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Toronto Student School Hosts Conference on Water and Activism

Mark speaks to over 200 students about young activists fighting to protect water.

Mark Calzavara and I spoke at a full-day high school conference on water issues and activism. Over 200 students from 10 different schools in Toronto came to attend workshops run by Protest Barrick, North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Task Force (NDACT), the Wellington Water Watchers, and other groups working on water issues.

Mark, the Ontario-Quebec Regional Organizer began the day as the keynote speaker. He spoke specifically about the role youth had in water activism, highlighting notable stories such as Robyn Hamlyn’s quest to establish Blue Communities across Ontario, and Brigette DePape’s disruption of the throne speech to hold up a “Stop Harper” sign.

I later led two sessions on how the Tar Sands impact water. While providing an overview of how tar sands mining operations and projects such as pipelines, refineries, and export tankers can devastate water resources; there was ample space for students to ask questions and explore how they can get involved.

We spoke about Indigenous struggles resisting the Tar Sands, and particularly about the upcoming May 9th rally at the Enbridge AGM led by the Yinka Dene Alliance. The YDA is a group of First Nations located along the route of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline who have banned Enbridge from their lands.

Students set up informational booths. This was a presentation on the impacts of fluoride in drinking water.

The conference was hosted by the Toronto Student School, an alternative school based on the principles of participatory democracy and social equity. Along with organizing a water conference, bringing together many young activists, the TSS continues to engage in struggles for water justice. The TSS Social Justice Committee unanimously voted to support a protest against Barrick Gold at the company’s annual general shareholder’s meeting in Toronto. Students at the school are allowed to take the day off to attend the rally.

A press release issued by the Social Justice Commitee states:

“The practices of the Canadian mining industry, in particular Barrick Gold, are appalling and unacceptable. This systemic, colonial destruction of communities and ecosystems must be stopped and those who profit from it held accountable,” explained Carson Becker, a member of the school’s Social Justice Committee.

The Council of Canadians will also be present at the rally to support those who are fighting for clean and safe water. The rally will take place on May 2nd, at 10:30pm at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Visit the facebook event page for more details.