The Heart of a Movement
This has been a powerful week. Many have called it historic.
On Monday, thousands gathered on the legislature lawn of Victoria's (parliament buildings) to peacefully protest the plans to expand pipeline infrastructure and increase oil tanker traffic along our coast.
Defend Our Coast, drew people from far and wide and from all walks of life, challenging any preconceived notion of what an activist might look like. Students and retirees, professionals and artists, First Nations and non-First Nations united their voices to decry the chokehold of "Big Oil" on our resources and democracy.
Scrolling through the Defend Our Coast forum, created to help people find rides and accommodation, I was struck and quite moved by the spirit of connectedness the forum conveyed. Here were strangers coming from the far corners of Canada, the U.S. and even Europe, humbly asking for floors or couches to crash on during their stay in Victoria and being warmly received by locals. The messages were sweet and often funny, but the serious nature of the issue and the unshakeable resolve of the participants were always close at hand.
"I am a 70-year-old single woman from Nanaimo needing a bed for the 21st and 22nd. I am prepared to be arrested if necessary so am not sure about the 22nd but would appreciate a home base!"
This resolute assertion is not the first I've heard. This summer as I ran across the province for a campaign called Band Together BC that sought alternatives to the pipeline and tarsands expansion, I met many people that calmly assured me that the Enbridge pipeline is not going to happen. Period. How do they know? They are prepared to do whatever it takes to stop it, including putting their bodies in the way of the bulldozers. The Conservative government has painted this as "radical," but for those whose food and way of life is threatened by pipelines and tankers, it is completely rational. What is irrational is taking huge risks with ecosystems, our health and the economy, as well as compromising our democracy and culture.
The desire to defend and protect the things that matter most — health, food, wild spaces, time-honoured traditions, jobs, and our kids' future — has ignited a movement and is compelling people to take decisive action.
Conviction pulsated through the crowd and after an initial rally many chose to participate in civil disobedience, partially wrapping the legislative building in a black curtain representing the length of one massive super oil tanker (three times the size of a B.C. ferry). No arrests were made and the positivity of the movement was so strong it tipped off over 70 demonstrations in communities across B.C. on Wednesday Oct 24.