Tag Archives: British Columbia

Reinventing social-ecological memory

Nuu-chah-nulth Canoe Steaming video from Tofino, British Columbia shows the reinvention of historic canoe making, both as political symbol and for cultural tourism.

Nuu-chah-nulth Canoe Steaming, by Jacqueline Windh a Tofino based writer and photographer.  She made the video of master Nuu-chah-nulth canoe carvers Joe and Carl Martin steam a dugout canoe on Chestermans Beach, Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

For more on the canoe see a travel article written by Jacqueline Windh.

I’d like to know the story of how a group of German apprentices (the folks in black/white clothes + hats) ended up helping out, and whether it represents a collaboration.

Native language endangerment in BC

Aboriginal languages in Canada are struggling to survive.  This is part of a global pattern.  About 3,000 of the world’s 6,000-7,000 languages are viewed to be endangered.  95% of languages are spoken by only 6% of the world’s people – 25% have less than 1000 speakers.

The First Peoples’ Heritage Language and Culture Council (FPHLCC), a British Columbia crown corporation to assist B.C. First Nations in their efforts to revitalize their languages, arts and cultures, has a produced a report (pdf) on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages, which finds native languages in BC (map of languages) are seriously endangered.

Gitsenimx is the language with the most speakers  (1,219), all other have less than a thousand speakers, and only Tsilhqot’in and Dakelh have more than 500.

The report states:

  • Fluent First Nations language speakers make up a small and shrinking minority of the B.C. First Nations population
  • Eight languages are severely endangered and twenty two are nearly extinct
  • Most fluent speakers are over 65
  • The majority of classroom teaching is insufficient to create enough new fluent speakers to revitalize languages.

In the press release for the report Dr. Lorna Williams, Chair of the Board at the First Peoples’ Council and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning at the University of Victoria explains:

British Columbia is home to 60% of the indigenous languages in Canada as well as distinct language families not found anywhere else in the world. The cultural and linguistic diversity of B.C. is a priceless treasure for all of humanity and this report shows that more must be done to protect it. With this report, we now have concrete evidence of what we have known for some time: all First Nations languages in B.C. are in a critical state.

I am encouraged by the many fantastic community-based language programs detailed in the report, but unfortunately, they are not enough to stem the loss. I sincerely hope this report is recognized as a call-to-action to save our languages before it is too late.

How Salmon Farming Endangers Salmon

From Society for Conservation Biology’s Journal Watch Online:

Long-held suspicions that fish farms act as disease reservoirs for wild populations are well founded, according to findings published this week in Science. University of Alberta mathematical biologist Marty Krkošek and colleagues show that outbreaks of salmon lice Lepeophtheirus salmonis among wild pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha populations — the direct result of infestations within the open-net aquaculture pens the juveniles must swim past on their migration to the sea — can bring virtual extinction in just four generations. The pressure wild stocks are placed under by the disease risk from fish farms is much greater than that caused by over-exploitative harvesting: the very factor that prompted aquaculture in the first place. It’s surely time for a re-think on fish farming. Source: Krkošek M, Ford JS, Morton A, Lele S, Myers RA & Lewis MA (2007) Declining wild salmon populations in relation to parasites from farm salmon. Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1148744

Also see article in New York Times which quotes:

Ray Hilborn, a fisheries biologist from the University of Washington who was not involved in the study but is familiar with its findings, called the data persuasive and said they raised “serious concerns about proposed aquaculture for other species, such as cod, halibut and sablefish.”

“These high-density fish farms are natural breeding grounds for pathogens,” not necessarily limited to sea lice, he said in an interview. Dr. Hilborn noted, however, that the study involved pink salmon, not species like sockeye or chinook, which are usually larger and presumably less vulnerable to sea lice. Pink salmon are the most abundant salmon species in the northern Pacific.