Acrid air wafted into the crowd of tribal members and allies. On this damp Saturday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, they came together to march and rally in front of the Shell oil refinery. The billowing smoke that spewed from gargantuan metal chimneys formed giant clouds and the smell was unavoidable.
The beautiful Puget Sound on one side of the road and a twisted metal monstrosity on the other. The vivid and stark reality of pollution and it’s effect on paradise was on display as people came together to walk for the future of the Salish Sea.
This event, like last weekends ‘Walk to the Peace Arch’ was organized by Protectors of the Salish Sea. Paul Cheoketen Wagner who heads up that organization tells us “Yəhow means to complete something together. That it can only be completed together!” In the event listing, he explained that we must fight for our future, “Stand up fight back. Make change happen for our Sacred Water and the ones coming behind us! For them, let us walk softly on our Mother”
“We only have one home and that is our Salish Sea.” He wrote, “Kinder Morgan’s Transmountain Pipeline would bring almost one million barrels of oil per day to our shores.” An oil spill would have a devastating effect on human life in the Puget Sound (Salish Sea.) It turns out that the nearby city of LaConner has one of the highest cancer rates in the country. Paul urged, “We must transition to green energy sources soon to secure a future for our children that is free of giant floods, monstrous hurricanes and hundreds of forest fires. Climate disaster is now beginning and we need change now!”
The air may have been acrid and ‘plasticky’ as one marcher described it. This didn’t stop an enthusiastic group of activists who came with creative signs and artwork. Tribal Canoe’s pulled to the rally point by passing the giant tankers and Kayaktivists swarmed around them in solidarity. Speakers from Swinomish, Saanich and Puyallup were among others educating the crowd on the dangers they are facing. Fossil fuels threaten their entire existence.