A Journey of Love, Justice and the Fulfillment of a Sacred Obligation to One Orca

Listen to this show here!

Special note: Unfortunately, there was a short power outage during the live broadcast of this show, and so a section, including dialogue with Nancy Bleck, is sadly missing.

This show was co-produced by Caroline Carnerie.

The Totem Pole Journey to Bring Tokitae the Orca Home

In 1970, over 40 orcas were brutally captured from the Salish Sea in Northwest Washington and taken to marine parks around the world. During that capture at least five of the orcas were killed. Tokitae, who was just three years old at the time of capture, is the sole survivor, living alone in a small and isolated tank at Miami Seaquarium where she has been performing acts for food rewards for 48 years. Tokitae has not seen another orca since 1980. The Lummi Nation intend to change this by returning her to her home pod. Tune in to learn about the 9,000-mile Totem Pole Journey from Orca Island to Miami beginning May 9thWe will be joined by Lummi Nation members Kurt Russo and Jewel James and documentarian Nancy Bleck who will share the story of Tokitae (“Lolita”) the Orca. 


Kurt Russo has worked with Jewell James since 1980 on treaty rights, protection of sacred sites, coalition building, cross-cultural conflict resolution and land acquisition. He currently works in the Sovereignty and Treaty Protection Office of the Lummi Nation on the issue of fossil fuel exports. He is the Executive Director of the Native American Land Conservancy, and is a Research Fellow at the California Center for Native Nations (University of California).

Nancy Bleck (Slanay Sp’ak’wus) has been working as a professional photographer since the age of 17 when she won the Expo ’86 photography contest. While Nancy has worked as a fashion and entertainment photographer, her passion is for social issue projects. Another Adbusters alumna, she combined both of these interests photographing many of their ad parodies in the mid ‘90s. She followed this with work on groundbreaking campaigns for the Eating Disorder Resource Centre of BC. As an award-winning artist, she has exhibited internationally and her work deals with contemporary concepts of land, sustainability, community, health and violence.

Nancy is Co-Founder of the Uts’am Witness project that connects wilderness conservation with First Nations culture, art and social justice. She was honored with a traditional name by the Squamish Nation, (Slanay Sp’ak’wus) and given a mandate to photograph the community. In 1998 she was nominated for the VanCity Ethics in Action Award. In 2007 she won the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for her work with Uts’am Witness. The project has been turned into a book published by Douglas & MacIntyre and co-written with Katherine Dodds and Squamish Nation hereditary Chief Bill Williams.

She has worked on numerous other projects such as a Hello Cool World, I Have Immunity and LACE campaign, and a series of portraits for Chee Mamuk’s Leading the Way: Northern Chiefs Speak Out on HIV/AIDS, and the “Honouring our Journey and Honouring our Voices” books. She also did the photography for the Sisters Speak Project.

She has a Master’s degree in Fine Art from Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Utrecht, the Netherlands (2005), a B.A. in Fine Arts from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (2000) where she currently teaches part-time, and an Honours Diploma in Photography from Humber College (1989).

Follow the Totem Pole Journey here.

This documentary, Lolita, was made available in 2003 and was part of the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival.

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