As the toxic oil from the July 6 oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec seeps deeper into the town centre's soil and disperses into waterways, and as town residents slowly reestablish their shattered lives, the corporate interests that caused the disaster and have been keeping a low profile are beginning to assert themselves anew.
As our convoy of trucks stopped on the gravel road a little boy, not more than four years old, leapt from the box of one of the pick-up trucks. His bare feet hit the ground and he scrambled up into the forest. His hair hung half way down his back in a single braid. The moment he reached the tree line he began to pick wild berries and shove them into his mouth. As a father of a young boy, a brief moment of panic fluttered over me -- what is he eating? Nobody stopped to check; even at this age he knew exactly what was safe to eat and what was not. Blueberries were in season. They were sweet and plentiful.
Quebec's 2012 student uprising highlights a long history of social activism that continues to shape politics in both Quebec and Canada. Beyond simplistic nationalist notions, grassroots movements in Quebec have long organized with an internationalist spirit rooted in decolonization and social transformation.
The Montreal lawyer who has become synonymous with the fight against police repression during last spring's student strike in Quebec is facing a whole new battle.
In early July, Denis Poitras declared personal bankruptcy. He was immediately disbarred, as per the rules of the Barreau du Québec, the province's professional organisation for lawyers.
He is now working to regain the right to practice the work that he loves. He isn't doing it alone though: on August 5, a fundraising and support campaign was launched to help him raise the money needed to get him out of bankruptcy and back to work.
Local tragedies, such as the one in Lac Megantic, must not distract from the global tragedy which threatens us all.
We write today as witnesses, witnesses to an ecological and social disaster which words can scarcely describe: we have just returned from Fort McMurray, Alberta, the nerve-centre of the tar sands. Welcomed by the local Indigenous community and accompanied by hundreds of citizens from across North America, we walked through the heart of the largest industrial project on the planet. Some of us also visited the Suncor Oil facilities at that company's invitation.