Skip to content

UPDATE: Tar sands civil disobedience action on Parliament Hill, Sept. 26

On Monday September 26, people from across Canada will be gathering on Parliament Hill in a large demonstration and non-violent civil disobedience action calling for an end to the destruction caused by the tar sands.

The call-out for the action states, “In a large peaceful protest, many will be risking arrest to tell the Harper government that we don’t support his reckless agenda…” The action itself has been endorsed by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, Board member John O’Connor, former Board members Gordon Laxer and Tony Clarke, and notably Tom Goldtooth, George Poitras, Toghestiy Wet’suwet’en, Naomi Klein, Clayton Ruby, Graeme Gibson, Shirley Douglas, and Judy Rebick among many other individuals and organizations. The CBC reported on this action in late-August, noting “Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, says the government needs a conversion plan to move to alternate energy sources. ‘Tar sands mining has destroyed much of Alberta’s water table and (the Keystone XL pipeline) will put the fragile Ogallala Aquifer (the world’s largest known aquifer) in peril.'”

The organizing group for the September 26 action stated this week, “There have been a lot of questions around what exactly we will be doing in Ottawa. …Our goal is very simple – to peacefully and responsibly go through the main doors of Parliament to the foyer of Centre Block and sit-down so we can deliver our message: All people in Canada deserve a clean energy future that promotes climate justice, where Treaty and Indigenous rights are respected and the health of our communities and the environment are prioritized. …It’s quite possible on the day of that, for various security response reasons, we will have to alter our plan but the overall concept and feel will remain peaceful and responsible. During a training day on Sunday September 25, we will discuss and practice for various situations and people will have the opportunity to have their voice heard on what situations are chosen. There will be a team of marshals on September 26 to ensure everyone knows where to go and feels fully supported. …If you are not able to risk arrest, there will be a rally including statements preceding the action and an area set aside where you will be able to offer support and encouragement to sit-in participants.”

To sign up for the action, go to http://ottawaaction.ca/sign-up. A media release issued on September 8 notes, “Over 150 people from across Canada are planning to make the trip to Ottawa on September 26 to voice their opposition to the tar sands. Many of those that have signed-up will risk arrest in what is expected to be the largest civil disobedience action in the history of Canada’s climate movement.”

In a message to Council of Canadians chapter activists last week, climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue wrote, “If you are interested in attending and supporting the action – there will be a space for people not participating in the sit-in, to hear speeches and provide solidarity – let us know. Please e-mail Melissa at mdick@canadians.org and we’ll ensure you get the necessary updates. …One of the ways the Council of Canadians is looking at supporting this action is with bus travel from Montreal and Toronto to Ottawa for the action. If you are interested in this, please contact Melissa. …Organizers are looking into a couple of options for accommodations. There will be space made available at a Church or public space. Organizers are also looking into the possibilities for billeting people in Ottawa homes. If you are interested in being billeted or live in Ottawa and have space for a billet on Sunday September 26 and potentially Monday September 26, please e-mail: ottawabillets@gmail.com. …As you will see when you register at www.ottawaaction.ca/sign-up, people participating in the sit-in should be ready for all possible consequences and should come with bail money ($100 -$500 typically), especially if you live outside the Ottawa region. For further information on the Ottawa action legals, please visit: http://ottawaaction.ca/content/legal.”

If you live outside of Ottawa, you can also sign a pledge that states in part, “I’m not able to make it to Ottawa but I support the people who are willing to risk arrest to create the change we need and emphasize the importance of peaceful civil disobedience in making this change a reality. I pledge to get involved in my own community to help build a clean green energy future where Indigenous rights are respected.” To do so, please go to http://ottawaaction.ca/take-pledge.

For more information, please go to http://ottawaaction.ca/join-us.