June 05, 2008 from the Peace Arch News
Controversy is surfacing over World Ocean Day celebrations, slated for Sunday at Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach.
Don Pitcairn, president of Surrey’s United Naturists, is accusing the organizers of the event from shutting his group out because of its clothing-optional lifestyle.
The event – a family focused celebration to raise awareness of the sea and its role in the lives of people in the community – is a joint effort of the Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society and the City of Surrey.
“SUN believes the real reason we were excluded from WOD is because we promote naturism along with the official recognition of Crescent Rock Beach as a clothing-optional shoreline and that FSBS along with the City of Surrey are uncomfortable with this position,” Pitcairn wrote in an e-mail to the World Ocean Day organizing committee.
For their part, the group claims it rejected Pitcairn’s request to participate because SUN doesn’t have a strong environmental record, nor is it a family friendly group.
“At this point, SUN does not meet the key criteria for participant selection. The organization does not have a broad, visible presence in the community as an environmental stewardship group and it is not known as a family focussed service provider,” said E. Kaarsemaker, representing the World Ocean Day Organizing Committee, in an e-mail to Pitcairn.
Hours after Pitcairn denounced the group’s decision and issued a formal news release containing all the correspondence between the organizing committee and him, another local group stepped up to defend him.
“The Fraser River Coalition’s (FRC) decision to formally withdraw in protest from the World Ocean Day Event at Crescent Beach is due to discrimination against Surrey United Naturists (SUN) based on false assumptions and prejudice toward wholesome family naturism,” wrote Judy E. Williams, co-chair of the organization.