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Last Wednesday, I attended my first protest, and, oddly, it was in Canada. I nervously unfolded my sign: an orca chained to the ocean floor by blocks representing the issues causing the decline of the southern resident killer whales. I hadn’t expected to speak, but upon mentioning that I was from Seattle, the news media was fascinated that an American had come to protest at the Vancouver, B.C., office of Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard Jonathan Wilkinson.

The Salish Sea has existed long before the borders that separate our countries. We are one, in the conquest to save the remaining southern resident killer whales. The U.S. and Canada share a mutual responsibility for these whales. This isn’t a time for believing in arbitrary lines in the dirt. This is bigger than any of us.

Our mutual governments are so entrenched within their own bureaucracies. If we fall into those ranks, we will lose the souls that impart such a deep magic upon our shared waters.

Though I was the only American present, when we chanted, “Whose water? Our water!” “Whose orcas? Our orcas!,” my voice rang loud and clear.

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Especially on “our.”

Erika Hansen, Seattle, Orca Protection & Rescue