This past month, I had the honour of joining hundreds of individuals from all across Turtle Island to stand in solidarity with First Nations communities near Fort McMurray for the fifth and final Healing Walk. The event brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together to focus on healing the land, water, and people from the severe impacts of tar sands projects.
It's hard to find the words to describe this experience. For the past several years I have been working in varying capacities to oppose fossil fuel extraction projects, including the tar sands. I have done countless hours of research, seen hundreds of photographs, read stories, articles and personal accounts, but nothing prepared me for being there, for bearing witness to the destruction.
The Healing Walk itself winds through 14 kilometres of Syncrude extraction sites, passing by tailings ponds and so-called reclamation projects. The journey takes nearly all day, with stops at four locations on the way to pray for healing of the land and its people.
We walked in the hot sun, the sweat on our skin mixing with the toxins in the air. Many faces were covered with masks to create a shield between our lungs and the very air we were breathing to keep us alive. We felt the tightening in our chests and the heavy breathing triggered by the chemicals in the air. We cried for the destruction of the land, for the pollution of the water, for the damage to the people.
We are currently exploring the possibility of hosting PowerShift Ontario as the next regional PowerShift gathering in spring 2015 in Ontario. We decided to try something new and to open up host applications for PowerShift Ontario. We are asking for support from our network and at the same time want to test out the interest and commitment in the community. Hosting PowerShift Ontario represents a great opportunity to get involved in an increasingly energetic movement to tackle climate change and to learn new and amazing skills and experience.
The Canadian Youth Climate Coalition is hiring a new National Director to lead up the CYCC's efforts on projects like PowerShift and supporting the Fossil Free Canada divestment movement.
The National Director represents the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition (CYCC), in leading campaigns, dealing with other organizations, individuals, and the general public.
The CYCC National Director is responsible for the effective operations of the coalition as well as supporting the development and growth of CYCC projects. This person will be the key contact person for coalition members; will clarify and facilitate operations and decision-making of the coalition; and will fundraise for Coalition activities, projects and campaigns.
The National Director will work to support the growing Fossil Free Canada divestment movement on campuses, as well as work on key CYCC projects like PowerShift. Reporting to the CYCC Council, the National Director is responsible for the effective management of CYCC that is in accordance with policies and reflective of a youth driven coalition.
Last Tuesday, organizers from divestment groups and local community organizations took action across Canada for Fossil Fools Day.Creating mock fossil fuel infastructure, oil spills and more - this massive day of creative action highlighted the ridiculous plans that Big Oil has across Canada and around the world.
Check out this full rundown.
This past weekend five hundred youth gathered in Halifax/K'jipuktuk, Mi'kmaq'i Territory for PowerShift Atlantic. The largest climate and social justice summit in Atlantic Canada, PowerShift Atlantic brought together folks from across movements to build momentum and catalyze action. Here's a (short) rundown of what happened this weekend.
Full rundown after the flip.
This morning Mi’kmaq women shut down a Maritimes Energy Association briefing held at the Westin Nova Scotian by Nova Scotia Energy Minister Andrew Younger intended to give a briefing on the Province’s plan to move forward on oil and gas projects. The action was supported by an occupation of the hotel lobby organized by youth attending PowerShift Atlantic this past weekend. Over a hundred youth occupied the hotel lobby to support Indigenous communities in rejecting the Energy East tar sands pipeline and increased fracking pushes in Atlantic Canada.
More photos after the jump.
PowerShift, as a name for a gathering, captures the essence of what needs to take place in order for justice to be a central consideration in actions needed to address the multitude of interconnected issues plaguing Canada and the world today. At the time I attended PowerShift in 2012, I had been maintaining hopefulness towards the state of our planet and its peoples’, but I was constantly challenged by a sense of powerlessness. The frustration over the inaction my country’s leaders were taking around climate change and fossil fuel dependence and environmental injustices was growing, and so I leapt at the opportunity to attend a climate justice gathering at the suggestion from a friend.
This blog was written as part of the PowerShift Atlantic blog contest. Send your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Hello Powershift Atlantic! We’re so excited to be making the eight hour drive from Maine next week. It will be our pleasure and privilege to meet all you amazing people, from young activists driving the College Divestment campaign, to Mi’kmaq warriors bravely resisting fracking in the face of state violence, and everyone in between. We want you to know you have our support and utmost respect.
Tell us about why you're coming to PowerShift Atlantic, and you could win prizes from Patagonia Halifax!
Hundreds of young are already registered to meet in Halifax for PowerShift Atlantic, for an opportunity to develop skills for activism and organizing, to learn more about the intersections between climate change and social justice, and to meet inspiring young people doing incredible work. PowerShift is not just a conference, but a strategy to galvanize a movement.
As a volunteer organizer of PowerShift Atlantic, I often get the questions, “What is PowerShift?” To which I reply, “PowerShift is a by youth, for youth initiative which aims to connect, educate, and inspire youth to take up climate justice and environmental issues. We aim to build a transformative and powerful movement while pushing environmental and climate issues to the forefront of our society. We are building a collaborative and engaged youth experience in Atlantic Canada that is based on consensus and anti-oppression principles.”
But what does that mean?