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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:




Psychology and the Doggy-Doo Bag

I recall the old days when you would be out walking and you would have to dodge the little piles of dog poo here and there along lawn-edged sidewalks or during a stroll in the park. “Watch out for dog doo!”  was the refrain when mom would take us to the park, and if you did get it on your shoe, it was a mammoth task to get that smell off.  I have memories of running barefoot through our lawn in Alberta as a child, enjoying the fresh coolness of the dewy grass – that is until I stepped into a fresh pile of our dog’s doo!

Life’s changed a lot since then, and society and pet owner’s have had to adapt to city bylaws that have most definitely made modern times a little less unsightly… or so we’d hope.  To get us trained like ‘good little humans,’ they started us off with free bag dispensers in all the park areas in most cities in Canada.  We now have the handy-dandy doggy-doo bags that are in a convenient roll and even come in pretty colours and designs. Tie a roll to your dog leash and you are never left in the lurch when you take anxious Fido out for a quick walk. I hope at least that they have passed laws to ensure those little pretty baggies are indeed biodegradable? The amount of disposable diapers filling our earth is bad enough.

Garbage cans for waste are more prevalent than the old days, but there never seems to be enough trash cans around when you need them most.  I hold my breath while passing doggy dumpsters – those metal bins that seem to be airtight  (like that makes sense?) the smell is unbearable.  Please give those garbage people a raise! Did they not think that it might be better to have air holes in them so they don’t start brewing?

Being  a nature lover I get outside as much as possible.  The most disheartening thing I see on walks, is not the inevitable bits of trash here and there, it’s the randomly discarded doggy-doo bag.

But just wait a minute!?  People take time to go out and buy the baggies; then they take the time to scoop up their dog’s doo (thin plastic between flesh and fresh warm poo); they take the time to tie the little knot at the top; and then they illegally drop them along places that are close to where they walk.

I see doggy bags everywhere! Watch out, I may just send out the Doggy-doo police...
I see doggy bags everywhere! Watch out, I may just send out the Doggy-doo police…

I can’t understand the logic and I’ve been pondering this for months now, trying to think through all sorts of scenarios as to the ‘why,’  Like maybe, just maybe, their doggy bag was just freaking them out one day and felt too hot to handle, or the colour did not match their track suit and matching runners (note to self… get the ‘neon pink’ baggies next time I hit the store). Or they had no idea when the next trash can was coming up on the path or trail, and ‘I’ll be d*mned if I am going to walk any further with this in my hand!’

Added to this ‘crime’ there are many ‘types of tosses’ I have noticed.  There is the just drop it where you are dumps; the fling its – “how about into those bushes over there, so no one sees it”  not thinking about the other three seasons when the leaves are thinner or down!). Lastly there’s the good ole’ fling-it up high into those woods over there dumps (Oops darn, it got caught on a branch) — another new anomaly when the leaves drop.

Wouldn’t it have been better in all these cases just to let nature take it’s course, and led the unsightly simply dry out into dust!?

Finally  I figured it the psychosis of it!  I think people who take time to buy and use the doggy-doo bag really don’t like to see a mess, or be associated to one. They take the time do do what’s right and purchase and pick up the poo.  They don’t like the poo so much, that when they are out walking, and know they still have a ways to go, they begin to not like the idea that they are holding on to the poo; and they feel uncomfortable being SEEN with the poo in the colourful bag (now a beacon) in their hand, and heaven-forbid should someone they know pass them and see them holding poo!

Relieving such stress has only one remedy, and it’s the quick flick of the wrist.  Done, gone, did NOT happen!

So how do we solve such a situation with these new types of litterers? Do we create doggy-doo police?  We need a solution, something that resolves being SEEN with a doggy-doo bag in our hand. It could just be the next money maker in the pet industry.

Then I got it! I will invent  a new carrying container so you won’t be seen with the baggy. No one can know what it is, so it will look like a water bottle (yes!), and of course it will come in all colours (neon too), but it can’t be clear, or black (think hot summer).  You can carry it along like you would your water, and it will hold your doggy-doo bag/s inconspicuously inside, so no one will have to know you are carrying your dog’s s#&!

Until then watch out for the Doggy-doo Police! They are disguized and normal humans, out enjoying their day!

(The video below I shot while out on a run in my neighbourhood. I call this felony the ‘Daily dump’)


Robbin Whachell lives in Coquitlam, BC and is a volunteer for the local watershed society. In her spare time she likes to hike The Crunch and  explore her community by taking photos and sharing her thoughts on what she sees.