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KPU scientists and First Nations shed light on Fraser Estuary

Diverse groups collaborate to emphasize the significance of biodiversity in the Fraser Estuary
Community performance at Brunswick Point, detailed in Amy-Claire Huestis’s ‘walk quietly’ multimedia resource. (Kwantlen Polytechnic University (supplied photo)

A Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) instructor has developed a new open-access multimedia resource highlighting the significance of the Fraser River estuary.

The project, titled “walk quietly / ts’ekw’unshun kws qututhun: walking with respect and honour along the shore,” focuses on Hwlhits’um, the Brunswick Point area in Ladner, Delta, B.C. The estuary is considered to be the most important estuary in Western Canada, considered at risk due to human behavior and commercial expansion.

The initiative, led by KPU fine arts instructor Amy-Claire Huestis and Douglas College instructor Kim Trainor, offers a community-guided walk through this culturally and ecologically vital region. The project sheds light on diverse perspectives from scientists, artists, and Indigenous Peoples, emphasizing the area’s 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 collaboration with the Hwlitsum First Nation, the “walk quietly” project received funding support from the Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund at KPU, along with backing from Douglas College, Metro Vancouver, and Birds Canada. Serving as an educational resource, for the surrounding communities, it raises awareness about biodiversity protection amidst proposed development. Huestis expresses concern over the proposed marine container terminal at Roberts Bank, stressing its potential impact on wildlife, including the Western sandpiper, Fraser River Chinook salmon, and endangered southern resident killer whales that rely on salmon for survival.

The project encourages participants to engage with its content online or through printed booklets, or by ‘walking quietly’ on their own, using mobile devices to access multimedia content at 11 designated points along the dyke trail. These points offer unique perspectives, encompassing Indigenous history, present-day narratives, and the ecological significance of the Fraser River estuary. The “walk quietly” trail starts from a parking lot at 3150 River Rd. West in Delta. convey the importance of preserving this critical site for both people and the diverse creatures that depend on it.

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About the Author: Marla Poirier

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