Many people participated in a photo op, where they posed with posters and messaging they chose to best represent their opposition to tar sands, pipelines, and tankers on the Pacific coast.

Today, I am taking part in a non-violent direct action organized by a coalition of First Nations, unions, environmentalists and social justice groups. Defend Our Coast is an event taking place on October 22nd, 2012, with the purpose of sending a clear message that there is an unbroken wall of opposition against tar sands, pipelines, and tankers on the Pacific coast. It is truly inspiring to see that over 4,800 people have taken the online pledge supporting the October 22 and October 24 events and defend Canada’s coasts, rivers, and communities from these threats.

Yesterday, over three hundred people gathered at the University of Victoria for a non-violent direct action training. This was an opportunity for participants to interact with one another in preparation for today’s event. The training included an introduction to non-violent direct action, civil disobedience, stories of communities affected by the tar sands, campaigns fighting tar sands expansion, pipelines and tankers, and the effects of global climate change.  It was beautiful to see a diverse group of people come together and support the opposition to tar sands development as led by First Nations.

We began the training with a speech by Melina Laboucan-Massimo, who is a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation and comes from a region in Alberta directly impacted by tar sands production. Melina explained in detail the huge impact that the tar sands have on her home community of Little Buffalo, of the Peace Region. Her elders spoke of their traditions and the importance of their land and integrity. They sent a clear message of the real need to stand up against these destructive resource extraction projects. Drums beat in support of comments and motions. There were chants and cheers. The room was filled with a sense of solidarity and support.

We then moved through a variety of stations that provided us with more information about civil disobedience, dealing with the media and run through possible scenarios for today.
I was especially inspired by a workshop that focused on anti-oppression, decolonization, and environmental justice, which had an emphasis on how to participate in this opposition as a responsible ally. I feel that these are crucial components of the issues at hand that we must not ignore; we need to understand the root causes and systemic prejudices and privileges that allow for these problems to occur in the first place.

After the workshops were completed, the training day concluded with a delicious dinner and the chance to socialize and share stories. Knowing that hundreds of people were brought together yesterday by this common concern and passion, and that even more will gather today, was incredible to experience.  Yesterday, there was a strong sense of the power of community, and an exciting anticipation for the events of today.