Students for Salish Sea encourage environmental activism with ‘Sing to the Sea’
Whatcom County community members sat around a small stage as they listened to guitar ballads and created discussion about environmental activism.
Western’s Students for the Salish Sea hosted Sing to the Sea, an event at the Alternative Library Saturday, Dec. 2, that showcased art performances while promoting activism for the Salish Sea ecosystem in between musical sets. The event also served as a fundraiser for the Lummi Youth Canoe Family.
The Salish Sea refers to the inland marine waters of Washington and British Columbia.
“We’re a club that activates and educates students and other community members on understanding watershed consciousness issues and how they’re linked and very much tied to the indigenous solidarity movements that are going on,” Jane Werner, co-founder of the club, said.
The event’s main focus was to educate the community on projects like the Kinder Morgan expansion pipeline project and the proposal of a Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Tacoma, Werner said.
The club focuses on involving community members in local county council meetings and supporting different environmental movements in town, Werner said. Often threats to the Salish Sea, like oil expansion projects, don’t follow or respect treaty rights, she said.
“It’s our job to be involved and educated so that we can work against this together,” she said.
The event saw performances from club member Izzy Sailor as well as Seattle activist and singer-songwriter Erika Lundhal.
A table in the venue was filled with merchandise including CDs of Lundhal’s music, local art, and t-shirts made by the club, said Lydia Denee-Lee, a club facilitator. Proceeds went to the Lummi Youth Canoe Family to support their trip to New Zealand, Werner said.
Sadie Olsen, whose traditional name is Kwastlmut, is a 16-year-old Lummi and Saanich Nations member, attended the event. She’s been a part of the Lummi Youth Canoe Family since she was 11.
“[The Family’s] something that’s really given me a lot of fulfillment and wholesome relationships and sense of community and joy and people that I can really rely on,” Olsen said. “Something that really connects me to my culture.”
The event also gave notice to the effort of designating the Salish Sea as a whale marine sanctuary, which would eliminating the creation of new fossil fuel projects and coal trains in the area in the United States and Canada, Denee-Lee said.
The group also advocated to bring back Tokitae back to the Salish, an orca whale taken from the sea’s southern orca community into captivity in Miami, she said.
Students for the Salish Sea also operates at the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington, Denee-Lee said, and they’re looking to expand to more schools within the Salish Sea watershed.