A Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) instructor is shining the light on the importance of the Fraser estuary with a new open-access multimedia resource.
The website and digital booklet walk quietly / ts'ekw'unshun kws qututhun: walking with respect and honour along the shore tells the story of Hwlhits'um, the Brunswick Point area in the Delta, B.C. community of Ladner, from the diverse and complex perspectives of scientists, artists, and Indigenous Peoples.
Curated by KPU fine arts instructor Amy-Claire Huestis and Douglas College instructor Kim Trainor, the project leads participants in a community-guided walk through an area of cultural and ecological importance that Huestis says is at “immediate risk” due to planned port expansion.
“I wanted to know deeper, more complex stories of the place,” says Huestis, who walked the area daily for years before embarking on the project. “As a settler living in Ladner, I just wasn’t hearing the deeper stories, and I wanted people to be able to share them.”
Created in participation and consultation with the Hwlitsum First Nation, walk quietly received funding from the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund at KPU, and further support from Douglas College, Metro Vancouver, and Birds Canada. The work serves as a resource for educators and raises awareness of the importance of protecting biodiversity in an area where development looms.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is proposing to build a three-berth marine container terminal at Roberts Bank, adjacent to Brunswick Point. The terminal would be located next to the existing Deltaport and Westshore Terminals, and would provide an additional 2.4 million units of container capacity per year at Roberts Bank, according to a federal assessment.
Huestis says the project puts wildlife at risk, including the Western sandpiper, Fraser River Chinook salmon, and endangered southern resident killer whales that rely on salmon for survival.
“It is the work of the community to rebuild and maintain a healthy estuarine ecosystem, and to ensure the survival of our more-than-human kin — all the incredible creatures who live in this place,” says Huestis. “The walk quietly project points to the need to preserve that site for people and for the creatures that rely on it. I really hope it can help tell the story of that place and how important it is.”
Participants can follow the walk quietly booklet online or in printed form, or use a mobile device to connect with 11 signs along the dyke trail. Signs link to unique multimedia content, each featuring a different contributor, that provides a wide variety of perspectives on the land that include Indigenous history, present-day stories, and the ecological importance of the Fraser River estuary.
The walk quietly trail can be accessed from a parking lot at 3150 River Rd. West in Delta.