Wednesday started off with an early Kamloops CBC radio interview from my hotel room in Fort McMurray (where winter has socked in) and a long day of travel.Touched down in Kamloops in time to be picked up by long time local chapter activist and wonder woman Anita Strong and whisked over to the Defend Our Coast rally in front of the office of local MLA and Environment Minister Terry Lake.
This rally was one of almost 70 that took place all over British Columbia today to make it clear to the politicians that the people of this province don’t want and won’t tolerate pipelines and tankers carrying tar sands bitumen for export. There was a good crowd of 150 people, all the local media and lots of energy, great signs and kids. I gave my message of solidarity and told people about the incredible courage and strength of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and its constitutional challenge against Shell Oil. I talked about how their fight against the pipelines would directly support this and other First Nations struggles over the tar sands.
My words were warmly received and Anita invited people to come tonight.Next stop was a delightful pot luck dinner at Anita and Dalton’s famous Smorgasborg Cafe with local chapter activists and Maryam and Harjap who had driven up from Vancouver.Packed evening with about 250 people at the event at Thompson University with Jim Cooperman of the Shuswap Environmental Action Society, Sven Biggs with Tanker Free BC, Janice Billy, Secwepemc educator, and Kanahus Pelkey, Secwepemc Nation Youth Network (and daughter of our good friend Art Manuel).
Jim and Sven laid out the dimensions of the tar sands and pipelines threat in frightening and thorough detail. Janice talked about the need to support First Nations struggles as the most effective way to stop the pipelines. Kanahus, her baby in her arms, laid out a challenge to the room that First Nations are on the front lines of this corporate assault and need support.The questions were terrific. Concern about the Canada-China FIPA is clearly growing. So is a fear that governments are abandoning people and leaving them to fight for these issues alone.All in all, a terrific day! Tomorrow, on to Burnaby.