A new documentary is exploring the history of tsunamis on Vancouver Island with a First Nations perspective.
“It’s really important to us to give back, so that’s how we wound up doing this tsunami documentary, 11th Relative,” says documentary director and producer Pieter Romer.
Tsunami 11th Relative started as a research project by the Strathcona Regional District, Ocean Networks Canada, northwest Vancouver Island First Nations and other stakeholders in an effort to map the potential impact of tsunamis on communities across the Island’s coast.
“So that included lidar [laser scanning] and understanding the sea floor and how the waves interacted with inlets and communities,” says Romer.
The documentary explores the science behind mapping tsunami hazards and shows how strategies are being formed between scientists and First Nations to deal with the next big one.
“It’s a unique project in the fact that Indigenous knowledge combined with ocean science came together to tell the full story,” says Romer. “I think this is really important when we work with our Indigenous communities that science and Indigenous knowledge can really work in unison.”
Tsunami 11th Relative also serves as a history lesson for how First Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island have dealt with major earthquakes and tsunamis in the past.
“I think there’s such an urgency to gather all this knowledge that is disappearing from our elders,” says Romer.
“We had lost three elders during this project. So it’s really to conjure up more discussion about tsunamis on the coast, and are we prepared?”
With a magnitude 5.8 earthquake recorded off of Vancouver Island Thursday, Romer hopes that the documentary serves as a wake-up call for Islanders.
“We aren’t that prepared and we really need to have sea cans or have our own totes at home and then people seeing these maps and how these waves interact on the northwest coast they can see where they should put their supplies,” says Romer.
Tsunami 11th Relative starts its spring tour of Vancouver Island on April 14 in Port Alberni before finishing in Victoria in early June.
For more information on screenings, visit the Ocean Networks Canada website.