My swim across Fitz Hugh Sound this summer was bitter sweet. It was the last of a series of staged swims that started in Ocean Falls several years ago. My very first swim in the traditional territory of the Heiltsuk Nation was a dip in the waters of Martin Valley just outside of Ocean River. I remember it like it was yesterday. My friend Colette and her brother brought me to Ocean Falls to explore the area and plan what has turned out to be one of the most incredible journey’s of my life. The water was a cool 10C, and a very kind man who has become one of my favorite people, Kevin, made me a fire to warm when I exited. Later that year I completed a test swim from Drifter’s Cove, where Kevin lives, to Shearwater. In the years since then I have swum from:
- Ocean Falls to Bella Bella
- Bella Bella down Lama Pass where I encountered a humpback in the pass!
- Lama Pass across Fisher Channel
- Down Fisher Channel across the Burke and onto Koeye where my crew spotted several humpbacks
- and finally from Koeye to Hecate Island (video below).
The learning on each of these journeys has been richer than I could ever have imagined. When I first started my journey, I set out to understand the impact of large ships transporting fuel through the waterways of the inside passage. I have learned the the story however is not about a boat or fuel, but rather about people, the people who live there and rely on the water way to survive. I have also learned a lot about my own culture and how much harm we have caused through our actions. As people, we do not seem to value our resources or each other. I hope to change that, at least in my own small circle of family and fiends, but continuing to share my stories from these swims.
Although this route swim is complete, my journey in the Great Bear Rainforest is not complete. I still have much to learn from the Heiltsuk Nation and others living in the area.
Here’s a look at my boat ride to the final swim and the swim itself. I was overjoyed to see so many humpbacks along the way. In my years in this water way I have never seen so many.