Tout doucement, je me réveille d’une nuit douce de veranillo, non loin de l’entrée de la réduction jésuite-guaranis de la Santisima Trinidad del Paraná, dans le département paraguayen d’Itapúa. Il est 9 heures du matin. La pluie n’est finalement pas passée par là. Je me rends compte d’une inhabituelle excitation sur le site. La veille pratiquement vide, je croise des personnes endimanchées bien affairées, en préparatif d’un grand événement. Lire la suite



Universidad andina Simon Bolivar, Quito, Ecuador. Participé a la presentación de un informe sobre una investigación activista y psicosocial del movimiento Yasunidos. Este movimiento de resistencia civil y de lucha para los derechos humanos y de la naturaleza se esta desarrollando por todos los rincones del país y tiene echo y apoyo por Latino América y el Mundo. Constituye un caso de fraude enorme del proceso de consulta publica, inscrita en la nueva Constitución del Ecuador. El parque nacional del Yasuni, declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO, es la tierra ancestral de varias etnias indígenas de aquellas unas son las ultimas comunidades del Ecuador sin contacto con nuestra civilización. Lire la suite


A l’occasion d’un détour pour rejoindre Cajamarca, me voici engagé dans la longue remontée de la rivière Utcubamba. De son embouchure avec la rivière Marañon (principal affluent du fleuve Amazone), c’est doucement que commence l’ascension de cette vallée sacrée de la culture pré-inca multimillénaire des Chachapoya. Par la richesse de ses attraits touristiques, naturels et culturels, la vallée mériterait bien qu’on y pose ses valises une semaine complète.

Conquis tardivement par les Incas, les « Chachas » ont développé entre 800 et 1200 AC de nombreuses techniques architecturales, agricoles, artisanales (céramiques, textiles, vannerie, orfèvrerie). Plusieurs de ces témoignages du passé sont visibles aujourd’hui grâce à l’étude de sites archéologiques et à la technique de momification. Cette dernière, utilisée par les Chachas puis perfectionnée par les Incas, a permis de conserver de manière exceptionnelle squelettes, parures et objets domestiques comme sacrés des Chachas défunts.
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The Super Redwoods, World Heritage Witnesses of Ancient Times

After a cold night in the Elk Prairie campground in the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, we had the chance to meet on the ground M. Keith Bensen, biologist at the US National Park Service. He testified the twisty history of the redwoods while we were walking among these huge living beings…

Biology of the Incredible Redwoods

At the bottom of a Giant redwood with Biologist Keith Bensen

At the bottom of a Giant redwood with Biologist Keith Bensen

The Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), whose common names include coast redwood or giant redwood, is an evergreen, long-lived tree living 1200–1800 years or more. This species includes the tallest trees living now on Earth, reaching up to 379 feet (115.5 m) in height (without the roots) and up to 26 feet (7.9 m) in diameter at breast height. Lire la suite

The Wild Olympic National Park, Sanctuary of Biodiversity

Beautiful Natural Heritage

The Sur la Route du Patrimoine Project’s Team started the visit of the Olympic National Park, designated in 1982 as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site, by the visit of the Visitor Center where we had an appointment with Ms. Gay Hunter (Park’s Museum Curator) and M. Rod Farlee (Member of the Friends of the Olympic National Park).

Meeting at the Visitor Center with Rod Farlee and Gay Hunter

Meeting at the Visitor Center with Rod Farlee and Gay Hunter

The Olympic National Park is a land of beauty and variety.  A day’s exploration can take us from breathtaking mountain vistas with meadows of wildflowers to colorful ocean tidepools.  But it is without counting on the very rainy and wet weather at this season! Now we know why there is the temperate rainforest growing there! Nestled in the valleys are some of the largest remnants of ancient forests (old-growth forests) left in the USA. Lire la suite

#Eco-Housing in the Trees Is Possible

From a Dream to the Reality

Jamie, the nephew of Rosey and Tom Cowan, welcomed us while we were finally reaching the Free Spirit Spheres after a long first day of cycling in the Vancouver Island.

Twenty years ago, Tom, an innovative engineer, had a dream to contribute actively to the preservation of pristine forests and to reconnect people to the Nature. Then the Sphere became real. Tom invented and manufactured them, the first 7 years ago in this forest included in the Qualicum First nations territory, close to Qualicum Beach, north of Nanaimo. There are now 3 Spheres balancing on ropes between trees.

