Tar Sands Action: Informative, Fun, INSPIRING!

** Good article by Stephen Leahy entitled "Jail Before Climate-Wrecking Tar Sands, Canadians say" here

So, I took part in the Tar Sands Action in Ottawa yesterday (September 26th).

Great 10-minute YouTube on it here - includes coverage of the civil disobedience training session & speeches on Parliament Hill. Well done!!

So glad I took part!!

The Non-Violent Civil Disobedience (NVCD) training we received on Sunday was awesome! Well-organized & run, lots of great people involved (both trainers & participants), & super practical (we even got fed!!)

The action on Parliament Hill was fabulous.

First of all, a rousing rally of very inspiring speakers.

A number of native people from affected communities (& oh my, are they affected. Bad water, cancer clusters, young people dying of cancer; this is a huge tragedy & our First Nations people are right on the front lines) who spoke so eloquently & passionately, they brought tears to one’s eyes.

Actress/activist Tantoo Cardinal spoke so inspiringly of the traditional role & value of women in native culture that I had goose bumps. Wow…

Union reps, Council of Canadians, young Bridget who held up the STOP Harper sign in the Senate (speaking of feisty young people!!)

It was a most impressive line-up.

Then, a bunch of us climbed over the fence the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal police force in charge on Parliament Hill) had put up, knowing that a rally & civil disobedience were planned for the day.

In the end I think it was around 200 people who chose to go over the fence & be arrested in order to make a very loud statement to prime minister stephen harper(1) that he was not elected to turn the House of Commons into a House of Corporations (great phrase eh?? Not mine, I’m quoting) & that the horrific environmental & human health disaster that is the Alberta tar sands must be STOPPED.

Then we all sat on the lawn in the very hot sun & were passed water & fruit & granola bars by people standing on the other side of the fence (we’re such dangerous characters, we “protesters,” eh?), & chatted & got to know people we had not met before (there were people from all provinces across Canada & one or two – not sure how many – from the U.S.).

Eventually we were handcuffed & told we’d be charged with Obstruction, then were taken off to a tent that had been erected to process the arrestees, handed over to the Ottawa police, who wrote us out a ticket for having been “Engaged in Prohibited Activity in Premises” (I think that’s what the messy scrawl says).

We are being fined $68 (actually, I can’t read my ticket properly so am not 100% sure of the amount) & told we are to stay off the grounds of Parliament for a year.

What an odd thing to forbid us to do! It’s our Parliament – our House of Commons (isn’t it??) & now we are being told to stay away.

Well. Whatever. Harper & his minions of course don’t want people like me hanging around where he hangs out, I do get that…

I could say lots more (never at a loss for words, eh??) but I gotta get back home & back to work.

Just want y’all to know I couldn’t be more delighted to have taken part in this historic action, protesting the tar sands & being arrested in order to send a strong message to politicians (& everyone!).

I’m also proud of having sat in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s office in November 2009 & being arrested there, & of having taken part in 2 protests against clear-cutting in old growth forest in Temagami (Ontario).

& just in case anyone who feels terribly “spiritual” wants to lecture me about being negative & what I resist persisting, please read the post here that explains why I view protesting as a celebration.

I celebrate the strong voices of citizens who know when we’ve had enough.

I celebrate the power of individuals coming together to act like members of a very large & very caring “tribe” (or beehive) who know if we don’t set aside our personal agendas & our personal fears & our personal greed, & begin to venture outside our personal comfort zones, we are doomed as a species (we may be doomed anyway! But taking action is far more empowering than pretending everything is OK & that all I really need to care about is me, me, me).

As my (now two-time fellow arrestee & grassroots climate crusader buddy) Sharon Howarth says, “Speaking up about something that matters is the best recreation ever.”


P.S. the posting here lists/links to several good videos/shows/YouTubes about the tar sands – the single most environmentally destructive project taking place here on Planet Earth today.

P.P.S. Good quotations on civil disobedience here

P.P.P.S. Ontario election time!! Lotsa good quotes on democracy here

P.S. # 4: Other posts about this experience

‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “In the long run, the real choice is not jobs or environment – it’s both...or neither. What kind of jobs will be possible in a world of depleted resources, poisoned water and foul air, a world where ozone depletion and greenhouse warming make it difficult even to survive?” ~ United Steelworkers of America, 1993

(1) I don’t feel he deserves to have his name “capitalized” when he is such a woeful "leader" to Canadians & such an utter lackey of the global oil industry.