Known as the Cascadia Region, this bioregion located between Canada and the United States shares a number of geographic, bioclimatic, cultural, and economic characteristics. It is primarily composed of the Canadian province of British Columbia and the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon. The name comes from the eponymous subduction zone between the Juan de Fuca plate and the Pacific plate.
A LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES
Going into depth, its territory would extend from the coast of Alaska to Northern California, also taking in some inland areas such as parts of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Yukon. Based on current data, the population of this region would be about 16 million people, with the most important cities being Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland.
Although this area of North America shares many common traits, it is not until the 1990s that the idea of Cascadia as a distinct region grows. This idea was reinforced by associations of local entities operating on both sides of the border, collaborative projects, and a strong social and economic integration. There is evidence of interconnected economic systems, common natural resources, ecosystems, and transportation systems that operate between the main enclaves of the region, regardless of the country to which they belong.
From these foundations, a political project emerges with the aim of giving the region some autonomy or self-government, although the conception of creating a new country distinct from Canada and the United States is utopian, since for the moment none of the associated political movements has achieved any relevance.
The symbol of the movement is the so-called Doug Flag, an emblem created in 1995. Its three colors symbolize the sky (blue), snow (white), and the region’s vast forests (green). In the center is the silhouette of the Douglas fir, one of the most representative tree species of Cascadia.
THE ORIGIN OF THE INDEPENDENTIST MOVEMENT
The Cascadia Independence Movement does not have a specific founding date, as it is a bioregional movement that has evolved over time. However, the Cascadia Now Movement emerged in Portland, Oregon in 2004. This movement is related to the ties and sense of local belonging in the Northwest region, and contains groups and organizations with a wide range of goals and strategies. Some groups, such as the Cascadian Bioregional Party, established in May 2021, focus on the independence of the Cascadia bioregion. While others, such as the Cascadia Bioregion Department, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, seek to build a bioregionalist network as an alternative to the state-nation structure.
The movement’s stated main reasons include environmentalism, bioregionalism, privacy, civil liberties and freedom, greater regional integration, and local food networks and economies. The designer of the Doug flag, Alexander Baretich, argues that Cascadia is not necessarily about secession but about survival after the collapse of peak oil, climate change, and other pending environmental and socioeconomic problems.
The Cascadia movement focuses on political, economic, cultural, and ecological ties, as well as on the beliefs that the central government based in Washington, D.C. is out of touch, slow to respond to urgent citizen demands, and hinders state and provincial efforts to advance bioregional integration. Due to this, it is easily identifiable that these independence movements have a range of followers with very different and, at times, opposing political ideologies across the spectrum.