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Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Tofino, half the pace, twice the pleasure!

Tofino, at the end on the Hwy 4, is the paradise of surfers, nature lovers, fishers, vegans, naturalists… It is very relaxing and peaceful atmosphere. We enjoyed a lot the long and wild beaches encircled by lush forests.

We arrived just after the end of the Pacific Rim Whale Festival that celebrates the arrival of grey whales. The occasion also for marine education and creates awareness about the pristine ecosystem preservation. Tofino is one of the best locations in the world to view these beautiful cetaceans. (Unfortunately, we did not see them this time). There are many whale watching tour operators (mostly owned by local people) in Tofino and the Clayoquot Sound area to enjoy the migration from March to October. Once hunted by indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth First nations for their meat, bone, oil for rituals, then by massive commercial whaling in the 18th and 19th centuries, now these giants weighing up to 30 tons are threatened by toxic spills, acute noise and fossil fuel exploration, collisions with ships and entanglements in fishing gear. Lire la suite

Paradoxal B.C.: Do You Choose Gas or Natural Heritage?

Natural Resources Rush!

A Mining Exploitation in BC (Fractured Land)

A Mining Exploitation in BC (Fractured Land)

Through newspapers, TV, protests, and recently the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, we hear a lot about mining, fracking, Idle No More, a web of pipelines, the Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project, future tankers traffic  10 times higher around Vancouver, huge mining exploration/extraction projects…

First, we have to assume that the world needs more and more natural resources to support its (unsustainable) growth. Especially gas. Then we can request from our governments courageous policies and investments to start a model conversion to use less and less oil and petrol. In parallel, mining companies have to provide such natural resources. A question can be where. Or how.

Under the tremendous pressure of global economy, investors and job creation objectives, enhanced by the current global economic crisis, many countries are more and more open to selling parts of their territory to the above-mentioned companies. Related governments, local authorities and Pros are proud to explain that it is a unique opportunity to create lots of jobs, to improve the living conditions of local populations, etc. But they are often neglecting to say the black side of the deal! Indeed, even if the (short-term) benefits are reached, the exploitation will have long-term effects on the environment:

  • The water used for the production could be spoiled forever.
  • The beautiful scenery and biodiversity could be damaged forever.
  • The traditional living conditions of local people could be changed forever.

That is the current tense situation in British Columbia. Canada, and particularly Northern British Columbia, is full of natural resources. Nowadays, there are plenty of projects on the table.

The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline poses a massive new threat to pristine areas across central and northern BC, including the Great Bear Rainforest. The pipeline would bring over 500,000 barrels of crude oil from the tar sands in Alberta to super tankers in Kitimat, BC. Tar sands extraction is a very polluting process. It is pointed out as one of the sustainable development big issues in Canada. The transport to the US of those tar sands products is also under protests with the Keystone XL Project. You can hear many citizen movements and voices taking a stand against it.

Tar Sands Pipelines Projects

Tar Sands Pipelines Projects

The pipeline of the Enbridge Northern Gateway would cross more than 800 streams and rivers, endangering salmon spawning habitat in the upper Fraser, Skeena, and Kitimat watersheds. The proposal would also bring over 225 giant oil tankers to the north coast of BC, where an oil spill could cause irreversible damage to the pristine Great Bear Rainforest.

Overall, the potential economic benefit to British Columbians is maybe not worth the potential risk to their resources, especially given that the majority of jobs provided by the project are temporary and that it is not even to use the resource locally but to export it! If an oil spill were to occur, it would jeopardize thousands of jobs in other, more sustainable industries such as fishing and tourism.

Over 130 First Nations groups have signed the « Save the Fraser Declaration » against the transport of tar sands oil across their lands and waters, and a number of BC municipalities have passed formal resolutions opposing the Northern Gateway project. Polling consistently shows that between 60 and 80 per cent of British Columbians oppose the project. But it is still on the schedule.

