Welcome, visitor!   Register   Login

Post an Ad
Menu Post an Ad

Film Festival 2015: Coastal Tarsands: Journey to Deleted Islands

    Film Festival, Food & Entertainment    February 26, 2015

The following article was written by Robert McTavish as part of a series of articles about filmmakers coming to the Salt Spring Film Festival on March 6-8, 2015. Filmmaker Dennis Allen will be attending the festival and lead a discussion about the film. The filmmaker series is sponsored by Harbour House.


Coastal Tarsands: Journey to Deleted Islands

Filmmaker Richard Boyce could have made a documentary about the dubious geographical claims of the Enbridge Corporation without paddling his own kayak in from BC’s northwest coast towards the port of Kitimat. “All the films dear to my heart came from first-hand accounts,” he says, pointing out that this way he could meet the locals and experience the actual natural environments that face the pending onslaught of oil supertankers. “My passion really awakened,” he continues, “I mean, I knew there were whales out there, but it’s different having one bump into my kayak. Being there made it much more real.”

Unfortunately the threat too is very real, and the film that came out of his experience is both beautiful as the coastal area it documents and frightening as thoughts of a potentially massive oil spill destroying it. A spill that some say would be inevitable, as Enbridge and its Northern Gateway Pipeline project wants to send 700 supertankers to Kitimat each year – four per day -through the winding and narrow passages to the port. What the company showed in its ads was an open inlet right into Kitimat, making the trip look like an easy sail. It is not, says Boyce: “I was so upset the Enbridge ad campaign was lying. The map was wrong.”

Boyce is no stranger to social-issue documentary as a cinematographer and director, including his previous film Rainforest where he climbed high into Vancouver Island’s most ancient trees. This time though, he found the process toward the final product surprisingly collective. Starting by producing ten minute internet pieces on smaller aspects of the Northern Gateway/ Kitimat story, Boyce used feedback from the public to help shape the larger work, including bringing several new issues to light. “It really helped creatively,’ Boyce says, and being an independent project without a huge budget meant the help was crucial. As for the journey itself, the gains in compact digital technology made his crewless filming possible where just a few years ago it would simply have been too cumbersome and expensive.

So now with a finished film Boyce is still on the move, the Salt Spring Film Festival his next stop. After all the work he’s put into it, he still marvels at how it remains a collective process. Recent screenings in Courtney and Nanaimo led to talk afterward that was less lecture and more of an impromptu forum with suggestions aplenty, something Boyce would welcome from what he expects to be a concerned and knowledgeable Salt Spring crowd. The film is a call to action, whatever that may turn out to be, because with Northern Gateway being tucked away so far from the majority of Canadian’s in the cities, Boyce worries that people are already forgetting about it.

It seems early to say forget, as it was just over a year ago, in December 2013, that the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel approved the pipeline project that will pump raw bitumen oil all the way from northern Alberta through two mountain ranges right to the Pacific Ocean. But how many remember still that the panel also said that “environmental burdens may not be fully mitigated.” Jobs, money, and other factors may be keeping the environmental thoughts at bay.

Boyce says one of those factors is that Enbridge itself has been hard at work on a 350 million dollar publicity campaign. Gone are the days of the attempted project explanations. Now the branding has begun, with happy workers and, most recently, “doggy smiles” being the final result of the company’s effort. But Enbridge does not speak in the film – Boyce says they’ve had their say.

Still optimistic, Boyce hopes to spur people into theirs. He says the project is on unceded Haisla First Nation territory, that Kitimat has voted against it, and that BC polls have put eighty per cent of the population against it as well, with a possible referendum coming. Yet he also points out that the Prime Minister has a veto if BC says no and the government feels the project is in the national interest. Boyce has no doubt how that scenario would play out, and leads his viewers to take the journey to deleted islands themselves: “If the people can see it’s a bad idea, then we must change the government.”


Comments May Not Be Seen by the Author

No Tags


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Post an Event

Community News

  • Watch: ‘Slimy’ GISS Students Win at Cana...

    by on April 17, 2019

    From its humble beginning as an educational adventure into a new style of theatre learning, The Canadian Improv Games got its start in Ottawa in 1977. Today, CIG is home to one of the largest and most geographically dispersed theatre festivals in Canada with 14 regional programs and over 100,000 alumni participants. Each year students […]

  • Changes in Ruckle Provincial Park Active...

    by on April 17, 2019

    Ruckle Park Active Farm has been in transition since 2018 June when dear Helen Ruckle died – last signatory on a life tenancy agreement between BC Parks and the Ruckle family that allowed them to live in the homes and continue to manage and operate the family farm. The loss is immeasurable, in so many […]

  • Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 201...

    by on April 17, 2019

    Response Report: Salt Spring Island Firefighters responded to 49 calls for assistance in March.  From January to March 2019, SSIFR has responded to 72 Fire Incidents, 71 Medical Incidents, 13 Rescues, and 10 calls for Assistance (Total 166 Calls) Operations This month firefighters attended our first of the year brush fires.  Two fast moving brush […]

  • Photos: BC Forest March Action

    by on April 10, 2019

    On Saturday April 6, 2019 Salt Spring joined 18 communities across BC taking action in support of better protection for our local and provincial forests. About 150 Island residents participated, first gathering at the Library and then marching through Ganges. Joe Akerman opened the event and spoke about the long tradition of stewardship by Coast […]

  • From Space Junk to TED Talks: Forum

    by on April 8, 2019

    Moriba Jah grew up in Venezuela and then joined the US Air Force, where he was tasked with guarding nuclear missiles in Montana. Inspired by conversations with the engineers and technicians maintaining the missiles, he began to study – a path that took him to a PhD in Aerospace Engineering. Dr. Jah then worked at […]

  • New Fire Hall – To Be Or Not To Be?

    by on April 8, 2019

    Salt Spring property owners have had the opportunity to review and vote upon a number of proposals for a replacement of the Ganges Fire Hall. All have been defeated but it’s time to look a little more closely at the reasons for the proposals and the reasons for the defeat. The Ganges Fire Hall has […]

  • Fire Board Election Monday April 29, 201...

    by on April 7, 2019

    Is there a risk that foreign powers will try to influence our 2019 Fire Board Trustee election? The good news is: Absolutely not. Nobody outside of Salt Spring Island really cares how we structure and manage our fire service. But this also shows how uniquely isolated we are as an island. While the Crofton Fire […]

  • Video and Photos: New Centennial Park / ...

    by on April 7, 2019

    The new washroom at Centennial Park has been completed ahead of schedule and is now open. The washroom has a number of features making it unique to other cinderblock washrooms that the community may appreciate. There are four sinks located on the back of the washroom for vendor use and the porta potties have been […]

  • Andreas Gedeon – 2019 Fire Board E...

    by on April 7, 2019

    My wife Annebeeke and I have been calling Salt Spring our home since 2007. Our two children Emily and Wynn were born here, and we plan on continuing to raise them in this truly special part of our planet. Born in 1975 in West Germany, I grew up during the Cold War. Our emergency services […]

Pin It on Pinterest