Salish Sea gets screen time

Rob Butler, author, research scientist and former park naturalist (at Rathtrevor Beach and Englishman River) is spearheading a documentary

A small film crew is taking the Salish Sea to the big screen — but the underlying concept of the project is a lot bigger than Hollywood.

Rob Butler, author, research scientist and former park naturalist (at Rathtrevor Beach and Englishman River) is spearheading the documentary-style movie called Three Waters.

“The idea is to build on the culture around the Salish Sea,” said Butler, who came to Deep Bay last month to interview two oyster farmers who will be featured in the film: Ron Osborn and Greg Wood.

Butler said he’s always been fascinated with how First Nations culture is rooted in nature.

“I’m looking for people who are inspired by nature to do something really different that you might not expect,” he said. “People who really feel connected to water and land.”

The film crew consists of just three men (including Butler) who have taken 10 trips to speak with people about the Salish Sea’s ingenuity.

Butler speaks with his interview subjects about how important the Salish Sea is to their livelihood and longevity and asks what they would do if it didn’t exist.

“The project encapsulates a lot of pieces like the local food movement, our connection with nature and making our communities sustainable — and not just because it’s a good thing to do but because our cultures depend on it.”

Butler said the idea of sustainability will come up in the future.

“If you go into a restaurant you can get Mediterranean food or Cajun food — why not Salish food?” he said. “If we really want to build a culture we need to create a demand.”

Butler said he wants to inspire people to sustainably use the resources around them.

So, what exactly does a Salish Sea culture consist of?

“We don’t know yet but that’s the exciting part,” he said. “We get to see what people come up with.”

The film is slated for completion in the spring of 2015 and Butler said a local network and a Toronto-based producer have taken an interest.

Butler is funding most of the project himself with some help from fundraisers. He said the equivalent of $40,000 has been invested insofar. Also, filmmakers Mike McKinlay and George Faulkner have volunteered all their time and effort to make this film happen.

“It’s something we (the crew) believe in,” said Butler. “Even though we are talking about sustainability at the local level it’s really a universal problem.”

Butler hopes to release a book with the film.

Additionally, he is an avid bird watcher and is “exploring the idea that you can take the sound of birds and electronically change it into music.”

Butler called this “taking a digital hold of a natural phenomena” — a recurring concept in the film.

Asked to describe the film in a nutshell, Butler said: “we’re trying to make a stronger cultural connection and reconcile the relationship with nature in a technological world.”

For more information on Three Waters visit

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