.
In planning this campaign we started by talking with the local Songhees First Nation, with Chief Ron Sam indicating his support. We have also spoken with members of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation and we are reaching out to the other environmental, outdoor recreation and social justice groups active in BC to unite and grow the movement to protect our coast. We hope to build upon the links created through this experience, identifying potential organizers and groups we can work with on an ongoing basis to further our broader goals of social transformation to a post-carbon economy.
The 2014 and 2015 events were remarkable experiences for all involved, and we hope to build on this momentum this year, strengthening the focus on building the community of paddlers with new opportunities for culture, recreation, learning and athletics on the islands.
Starting on Friday July 22nd, paddlers will depart from Swartz Bay and other Gulf Islands, converging at Port Browning Marina on Pender Island. Paddlers and Pender Islanders will be invited to participate in a cultural event that evening. On Saturday July 23rd the massed group will depart in convoy for Mayne Island, camping at Miners Bay, where another musical performance is planned. The flotilla will leave Mayne Island on Sunday July 24th, for Ruckle Provincial Park on Salt Spring Island, where participants will join islanders for two nights of camaraderie, cultural activities, skills-building workshops and outings, including a special cultural event at Xwaaqw’um (Burgoyne Bay). The flotilla returns home on Tuesday July 26th, riding a wave of optimism and solidarity forged through shared experiences of outdoor activity, learning and celebration.
The campaign’s main activity will be the “People’s Paddle and Swim for the Planet”. A group of more than 100 paddlers and swimmers will demonstrate how far they will go to defend our coast, in an act of celebration and communion with the waters that link us all as coastal people.
Safety is of course the first priority. In planning the on the water action we are ensuring all necessary safety precautions are being implemented including notifying the coast guard and maintaining set ratios of experienced guides and beginner paddlers as well as including lifeguards in the swimming contingent.
Turning the Tide’s ongoing campaign and its centrepiece political action are designed to inspire regular people to take action. For some, that might mean coming to a meeting and writing a letter or perhaps signing a petition. Maybe they will join us for our educational events on the Gulf Islands. For others that will mean taking the plunge and engaging in a long range open water swim. No matter what the specific action they take in the near term, we hope to engage people and mobilize them on an ongoing basis to build solutions beyond the petroleum economy.
There is no greater threat to our beautiful and productive coastal ecosystems than a potential oil spill or the ongoing processes of climate change and ocean acidification associated with increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. This venture is an important educational and solidarity event in the growing movement to protect our coast. How far will you go?