Tag Archives: oceans

Green Embassy of Australia highlights B.C. First Nation’s plight with Kinder Morgan

Australian designer Kuvan- Mills with the great-grandchildren of Chief Dan George of Tsleil-Waututh Nation, BC, Canada. (Photo left by Arun Nevader / photo right by Dustin Photography)

Vancouver, B.C. — World Water Week has just concluded and although many events took place around the world close to rivers, oceans and streams, the fashion runway may be one of the last places on people’s minds when it comes to water and conservation.  Enter Zuhal Kuvan-Mills from Australia and her Green Embassy ‘ Empty Oceans’ collection…

Environmental activist, fashion designer and artist Kuvan-Mills believes art and fashion impact our emotions and can move us to value our blue planet. Currently supporting the world’s leading direct action ocean conservation organization, Sea Shepherd (Australia) she said she was compelled to return to west-coast Canada for Vancouver Fashion Week after hearing about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and its threat to local waters.  This is the Perth designer’s fourth time down the runway of Vancouver Fashion Week, and her Empty Ocean’s collection is in perfect sync with water conservation, and she wanted to share that with the Vancouver audience.

Zuhal Kuvan-Mills wears a Sea Shepherd Australia t-shirt with her models at Vancouver Fashion Week on March 26, 2017 (Photo: Dustin Photography)

“Vancouver has such a rich and beautiful coastline that should be protected for generations to come. I know that the First Peoples of its territory are as connected to their land and water,”  said Kuvan-Mills who connected with Charlene Aleck of Tsleil-Waututh First Nation during her stay.  Aleck’s daughter Ocean and granddaughter Maya, ad her niece Jasmine were asked to walk the runway.  The three, are the great (and great-great) grandchildren of a the late native leader, Chief Dan George.  The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is a Coast Salish band whose Indian reserve is located on Burrard Inlet in the southeast area of the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The Green Embassy runway show opened with a poignant video by Conservation International which reminded us of the beauty of the ocean, and why we need her. As the video closed,  the First Nation youth walked together down the runway in their traditional regalia covered by one large fishing net.

Maya, Ocean, and Jasmine of Tsleil-Waututh Nation on the runway for Green Embassy’s “Empty Oceans” collection at Vancouver Fashion Week (Photo: Arun Nevader)

“I am grateful to the work of Zuhal Kuvan-Mills,” said Charlee Aleck, who is an elected Councillor for her nation after the runway show, “‘Empty Oceans’ brings awareness to how we are treating/polluting our oceans, and the state of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. She shares our concern and the imminent threats to our salmon bearing rivers and Salish Sea from the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. ‘What will we leave our children?’ Empty nets?” continued Aleck. “I feel truly blessed to have met this beautiful soul, the passion Zuhal has put into this very important message – water is life!”

“I aim to support and help indigenous communities across the world,” says Zuhal. “The children under the fishing net represents the future of the First Nations, they are being destroyed by all types of abuse and destruction to oceans,” said Kuvan-Mills. “Black coloured fish net was selected to represent death and destruction to the natural environment (coastal waters) for First Nations. It was also over the children like a black cloud as now they are under great danger of losing their coastal waters to pollution with yet another Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

(Photos: Dustin Photography)

It is her hope to create a collaborative event between the First Peoples of both Canada and Australia whereupon dance, music, fashion and the arts can be shared.

Models graced the runway to a mix of sounds of First Nation drumbeats and Aboriginal didgeridoo. Fabrics were soft and flowing like water, in blues and ocean colours, or light and creamy like the sand and sea. Bow-ties, bows, sashes or sleeves were made from re-purposed fishing net remnants. Some dresses were made of recycled polyester sourced from trash, plastic bottles, ad drift / ghost fishing nets. There was the lightest of silk pieces that whispered down the runway, while the woven items were strong and edgy like the ocean’s coral and shells, or soft and warm like the sun’s reflection on the shoreline.

