September 23, 2011
By Stephen Thomson
B.C. First Nations representatives are gearing up for an anti-oilsands industry protest planned next week in Ottawa.
Hundreds of people are expected to take part in the action on Monday, September 26, organized by the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace Canada, and the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Organizers say the plan is to hold a “large peaceful protest” but they caution that some participants may run the risk of arrest.
Jasmine Thomas, of the Saik’uz First Nation, plans to travel to Ottawa to take part.
“I hope that people see that there is no need to continue developing tarsands because there are other ways that we can build up our economy that doesn’t need to depend on fossil fuels,” she told the Straight by phone.
“Making that transition to more green-energy initiatives is something that many Canadians and people around the world are calling for.”
Thomas’ community is part of the Yinka Dene Alliance, a group of five northern B.C. First Nations that oppose the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline from Alberta to coastal B.C.
The action in Ottawa follows a similar protest in Washington, D.C., calling on President Barack Obama to oppose the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would link Alberta and the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Adam Thomas, also of the Saik’uz First Nation, took part in the recent action in the U.S. capital. He plans to travel to Ottawa for Monday’s action and says it will be a good way to show solidarity with the recent protest south of the border.
“My plans are to send a message to the Harper government that I will not stand for our land, air, water, and fundamental human rights of our people to be sacrificed for tarsands oil…,” he told the Straight by phone.
The Ottawa protest also has support from many high-profile Canadians including author Naomi Klein, renowned actor Gordon Pinsent, and SCTV comedian Dave Thomas.