Whale in the Door (2018)

On Saturday, August 11, 2018 from 2 to 4 PM at the Vancouver Public Library, Alice McKay Room, the public was invited to write one of seventy-five planned letters of action to the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (North Vancouver). Since each letter signifies one of the remaining seventy-five orcas in the Salish Sea, participants were invited to fold their letter into the shape of an orca, with help of nearby volunteers. The event was called Whale in the Door: Fold for the Orcas, named after the 2017 Caitlin Press book, Whale in the Door: A Community Unites to Protect BC’s Howe Sound, written by Pauline Le Bel, with a foreword by the Honourable Elizabeth May. At the event, Pauline sang, read, and was joined on stage by the poets of Refugium: Poems for the Pacific as well as Latash Nahanee of the Squamish Nation.

Reasons for writing these letters, according to prospective attendees, stem from disapproval of BC’s fish farms, the Trans Mountain Pipeline project, and disputes between First Nation’s authority over land and sea. With the recent death of Tahlequah (J-35), also known as the first new baby orca to enter the endangered Southern Resident population in three years, many prospective attendees focused their attention on the futility of current governmental policies intended to help foster more Salish Sea orcas. Over 100 people (ages 5 to 75) were in attendance and over 100 orcas were folded. I hope that every year we can continue to provide a free, public, artistic day of action that unites issues of environmental aid and Indigenous sovereignty.