Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Take a walk across the look back, what do you see?

Sunday, Oct. 7th, No Whales In Captivity, held a protest in front of the Vancouver Aquarium and I was there with my daughter and her tail.

The Fun Part:

Courtney has been spotted around town at various functions and events; as Vancouver Mermaid, she was the featured attraction at this protest which was for the release of the last orca (killer whale) in captivity at MarineLand in Niagara Falls, Canada.

Watching her interact with children, their parents, and others wanting to know what was going on was uplifting and encouraging. 

The Serious Part:

I found myself drawn in by the energy and passion of the fifty volunteers/protesters that came out for this event on a glorious, sunny October Sunday.

This local event was in support of a larger group of protesters (100) at MarineLand in Niagara Falls, Canada, protesting the ongoing confinement and display (for entertainment purposes) of Kiska, an orca (killer whale) that has been alone in a small tank since November 2011.


This was my first protest, as such I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Often, when watching protesters on television I would find myself getting annoyed at the radicalism and the attempt, at all costs, to bring me on board. And, if one didn’t agree with "them" one might be inclined to feel they were being censured and stupefied

So, I admit, I was a little leery when my daughter invited me along, more as her assistant, then an actual protester, to this event.

Initially, I served in my role as assistant to the mermaid, but in short order I found myself with brochures to hand out to passersby; which I enjoyed. I have long known I am a people person so this was not a stretch for me.

Well...the next thing I heard was a megaphone. 

Many a voice found their way to it and expressed a concern, a passion, and even some anger. And yes, there were a few moments when I was uncomfortable with what I was hearing.

Not because it was bad, but because of the delivery.

It was then I wanted to “speak up” and address those folks, patiently waiting in line, over on the other side of the roadway, whose only intention, upon getting up that morning, was to have a “fun” outing with family and/or friends at the aquarium.

I took some time to reflect on what “we” as a group looked like from “over there” and what “we” must sound like. I thought of rallies and protests I had seen on television where I felt I was missing something...wondering what the heck those protesters where protesting about anyway.

I realized we were not giving the onlookers the bigger picture of what was going on in front of them.

So, I did what was logical to me, I engaged those onlookers by introducing “us” to them. 

Who were we? Did they wonder this, I asked.
(a non-profit organization called No Whales In Captivity, started in 1992)

Why were we here? I thought they might like to know.
(to support the release of the last remaining orca in captivity in Canada)

What was our mission and what did we hope to accomplish? 
(to educate; get signatures on petitions; and stop the import of more cetaceans to Canadian aquariums)

I let them know the literature we were handing out had facts that might intrigue them thus giving them questions to ask the staff, inside the aquarium.

I encouraged them, once inside, to note the state and size of the habitats of the captive cetaceans (marine mammals: whales, dolphins, porpoises).

Further, I let them know that each person out here, protesting, was doing so because they care about the welfare and well-being of marine mammals being held in captivity; that each of these protesters was in fact just like them, a compassionate free thinker who wants to do the right thing.

I closed with asking those waiting in line (the onlookers across the street) to really see what was there before them, in the aquarium, in particular the dolphin and beluga exhibits with their scheduled performances, and ask themselves this simple question: “Am I being entertained at the expense of another’s freedom?” 

You know what was interesting - by taking this approach people paused and heard the message. Some even ventured "across the street" for literature, wanting more information before heading into the aquarium.

And that, my dear friends, was the icing on my “first protest” cake.

You see, I believe it isn’t my job to convince you to be a compassionate human - that’s for you and your conscience to figure out.

My job is to give you more than one path for your thoughts to travel on. The more info you can garner, the better you will be at drawing a conclusion, one that’s right for you because it’s yours.

I have a theory and it goes like this: No human has the right to tell another human what to think. Each of us has a brain, the trick is to be an independent thinker and use that brain rather than giving it over to someone else to do our thinking for us.

Each of you that frequents Pearson Report is encouraged to be a critical thinker and to draw your own conclusions, not only with what you read here, but with everything you read, hear and see. (taste and touch can be worked in here too)

I am the first to do a little research before spouting off and though I have strong opinions I afford everyone their own. I am a big fan of open dialogue. If in the end we agree to disagree, remember dialogue is the grease that keeps our mental cogs turning.

Never let your cogs seize up. Be open, be receptive, and most of all be in touch with your conscience - it will never steer you wrong.

For those wishing to delve a little deeper into cetaceans in captivity here are some links:

Theo has died. (Theodore the harbour porpoise rescued this summer close to Victoria, BC died at the Vancouver Aquarium)

This problem is not unique to Canada, aquariums around the globe are big business. If you have an aquarium close to home I encourage you to do a little sleuthing, it's amazing what you'll find out.
Remember, knowledge is power, never miss an opportunity to power-up!  (who's a gamer!!)

