Monday, October 10, 2016

Tribute to Farley Mowat

Many people came to pay tribute to internationally famous environmentalist and author Farley Mowat at the crowning moment of the boat roofed house relocation project. - Following Farley.

One man who unfortunately could not be there was Captain Paul Watson. 

Former Sea Shepherd crew member  and friend of Farley's, Ryan Young, came from Montreal to read Paul's tremendously moving tribute to Farley yesterday afternoon during the closing ceremony, just before the double ender hull was carefully lowered onto our dry stone foundation, a structure built to honour our great friend, Farley Mowat. 

May this rugged structure become a reminder of his continuing presence and a tribute to his guiding example in the respect he had for all creatures living on this planet .

From Captain Paul Watson

Due to circumstances out of my control I am not allowed to be here in Port Hope to personally pay my respects to one of the most significant men I have ever known. Farley was an inspiration for me in the Sixties as a writer, and even more so in the Eighties as an activist. We met during campaigns to save wolves in British Columbia and he honoured me with his friendship for over three decades.

When I think of Canada, the first thought that comes to me is of Farley Mowat. He and I shared the rare understanding that Canada is not a flag, a government, industry or its cities. We saw Canada for the majesty of our forests, the ruggedness of our coastlines, the amazing diversity of life that peopled the forests, the seas, the marshes, the tundra and the mountains. Our Canada was the baby seals on the ice, the whales spouting off the coast of Nova Scotia, the icebergs drifting off of Newfoundland and the Orcas gliding through the fog off Vancouver Island.

We saw Canada in the faces of the Inuit, the long houses of the Haida, the sacred fires of the Mohawks. Our Canada was the slap of the beaver’s tail on the still waters of the pond, the howl of the wolf under a frozen moon, the mournful call of the loon in the marshes of a thousand lakes.

Farley knew and felt that the borders of our great nation of natural diversity can only be defended and protected by the passion in our hearts, change made possible through the imagination channeled through our pen, and a courage sustained by our love for the awesomeness of life, by the spirit of all those that Farley called the “Others”.

Farley Mowat’s legacy will be enduring. He never shied away from controversy, never stepped aside out of fear, never backed down from confrontations.

We have named two ships after Farley. One sits in Nova Scotia as retribution to the continuing lunacy of the seal slaughter. Before that, for a decade that Farley Mowat battled whalers in Antarctica, poachers off Central America, sealers in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and tuna poachers off Libya.

And now we have a new Farley Mowat presently defending the endangered Vaquita and endangered Totoaba in the Gulf of California. This ship that bears Farley’s illustrious name continues to do what Farley was most passionate about – saving lives, protecting threatened habitats and championing nature’s diversity.

In many ways Farley was the father I never had. His impact on my life both literary and philosophical contributed to shaping who I am today. I remember that day in 1998 when Farley and I walked across the ice floes in the Gulf surrounded by the innocent beauty of hundreds of baby seals. I remember looking at this man and feeling so fortunate and blessed to have him in my life. I remember being in his pond in Cape Breton and seeing him swimming with a frog perched upon his head wearing a smile that reflected his deep contentment for that moment.

Farley Mowat was, continues to be and will for evermore be the true spirit of what a Canadian should be. A defender of nature and the First Nations, a profoundly talented story teller, and a visionary who understood that Canada, our Canada is a nation of a million species and thus a repository of diversity that we as Canadians have a sacred responsibility and an obligation to honour and protect.

Oh Farley, we stand on guard for the continuation of your dreams and for the fulfillment of your vision.

My love to Claire and to all who have come here today to honour this great man, this magnificent story-teller – this great defender of life, truth and hope.

Farley Mowat – my friend, my hero and my inspiration

Farley Mowat , Ryan Young, Capt. Paul Watson