Youth From Across North America Protest for Climate Justice
OTTAWA—29 October 2012
As Hurricane Sandy bore down on North America, hundreds of youth from across Canada marched through the streets of Ottawa demanding the government keep its promise to end the 1.4 billion dollars a year in subsidies given to fossil fuel industries.
First Nations communities from Canada’s tar sands region traveled thousands of kilometers to Ottawa to protest what they say are the harmful effects of oil extraction on their health and environment.
“About 20 years from now my community will be displaced because of too much pollutants coming down the Athabasca river… We have various types of cancers right now in my community. These cancers are only spreading from community to community to community.”
Clayton Thomas Muller, a Manitoba Cree and a leading Environmental campaigner, called for a “separation of oil and state”:
“400 years ago we had Jesuit priests come into out First Nations in black robes promising a better way of life through changing the way we communicated with our creator by embracing Christianity. At that time, there was no separation of Church and State and the religion of the day was Catholicism. Well, today, ya know, instead of Jesuit Priests, there are CEOs coming into our communities in black suits promising a better way of life if we change the way we relate to the sacredness of mother earth. And as we know, today there is no separation between oil and state, as we can see by the 1,4 billion subsidies that this government is giving to the most powerful and richest corporate entities ever in the history of money, and the religion today, I would argue, is capitalism,” said Thomas-Muller.
The “Toxic Trick or Treat” march featured climate chaos-themed Halloween costumes that targeted the likes of McDonalds, Shell, BP, and Monsanto with corporate zombies, “frack”ensteins and GMO corn monsters.
The march on was the culmination of PowerShift 2012, a weekend-long climate conference attended by a thousand youth from across Canada and the US demanding more just solutions to the climate and economic crisis.
Best-selling author Naomi Klein attended Powershift and described her upcoming book in a press conference:
“Climate change is not in itself the crisis, it’s the symptom of a broader crisis that has to do with an economic model that’s built on endless growth and the idea that we can act as if we can have infinite consumption on a finite planet. In the context of climate change, what you see is that you need a very strong public sphere, a very strong commons, to deal with the effects of climate change that we can’t avoid, because what you see is that if you have weak infrastructure and you get hit with a heavy storm, you’re toast. But also if you want to avert climate chaos, if you want to actually lower your emissions, you also need public infrastructure, you need public transit, you need strong bones of the public sphere. I think we on the left have given up, in my opinion, the most compelling argument against this economic model, which is that it is at war with the life support systems on earth,” said Klein.
But it wasn’t just youth and First Nations protesting, the raging grannies dressed as the wise witches also came with a special message for Prime Minister Harper:
“Harper’s Bizarre: he wants the tar, for dirty oil, as we all boil.”