Okay, here it comes...a one question quiz: What is the moral of this post?



  1. I found it very interesting to read that the "big work" of persuading people is not done by hollering but by making them think with low or normal voice but in a personal way.
    Everyone of us is doing harm to other human or animal being because of ignorance. I think most people who become aware of the pathetic situation of whales etc. in aquariums would refuse such cruelty.

    1. It was quite something to be there and "feel" the energy of both groups of people. The more the onlookers (those not protesting) were taunted or made to feel quilt about going into the aquarium the more the distance grew.

      I knew that the protesters, speaking with the megaphone, where passionately expressing personal views and experiences, but at times it came across in a negative light which was such a shame.

      Thank you for weighing in on this very important topic, Martin - much appreciated.

  2. I'm going to say that a moral is that you shouldn't judge a book or a protest by its cover because of how you started off dreading the protest then slowly got into it and changed your mind. Understandably every protest is different though so maybe the moral is that peaceful protest is the best kind?

    Then again the moral could always just be that keeping animals, especially whales in captivity is just wrong and should be stamped out which in my eyes is very true although it may never fully come to fruition. I hate seeing animals be exploited as well Jenny, you and your daughter both have some real heart.

    1. Matthew, I'm sending you a cyber gold star for your assessment of the moral of this post. It is all of the things you mention. There is no wrong answer.

      For me, the moral is: take time to know the facts and use your own brain to draw your own conclusion. If something doesn't look right, feel right, sound right, smell right, or even taste right then it is most definitely NOT right.

      Beautiful, intelligent, wild cetaceans held in captivity for our amusement is just NOT right!

      As always, Matthew, thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this post - you rock!

  3. Anonymous5:34 am

    The moral of this post is to make me protest and become a raging animal rights activist!! I knew it all along, Jenny!! You sneaky, sneaky thing!! =PPP

    Seriously, I think your point is quite simple - to see things from both sides. As others see things. Not just from your own side of a topic but to be able to take a look at something from all angles and instead of saying, "Hey, I'm right, your wrong and that's that!!!" Give your opinion politely, respectfully and allow them do the same and walk away knowing you tried to make a difference.

    1. Ear to ear grin coming at you, sister! You got my ulterior motive - dang, was I that obvious!

      But seriously, I'm glad you get it, but then I knew you would. You make your point beautifully - thank you.

      And, like I said to Matthew, you dropping by, weighing in on this post just rocks! :)

  4. It just goes to show that your heart is at least as big as your blog and growing bigger all the time. You went there as a bystander and ended up becoming an activist. That's how these things grow and that
    s how we get things fixed.

    Just make sure that the voice of reason is always right there on your shoulder, love. (wink)

    1. I really did not know what to expect upon embarking on this journey. Suffice it to say, I think there is room for growth!

      I will heed your much valued advice and keep my voice of reason somewhere where I can keep a winking eye on it! hehehe

      Thanks, Rev, for dropping by. :)

  5. Sorry, I'll agree to disagree. Not everyone can see these creatures in their natural habitat. Censuring all aquariums and Sealand-type ventures goes against the grain. Some beautiful birds had to suffer so John James Audubon could draw his beautiful renditions of birds from the then lush Florida areas. But much was learned in identification of many avian species. School kids come here to learn about biology, don't take that opportunity away from them.

    I would do away with the entertainment factor and keep the science part of the equation.

    1. No need to say "sorry" for agreeing to disagree. I confess I look forward to healthy debate when there is a difference of opinion.

      That being said, I think we are actually on the same page, D.G.Hudson. At no point do I mention an interest in taking the educational opportunities away from those that visit an aquarium for that express purpose.

      I have had the pleasure of being taken on an extensive private tour behind the scene of the Vancouver Aquarium and was mighty impressed with the many valuable programs in operation. Good work does go on with respect to understanding the environmental impact we have on our oceans and the lives sustained within it.

      Your last sentence is the key - removing the 'entertaining factor' and keeping the 'science' component (that would include the three R's - rescue, rehab and release) is the objective I hope the Vancouver Aquarium keeps moving toward.

      Thank you for weighing in and sharing you valued viewpoint.

  6. I think the moral is that we should think for ourselves. However, it occurred to me that you learned a vital lesson in human nature: You can't change people's minds by brute force. The more you bludgeon them (physically or verbally) the more they are inclined to dig in their heels. To reach people, you have to make a connection in terms that are meaningful to them.

