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      In Defense of Mother Earth
      Climate Justice Organizing in the Time of Covid-19

      By Alison Bodine

      In Metro-Vancouver, Climate Convergence has found ways to continue organizing safely with consistency and creativity and a focus on building the climate justice movement, here in B.C., Canada, and around the world. Our monthly Webinars have brought together hundreds of people from across Canada and the United States to discuss many different aspects of our planet’s struggle. Other activities have included regular banner drops to raise awareness about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. And Climate Convergence activists have also organized a massive public postering project bringing the message of “System Change Not Climate Change” and “We cannot Go Back to Business as Usual,” to the streets of Metro Vancouver.

      On May 31, Climate Convergence honoured the life of Eagle Eyes – Gordon August, a respected shíshálh (Sechelt) elder, an organizer with Climate Convergence, and a constant fighter for climate and social justice. Through stories and song, participants in the online event came together to remember Eagle Eyes as someone who never gave up and was always looking for ways to bring people together to fight for a better world.

      On June 10, Climate Convergence organized a Webinar called “What’s Next in the Fight to Stop the TMX Pipeline.” The forum featured Coast Salish Elder Kelly White; Lynn Perrin from the PIPE UP network in the Fraser Valley, BC; WeiChun Kua from Justice, No Pipelines, a student group at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Burnaby, BC; Bill Moyer from the Backbone Campaign, a U.S.-group known for its large and creative protest banners and displays, and Climate Convergence organizer Thomas Davies.

      “War, Militarization & Climate Crisis,” was held on July 22. At this online event, Tamara Lorincz, an anti-war and pro-environment organizer based in Ottawa, gave an important and informative report on the Canadian military and its massive climate impact. Then Kawena Kapahua from the Cancel RIMPAC Coalition spoke about the struggle against the RIMPAC war games (which Canada participates in), U.S. Military presence, and environmental degradation in Hawai’i.

      On August 19, Climate Convergence organized a live update and Webinar from the Tree Top Resistance to the TMX pipeline and the Homes Creek Protectors Camp. This important action began on August 3, when SFU health sciences professor Tim Takaro suspended himself 75 feet off the ground to prevent a tree-removal necessary for the continued construction of the unnecessary and dangerous Tar Sands pipeline. At the Webinar, Professor Tim Takaro and Kurtis Baute, who had both lived camped out suspended in the endangered trees, spoke about their experiences and their motivations for joining the struggle against the pipeline. Next, Sara Hall from Extinction Rebellion encouraged people to support the ongoing protest and camp. Climate Convergence organizer Alison Bodine then explained how actions such as the Tree Top Resistance of the Holmes Creek Camp must be supported. As well as how such activities fit in the more extensive work of building a mass climate justice movement. We must build a movement capable of mobilizing millions of people against the capitalist system that drives the planet into climate chaos.

      In addition to the ongoing online educational events, banner actions and the large-scale postering campaign have also been an effective way to build awareness about the lack of federal and provincial government response to the climate emergency – and their continued support for destructive resource extraction megaprojects. Over the last six months, Climate Convergence organizers have installed over 50 murals measuring at least 4ft. by 4ft. on boarded up walls and abandoned storefronts throughout Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. This postering campaign covers a range of climate justice issues – from demanding “TMX and CGL: Get Your Dirty Hands Off the Lands” to “Save People, Not Pipelines,” and “System Change, Not Climate Change!”

      Banner Drops

      On July 8, Climate Convergence organized a banner drop at four different locations in Burnaby and New Westminster with large and colourful banners declaring “No to the Trudeau Pipeline,” and “Build Our Future, Not a Pipeline.” The banners were met with lots of honks and support from cars driving underneath.

      On August 26, Climate Convergence organizers unveiled over 90 feet of hand-painted banners over five different overpasses above Highway 1 in Burnaby. These banners, which happened to be displayed on a day when the air in the region was thick with smoke from the California climate fires, highlighted the negative impacts of the TMX pipeline expansion and demanded: “STOP TMX!” Banner drops, which can be done safely and while maintaining physical distance, help make the TMX pipeline and the health of our planet topics of discussion at the dinner table and move the climate justice movement forward.

      Join Us!

      Climate Convergence meetings and actions are open to everyone interested in building a consistent, creative, and effective climate justice movement. For information about upcoming meetings, Webinars and more, visit www.climateconvergence.ca or www.firethistime.net.

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

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