Its almost 550 km from Squirrel Cove, on Cortes Island, to Puyallup, Washington by car, but centuries by canoe. In 1884 the Canadian Government joined in a conspiracy to destroy the canoe traffic that had been plying coastal waters, from Alaska to California, since the beginnings of oral tradition. First Nations people were restricted to their reserves and had had to obtain permission to leave. The reawakening started almost 30 years ago, in what has since become an annual event.A different nation hosts the gathering every year and this summer the gathering is at Puyallup. The Klahoose canoe Tl’emtl’ems left Squirrel Cove at 10 AM this morning.
By the time you hear this, the Ministry of Transportation crew will have left Basil creek. As Cortes Streamkeeper Cecil Robinson observed, prior to this “if the fish came early and the rains were late, they just simply couldn’t get through the old culvert. They died right there.” Now more of them will swim upstream to their spawning grounds. Then he proceeded to describe how the “Basil Creek culvert projectwas over the top from the very beginning. Everything that needed to be done, is done: and then some more, always some more.”
Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure closed a small segment of Whaletown Road on Cortes Island. The impact on the local community is minimal. However British Columbia’s threatened fish stocks greatly benefit from projects like replacing the culvert at Basil Creek.