I just got back from an incredible trip to Hartley Bay, in the Great Bear Rainforest, home of the Gitga’at Nation. I was there to witness the first territorial patrols of the Gitga’at Guardian, a brand new patrol boat that will be an incredible asset to the Gitga’at as they formalize their authority over the access and use of their territorial lands and waters, encompassing some 7500 square kilometers.
As British Columbians, we should be thankful that such a beautiful place is being watched over by the Gitga’at people, and that they are continuing the commitment of their ancestors to protecting the food chain for future generations – especially in the face of threats like the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project.
The Guardian program provides regular training for members in marine safety, conflict resolution and environmental monitoring. On a typical patrol, the Guardians might record and report suspicious fishing violations to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for follow-up and enforcement, photograph and record whale sightings and sample for environmental contaminants in their shellfish harvesting areas. The program is built on traditional-use knowledge and modern scientific methods to ensure the conservation and sustainability of the Gitga’at food supply.
These are some photos I took on one of the patrols (including the site of the sinking of the Queen of the North), but I was mostly shooting HD video (coming soon), including beautiful shots of Steller Sea Lions and Humpback whales, as well as the Gitga’at Guardians in action.