Event celebrates the Salish Sea

April 2 celebration recognizes name change for Sidney aquarium and importance of Salish Sea

Executive director of the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Executive director of the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Carlie Connolly

Black Press

Oak Bay’s Barbara Adams and Jacques Sirois join a sea of guest speakers celebrating the Salish Sea and the name change of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney.

The special event this Saturday, April 2, marks the official change to the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea and raises money for programs.

“Our new focus is on the entire bioregion, so that includes now the watershed, the land and also the culture and people, so it’s really trying to elevate the awareness of the Salish Sea as it goes along with our new name,” said Mark Loria, the centre’s executive director.

Also featured will be an art show, Impressions of the Salish Sea, and an art auction organized by Oak Bay’s Bill Smith.

Coast Salish representative TEMOSENG Charles Elliott, an elder, centre board member and artist recognized for mentoring other Salish artists, will open the event, welcoming people to the WSÁNEĆ territory.

The celebration begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail reception and First Nations catering from the Tsawout Nation.

In addition to announcing the centre’s new name, the event highlights the importance of the Salish Sea is to the region.

“The Salish Sea is actually now an official name for this inland sea … (and) applications (have been forwarded) to the American and Canadian government, so they have a broad understanding of the environmental, First Nations and wildlife impacts of the Salish Sea,” Loria said.

CBC Radio host Robyn Burns will MC the event that features Coast Salish artist Chris Paul, who created the Salish Sea sculpture at Oak Bay Marina, and a musical performance by Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright, featuring the George Jay Elementary Youth Choir.

Arntzen and Wright run an education program in schools based on the Salish Sea and have written a curriculum plan around songs and music to learn about its nature and wildlife.

Headlining the event is Bert Webber, a marine biologist and retired Western Washington University professor who coined the term Salish Sea and helped form WWU’s Salish Sea Studies Institute. Webber joins environmentalist, author, educator and broadcaster Briony Penn to talk about how the name Salish Sea came to be.

Tickets are $50, which includes one free drink upon arrival, appetizers, a future complimentary admission pass and a $10 tax receipt. Funds raised support Coast Salish programming and Adams’

ArtsAlive initiative. Tickets are available at eventbrite.ca.