Movement towards Green Mindsets: Language, Activism, and Conservationism in Vancouver

Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s largest tourist sites. EcoRangers, funded by Stanley Park Ecology Society in the summer months work to engage visitors with “local animals, plants and cultural history” (stanleyparkecology.ca).  Recently, Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance brought attention to the growing population of Chinese-language speakers residing in Vancouver regions. This is problematic because the tours provided in Stanley Park that address ecological issues are only offered in English. Stanley Park Ecology Society and Hua Foundation are beginning “to train volunteers to give tours of Stanley Park in Mandarin and Cantonese” (Givetash, Global News). By raising this issue, Wu is breaking down barriers of language and culture division within in Vancouver in hopes of having everyone work together to achieve one goal.

Wu argues that Vancouver as a city has been pushing to conserve areas of Vancouver for many years and since the existence of the park. However, there has been no effort to involve the Chinese-speaking population. By being able to communicate with a large portion of Vancouver’s population, Wu believes that awareness in regards to wildlife preservation will increase. Chinese-residents in Vancouver who speak Cantonese or Mandarin will be able to engage in community efforts to save the environment.

Conversation advocacy of Stanley Park and more specifically, the old growth forests in Vancouver will be led by volunteers. One of the most predominant obstacles the tour guides are facing is the ability to translate English phrases and understandings of the environment in another language. It is important that the tour guides take into consideration the cultural context of which Stanley Park was founded. The understandings of nature within Stanley Park were designed by settler-colonists and therefore, the way the tours are engaging with wildlife is very Eurocentric. Huang spoke to Global News and stated that they are really trying “to engage audiences and empower them from their own community angle” (Givetash, Global News).

Educating Chinese-speaking community members will strengthen the movements that are opposed to environmentally destructive industries such as logging and other developmental plans within Vancouver. However, designing a platform that engages Chinese-speaking individuals to adequately understand the meaning of conservation, environment and community involvement within a colonial country may be uncomfortable issues to speak of. Vancouver as a city has a history of disregarding the meaning of the environment to Indigenous People of the land. The tours that will be provided have not mentioned much about the history of Stanley Park upbringing. The violence of colonialism is very vividly understood when we draw our attention to how the landscape of Stanley Park was transformed. Ignoring Indigenous connections to this issue is contradictory to the goal. The eco-tours are supposedly aimed to promote and strengthen conservationism but how can Stanley Park tours achieve this when environmental activism is so deeply connected to Indigenous civil rights?

 

Works Cited

Givetash, Linda. “Chinese-language Conservation Tours to Begin in Stanley Park.” Global News. N.p., 23 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Nov. 2016. <http://globalnews.ca/news/3020412/chinese-language-conservation-tours-to-begin-in-stanley-park/&gt;.

 

“Stanley Park Ecology Society.” Stanley Park Ecology Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2016. <http://stanleyparkecology.ca/about-us/&gt;.

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