Connect with the Salish Sea in documentary by New West filmmaker

If you eat, shop or play in New West, you can get a deal on an upcoming screening of a documentary film about the Salish Sea.

Returning is being shown at Anvil Centre Theatre on Saturday, May 11 at 7 p.m. as part of Fraser River Discovery Centre’s Biodiversity Speakers Series. The event is a fundraiser for both the Fraser River Discovery Centre and Vancouver Bird Week.

article continues below

Returning documents a two-year sailing journey by local scientist Rob Butler as he looks for answers to the question: What would it take to reconnect to the Salish Sea? The Salish Sea is three bodies of water straddling the border of Canada and the United States – the Strait of Georgia, Juan de Fuca Strait and Puget Sound. 

According to a press release, the Salish Sea is home to everything from the endangered southern Resident Orca whales to thousands of migratory birds and unique plants, as well as cultural attractions that are found nowhere else in the world.While nearly two million people live near the Salish Sea, few feel connected to it – and Butler wanted to find out why.

“That was a mystery to me, and one I wanted to solve,” said Butler, an ornithologist, author, filmmaker, artist and adjunct professor of biological sciences at Simon Fraser University. “We have so much available to us that is literally outside our backdoor…why can’t more of us embrace that?”

The New West resident put together a crew to sail the Salish Sea on board SV Ark Angel, with the expedition including visits to Hornby Island, Mitlenatch Island, Savary Island, Pender Harbour and Thormanby Island in Canada. They also traveled on V Springtime from Bellingham to Yellow Island, San Juan Island, Port Townsend and Orcas Island in the United States.

Returningbegan as a sailing journey where we searched for people whose lives and livelihoods were connected to the natural world of the Salish Sea,” Butler said in a press release. “Along the way, we were able to talk to people like artist James Harry from the Squamish First Nation, designer Michael McNamara from Hornby Island, naturalist Phil Green from the Nature Conservancy of Washington, and oyster farmer Greg Wood on Denman Island. All provided their different perspectives on the Salish Sea.”
Since completing and releasing the film that was more than two years in the making, Butler has been screening Returning in Salish Sea communities to rave reviews. It’s also scheduled to run on the Knowledge Network. 

“The whole trip – and the results of it – were truly an inspiration and gave me so much hope for the future,” Butler said. “There are so many opportunities to reconnect to the Salish Sea, and the results can be increased health and happiness for all of us.”

Tickets to the screening are $10 or less, and half price for New Westminster residents who eat, shop or play in the Royal City. Just put in the promo code FRDC19 when purchasing tickets at


Read Related Topics

© New West Record
Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!