A collaboration with the musical artist Juniper
Orca Song began in the summer of 2018, as we watched in horror as Tahlequah, the orca mother of the endangered Southern Resident orca population, lost her newborn baby.
The people of this coast bore witness, as she carried the body of that baby for 17 days before finally letting go. In the midst of bringing our own beautiful babies into this world, two of us with babies in arms, and one pregnant, grief found us in a deep way.
We grieved together, for the waters, for the orcas, for this collapsing world we are bringing our children into. We spent that winter season with felting needles in hand, gathering after the children were asleep, crafting and dreaming.
Using the I.D. books released by the Centre for Whale Research, we felted each individual orca in the Southern Resident population, each with their own unique markings and fin shape. All 76 of the orcas were then suspended in their matriarchal family groups from driftwood frames, forming a giant mobile. We call it ‘the temple’.
We have since then had the immense joy of journeying with this piece, and sharing this orca temple with so many beautiful people, at different events and festivals. We have shared with people the threats that these orcas are facing in the Salish Sea, the declining salmon stocks, the acoustic disturbances, the toxicity of the oceans, climate disruption.
We have shared the campaigns that we are supporting, the people on the front lines of each of these issues. But more than that, we have shared tears, we have heard stories about the heartbreak and grief that so many of us are carrying right now. We have spent time together, in our hearts, remembering our sacred responsibilities to these beings, and all the beings we share the lands and waters with. The orca temple has been a teacher in the need for sacred space to both honour and grieve the beauty and wildness of the earth.
Since we began felting in the fall of 2018, three of the orcas have died, including Tahlequah’s mother, a matriarch in the J-pod. Two new babies have also been born.
Our hearts are with them. For them we rise.