Looking Ahead

Executive Director Christianne Wilhelmson

Connecting with our supporters has always been at the core of our work and we’ve missed that connection so much in the last two years. Advocating for the protection of this region can’t be done without you, and throughout our history the best way to create change has been through in-person gatherings and conversation.

But the pandemic changed that.

The lack of in-person connection has challenged us, but out of those difficulties has come great creativity. We have learned that we can still gather together virtually, sharing our ideas and knowledge while building power in our communities so we can protect the waters of the Salish Sea that we love so much.

But as we look forward, we can’t ignore that these past two years have been hard in so many other ways. Each of us has experienced loss in one form or another, and many are struggling to find the path ahead. We are experiencing the strain of having different priorities pulling at our energy and time, making it hard to be present. I know I’ve experienced that as I supported friends, family and the team here at GSA. Looking forward is very hard when we are tired and struggle to see any level of certainty ahead. I can’t help but compare it to being on the ocean looking for any sighting of land.

What keeps me going?

It’s looking for and, thankfully, finding hope in the stories and actions of people in our community.

It’s in young orca activists and artists like 12 year old Esmé Morris, who was motivated to act to protect Southern resident orcas and inspires others to do the same.

It’s in the voices of Indigenous youth fighting for the protection of their lands and waters.

It’s in the work of scientists and activists like Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, who is finding ways to make climate action and ocean health part of daily conversations.

And those are just a few examples.

It can feel very hard to find hope in a world that is fractious as it finally starts to tackle deep and systemic issues. The harm of colonization and racism can no longer be something we look away from even though the work to address these harms feels daunting.  But I’m sure you can find examples of inspiration all around you, in particular in those locally who are leading change to protect the waters and communities of this region. I know when I connect with people one-on-one, virtually in most cases, I don’t see division, but rather a deeply felt desire to build bridges to the world we want to live in.

Coming into 2022

At GSA, we are itching to be back with you in the community, sharing ideas, hopes and plans to create a better future for all of us in the Salish Sea region. We’re also very keen to listen, to hear the interests and concerns that you and others in this region have, and to work with you to build that future.

This is our planning time of year, and I’m so excited by the ideas that our talented and committed team are exploring.

Our focus in the year ahead

In broad strokes, we’ll be connecting with new communities and training local activists to be part of creating change around the climate crisis and ongoing habitat loss. Specifically, we’ll be:

  • Advocating for better oil spill response, centering the needs of coastal and Indigenous communities in those conversations.
  • Spending time in Lower Fraser River communities to hear what you are concerned about and how we can help.
  • Working locally to help empower communities to demand accountability for the impacts of climate change.
  • Reconnecting with boaters throughout the region, bringing them information and learning about their concerns.
  • Continue to press for stronger protection for Southern Resident orcas and their habitat.

Becoming more effective advocates

We need to hear what you have to say, and we hope you’ll be interested in being part of those conversations. We also need to hear from communities that we haven’t connected with before, because we can only achieve our mission to protect this region when every voice and every experience is included. In the coming months, we are planning to host Instagram live streams, Community Coffee Breaks, a social drop-in event, volunteer orientation, and more. Please join us at any gathering that suits your schedule and interest, as we want to meet our supporters so we can learn more from each other. Please keep an eye out! And if you want to volunteer with GSA, please sign up.

The pandemic and the growing social and environmental issues in our communities are challenging us in new ways and we have to be ready to address them by authentically listening and working together. We need to break down the divide if we’re going to truly create healthier and more just communities. 

As we demand bold action on climate change, we have to act to protect and bolster the ecosystems we have and that are needed to adapt to the change to the climate. And we can only do that together.

I look forward to the conversations coming this year, and to the path to a better future we’re building, with you.

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