Press Releases

April 7, 2018

The Centre Mourns the Passing of Marine Science Visionary Dr. Bill Austin


The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is extremely sad to note the passing of Dr. Bill Austin on March 22, 2018. Since our Centre's opening in 2009, his image has proudly looked over our Drifter’s gallery; it was/is in honour of this great scientist, educator and man. “A renowned marine biologist, researcher and educator, Bill brought his expertise and passion for the marine world to the West Coast in the 1960’s. Recognized internationally in the field of taxonomy — especially in the area of brittle stars and sponges — he founded the Marine Ecology Station in Cowichan Bay in 1991, and later brought it to the Port of Sidney as the precursor to our current day aquarium. At the station, thousands of children and adults learned hands-on about local marine life in his floating laboratory. The experience launched many careers in the marine sciences.

Dr. Austin worked tirelessly for two decades to expand the Station and advance his goal of fostering awareness and stewardship of the marine environment. His dream grew to become the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre (Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea).” (Photo: Tom Shandel)


March 29th, 2017

Coast Salish Project Announced - New Public Art and Learning Initiatives about Coast Salish Indigenous peoples of the Salish Sea

MEDIA RELEASE - For immediate release -  January 15, 2018

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea proudly receives BC/Canada 150, Town of Sidney, and donor funding for new Coast Salish Legacy Project


Sidney, BC, on W̱SÁNEĆ Nations Traditional Territory of the Coast Salish Indigenous peoples – The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea is proud to announce it has received new project funding to further expand our learning of the Coast Salish Indigenous peoples (W̱SÁNEĆ Nations locally on the Saanich Peninsula) – specifically their historical and cultural connections to the Salish Sea - our local Bioregion and now home to nine million people. These funds also help to mark the Centre’s location  as an important place to learn about, explore, and conserve the Salish Sea – one of the most unique and diverse bioregions in the world. The Coast Salish Legacy Project will include two major public art pieces/markers as well as learning/interpretive upgrades.

Key project funding of $35,000 came from the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia/Canada 150: Celebrating B.C. Communities and their Contributions to Canada grant program, under the theme of Building Lasting Legacies. The Centre also received funding for the project through the Town of Sidney, the Reesor Family, Shaw Communications, and the Salish Weave Fund through the Victoria Foundation. Additionally, in-kind support was generously received from  Knappett Projects and RJC Engineers (public art installation), and Kilshaw’s Auctioneers.

This legacy project will include the permanent installation of two significant outdoor contemporary public art sculptures – a traditional cedar Coast Salish welcome pole, and a Coast Salish designed metal work. Both artworks will reside in Beacon Park (Town of Sidney) close to the back windows of the Centre where they will be visible to the visitors in the Centre, and to the public outside. Additionally, learning upgrades in the Centre will include a new Salish Sea Story depicting the important connections of the Centre’s key species like herring, salmon, and the Southern Resident Killer Whale, with the culture and history of the local W̱SÁNEĆ Nations, through new displays.

The ‘welcome pole’ (approximately 10 feet tall) will be an original design completed by TEMOSEN Charles W. Elliott - Coast Salish (Tsartlip) artist, master carver and elder, and Order of BC Recipient. TEMOSEN is well-known locally as he has completed similar major works at Butchart Gardens and Victoria International Airport, and he has a long history working with the Centre as the organization’s logo features his cod-fish design. The juxtaposed contemporary oxidized metal sculpture (also 10 feet tall) is the original work of Chris Paul (Tsartlip) which displays cut-out Salish Sea animals in the Coast Salish style. Paul’s piece features the ability to view the Salish Sea (Haro Strait) and Mount Baker, or Xwsa7k (Coast Salish/Squamish name), through it – holding special meaning to the Coast Salish. Paul’s work is internationally collected and features prominently in the Sidney Pier Hotel and Spa, where the Centre is located.

The Paul work will be installed in January 2018 and TEMOSEN’s piece in the spring.

Both public art pieces will be gifted by the Centre to the Town of Sidney’s public art collection and will be included in the Sidney Sculpture & Art Walking Tour in conjunction with the Town of Sidney’s own Canada 150 project. Recently unveiled (summer) traditional Coast Salish welcome pole (by Perry LaFortune). This will bring a total of three Coast Salish art/cultural markers to Sidney’s Beacon Park waterfront.

For more information contact the Centre as below.

Mark Loria, Executive Director – Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea    |    250.665.7511 ext. 108

Salish Sea – World Heritage Campaign

“The Press Release below announced our intentions and reasons for seeking recognition of the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site. We continue to update information on our latest work here – and we have also partnered with SeaLegacy, a non-profit society, to invite all who agree with us to write a letter of support that we can append to our World Heritage Site application – until April 30th - GO HERE.