The fabric of many of the coats, jackets, hats and vests were collected, hand spun, processed and dyed by Kuvan-Mills herself on her farm in Perth where she raises alpacas, a domesticated species of South American camelid, similar to the llama. Her dyes are made from vegetation, like flowers, leaves, or vegetables, finding inspiration within the textile crafting traditions of ancient times.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)

Green Embassy is Australia’s first internationally recognized organic fashion label who base their work on the protection of nature, and natural resources, while focusing on bringing public attention and education to environmental issues.

In November 2017, Kuvan-Mills will launch the inaugural Australia Eco Fashion Week in Perth. During her stay in Vancouver she explained her methods at Kwantlen University and Blanche Macdonald, and met with many designers, to inspire them to turn toward ‘slow fashion’ and join her for the event.

Green Embassy has been seen on the runway in Paris, London, Beijing and Vancouver, and with more and more concern being placed on fast fashion and the environment, Kuvan-Mills is quickly becoming a sought after guest speaker, and has been interviewed for television on SBS World News and national radio on ABC, Australia. In 2016, the Empty Oceans collection caught the attention of Pamela Anderson, who has her own foundation to help environmental causes.

Real people – non models wear Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. (Photos by Arun Nevader)

Kuvan-Mills’ commitment to sustainability, organic agriculture, art and slow fashion is expressed in each extraordinary textile piece as a labour of love.

I am so very proud to be connected to this show and that my daughters were able to walk for this amazing designer who has so much heart, passion and vision… I look forward to visiting her  in Australia.

(Photos by Arun Nevader)

Listen to a short clip of the designer talking about her dying process at a Vancouver media event.

Watch video of part of the finale walk on the runway at VFW.

Me wearing Green Embassy at Vancouver Fashion Week. The show was on my birthday on March 26! In the photo taken by Victoria Clements I am holding a Harl Taylor BAG made from natural fibres from The Bahamas. The photo on right is the same vest for a photo I included in my article “Am I Anti-Pipeline” written on my blog about my thoughts around pipelines. It was taken on Burrard Inlet where I dragon boat and where the Kinder Morgan station is.

Read  Am I Anti-Pipeline?

Connect with Green Embassy:




Breakfast with Pierre-Yves Cousteau

I had the pleasure of meeting Pierre-Yves Cousteau during his  trip to The Bahamas in 2011 to promote and educate on shark conservation. He came to Grand Bahama with a senior associate of the PEW Environment Group, and two members of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) based in Nassau. He was visiting the Bahamas to show his support for the BNT’s campaign to strengthen the protection of sharks in The Bahamas, and he gave a public talk at Trust’s Rand Nature Center on January 10th.

We met for breakfast the morning he was to head back to Paris where he lives and I had the pleasant opportunity to pick his brain.

Pierre-Yves Cousteau is the youngest son of famed oceanographer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau. I recall many memories from my childhood sitting in front of the TV watching documentaries on the underworld of the sea, all thanks to such a man as Cousteau. He certainly broadened our knowledge of the wet world below.

Cousteau speaks with a clear, almost full American accent, and when I questioned him on his near extinct French accent, he told me that it was due to attending an American school in France for the first part of his life. Pierre-Yves has a striking resemblance to his father, and although many believe him to be the grandson, due to his young age of 29, he is indeed the son of Jacques.

“My father was 72 years old when I was born,” he said. “My father created the Cousteau Society in 1973,” started Pierre, “to not only protect life on earth, and in the seas, but so his work would continue after his death. He nominated my mother as the president of that organization, and today my mother and I are the only two Cousteaus working in the Society. The other Cousteaus are still involved with the environment, but not directly affiliated with my father’s society.”

Aside from wanting to continue his father’s legacy, when asked what he was personally passionate about, Pierre replied, “I love the oceans, and I want children to grow up in a world where they can enjoy it as I have and do. When we live in a beautiful environment, it contributes to making and keeping a better world, and ultimately it makes for better people.”

