Hello everyone! If you do not know who I am by now, my name is Jasmine Elahee. I am your current Miss North Calgary World 2020. I am a Canadian citizen… But I also identify myself as a first-generation Mauritian-Canadian.
I am a daughter to two full blooded Mauritians and I always celebrated my heritage.
For those who are unfamiliar with Mauritius, you may wonder… Where is this country? No, it is not Mauritania. It’s close to Madagascar, and yes is a nation of Africa. Also, I do not speak to animals.
My Dear Mauritius
Mauritius is the picturesque, beautiful Island off the east coast of Africa. Residing in the Indian Ocean. It is what Mark Twain had said “Inspired the heavens.” Mauritius does not have an indigenous population, but has been colonized by a variety of people, (Such as the Arabs, Dutch, English, and French). The population includes people of Indian, African, Chinese, European, Malagasy and Creole descent. It is roughly the size of Calgary, but contains hills, mountains, volcanoes, and plains. It is famously known for the Dodo bird, amazing cuisine (according to CNN), sugar cane, booze, and most importantly its lush environment and ecosystem. From the underwater waterfall off the coast of Le Morne, the Seven Coloured Earths in the Chamarel Plains, to the beautiful beaches and coral reefs. The Island of Mauritius is one of the few, uniquely biodiverse and rich Maine ecosystems left on Earth. Mauritius to me is not just my parents’ home country, but it is where the lineage of my people have lived for centuries.
As of recently, if you have not watched the news, Mauritius is in the middle of its worse catastrophe in its ecosystems. As of July 25, there was an oil spill off the south east coast of Mauritius near Mahebourg. A Japanese bulk carrier ship, called the Wakashio, had ran aground on a coral reef off the shore of the island, leaking 1,000 tones of 4,000 tons of fuel oil into the ocean. This had led the island to be put in a state of an ecological emergency. It was reported around August 6th, 2020, that the spill was detected a size of roughly 3.3 sq km surrounding the Wakashio. On the 11th, it was then reported the 10x increase around it, roughly detected to 27 sq km.
France has sent in a military aircraft with pollution control equipment from Reunion Island, as well as the Japanese sending in a 6 man team to aid the French. Since the spill, there has been more than 3,000 tonnes of oil pumped out and transferred to shore by helicopters, onto another ship by the same Japanese shipping firm. The people on the island itself are volunteering their efforts in hopes to restore the beaches along the southeast with a variety of strategies. The use of straw, sacks, tights and even hair are said to help absorb the oil out of the water. Greenpeace Africa has warned that thousands of animal species were at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution. They also noted that there would be dire consequences for the economy, food, security and health of Mauritius. It is also noted that locals are now breathing in heavy vapours from the oil.
Mauritius has already suffered enough as of recently with COVID-19. The island is known for its ecotourism. The island is a hot spot for many people world wide to visit. It is also one of its biggest incomes besides textiles, exports and fishing. With the halt of all travelling worldwide, it has already had a great effect on the economy. So for this to occur, the people of Mauritius are angered and saddened that one of their main attractions, the beaches and crystal blue oceans, is now polluted by the dark, slick oil.
As of the 16th, the ship has finally split in half.
Apparently, Mauritius had avoided a disaster that could have been 3 times worse, on the terms of taking action. The super-sensitive marine environment has avoided suffering an oil spill 3 times worse than it could have been. Yet, the damage that is already done is another thing.
The CEO of the shipping company in Japan has apologized profusely… but there is only so much an apology can do. The fact remains that this uniquely biodiversity-rich maine ecosystem- is one of the few left on this planet. It has now been polluted by nearly 1,000 tons of fuel.
What my heart feels…
Personally, this topic was really tough to sit on. Prior to the news, I remember seeing a video of this docked tank off the coast. It was concerning then, but I truly believed action would have to be taken place. A bunch of friends had reached out to me once the news had come out about it. I was truly in shock. Like many Mauritians, we were not too sure on what to expect. The beautiful oceans and beaches are one of the main things we Mauritians cherish. I always joke around with friends and family saying, if I wanted to travel somewhere just to stay on a resort, it would be a waste. I would rather be in Mauritius, along its beautiful, natural sandy beaches, and enjoy the stunningly, clear waters of the ocean.
I have been sitting around, listening and watching the news as I did not imagine this is how Mauritius would get its publicity… over something so heartbreaking and tragic. Especially near Mahebourg. I have heard stories from my parents on how they used to go there as youngsters to enjoy. It is one of the most beautiful areas on the island. You hear songs about it. That is how beautiful it is. How can we be so reckless with such environmentally harmful substance in our world?
But this topic on Oil vs. Environment is conflicted in my heart.
I am an Albertan, and I understand the importance of the Oil and Gas businesses here. It is important for our economy. Even though we understand how dangerous either transporting or burning it is. it is still a vital part to our portion of the economy in Canada. As technology evolves, we currently still rely on fuel until another option is to become available and affordable worldwide. Yet, when these tragedies like these oil spills occur, most of us can agree that this is why we are against it. The damages dealt to the ecosystem because of material.
I have recently been interning at a safety equipment supplier in Calgary. Specializing in pollution and air quality. Unlike many other safety equipment suppliers, they take a really big emphasis on Clean Air. They do not just supply detectors, but they advocate on ways we can make a difference in our city.
They are also Mauritian. We have constantly had this talk on pollution and how it effects our world today. As Mauritians, the founder has expressed to me how the difference of air quality in Mauritius to Canada are very different. Calgary being one of the cities which has a slightly lower rate of air pollution across Canada than most. There is still a thickness that cannot truly be described in comparison to the air quality in Mauritius.
When we think of pollution today, we know it is present. It is something my generation and generations after will have to resolve. It is in our air, and on our grounds. In places like Mauritius, though crowded, they have found ways to maintain their island. There has already been issues with the sands reseeding overtime, but to have an oil spill this drastic really does leave its mark.
One thing I can personally note is that I have been fortunate enough to experience the beautiful ecosystems of both countries. It is one factor I really do appreciate about both the . Canada with its beautiful mountain regions, and plains. The gorgeous coasts, and frosty territories. Our grand lakes and rolling hills. To the epic badlands of Alberta. Canada is an ecological phenomenon of its own. We have our forest fires, and our floods. We have seen what spills can do. So what can we do to help such a beautiful country and its environment?
HOW WE CAN HELP?
As Canadians and people abroad, you can help by donating to this crowdfund. The goal is to reach 17,000,000 Mauritian Rupees.
If you’re Mauritian Canadian (or not) there is a facebook page I encourage you to join to help with this matter. Search up WAKASHIO- Oil Spill- Canada on Facebook!
Help join the fight. Save Mauritius Reefs!
Song of the Day:
On behalf of this event, here is my favourite Mauritian Sega.
Mahebourg by Zulu