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Photo:  A tourist's tale

(Credit: Backpack Photography via Flickr)

In 1991, I decided to backpack across Vancouver Island. I was sick, life had become difficult, and through a series of events I was lead to read a book called "The Sacred Earth", which was endorsed by the Dalai Lama (whom I didn't know anything about at the time).

This and a few other things led me to jump at the chance to go to Vancouver Island and explore this new found desire to save, love, explore, and learn about the earth and trees.

I spent hours walking along the beaches and doing artwork. I canoed on the ocean, climbed my first mountain, picked berries, jumped on driftwood, and marveled at all the beauty around me. I slept on the beaches that I walked on when the tide was out, thrilled with the sound of a talking ocean barnacled floor littered with sand dollars, snails, crabs, and deep purple and red starfish. I met a man whose respect for the earth was inspiring, as he worked to protect his small area from logging and preserve the last few remaining caribou.

I would sadly leave the area only to return many years later to be heart-broken and devastated by the changes. The lake was now nothing more than trickle. The mount I used to live on and climb daily that had once been so lush was now clear-cut, slotted for development, and destroyed, with small amounts of tree planting here and there. The ocean beach once had hundreds of eagles every day that would swoop down out of the old-growth cedar trees to eat the scraps thrown ashore by the fishermen. Now I saw only three eagles in three months amongst cedars where young people threw frisbees at their bark, subjecting them to disease.

I could walk for miles when the tide was out and not see a single starfish. Today, there are a lot of people concerned about the effects of the tar sands, tankers, and pipelines. Despite the risks to my safety, I too am concerned. I once saw Vancouver Island referred to as Canada's Hawaii. It would be devastating to see it destroyed by oil spills. It is bad enough it has already been 90% logged.

Message to Canadians: Please take care of the west coast. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/healthy-oceans/pacific-ocean-stories/-a-tourists-tale/
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By Teri Sonnenberg

Binscarth, MB

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