Waking up to a loud crack of thunder in Halifax is not a common occurrence. This refreshing and unexpected weather was a fitting way to begin my first bike tour, as a part of the Energy East Resistance Ride. The Resistance Ride departed Sydney, Nova Scotia in late May and will arrive in Ottawa, Ontario by early August. These four inspiring cyclists will be traveling along the proposed pipeline route, sharing food and stories with people whose land is at the frontline of Eastern Canada’s pipeline battle.
I met Alex Guest, the coordinator of the Ride, by chance of him asking if I could help him find contacts in Nova Scotia, through my involvement in NSPIRG. I didn’t know at the time, but that call would turn into a wonderful friendship and organizing opportunity for Atlantic Canada.
Last Thursday, the Energy East Resistance Riders met with Stop Energy East Halifax, a local grassroots pipeline resistance group. This meeting created an opportunity for these groups to plan how to support each other’s work, and how to grow the movement of pipeline resistance - from the Maritimes to Ottawa and beyond. This meeting turned strangers into allies, uniting a force against those putting our communities, climate and coasts at risk.
On Sunday morning, the Ecology Action Centre sent us off with a pancake breakfast, followed by a ‘critical mass’ ride. This group ride began in the North End of Halifax and ended at Dartmouth SWITCH, an event that opens up a set of city streets to alternatives to motorized vehicles. I have been a part of several group bike rides, however never as such a unified force as riding through the event wearing matching Keep the Atlantic Tar Sands Free shirts. We danced on our bicycles, high-fived each other while riding in circles (in the back of Alex’s GlobalTV interview), and delivered a speech to the crowd between musical performances. This event reminded me that resistance is not about anger; it’s about the strength that lies in community power.
One night of camping, a day of headwinds, several rolling hills, and many Cliff bars later we arrived at the Just Us! Centre for Small Farms in Grande Pre, Nova Scotia. Av Singh and his daughter Shaani who manage the Centre greeted us with snacks and cold beverages. The tour of their grounds opened with an acknowledgement of the unceded Mi’kmaq Territory on which we live and work. The grounds include acknowledgements of traditional territories and heritages embedded within the design; dedicated women’s and children’s gardens; as well as demonstration areas for small-scale farmers to come, learn and share their knowledge with each other.
This trip reminded me of the roots we all must honour to continue organizing for climate justice. To move forward together and build a wall of resistance in the east similar to that being built in the west, we must respect the rights and responsibilities we have to each other and to the land. The fight against extreme energy extends beyond online petitions and rallies in the cities. The resistance to these destructive forces is created by resilient communities working together to respect and care for the resources around us.
The need for resistance against the Energy East pipeline grows as TransCanada furthers its plan to move 1.1 million barrels of crude per day from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Atlantic. Both the Conservatives and Big Oil have touted that this pipeline in necessary to unite Canada in economic and energy security.
This story is not our story. Our story sees past their short-term plan and profit-driven vision. Our story is one of alternative possibilities. Our story does not include a forced dependence on fossil fuels and extreme energy. As I write this, the Energy East Riders are creating, finding, and sharing what will become our story.
More information on the Energy East Pipeline.
Photos from the trip can be found on the Council of Canadians Flickr.
You can follow the Energy East Resistance Rider's journey on their blog or Twitter (@energyeastride).