The Council of Canadians brought messages of solidarity directly to salmon farm observers on Midsummer Island on Saturday, November 4.
Five Comox Valley chapter supporters and two Clayoquot Action activists left from Merville to meet captain Lennie John and Ocean Outfitter’s boat at the dock in Port McNeill. Our Chapter supporters included Sally Gellard, Dawn Christian, Claire Gilmour, Dave Talbot and Charlotte. The folks from Clayoqout Action were Dan Lewis and Bonnie Glambeck. The weather changed dramatically over the previous couple of days, and they travelled into cold winds, rain and choppy water. They were greeted on Midsummer Island by Molina Dawson, the remarkable young woman who is firm in her determination not to leave until the farm is removed.
Molina and other observers have set up two small shelters on one of the floating booms of the Marine Harvest fish farm. Everyone was able to squeeze into one of the shelters, but it was tight. Laurie Hamelin, an APTN reporter, had joined Malina the evening before, and she agreed to stay and record the formal delivery of our message. Alexandra Morton, the biologist who has raised concerns about the farms for over 15 years, was also present, but from a bit of distance on her boat. She is not able to actually set foot on the camp because of an injunction brought by Marine Harvest.
After he dropped our group, Lennie set off to near-by Gilford Island to pick up Chief Wilson John Glaser. Chief Wilson and Molina decided that they would wear their ceremonial clothing to formally receive our message. Sally Gellard from the Comox Chapter presented Maude Barlow’s message of solidarity. She and the others were quite moved by the intimate ceremony. She reports, “We acknowledged that it was words, and that we’ve often spoken beautiful words with first nations but that now it was time to change that with actions”.
The group brought with them firewood, chocolate, veggies, fruit, cookies, hand warmers, and other goodies from Comox Valley World Community, a Salt Spring Island farmer, an Amnesty International event and other Chapter members. The Council of Canadians will contribute to the observers’ ability to communicate over the next several months, and brought a wifi smart hub to help make that possible. There was considerable excitement when it got set up and it worked!!
Lennie brought the group and Laurie Hamelin back to Port McNeill to drop off those who wanted to drive back Saturday evening. Laurie expects her report to air on Friday. Sally was the intrepid driver who came through several hours of miserable snow – we were very relieved to know they’d arrived safely. Lennie then took the remaining five to Alert Bay where they spent overnight and planned to meet with Namgis observers and supporters of the Swanson Island camp on Sunday morning. They will return to Pt. McNeill by ferry. The forecast for Sunday is better, and we hope that this second group’s trip home is less harrowing.
Sally says: “It is so important that people go up there, so that they can see the support. Pictures and words are too abstract. It’s just them and the fish farm, and they need our support “.
A number of people and groups made this visit possible. In particular these were: Carla Voyageur, Cleansing Our Nation coordinator and Malina’s mother; Ocean Outfitters and Lennie John (Tofino); Alexandra Morton; and the National & Regional offices and the Comox Valley Chapter of the Council of Canadians.