Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities
By Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor
On 16 November 2013, a group of nearly 150 people came together at Prince George’s Civic Center to take a stand against a variety of environmental and social issues under the umbrella of “Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities” (DOCDOC), which spawned over 130 protests in solidarity across Canada fighting community-based environmental issues as well as on a global scale.
DOCDOC is another event in a trend of important events that are marking a shift in environmentalism towards truly recognizing the intersection between ecological issues with Indigenous rights and social issues in Canada. There has recently been some overlap between these causes; until now they have mostly been distinct. Some might point to Idle No More as a key factor in raising awareness when it comes to the diversity of Aboriginal philosophy and law. The DOCDOC march in Prince George had an array of drumming and songs. The march went from the Civic Center to Shirley Bond’s office, where the most prominent speakers were First Nations. Carrier-Sekani representative Terry Teegee spoke about the importance of protecting our land, and more importantly, starting to consciously move away from society’s dependence on fossil fuels. He compared our reliance to an addiction problem, relating it to Rob Ford’s recent drug-use concerns. In this sense, we have to admit we have a problem, and then move forward, he claimed. Chief Martin Louie, who is part of the Yinka Dene Alliance, also spoke about protecting the land – he especially focused on the significance of water. Chief Louie also touched on the difficulties with our obsession with money. This is another topic that is starting to interline and find its way into the conversations of environmental protests and within activist discussion. If this argument becomes fully incorporated in the environmental movement, as indigenous rights previously was, then we are not far from seeing an anti-capitalist discourse find its way to the forefront of the movement.
The day of solidarity drew many people throughout the nation. In Victoria, there were 1000 people standing on the ocean shore at Clover Point. In Vancouver, roughly 5000 congregated around Science World. In the latest polls, 59% of Canadians believe climate change should be a top priority for their government, a clear sign that an increasing number of people are becoming knowledgeable about the potential effects of climate change. As Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities happened on the heels of Typhoon Haiyan, whose severity has been largely blamed on climate change, some people are concerned about Canada’s reputation on the international level.