Crew Profile

Crew Blog | Niko Powell: Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve

Niko PowellWritten by Niko Powell

After a few days in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia enjoying the hospitality of the community here the crew got a special gift – one of the provinces’ very energetic community members treated us to a tour of the local Biosphere Reserve. We were introduced to John Sollow, a wealth of energetic knowledge of the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve (and probably every individual residing within). The cascade of information began as soon as we jumped in the car; touring on our way up the coast of Nova Scotia we are steeped in stories of ages past and present, from the once booming cotton canvas fabrication mill of Yarmouth, to the newest owners of the oldest house in the town.


We came gliding into the windswept coastline, breathing in the shores and scents of Mavillette Beach. The crew paused for a moment to take in the old beauty of the long grey Nova Scotia sand and lowland ecosystem. Great Blue Herrings stood stoic in the tall grass and snaking salt marshes with small white houses planted on the emerald hillside. We scampered off through the hills, passing quaint homes and wooden churches to the French Acadian community and the Municipality of Claire.


Greeted by friendly faces and ambient French Acadian music, we arrived at the Rendez-vous de la Baie, a community and museum dedicated to the history of the early settlers in Nova Scotia and their story. This community from the beginning only sought to coexist in peace and simplicity, marrying into indigenous Mi’kmaq families – they were then broken from their land and families for 100 years until finally finding communities that accepted them, becoming the Cajun communities of Louisiana, or finally coming back to Nova Scotia to reunite long lost families and grow into the Acadian people of today. Their perseverance, through discrimination and suppression have made them a proud community, but they have never lost sight of the peace they came to this land with. As Denis Comean, our guide through Acadian history illustrated perfectly, he spreads the spirit of togetherness and acceptance to everyone he meets in hopes that he might impact even one life.

After we departed, we looped back through the inland forests of Digby county and intoIMG_1480 Yarmouth county once more. We moved through the Acadian forests, a shamble of long leaf and conifer trees that stretches into a rolling green sea; driving, we slid down into long troughs only to climb up the crest of another green roller, passing meadow and farm, wooden home and church.

Along the way, John continued his storytelling adventure, describing some of the work he and other community members are struggling to do to combat the pollution of the lakes we could see shining between the trees we passed. As he explains, this is what the Biosphere Reserve is – a melting pot of community working together to grow and help to conserve the land that they wake up in the morning to. Maybe that’s what we should all aim to do – make a conscious effort every day to work hard, sleep well, and wake up to a beautiful morning.

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Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

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