I recently returned from a great family trip that took me to Vancouver Island and five other British Columbia islands.  If you have not been to this part of the world, I urge you to get there.

It is magnificent country: Dozens of islands, many with small bays that warm up enough for a great afternoon ocean swim.  Diverse multitudes of birds, fish, and marine mammals.  Tremendous sailing, kayaking, and exploring beaches that look as if no human has ever touched them. Dozens of ferries to move you through and around the islands.  Clams, oysters, crabs and fish to gather and savor.  First Nations people who have lived in the region for eons and remain committed to wise management of natural resources.

Bern and his daughter Tatum kayaking Oak Bay, Vancouver Island

A highlight of our trip was connecting with great Canadian ELAW partners and other advocates who are working to protect and enhance this wild country.  Calvin Sandborn of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, and attorneys Linda Nowlan and Mark Haddock of Vancouver all helped us plan our trip.  In Victoria, I met with Calvin and strong advocates Claire Hutton, who works with First Nations on initiatives related to improving ecological and human wellbeing; Jenny Brown, who works with The Nature Conservancy to protect BC’s natural treasures; and Carmen Gustafson, who works with Calvin at the Environmental Law Centre.  We traveled to Galiano Island, where we met Chris Tollefson, the Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre.  We had a great time staying at Chris’ house on Galiano and learning how to gather and enjoy the edible treasures.  On Salt Spring Island, Calvin connected us with John Roe, who is revered for his successful crusade to clean up the Gorge, which was a toxic mess and is now a treasured, swimmable waterway abutting downtown Victoria.  John took us for a water-borne tour around Salt Spring and we could feel his passion for protecting the natural environment.  We were thrilled to learn that salmon now return to spawn in many streams on Salt Spring Island, while a few years ago the Island was barren of salmon!

I always enjoying getting out in the field with our partners and experiencing the natural treasures we all work to protect.  The late author Edward Abbey, who I enjoyed meeting many years ago, said it well:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast… a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

My family sends thanks to all those who work so hard to protect British Columbia, and thanks for your hospitality in sharing it with us!

Bern Johnson
Executive Director