Norm first came to The Great Bear Rainforest through King Pacific Lodge where he worked as a guide. He has since been living with the Gitga'at First Nations community in Hartley Bay off and on for the last 10 years, working within the community coaching, teaching and participating in student mentor programs. Through his involvement with the Gitga'at community, Norm found inspiration to engage in the struggle against Enbridge, Inc.'s proposed twin pipelines and oil super tankers in the pristine waterways of the Great Bear Rainforest.
This past May, Norm completed a 400-km standup paddle board expedition along the proposed oil super tanker routefrom Kitimat to Hartley Bay, bringing awareness to the people and the wildlife of the Great Bear Rainforest and the North Pacific Coast.
A voyage of this magnitude had never been attempted on a stand up paddleboard in Canada before. The Great Bear Rainforest stretches from Vancouver Island north to southeast Alaska. It is one of the largest remaining tracts of unspoiled temperate rainforest in the world and is one of the most prolific areas for marine and terrestrial wildlife anywhere in the world. It is also the traditional home of coastal First Nations who have used the bounty of the ocean and forest to sustain themselves for millennia.
The purpose of my expedition, which I called “Standup4GreatBear,” was to bring attention to the traditional food harvesting areas of the First Nations, the amazing ecosystem of the Great Bear Rainforest and the proposed development that could threaten them. The journey became much more than that.
People along the way asked me if the paddling was hard or if there were any challenges. My answer was always the same. “When you are paddling for, and representing, the people and wildlife of our amazing coastline, you feel like the most powerful person in the world, challenges seem small.” The expedition was not a race or a feat of endurance; it was a special opportunity we had to hear the song of the coast and of the people. It’s a very powerful song and one that we all can be part of: We say no to oil tankers on our coast, and our answer will not change.