The National Tour for Canada’s Oceans


Victoria Oct. 26 | Calgary Oct. 28 | Ottawa Nov. 1 | Toronto Nov. 3

Montreal Nov. 4 | St. John's Nov. 8 | Halifax Nov. 9

Joined by leaders and ceremonial dancers from the remote Haida Nation, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society embarked on an historic seven-city tour ushering in a new era of conservation in Canada - the protection of marine riches. This "Dare to be Deep" tour, that included representatives from the Government of Canada, highlighted Canada's long coastline - the longest of any nation - and the pressing need to protect strategic and spectacular parts of that vast seascape in a network of protected areas.

"For the past century, Canada has protected mountains, valleys, rivers - everything on the land. But Canada's oceans - with incredible undersea worlds and creatures - remain largely unprotected," explains Sabine Jessen, CPAWS national oceans manager. "As Canadians, we need to turn our attention from green to blue. Ocean conservation has really come to the forefront."

While nine percent of Canada's land is protected, just one percent of the country's oceans have federal protection. Everyone agrees that's not enough. In 1992, Canada resolved to create a network of marine "parks", known as marine protected areas, on the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic coasts. Much remains to be done.

But times are changing. Recently the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada (Parks Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada) agreed to cooperatively manage the special ocean ecosystems surrounding the mystical Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve/Haida Heritage Site on the remote B.C. islands know as Haida Gwaii. This seascape is now Canada's first National Marine Conservation Area Reserve.

Haida leaders and dancers toured Canada for the first time to celebrate Gwaii Haanas and share with Canadians the interconnection between land, sea and people - where the living Haida culture continues to thrive and where respect for this interconnected web of life is the top priority for the future.

"Although the Gwaii Haanas rainforests became a park two decades ago, the seascape only found protection recently. It's a great example of the modern trend towards marine conservation. For the Haida and marine biologists, there is no border between land and sea. The creatures need both. It's obvious when you see a bear snatch a fish from the ocean or watch a sea lion crawl onto a rock to give birth," says Jessen. "In fact, Gwaii Haanas is so full of life that outsiders have nicknamed it the Galapagos of the North. We have some stunning footage of its abundant creatures to share on the tour, along with the Haida's riveting ceremonies of song and dance."

With fantastic regalia, the Haida dance group, Spirit of our Ancestors, promise great storytelling told through songs and dances. They danced at all Canadian tour stops, including: Victoria, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and St. John's. From the ceremonial "Paddle Dance" to the "Dance of the Animal Kingdom", the dances recreate the natural and supernatural worlds of the Haida.

Representatives from Parks Canada and CPAWS also presented beautiful multimedia, and revealed the latest news about the efforts to safeguard Canadian oceans.

For more information:

  • Sabine Jessen, CPAWS National Oceans Manager: 604-657-2813 (cell) or sabine@cpawsbc.org
  • Guujaaw, President, Council of the Haida Nation: 250-559-4468
  • Richard Carson, Parks Canada: 604-666-6797 or cell 604- 202-2198 or Richard.Carson@pc.gc.ca

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