“I am personally involved in a program called Cousteau Divers that I created about a year ago with the permission of the Cousteau Society. The program uses affiliated dive centers and ocean scientists (the divers) as observers of the ocean. So people helping out study and protect the environment on a daily basis.  Most of the people involved in this program are citizen scientists They love diving and while they are doing a sport they love they are also contributing to the betterment of the oceans.”

“I am here in The Bahamas because I was asked by the Bahamas National Trust and the PEW Environment Group to advocate for their shark protection program. When I learned about this program I was very excited. The Bahamas is a beautiful place to create a national sanctuary for sharks. I hope that the work that we’ve been doing to raise awareness to Bahamians, educating about the importance of sharks in our waters for balancing the ecosystem; and the importance of sharks for tourism, that the Bahamas will move to protect their waters for sharks. I hope that they will take this serious and therefore set the example, for the world, when it comes to making the right decision when it comes to environmental issues. It will safeguard a lot of the country’s economic assets at the same time in terms of fisheries and tourism. I hope they make this decision before it is too late.”

When asked ‘If you had the opportunity to talk to the government, or even the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, what would you say,’ Pierre-Yves replied, “I would ask the Prime Minister to move on the new legislation that is being proposed and make it happen. I know that the Bahamas National Trust is already drafting a Cabinet paper. I would ask for him to please review it with his Ministers and make it happen. There is no reason not to do this. It is a no-brainer. It’s good for tourism, it’s good for the economy, and of course for the commercial fisheries and the environment. When speaking with a fisherman, they will tell you, ‘a place without sharks, is a place without fish’. Sharks are important for a healthy environment.”

I next asked Cousteau if there was anything in The Bahamas during his stay that surprised him in regard to sharks, perhaps something he learned that he did not know before.

“Yes, I met with a young girl named Candice Woon here in Freeport and she really blew my mind in terms of sharks. She showed me her science project on sharks, and told me that she had originally been afraid of sharks, and that fear took her to research sharks and understand them better. Her fear turned into a beautiful comprehensive science project, and I learned a lot looking at her project and poster. There were some things about sharks that I did not know, and she explained them to me,” said Cousteau.

“Young Candice is a good example of the need for our youth to be educated about the environment so that future generations can enjoy sharks. I want people to be able to say, ‘Let’s go see the sharks’ and not, ‘ let’s go see a movie about sharks’,”  he said.

The conversation turned again to his father who came to The Bahamas many times. “Ever since I was born, my father would come to The Bahamas every year. He loved this country. In the late 60s or early 70s he was here shooting a film on the blue holes in Andros. After I was born, I went every year with him.”

Cousteau spoke about the importance of Bahamians supporting the Bahamas National Trust. “They are good people, well informed, and not only do they strive to keep the land and the sea areas beautiful and clean, they now have this new imitative to protect the sharks and to make The Bahamas a shark sanctuary. I ask everyone to support this campaign and visit the Trust to sign the petition. And like Candice Woon has taught us, if you are afraid of sharks, go out and learn about them.”

When asked if he personally  had the power to change anything on the planet to improve it, Cousteau said there were two things he would do: 1). stabilize the world’s population and ensure every country had its needs met to sustain itself; and 2). assist in the transition of new energies. “If we keep using up the fossil fuels we will acidify the oceans. It’s time to let science take over instead of continuing to run it by economic interest,” he said. “There is nothing we can’t do. We are a smart species.”

Cousteau also spoke on the throw away / plastic generation that we’ve become and how that must be addressed and reduced.

“The Bahamas has the largest resource for shark science by its unique ecosystem and can be the example for the world if they can protect this oasis of life that they have here. I hope it will become a part of their culture to protect the environment,” said Cousteau.


Robbin Whachell is a writer, publicist, journalist, and the co-founder and editor of TheBahamasWeekly.com.  Robbin now lives in Coquitlam, B.C., Canada and is the mother of four children.