Why I am excited for PowerShift

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Brigette handing out Tar Sands at the 2011 UN climate conference.

About a year ago, I held up a sign to Stop Harper. I first got this idea when the Conservatives rejected the climate change bill. I felt helpless because the Conservative government was showing no intent to confront climate change - threatening the very survival of humanity.

While working as a page in the Senate, I felt alone, afraid, and hopeless in the face of a Harper agenda set on attacking people and the environment that sustains us. I witnessed Harper withdrawing funding from social services we value, and handing that money over to rich oil and gas companies. I saw the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol and the expansion of the tar sands. 

What I did not see was an investment in a green and just future for all of us.

But today I feel empowered and excited. Why? Because of the growing movement for a PowerShift.  

PowerShift is about moving political and social power from the elites to the rest of us, and from fossil fuels to renewable energies. It was because of people who come from the PowerShift movement that I had the idea for the 'Stop Harper' action, and it was because of their support and guidance that I was able to do it.  

Now I'm wondering what is next? I want to take action. I'm excited for PowerShift to give us the skills we need to take collective political action required to truly shift power back to the public. We need to shift the power so we can build the just and sustainable future we believe in. 

How can we shift the power? We can start by recognizing how social movements of the past have succeeded. We can plan civil disobedience campaigns learning from the civil rights movement, and we can divest from destructive industries and governments like the campaigns that helped end institutional apartheid in South Africa. 


Today I believe we will halt the threat of climate change. I believe we will determine our own destinies, not corporations or neo-liberal governments. I believe in this because I am seeing a powerful movement in this direction. 

PowerShift is an incredible example of this. Many of the greatest student and labour organizers I know came out of the PowerShift 2009 conference. 

PowerShift gives people from diverse movements from Quebec, Canada, and First Nations the chance to meet each other and learn from one another.

People from Indigenous communities will share their traditional knowledge, key to halting climate change, and their experiences of defending their lands. Indeed, Indigenous rights and sovereignty are our best hope for stopping the expansion of destructive projects like the tar sands.

Quebec students will share their mobilizing skills which brought hundreds of thousands of people into the streets to stop the tuition fee hike and topple a corrupt head of government. 

PowerShift also marks the first time for me of planning a march, alongside other fantastic organizers. We're telling the government to cut billion dollar bonuses to rich oil and gas corporations, not our social services. This is part of a campaign to end public handouts to oil and gas companies. The Prime Minister still has not kept his 2009 promise to end subsidies.

If we act together, we can stop him from giving away our money to corporate polluters.

Will you come and support our march? (You can confirm your attendance on the Facebook event, and invite all your friends.) 


I believe we have the potential to build a better, more just and sustainable future. There are incredible plans underway, building on the revolutionary times in which we live, from the Arab Spring to Occupy to Greece, to Chile, to right here in our own communities, from Quebec students to the protests against the pipelines, with thousands of people staging a mass rally and sit-in to defend our coast. 

I would like to invite you to the PowerShift convergence on October 26-29. You can join with youth to confront the challenge of our time by sharing your vision and skills. Here you will gain skills and make the friends and connections you need to be confident and unstoppable change-agents in your community. 

PowerShift is a four-day conference with skill building workshops, thought-provoking panel discussions, and inspiring keynote speakers. I'm so excited to hear from Crystal Lameman, who is on tour with the Nobel Women's Initiative to speak out against tar sands development that surrounds her territory and many others,  from Naomi Klein, who recently wrote 'Capitalism versus Climate,' and Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, the group which was a key force in the civil disobedience against the Keystone pipeline. 

I’m also so excited to have the chance to MC the opening night of gathering, alongside one of my heroes, Clayton Thomas-Muller of the Indigenous Environmental Network. I'm so excited to see you and to join you at this historic gathering. 


Have you registered yet? If not, visit www.wearepowershift.ca

With the skills and confidence we will build, we will be fearless and unstoppable. Together, we will create the just and sustainable future we believe in. 

Brigette DePape is an organizer of PowerShift 2012, taking place October 26-29 in Ottawa. 

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.