It could be said, if it were not for scuba diving, I would not exist today.
Into The Ocean’s story begins in 1962. My dad was attending UBC and enrolled in their scuba diving program. Through that, he earned his scuba instructor certification, became a member of the Vancouver Aquarium, and eventually became the president of the Vanquatics Scuba Diving Club.
In 1967, my mom had moved to BC from Eastern Canada and settled in Vancouver. She was working for the RCMP at the time. Having a heart for adventure, mom decided to try out scuba diving. In 1973 she earned her scuba diving certification and began looking for a scuba club to join. She met my dad briefly while canvassing scuba clubs. After approaching multiple club’s mom decided to join the ranks of Vanquatics. Mom and dad went on their first dive together in Səl̓ilw̓ət (Halkomelem) Indian Arm (English)
Mom and Dad went on many scuba diving excursions throughout those first years. They became engaged, then married, and in 1979, I came along.
Unfortunately, the pressures of parenthood, work, and the skyrocketing interest rates of the 1980s, pulled mom and dad away from scuba diving. Even though they were no longer actively getting into the ocean, the pull of the sea never did release them.
My dad passed away in October of 2019. We had a beautiful ceremony at the Shaw Center for the Salish Sea. Our friends and family got to, in a way, enjoy what inspired my dad for so many years. Amongst the jellies, fish, and octopus we celebrated my dad’s life. Dad’s ashes were to be used in the creation of an artificial reef and he would be laid to rest in the waters off Vancouver Island.
It was at this time that I decided to look into scuba diving. I wanted to be there with my dad when we laid him to rest. I wanted to be the one who placed his reef on the sandy bottom of the sea. I wanted to be able to give him a kiss and a hug and say goodbye.
I went to a local diving shop and my husband, and I signed up for the PADI open water diver certification.
We did our closed water portion of the course and had a great time. And then we did our open water portion of the course. The skills dives went really well. We were feeling comfortable and felt like scuba was something we would like to pursue.
Sometimes, when you lose someone you love, there are little things you notice that remind you of that person. As we were getting ready for our last dive of the course, the fun dive, one of the other students broke out a whistle of Green Sleeves. It was the only time I heard him whistling during the entire course. That was something my dad used to whistle every single day. It was an incredible moment for me. With my dad in my heart, we went into the water and sank down for our very first open water dive. Thinking about that moment brings a huge rush of emotion.
The experience was incredible. The creatures I saw were not of any world I had previously known. The fragility of life thriving in the strength of the water. The weightlessness, and the quiet. I could not remember feeling more excited, and yet more at peace than I did at that moment. It was truly profound.
When the dive was over, I could hardly wait to get back in. I found myself telling everyone I spoke to about my diving experience. I wanted everyone to experience this with me. I encouraged everyone to try it out. I began purchasing gear for myself and my husband, and we got out into the water as much as we possibly could.
The reality of our newfound adventure was, as much as we wanted to share the experience, as much as we wanted others to get that same emotional benefit, it was extremely expensive. We feel truly blessed to be able to do this, but it became apparent that it was an investment many people couldn’t afford. What saddened us, is that many of the people in our communities that could benefit from these same experiences, may not ever be able to afford scuba. Maybe they would never be offered the opportunity to try it out.
We wanted to create opportunities for young people facing barriers. We knew that the benefits of scuba diving should not be only available to those who have the money. Scuba diving has changed my life. I want scuba to change the life of others in my community as well.