Natural Capital and Rediscovering our Lower Mainland Wetlands

Last Monday we had the privilege to attend the Natural Capital Exhibit put on by the David Suzuki Foundation, Emily Carr and OCAD University in Toronto. The event was appropriately held at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston where a series of mini-documentaries – created by students – connected with the audience on the importance of preserving our local wetlands and natural environments. The exhibit was filled with powerful messages, interactive educational displays, and cool breezes in a well-ventilated cannery. The displays were a creative outreach tool which engaged participants to learn about their neighbouring wetlands. The image above shows one of these activities where people wrote down how they benefit from a particular wetland on a giant cardboard map. This was just an example of one of the many interesting displays throughout the exhibit.

Jay Ritchlin, Director for David Suzuki West Coast, giving a welcome speech.

Jay Ritchlin, Director for David Suzuki West Coast, giving a welcome speech.

The night began with a welcoming speech by Larry Grant, a member of the Musqueam Indian band, whose cultural ties to the Camosun Bog brought a spiritual element to its conservation. The documentaries featured wetlands in the lower mainland; Camosun Bog, Trout Lake, Jericho, Lost Lagoon, and West 4th & Chancellor. The interviews in the documentaries shared a range of perspectives on how these individuals value these wetlands. Many of these people use the wetlands as a moment of relaxation, but others use them for tourism, education, cultural significant, and family activities – not to mention an interviewee even got married in one!  The range of different ways that wetlands bring meaning to so many peoples lives was a message that left the audience feeling enlightened.

In one of the Lost Lagoon documentaries, an interviewee from the Stanley Park Ecology Society used the term ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ which I had never heard before, but fully understood its meaning. Certainly, nature deficit disorder is a growing issue facing urban environments which further demonstrates the value of having wetlands and protected areas near and within cities. Although we might be a little privileged with our abundance of nature in BC, nature deficit disorder still impacts our communities and we should strive to set an example for promoting limitless and ever-increasing conservation. Sarah Richards, an interviewee for the West 4th & Chancellor Bog, eloquently described how wetlands influences her perspective on life and her surroundings. I especially enjoyed her insight on Vancouver’s urban development,

“One thing that I think about when I’m in the bog and in the wetlands there, I think about how much of our urban landscape used to be that way, used to be forest and bog.”

I often wonder the same thing.

Towards the end of the night, a question was asked regarding the effectiveness of using digital media tools for educational purposes, and in my opinion this was answered by the success of the exhibit itself. I was left feeling inspired and eager to visit these hidden oases, and once I’m finish exams I’m sure that I will. Thank you again to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, David Suzuki Foundation, Emily Carr and OCAD University for promoting education, conservation, and interaction with our favourite ecosystems! We look forward to seeing what the future of wetlands conservation has to offer! To view the Natural Capital documentaries, please click here

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  1. […] presented a video interview she participated in creating as part of a Community Projects course, “Natural Capital”, that was put on in partnership between the University and the David Suzuki Foundation. We attended […]



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