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Photographer, writer to speak about Oil Man and the Sea project

June 18, 2012
Ilja Herb

Victoria – Photographer Ilja Herb and writer Arno Kopecky are preparing for a three-month sailing journey that will take them to coastal communities along the path of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Through storytelling, art and new media, they will share the voices and views of those who would be impacted – both positively and negatively – by the project.

“We want to be the eyes and the ears and the voice for what’s going on up there,” says Herb, a graduate of Royal Roads’ MA in Intercultural and International Communication program. “We may personally be anti-tanker, but we’re interested in hearing everyone’s take on things. It’s not entirely activism, it’s not entirely environmentalism – it’s celebrating those lands that are somewhat intact right now.”

Tomorrow, Herb and Kopecky, along with Royal Roads aboriginal co-ordinator Greg Sam and BA Professional Communication student Shawn Morris, will host an event at which they will discuss their project, dubbed Oil Man and the Sea. The event is open to the public and will be held in the Hatley Castle Drawing Room at Royal Roads from 7 to 9 p.m.

Kopecky, an author and journalist who has penned stories for publications such as The Globe and Mail and The Walrus, plans to write a book about the journey and already has a deal with publisher Douglas & McIntyre.

“I’m hoping to shine a light on a piece of Canada that most Canadians – myself included – don’t know much about,” says Kopecky, adding that a central character in the narrative will be the Great Bear Rainforest. “By getting in for a closer look, and writing a book about it, I hope I can bring this special place a little closer into the public’s imagination.”

Herb, who is represented by Getty Images Global Assignments and has published work in magazines such as National Geographic, will be engaged in a creative photojournalism project that builds on his Royal Roads thesis. He will shoot double-exposure images that connect individuals to the land or a resource and tell a story.

“Ilja’s work on his master’s thesis and the use of images is spectacular in my view. They are absolutely stunning images that convey so much,” says Deborah Zornes, director of research services at Royal Roads. “The fact that he will be using this method again for this project is amazing and I think the images and what they will tell us will be world class. That, paired with Arno’s writings, may provide stories that would otherwise never be gathered and shared.”

Tomorrow’s event will also be a fundraiser for the journey, which is set to launch later this month. There will be refreshments and a silent auction, including fishing trips, local art, restaurant gift certificates and hotel stays. Registration is not necessary. A free shuttle bus will depart Sitka surf shop (570 Yates St.) at 6 p.m. and return at 9 and 10 p.m.

To learn more about Oil Man and the Sea, visit

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