    That is why no amount of proof will convince a creationist to believe in evolution (or vice versa), or a climate change skeptic to believe we are harming the planet, or...the list goes on.

    1. You make an excellent point, Botanist.

      The interesting thing, for me, as a first timer on the protest field, was witnessing the "great divide" and how easy it is to alienate one another. My simple approach of "talking" respectfully, calmly, without unnecessary emotions was what allowed ruffled feathers to settle and allowed the start of open dialogue.

      As I said in my post, it is not my job to convince others to be compassionate humans; it is to open critical thinking options - provide the food for thought, as it were.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts too! Much appreciated. :)

  7. Hi Jenny .. what a great post with excellent comments and replies. What you did was persuade members of the crowd, who usually band together as one in strength, to step out and actually take an interest ...

    So many points here - great thoughts - thanks Hilary

    1. I would like to think I gave "the crowd" some food for thought. The fact that some ventured over and asked for literature and had a chat with "us" was truly exciting.

      It says something when we don't talk down to our fellow man and show a little mutual respect.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment - much appreciated. :)

  8. Knowledge is power. Congratulations for stepping out of your comfort zone and following your passion and supporting your daughter.

    1. Too true - without being open to knowledge one remains locked in a very narrow space.
      I was proud of myself for taking that first step and doing what I did - it had not been on my radar when I got up that morning, that's for sure. And supporting my daughter is never far from my heart.

      Thanks for taking the time to read this and comment. :)

  9. Dear Jenny,
    Leave it to you to tug at the heart strings. Such a controversial topic. Animals and their interaction with humans or should I say humans controlling animals. I have always tried to stay in the nuetral on subjects such as this. I feel sad when I see a dolphin or elephant "enclosed" in a zoo or aquarium. However I confess I do not feel the same emotions when I see an iguana or snake or an alligator.
    As a hunter and sportsman I often feel cornered into an anti animal rights category because of my fear for the loss of something I love so dear.
    My greatest concern is where do we draw the line?
    It likens to the ban of assault weapons. Once that is procurred they move on to something else and then something after that.
    I really wish there was an easy answer to this. I guess the moral of it all is to follow your heart and do what you believe in. If you truly follow your heart then you can never be wrong. At least in your own eyes.

    Thanks for the thinker!

    1. Hello Bushman,

      Thanks for dropping in and sharing your thoughts.
      I was raised by a hunter and totally get what you're saying about "being cornered" by groups professing to know better.

      I have always been of the mindset that it is not up to me to do another's thinking. Each of us, as individuals, needs to take ownership of our actions and our thoughts, and the outcome of the two.

      My father hunted to put food on our table, and he did. Times were tough for him and this was his choice. For others to judge him means they open themselves up to judgement also.

      There are so many areas where man (used to imply all humans) feels he can dictate to another man the way he should live, think and even die. It disturbs me to know that somewhere along the line critical thinking skills get cast aside and many opt to just follow the masses. Sad, really, isn't it?

      And, there is no easy answer, there never will be. To "follow one's heart and do what you believe in" (being in tune with one's conscience) is all one can do. Leave the judging for departure day - I'm sure we all will be held accountable at some point for this particular journey.

      I know this was a controversial topic and am totally inspired by those that took the time to read and in particular comment. Sometimes it means stepping outside the margins when one express a "hot topic" opinion thereby leaving oneself vulnerable to criticism.

      So, thanks, for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it, Bushman.

      I'm happy to have provided some food for thought,

  10. I have certainly been made to feel uncomfortable when confronted with a rowdy mob shouting at me and often I will just retreat rather than take time to listen or think about their message.
    But to be approached more gently, would have me listening.

    You did a good thing for your cause.
    I hope it is sucessful

    1. I hope it was successful too, Mynx. One can only try. Getting people to "hear" what is being said when it is delivered via bad attitude and negativity just doesn't work - people shut down and get angry, hence the name calling and violence that often comes out of protest when both parties let emotions run wild.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

  11. Hi, don't post my comment - great blog! Just wanted to mention the protest was in solidarity with Marineland being shut down as it was their closing day and we don't want it opened again, not so much a protest just for the orca there, and as an aside against all ceteceans in captivity of course!

    1. Hi Lotus, I'm opting to publish your comment since you've shed light on the reason for this protest. Bare in mind, my writing is based on what I was told at this protest, however, I do think it's up to me to check that info and your comment brings that point home.

      Problem is there are lots of sites and I am only now starting to figure out what is what so any time I can glean a little extra insight it is greatly appreciated.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Jenny


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.