Freaking Fracking

Northern British Columbia is also concerned by huge gas exploitation projects. They are expected to use the very controversial Hydraulic fracturing or Fracking technique to extract and release natural gas from the deep layer of the earth by propagating fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid. Pros of fracking point to the economic benefits from vast amounts of formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons the process can extract. Cons point to potential environmental impacts, including contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flowback and the health effects of these. Indeed, in addition to the huge amount of water needed, 0,5% chemical additives (friction reducer, agents countering rust, agents killing microorganism) are added to the water to facilitate the underground fracturing process that releases natural gas. Since (depending on the size of the area) millions of liters of water are used, this means that hundreds of thousands liters of chemicals are often injected into the soil. For these reasons hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny internationally, with some countries suspending or banning it, like in France since 2011.

Planned Carbon Corridor (The Fractured Land)

Planned Carbon Corridor (The Fractured Land)

Behn, a young indigenous man from Eh Cho Dene territory in Fort Nelson, B.C., is featured in « Fractured Land (we saw the trailer during the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival), » an upcoming B.C. documentary that explores the practice of fracking and the strain it has put on the province’s First Nations communities and industry-government relations. Behn’s home is in an area of the province that has recently seen the most aggressive fracking development in the whole country.

Change Is Necessary

Sur la Route du Patrimoine’s Team believes that nothing is black and white. But British Columbians, especially First Nations (and more generally all local people impacted by such projects), have to know the truth about the project and its potential consequences on the environment for future generations. Then, they could have an informed opinion and elect what they want for the Beautiful British Columbia. Transparency is always worthwhile! In addition, this is an illustration of the effect of our daily consumption of oil for our personal car. If we don’t change little by little our habits of transporting ourselves and producing for less oil-consumption means and processes,  we will indirectly cause irreversible damages in the environment in one place in the world. For some reasons, this place will be occupied by uneducated or poor or uninformed people!!! Guess why?

So let’s try to act responsibly and change progressively our habits even if they seem to have local-scale effects.

Idle No More, Giving Voice to First Nations Rights

Vancouver Idle No More Protest

Vancouver Idle No More Protest

Since our arrival, we discovered with surprise the numerous protests in the street in downtown Vancouver. People wore colourful traditionnal costumes. At that time, we did not realize the meaning of the « Idle No More » words written in all slogans.

But we knew that First Nations Rights was a « hot » conversational topic with the people here. I remember when I traveled to Australia, it was the same there with the Aboriginals. I didn’t understand very well the origin of the silent conflict.

As usually, conflicts appear when we reduce reality with stereotypes and charicatures. On one hand, First Nations were the first, so they could claim at least for the same rights as the « colonizors » have, especially when it’s about the protection of their living territories. On the other hand, cons blame First Nations-related stuff because they believe that aboriginals misuse the money they receive from the Federal government and use for getting drunk. Stereotypes, I told you! Lire la suite

MOA or How to Promote the Aboriginal Culture

The Museum of Anthropology of Vancouver. A place of extraordinary architectural beauty. A place with a provocative programming and vibrant, contemporary exhibitions. A place of active exploration and quiet contemplation. A place of world arts and cultures.

The Project’s Team had the opportunity to experience it and enjoy the exhibitions related to Native First Nations as well from other remote civilisations (Papoua New Guinea, Micronesia, Antartic…). We particularly appreciated the exhibition telling the story of Gwaii Haanas’ Heritage, internationally-known for its well-preserved houses and poles. The land and sea in this remarkable place are protected as a Haida UNESCO Heritage Site, as well as a National Park Reserve and National Marine Conservation Area Reserve. The cooperative management agreement, reached after the turmoil of a blockade and five years of negotiations is now a model for conservation and natural resource governance in the world.

The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is world-renowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs, and community connections.

The MOA provides innovative and imaginative exhibits and programs, and encourages full academic and student participation of the University of British Columbia.

The MOA Centre for Cultural Research (CCR) undertakes research on world arts and cultures, and supports research activities and collaborative partnerships through a number of spaces; including research rooms dedicated to collections-based research, an Ethnology Lab, a Conservation Lab, an Oral History and Language Lab supporting audio recording and digitization, a Library, an Archives, and a Community Lounge for the use of groups engaged in research activities. The CCR includes virtual services supporting collections-based research through the MOA CAT Collections Online site that provides access to the Museum’s collection of approximately 40,000 objects and nearly 80,000 object images, and theReciprocal Research Network (RRN) which brings together 430,000 object records and associated images from 19 institutions.