September 1, 2016

Campaign Begins to Declare the Salish Sea a World Heritage Site

Initiative for Ocean Protection, Sustainable Development & Climate Change

CEDAR – With the world in mind, a local campaign has begun on Canada’s west coast to have the Salish Sea declared a World Heritage Site.

“The Salish Sea is a unique inner sea with a long history of providing food and sustenance, habitat and biodiversity for marine species, and a wealth of resources to all those living alongside its shores,”  stated Laurie Gourlay, the interim director of the Salish Sea Trust that’s in charge of the new campaign. “The Salish Sea’s historical, cultural and natural heritage is rich and reflects the highest tenets and objectives of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.”

In August Prime Minister Trudeau invited Canadians to submit applications to UNESCO, the first time in a decade that Canadians have had such an opportunity. Both Prime Minister Trudeau and President Obama have made promises to substantially increase marine protection areas, with President Obama recently declaring the largest marine protected area in the world, in the Hawaiian ocean waters.

“Thinking globally and acting locally we are doubly pleased to note today’s announcement by Pope Francis, that the environment’s health is a critical mission for us all,” Gourlay added. “And with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) beginning it’s ten-day conference in Hawaii, the health of the planet’s oceans being prominently addressed, we look forward to working in tandem with world leadership as sustainable development comes to the forefront.”

The election promise of Prime Minister Trudeau, to increase Canada’s marine protected areas by 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020 also suggests that new approaches and partnerships will bewelcome in meeting the needs of all sectors and interests in the country. Locally the federal government, in concert with past promises by BC’s government, has recently renewed discussions to establish a southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCAR).

“We are heartened by the opportunity offered as Canada’s 150th birthday begins, and the legacy we can leave our children,” Gourlay adds. “At the same time we are also mindful of the interests and rights of the First Nations peoples who have lived here by the Salish Sea for thousands of years.”

First Nation leadership on BC’s north coast this past summer saw a precedent-setting Marine Area Protection Plan put in place with the Province of BC. “Federal government infrastructure funding for Haida Gwaii and its NMCAR, as well as the World Heritage Site which is presently under UNESCO consideration offer the language and means by which a Salish Sea World Heritage Site designation might reflect the best aspirations and interests of First Nations peoples and all who live here,” Gourlay added.

The Salish Sea is also fortunate in that it extends across the US/Canada border and has been the subject of many studies, conferences and proposals – including measures that respect jurisdictional, governance and international treaties. The background work and identification of interests has been thoroughly addressed, preparing the way for this proposal to designate the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site.

“Designating the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site, with all of the expectations to maintain ecological systems and sustainability will meet the promises, wishes and obligations which Canadians have as global citizens,” according to Gourlay. ” The cooperation and partnership building that leads to the Salish Sea being designated a World Heritage Site will extend across a decade, and in the process will build strong communities – providing a significant contribution to our local economies as well as meeting Canada’s global obligations as stewards of the environment.”

The Salish Sea Trust has been registered as a non-profit society, and is now beginning a four-month campaign to submit an application that will be reviewed by Parks Canada before being submitted to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site program in late January 2017. Partnership across all sectors and interests is welcome, and more information will be posted on the website <>

For more information:

Laurie Gourlay

interim Director, Salish Sea Trust

(250 722-3444)

Salish Sea Trust, Box 333, Cedar, B.C., V9X 1W1

250.722.3444, <> (


historic media releases

December 2015  BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG SIDNEY Fundraiser – Jan. 23, 2016

December 2015  Norm the Octopus – Media Release Dec 2015

September 2015  Orca Tour 2015 with Erich Hoyt (October 6, 2015)

August 2015  Youth Oceaneer (Volunteer) Summer Program 2015 – video review

July 2015  New Executive Director Named

June 2015  Aquarium Hosts World Oceans Day Event in Sidney

December 2014  Board appointments

August 2014  Letter of Understanding with the Town of Sidney

July 2014  Rockfish Readers Book Club

June 2014  World Oceans DayOctopus release5 Year Anniversary

May 2014  Endangered Species Day

April 2014  Floating Ideas lecture – A Beautiful Burden

March 2014  Are you a ‘Waterwise’ guy?Yoga under the Salish Sea class returns

February 2014  Fin-tastic Friday special programming

sample historic coverage

Times Colonist October 14, 2012  A Day on the Salish Sea

British Columbia Magazine Winter 2011  The Salish Sea: A Cultural Crossroads by Bruce Obee