On a recent rainy night here in Vancouver half of the Facing Page team was lucky enough to check out the Vancouver premiere of Groundswell, a surf-documentary starring BC’s West Coast, particularly the Great Bear rainforest. The underlying theme of the entire evening was the opposition to the proposed oil pipeline from Enbridge running from Alberta into the Great Bear region/ a pipeline that would ultimately put the entire region into peril. The film was preceded by Reflections, an exhibition of works produced by local artists following a trip to the area. The goal of Reflections was not just to preserve that which could be lost, but also raise awareness in the rest of Canada about this beautiful part of the country. Much like with Groundswell itself, the wildlife and the natural beauty of the Great Bear rainforest were the real stars, though it was nice to watch some of the artists going about their work on film. As someone who often dabbles in the visual arts, it’s always a pleasure to see someone with real talent strutting their stuff, and to see the talent of some of these artists portraying something as simple as waves on a beach was an experience in itself. The exhibition will be opening on Granville Island in mid-November before making its way around BC.
Following Reflections, Groundswell got its moment to shine. Not to sound overawed, but each time I see footage from this part of the coast – a region I’m familiar with myself having sailed there a few times in my youth – I’m consistently blown away. It’s a part of the world like no other and the team behind Groundswell have done an excellent job in showcasing it. The surf footage itself is pretty spectacular, and unlike the ‘typical’ surf footage in which someone rolls along on a great blue wave with a sandy beach in the background, this was portraying rugged waves in the middle of nowhere where you wondered much of the time if the board would get stuck on kelp while the surfer was mid-barrel. It is one of those movies you need to see to get just how different it is, but basically it’s a masterclass when it comes to showing off the BC coast in an atypical way. Interestingly, part of the subtext of the movie, focussing on the opposition to the pipeline, is done very tastefully without being preachy. There are a few very well used interviews with some of the local first nations people, as well as a couple of serious reflections from the surfers, those who grew up locally and those who grew up afar, and the whole thing comes off quite heartfelt. Sadly, the movie isn’t available to see in all that many locations, so for those interested I’d recommend getting in touch with Raincoast and trying to bring it to a city near you.
While not usually one to preach, based on the evidence gathered at the screening and during a few online searches beforehand and afterwards, the idea of putting in this pipeline, and then having massive oil tankers navigating what are some of the world’s more treacherous waters just doesn’t sound to me like a good idea. One spill or pipeline leak is going to offset just about any sort of benefit the pipeline could have, and would ruin one of the most beautiful places in the world as well as an entire indigenous culture. If you’re interested in learning a bit more, or even getting involved, visit the raincoast site and get in touch with them, and have a browse over the Enbridge site and the pipeline proposal as well to see the other side of the story.