Community gathers to “Save Our Salish Sea”

Lily Haight lhaight@ptleader.com
Posted 9/18/18

Community members, local environmental activists, and a “pod” of orca activists gathered Sept. 15 for the Salish Sea Day of Action at Pope Marine Park.With the peaceful view of the water in the …

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Community gathers to “Save Our Salish Sea”

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Community members, local environmental activists, and a “pod” of orca activists gathered Sept. 15 for the Salish Sea Day of Action at Pope Marine Park.

With the peaceful view of the water in the background, the day of action opened up first with an acknowledgement of the Native Lands that Port Townsend stands on, and then with a blessing of the Salish.

“We begin by expressing our gratitude for the myriad life forms you sustain including our own lives,” said Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Minister Kate Lore. “We thank you also for the awe and delight you evoke in us, with your power and your beauty. Without you, this would be a dry and lifeless place.” 

The day of action, which began at 2 p.m. that Saturday, was one of many happening all around the Salish, to bring awareness to environmental actions that need to take place in order to protect and restore the aquatic life. 

“Today’s event is taking place all around the Salish Sea, from Victoria B.C. to Vancouver B.C., to Bellingham and I believe as far down as Olympia,” said Cherri Mann, board member of the North Olympic Group Sierra Club. “It’s a day to come together to save the Salish Sea. And the way we save the Salish Sea is by protecting it and restoring it.”

The day of action featured a diverse group of speakers, such as Mayor Deborah Stinson, climate educator Laura Tucker, poet Bill Mawhinney, WSU Professor Bob Simmons, the North Olympic Orca Pod and more. Dana Lyons, singer, songwriter and environmental activist, sang ballads from his new album, called “The Great Salish Sea.” 

Best known for his comedy song, “Cows With Guns,” Lyons has toured the world promoting environmental and social justice causes. He now lives in Bellingham, and his latest cause is protecting the Salish. His song, “The Great Salish Sea,” is written from the perspective of Granny, the orca whale that was the matriarch of the Southern Resident Orca Whale J Pod. The lyrics of the song depict how the sounds of the ocean changed over the years of Granny’s life, from the quiet of the indigenous people’s canoes, to the loud shipping containers traversing the waters today. 

The song brought some audience members to tears, as the recent news of Southern Resident Orca J50’s death, announced last week, was still fresh in everyone’s mind.

“We’re kind of in desperate mode,” Mann said. “Many of us here just got back from Lewiston Idaho, because we were kayaktivists on the Snake River, to bring attention to our Chinook Salmon and our orcas.” 

The North Olympic Orca Pod, a group of activists who dress up like orcas and perform direct action protests either in kayaks, parades, or events like the one Saturday, performed a “rap” song for the audience to bring attention to the Southern Resident Orca Whales, and the issues causing them to become ill and die, like J50. 

“‘Save Our Salish Sea’ is vital to our area’s ecosystem and economy,” said Debra Ellers, member of the North Olympic Orca Pod. “It’s designed to highlight the pressing issues that are facing those of us that live and love the Salish Sea, and especially the crisis with our Southern Resident Killer Whales.”

The day of action in Port Townsend brought together, for the first time, all of the local environmental groups, such as Indivisible Port Townsend’s Environmental Action Group, the North Olympic Orca Pod, the Sierra Club, Local 20/20 and more. According to Mann, the Save Our Salish sea event is going to be a yearly occurrence. 

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