We are happy to announce a grassroots transition fund which we have been brainstorming around for months! The Stephen Watson Memorial Fund is a public savings account which will grow - as the pressure from this campaign continues to grow. The funds in that account will never be released unless Marineland or a future buyer agree to end captive breeding programs, end importation of new animals and agree to transition animals out of the facility. The funds will be used for transportation and care only - getting animals out of the park and set up in their new non-profit, rehab or sanctuary homes - and will never be used to pay the park for the animals. If Marineland ever does transition and instead sends their animals to another captive for profit park - then this fund transfers to another grassroots pressure campaign at a marine park and continues with the same purpose and the same funds.
This fund is a necessity as grassroots groups are tasked with building and keeping pressure on parks - however, when facilities crumble it is typical for larger non profits to swoop in and claim victory. They have the connections, resources and donors capable of such a move. It is a good thing that this is possible - but we want to build a grassroots fund where the thousands of people who oppose this park can actively donate to a fund to transition these animals. Where the transition of animals isn’t claimed by one wealthy donor and one organization - but by multiple organizations and thousands of people.
The decision to name this fund after a long time, dedicated ocean activist who we lost last year was an easy one. Stephen Watson, and his wife Renée, were an inspiration to the start of this campaign as well friends and mentors to many of the organizers. We wanted to do something substantive honour Stephen’s memory and to keep him with us as we continue to advocate for animals at this facility. Together we will build a fund, in Stephen’s name, that will hopefully one day remove the animals from this park to the care they deserve.
The fund was announced last night at our second anniversary dinner and launches with a generous anonymous donation of $1,500. We will be building a separate page on this site to update the fund as it progresses and all donations made to the fund will be posted publicly (with names or anonymously). You can donate to this fund at demonstrations, by pick up or drop off in the Niagara Region, or online via paypal or email money transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the note “Stephen Watson Memorial Fund.”
Below is a statement from Stephen’s wife, Renée Watson, on the fund.
Stephen was a man who believed in honour, integrity and living life authentically. He believed that all life had value and basic inherent rights, that being the right to live freely without imposition, oppression or fear. Although he felt this way for all sentient beings, he focused most of his energies towards increasing awareness of the plight of the oceans and the creatures living within.
Stephen was intimately connected to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society with his brother being Captain Paul Watson founder and director of this organization. Stephen’s gift as an artist was the way in which he could best support his brother’s organization, which he believed in so very much, and to bring attention to the loss and depletion of our oceans. He donated numerous art pieces to raise funds for organizations that focused their energies on keeping sea life safe and protected, in their natural environment.
The biggest affront to the largest of these ocean dwelling animals is the senseless slaughter, and perhaps worse, the capture and imprisonment of these majestic beings. MAD is a grassroots organization Stephen would be proud to be a part of. It would have given him great joy to see the end to theme parks that hold animals imprisoned, forced to entertain masses of humanity. Until that is a reality, naming this trust fund after him both honours him and keeps his presence in the struggle to shut down marine theme parks forever.
Oceans and the beings that live beneath the surface must be protected and allowed to replenish itself. For as Captain Paul would say, “if the oceans die, we die.”
Sincerely Renée Watson.
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