My current iPhone wallpaper is a photo of a stencil I found on the sidewalk in Portland. It’s a 90 degree yellow triangle with the word #RESIST in white.
I’ve spent a lot of time in America. I live on the Washington border (most Canadians live near the border). But since the election, my trips have felt different. Seattle might be decidedly blue, but the rest of the state is firmly red. It’s not uncommon to see signs of GOP support and, more alarmingly, pro-life. My first trip across the border in 2017 was only a few hours in Seattle between disembarking a cruise ship and boarding a train home.
In June, I spent a week with friends at a resort in Palm Springs. It felt like a vacation bubble away from the rest of the world. Exactly what we all needed.
But this past weekend in Portland, I found something different. I found the resistance.
Online, the news of the world is overwhelming. Most days, I avoid it, and I own up to the privilege which allows me to do so. As Canadians, we have often described our current situation as the younger child torn between a parent and an older sibling. England and the USA are dealing with problem which affect us, but which Canada cannot change.
And because we feel like there’s nothing we can do, we don’t. I don’t see signs advertising safe spaces in my local shop windows. I don’t see mocking cartoons on telephone poles. I don’t see #RESIST stencilled on the sidewalk as I walk by. I know protests are happening elsewhere because I see them online. But I underestimated the feeling of seeing it in person.
Being in Portland, where visible resistance on every single street, felt like the world reaching out and taking my hand. It’s OK to feel like this. We all do. We’re doing whatever we can.
The city directly across the border from my own is Blaine, WA. It’s a traditional small town, with single story houses and flags on every porch. Last summer, on one of my frequent hikes around the bay, I wrote the word RESIST on the sidewalk until my pink chalk was gone. I felt silly doing it. And then I felt angry. It wasn’t nearly enough, but it was something I could do. I wish I had brought more chalk.