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The big beautiful Salish Sea — Corbett scholar Negin Saadati

View from Mount Douglas. Photo credit: Negin Saadati

April 15, 2021

Connections by water 

The ocean has always been the most peaceful and calming place for me to visit. We are lucky in the Pacific Northwest to have access to the beach, for me Cadboro Bay Beach is only a 30-minute walk from my house, I go here to clear my thoughts.

The water also connects us all to each other, Victoria to Vancouver to Seattle, we are all connected by water. In Victoria, I can always look south and see the beautiful Olympic Mountains in Washington rising above our city, I also love heading down to Dallas road and looking over to the other side (Port Angeles). I am reminded constantly at how close we really are to each other (the US and Canada), we are connected by the Salish Sea.

I also love catching the ferry to Vancouver and watching all the tiny little islands that line the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. I have honestly caught some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen aboard the Schwartz Bay to Tsawwassen ferry, sometimes I have even caught a glimpse of a pod of whales passing by.

Salish Sea workshop hosted by Natalie Baloy, WWU.

Salish Sea workshop by Natalie Baloy

I was excited to learn more about the Salish Sea in the workshop that was hosted by Natalie. Prior to attending this workshop, Natalie asked us to listen to some podcasts, “The Future Ecologies Podcast”. These podcasts were developed in a very unique and engaging way, and really made me think about how development has impacted the waterways and traditional forms of accessing the Salish Sea.

Three of the biggest takeaways from Natalie’s workshop for me was

  1. The size of the Salish Sea – I didn’t realize how large the networks of the Salish Sea were prior to this workshop, and how the rivers that pour into the Salish Sea Basin extend into the mountains and valleys of the mainland.
  2. Estuary System – I learned that the Salish Sea is what scientists call an “estuary system”, this means that it is a place where rivers flow into the ocean, and where fresh and salt water mix and form unique ecosystems. We also learned from Natalie how climate change has impacted these unique ecosystems, such as the increased melting of snow that has been carried from rivers into the estuary.
  3. Borders – Finally we learned about the impact of borders on the Salish Sea, and how this has impacted many groups, but especially the First Nations of the Salish Sea. Natalie describes how certain First Nations, such as the Blackfoot had their lands completed dissected because of the Canada-U.S. border.

I appreciate learning so much from Natalie on a host of subjects.

My favourite activity from this workshop was learning everyone’s favourite spots in the Salish Sea. I learned about so many gems I hope to visit in the near future, especially those I didn’t already know about.

The Corbett British Columbia-Washington International Exchange Program Fund provides an opportunity for undergraduate students at the University of Washington to spend two semesters at the University of British Columbia or University of Victoria; and for students from the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria to spend three quarters at the University of Washington.