It is such an empowering feeling to walk down the streets of Victoria with hundreds of protesters, singing, drumming, shooting your fist in the air at times and smiling. There is a feeling of power, of being able to raise your voice for others to hear, a feeling that we as a people are making a difference. Today was no different. Walking from the Royal BC Museum to the Legislature with a large First Nations delegation to join the thousands of others who are of like mind to stop all the pipelines and tankers in BC was an awesome experience. Save our coast! Save our waters, our resources, our land! Make sure they will be there for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. One speaker said since Harper and Clark won’t do it for their children, we will do it for them. Effective words of intention and that message carried on throughout the day.
Other speakers thanked Harper and Clark for their actions because it brought us together as peoples to find a common cause and work together.
What an incredible sight, the steps of the legislature jam packed with First Nations dressed in regalia, a large section of drummers, and many, many others. One sign on the steps read “How many times do the hippies have to be right before we listen?” I love protest signs, people are so creative, “Alberta we don’t want your oil.” “Who is this Harper guy anyway?” “Go Green or go home”. Many costumes and symbols of fish were seen everywhere.
There were many, many speakers today representing First Nations, unions, green party, NDP, and Council of Canadians. Leaders spoke of the need for government to listen to the groundswell of opposition to pipelines and tankers from coast to coast to coast. Other spoke of the devastation of homelands and people’s health when there was an oil spill in Alberta. One First Nation leaders spoke of an elder who on Facebook commented “Looks like its time to warrior up”.
The crowd was encouraged to participate and much yelling “No pipeline” “No tankers” “Protect rights” “protect waters” was heard from miles away. Wonder if Christy Clark or Stephen Harper were listening? Or were Enbridge or Kinder Morgan executives tuned in? People were clear and committed, they would lie down in front of a bulldozer and stop the pipeline. Today in the Globe and Mail Christy Clark talked about the social license that needs to be had in BC and if today was any indication, the license doesn’t exist here.
Babies, elders, disabled, young, old, people were out in masses to show they are in opposition to this pipeline. Money cannot buy what we have right now, clean water, fisheries resources and pristine forests was another message being conveyed.
My friend and I always said our kids were born with large hands to carry placards. And so they have since they were small. I still remember them helping hold a banner that said “hands are not for hitting”. They were both there today continuing on with the protest mode of doing business. I have attended many protests throughout my life and know I will be at more. It is one way of peacefully demonstrating an important message that needs to be heard! My favourite protest was one on the referendum in Victoria where thousands and thousands of people walked from Centennial Square through the streets and into the legislature. What a feeling that was as First Nations walked in solidarity with unions, environmental groups, NDP, wage earners and many concerned citizens. As First Nations people, we have had to use protests to capture the attention of government and media for our cause.
During the protest, I tweeted out that that I was remembering the first time I ever went into the parliament building for a meeting with the late Minister Stan Hagen. I told him, “Stan, I have never been inside this building before, I am usually out on the lawns protesting.” He didn’t quite know what to say so he just smiled. My tweet went on to say that I am “still on the outside”.
As people in BC, In Canada, as First Nations people, we all have a voice. Today, so many of those voices came together to communicate a very strenuous message to provincial and federal governments as well as the companies, “No Pipelines”, “No Tankers”.