The Year of the Salish Sea

This World Oceans Day, June 8, 2022, will kick off the “Year of the Salish Sea” in many jurisdictions thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of university students.

Running from June 8, 2022 to June 7, 2023, the Year of the Salish Sea is a youth-led initiative that aims to bring together existing coastal and ocean stewardship work through public engagement. 

The initiative aims to bring ocean-related issues to the forefront of policy making, urban planning, and the minds of the general public. By amplifying ongoing work in the  protection of the Salish Sea ecosystem, the Year of the Salish Sea will highlight the ocean’s central role in the lives of all residents in the Salish Sea region. This ongoing work includes stewardship initiatives of the many Indigenous Nations of the Salish Sea. The initiative aims to bring greater attention to the duty of non-Indigenous peoples to protect the sea with which we are all connected and which Indigenous communities of the region have had to bear the brunt of responsibility to protect for too long. 

It also presents opportunities for people located all over the region to learn more about the Salish Sea and how they can support its health and protection. The Year of the Salish Sea will amplify ways for the public to get involved, from free virtual learning series, to family-friendly in-person events.

Red flowering currant.
Red flowering currant. Photo by Alex Harris.

The initiative emerged from the SFU Semester by the Salish Sea cohort in Fall 2021. The program was guided by three instructors and made up of a group of twelve students from a range of academic disciplines, all passionate about learning what it means to live in a reciprocal way with the land and sea. Over the course of the program, we spoke with over fifty experts about their work with the Salish Sea, including marine biologists, researchers, and Indigenous elders from the Host Nations whose land we live and learn on.  In response to the state of the Salish Sea, the extreme weather conditions we have experienced, and fragmented ocean governance, the cohort came up with the Year of the Salish Sea at its Stakeholder Dialogue Event as one way to strengthen the work already being done to address these issues.

“It is exciting to see how supportive Salish Sea stakeholders have been to our Year of the Salish Sea proposal and how willing they are to amplify student voices.  This experience has motivated me to continue facilitating connections and advocating for collective action to support the health of the Salish Sea,”  said Emma Kingsland, former SFU Semester in Dialogue Student.

Year of the Salish Sea Progress 

After co-imagining the potential for a Year of the Salish Sea at Semester in Dialogues’s Final Stakeholder Dialogue Event at the end of 2021, the Year of the Salish Sea was brought to local government for proclamation. In January 2022, Vancouver City Council unanimously passed the Year of the Salish Sea motion put forward by Councillor Michael Wiebe. In March, the Islands Trust Council also unanimously passed a Year of the Salish Sea motion at its quarterly meeting. 

Get Involved in the Year of the Salish Sea

The Year officially begins this World Oceans Day, June 8, 2022. To help amplify the Year of the Salish Sea in other municipalities or regional districts, collaborate with the initiative, or promote ocean-centered projects and programs, contact the organizers on the YoSS website. We encourage community members to take action and encourage their local governments to declare June 8, 2022 the first day of the Year of the Salish Sea!

The Year of the Salish Sea initiative will highlight stewards, artists, storytellers, and both in-person and virtual events happening from June 2022-2023 in the Salish Sea ecosystem region. To be notified about these opportunities for engagement, sign up to receive updates on the website or follow @yearofthesalishsea on Instagram and @yearofsalishsea on Twitter. If you have a personal story or memory you would like to share about the Salish Sea ecosystem or its watersheds, you can submit them along with a photo on the YoSS community-building Story Sharing page.

The folks behind Year of the Salish Sea

Tasha Romeyn (she/her) is a Year of the Salish Sea Project Co-lead and SFU Semester in Dialogue alumnus. She will be graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Certificate in Social Justice from SFU this year. 

Simran Sarai (she/her) is a Year of the Salish Sea Project Co-lead and SFU Semester in Dialogue alumnus. She is currently studying Resource Environmental Management and Political Science.

The Year of the Salish Sea operates on the unceded, ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.