OIL MAN and the SEA: a journey

June 19, 2012

With Enbridge Inc.‘s Northern Gateway proposal nearing approval, supertankers loaded with two million barrels of bitumen may soon be plying the tumultuous waters off British Columbia’s central coast.

This region is home to the largest tract of temperate rainforest on earth and the First Nations who have lived there for millenia. One spill is all it will take to erase ten thousand years of evolution. Follow the journey this summer as two men explore this legendary coast aboard a 41-foot sailboat to find out what’s at stake…

The founders of this ambitious endeavour, Ilija Herb & Arno Kopecky are having a fundraiser to facilitate their project.

Please join them at Royal Roads University on June 19th for a silent auction, a presentation about their upcoming trip, refreshments and more. Introduction by Greg Sam, Tsartlip First Nation Elder


  • 7 pm-9 pm
  • Drawing Room, Hatley Castle

Help them spread awareness about the threat to our coast!

From the OIL MAN & THE SEA website:

“This summer of 2012, photographer Ilja Herb and writer Arno Kopecky will board a 41-foot cutter to explore the central coast of British Columbia, a region that may soon be traversed by over 200 oil tankers a year if Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal is approved. This is a profoundly volatile marine environment that registered 1275 marine vessel incidents — mechanical failures, collisions, explosions, groundings and sinkings — between 1999 and 2009 alone; all indications are that it is a matter of when, not if, a catastrophic oil spill will occur once the tankers arrive. Our goal is to use a variety of media to raise national awareness around this extraordinary ecosystem and its inhabitants, and the threat that now hangs over them. The participation of the communities we visit will be central to the stories we create; our wish is not only to document our travels, but also to help the Haida, Haisla, Kitasoo, Heiltsuk, Gitga’at, and other First Nations make their voices heard.

Our plan is to depart from Victoria on June 15, sailing north up the east coast of Vancouver Island until we reach the southern fringe of the tanker zone. Once there, we will spend three months visiting key communities and individuals who are embedded in the region bounded roughly by Bella Bella to the south, Kitimat to the north, and Haida Gwaii to the west. A central character in our narrative will be the Great Bear Rainforest; we’ll visit the communities who call it home in places like Bella Bella, Klemtu, Hartley Bay and Kitimat, all perched at the shores of this two-million hectare wilderness. At the end of August, we will leave the inside waters and cross Hecate Strait in time to greet the sockeye salmon as they return from a lifetime at sea to spawn in Haida Gwaii.

Through photography, video, and the written word, we aim to bear witness to the vital relationships between humans and animals, ocean and forest that characterize British Columbia’s central coast. In doing so we will argue that the 217 jobs and $86 million a year in tax revenue promised by Enbridge are a pittance compared to the national treasure that a single tanker-wreck would bankrupt.

With the National Energy Board expected to make a decision on the Northern Gateway proposal by the end of 2013, time is of the essence. Setting sail in June will give us the chance to add our voices, and those of the people we meet, to the national debate before it’s too late. Many people — from First Nations to artists, journalists and scientists — have already made enormous, even lifelong contributions to protecting this magnificent wilderness; more voices are needed still now that the full weight of our political establishment is lining up in support of Enbridge Inc.. Prime Minister Harper, eager to diversify our oil market by shipping oil to Asia, has declared Northern Gateway to be a “national priority,” and Transport Canada recently lifted the moratorium on tanker traffic that has protected the central coast since 1977. The long-term future of our central coast will be decided in the coming months and years; the time to act is now.”

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