In local First Nations’ mythology, the mountain named Pkols lies at the centre of the creation story, the place from which other masses of high ground were formed when the Creator threw them as rocks from the top of this highest point in the area. The settler story, too, has the same land mass at its beginnings, the top of Mount Douglas being the site of the signing of the contentious Douglas Treaties, in which the People ostensibly signed over the land - something over which we now understand they held no sense of ownership or dominion - to the new arrivals.
It is also - and one can imagine this playing into both these histories - a great place from which to face the coast.
Granted, my intent in starting this project was to find and conduct my interviews at the waterfront for each of the 100 days. However, 10 days in - and recognizing I’ve taken on a challenge of greater weight that the 10-minutes per day proscribed by the folks behind The 100-Day Project - we’ve come to recognize that in the interest of our health we may need to do a little stretching of the rules. So we threw the original structure and timing to the wind and went for a run, to reconnect, figuring we could each fulfill our project commitment from up on the mountain.
Run finished, we roamed the mountain-top, first collaborating on some action shots with Jennie driving, shooting across a valley. As we walked to meetup, I tripped over a lifejacket on the rocks. Then tripped over the sight of a white-water kayak laying next to it. Then the sound of metal scraping rock, looking up to see Julie climbing a small rock face…in a dress…wearing snowshoes. I knew that this was the person I needed to speak to.
It turns out her mom was shooting a video for her as her half of a team entry into the Woods Dream Job competition.
“It’s with my friend Bridget who is this crazy Australian woman. We met two years ago sea kayak guiding and doing a 14-day hike together and we love being rad, bad women outside and so we would love to have this job to explore Canada and get to know each other better.”
Curiosity quenched - apparent madness proven to be clear radness - we moved downhill to the coast.
“I started sea kayak guiding when I was about eighteen at Camp Thunderbird in Sooke and have been guiding 5-14 day trips since then. I was born in Victoria and I love being in the ocean and by the ocean - I’ve tested it out and I cannot live somewhere there’s no ocean because I feel like I’m claustrophobic and not connected to anything. I love the salt and the rain - well, not always the rain - I love being able to go from point A to point B on the water and explore all the little nooks and crannies of the coast. One of my favourite coastal experiences is definitely swimming in phosphorescence, or kayaking at night in phosphorescence. In terms of favourite places, in particular kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago…there were whales coming up to us every day, we had a dolphin swim under our boat…that was pretty unreal.
I feel so connected to this place, but I need to work through not feeling entitled to it, because I recognize that we’re on unceded Lekungwen and Coast Salish territory. I was born here, but my family is not from here. I benefit from being on this land without it actually being mine. So it’s something that I’m grappling with.”