This is what healthy democracy looks like

NDP MLA Fleming’s message to Premier Clark joins chorus of protest against Northern Gateway at BC legislature.

It has been a while since the lawns of the Legislative Buildings in Victoria have seen a crowd of this size. From newborns to grannies, all were gathered for one common goal; to ensure that the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline does not get approved! Photo Credit: Greenpeace photostream.

Words and featured Photo by Andrew MacLeod, October 23, 2012,

Art Sterritt, the executive director of the Coastal First Nations, addressed the crowd gathered in front of the British Columbia Legislature: “Seven years ago when we began our battle with Enbridge we were standing alone.”

Since then First Nations along the proposed northern gateway pipeline have joined the stuggle, as has the Union of B.C. Municipalities, which in his words has repeatedly told Enbridge to “get lost,” many provincial politicians and much of the public.

And so on a cool, rainy Monday afternoon, a few thousand people gathered on the legislature lawn and steps to listen to speakers and to engage in calculated civil disobedience described by one host as carrying a “slight” risk of arrest.

With Enbridge appearing intent on building the peipeline from Alberta’s tar sands to the B.C. coast, Sterritt asked, “What are you willing to do to stop them? Are you willing to lie down in front of the bulldozers?”

And while it didn’t come to that Monday in Victoria — there were no arrests when protesters drove hundreds of stakes into the lawn to hold a black banner the length of an oil tanker — it’s clear that if the federal regulator approves the project and construction begins, many will be willing to block those bulldozers.

‘People speak louder’

A giant puppet of a red salmon provided a backdrop for first nations demonstrators standing on the legislature steps. A person in a raven costume circulated through the crowd spreading a message against coal mining.

Placards in the crowd included: “Bears Need Wild Salmon”; “This Pipe Dream is a Nightmare”; “Moms for our Coast”; “Wake Up Canada, This is Your Coast Too”; “People Speak Louder than Money”; “Fuck your pipeline” and “We Should Live with Love Not with Oil.”

Part way through the demonstration, signs saying things like “Our coast is not for sale” were edited in black marker to replace the possessive “our” with “the”.

There was also the occasional non sequitur, like “Keep Coal in the Ground” and “Protect the North. Stop Site C Dam.”

Speakers hit similar themes, calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Christy Clark to stop the project. Most were upbeat.

“We’re winning,” the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation’s Rueben George told the crowd. The opposition to the pipeline needs to come from a place of spirit that values the sacredness of the lands and water, he said. “There’s no price we can put down on these things, our earth, our lands, our water,” he said.

To read the full article please visit the Tyee website.


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Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.