Get ready to ‘Rock the Salish Sea’

Are you ready to celebrate our ocean heritage with some lively music?

Are you ready to celebrate our ocean heritage with some lively music?

The Rock the Salish Sea tour comes to Duncan on Thursday (April 21) at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, starting at 7 p.m.

This concert brings together local students and professional rock musicians to spread awareness about salmon issues and the Salish Sea and raise funds for local conservation groups.

In the Cowichan Valley, that means all profits go to the Somenos Marsh Society and its Wild Wings Festival.

The tour will also visit Powell River, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Victoria and Campbell River, raising awareness about the Salish Sea, which organizers are calling “our precious inland ocean” as well as its ecosystems and wildlife.

Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright of The Wilds band perform with the Saltwater Singers—a big group of students from Alex Aitken Elementary School — backed by Wilds’ bassist Steve Moyer and guitarist Fardad Fouladianpour.

This has been an exciting time for the students. They have been practising songs for several months, getting ready to blow the roof of the big theatre.

Arntzen and Wright have lead a four-day artist-in-residence music program at Alex Aitken, based on a  highly successful model that uses music for cross-curricular ecological education.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the preview of a TV special on water conservation, scheduled for broadcast on CTV-Two and PBS, called Water For Life, take a look at

The message behind the concert is simple, but important: the Salish Sea, is an ecological treasure that faces challenges that threaten the health of its wild salmon runs and ecosystems not to mention its human communities.

Restoring habitats and recycling are ways that people can take local action to protect not just the ocean  but its watersheds, while also addressing the global problem of climate change.

Backing the concert series is the The Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF), Tire Stewardship BC and the Electronic Products Recycling Association.

The PSF is an independent, non-governmental charity that protects, conserves and restores wild Pacific salmon populations in the Yukon and British Columbia. It is conducting the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a massive scientific undertaking to research why runs of Chinook, Coho and Steelhead have decreased to one-tenth of past peak levels over the past 20 years in the Salish Sea.

Tire Stewardship BC manages B.C.’s tire recycling program, collecting “eco-fees” on the sale of every new tire that are used to transport and recycle scrap tires and keep them out of landfills.

Alex Aitken Elementary is heading up a Duncan Community Tire Recycling Round up on Saturday April 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Canadian Tire at Cowichan Commons.

The school receives a $500 honorarium plus $1 for each tire once they’ve reached a total of 100.

Electronic Products Recycling Association operates regulated recycling programs in eight provinces to ensure that end-of-life electronics are handled in a safe, secure and environmentally-sound manner: something that is becoming increasingly important as use of electronic devices increases.

Alex Aitken students are doing an e-waste inventory in their own homes and are encouraging their parents to take the e-waste to Island Return-It at 6476 Norcross Rd.

The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society has long been dedicated to protecting the marsh, looking at it as “an ecological jewel for the benefit of all future generations.”

The Society’s Paul Fletcher said last week, “Paul Fletcher of the Somenos Marsh Society is delighted at this opportunity to help a school.

“The whole idea is about nature education so Genevieve Singleton and the Cowichan Valley Docents, which is a nature education group, are leading the students on two trips to the marsh to educate them about plants, animals and water: all those natural things. That’s part of the training they are receiving. The students are also being trained in a choir by Holly and Kevin and The Wilds. It’s quite phenomenal. Then there’s also Tire Stewardship BC and the students will be collecting tires and there’s a contribution going to the school.

“We did this with Alexander Elementary School about a year ago where there was some nature education and some training and singing. It went very well.”

Check out the Somenos Marsh Society and their work at

The Pacific Salmon Foundation is happy about the project, according to its president and CEO Dr. Brian Riddell.

“The Foundation launched the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project in response to precipitous declines of salmon in the Strait of Georgia,” he said.

Arntzen said the professional musicians are excited about the project, especially about working with the children.

“We have a repertoire of eco-rock songs; original songs about oceans and bears and so on. Early in the school year we sent rehearsal CDs and songs to Alex Aitken and the students have been rehearsing them. When we arrive [the week of the show] we rehearse intensively with them for three days to get ready for the concert on Thursday night.”

The entire school population will sing with the musicians.

Tickets to Rock the Salish Sea are $11.50 each.  Get them at the Cowichan Ticket Centre or online at or call 250-748-7529.