Awash in gratitude: $12k in one day.

World Ocean’s Day is over, but we are still doubling donations to Heiltsuk’s campaign. We raised $12k in one day – thanks to matching funds, and the generosity of this incredible movement. 

In a case like Heiltsuk’s, there’s a long period between when a case is filed — usually sparking news coverage and attention on social media — and when a case goes to trial. While apparently ‘quiet’, this time is actually where the bulk of the work (and cost) occurs. 

That’s because trial preparation is everything in Indigenous rights challenges. Because the Nation is pioneering a title claim to the foreshore and ocean in Gale Pass, it will need mountains of evidence to validate the claim. Proof is required to show how the territory is used, by whom, and for what purpose. Heiltsuk will also use archaeological and oral testimony to prove unbroken, continuous stewardship of the area since before contact : a requirement in a title case. 

In this case, evidence is also being collected about the long term impacts of the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill to assess damages. Left up to regulators, the impact assessment could comprise sending samples from the spill area to be tested in a lab six months following the spill. 

But Heiltsuk Nation is going beyond. They’ve partnered with the Firelight Group, an Indigenous environmental consulting firm that specializes in participatory research that folds traditional ecological knowledge together with western science. 

All of this is critical knowledge benefits Heiltsuk Nation — and all ocean lovers, everywhere — regardless of whether it is being used in court. The funds raised by the World Oceans Day campaign go a long way to completing needed reports, compiling evidence and preparing arguments for the time when the Nation has its day in court. 

We are going to continue fundraising for Heiltsuk Nation through the summer with our on-the-water, paddle-powered Festival Afloat. At shows from Vancouver to Victoria and around the Salish Sea, you’re invited to paddle your canoe, kayak or paddleboard out to the Providence, a tall sailing ship that serves as the floating stage for musicians like Haida artist Miss Pan!k Danyk, singer songwriter Renee Powers and Bowen Island boy-band The Segals. 

These challenges are not quick, but the accomplishments that flow from this work are significant. The legal system, though imperfect, has proven itself to be the most effective mechanism to constrain the behavior of the state and help protect Indigenous people’s way of life. 

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