On December 31, 2020, a dear friend and co-fighter in defense of mother earth, Marta Robertson-Smyth, passed away. She was surrounded by family and died peacefully after battling a very aggressive cancer.
Marta's imprint on the work of the climate and social justice movements in Vancouver is immense. It would be practically impossible to attend a public action in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland without the striking presence of a beautiful banner, sign or art project either painted by Marta or created in her studio. Her patience and determination were endless, and many whose lives she touched found themselves creating things that they had previously considered impossible following her encouraging words and guidance at an “Art Build” hosted in her East Vancouver studio.
While Marta created beauty in her art, she also organized and fought for it to become a reality in a world filled with injustice. As a central organizer with Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver, she contributed her exceptional capabilities as an artist and participated fully in many other aspects of organizing and mobilizing people as well. For Marta, art was one of the many important ways to build and expand actions and events in defense of mother earth and future generations. To achieve this, she created art and designed banners that were thoughtfully and diligently created to draw people into the climate justice movement.
In April 2018, Marta was one of the dozens arrested for blocking the Trans Mountain Tank Farm's gates on Burnaby Mountain, standing against the Trans Mountain TMX pipeline expansion project. When she passed away, she was still in the process of appealing her unjust conviction for this peaceful action. During the court case, she closed her official statement with this quote from David Mitchell's book Cloud Atlas:
“If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth and claw.. ...if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable and the riches of the Earth and its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real....but a life spent shaping a world I want my grandchildren to inherit, not one I fear my grandchildren will inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living...”
On Wednesday, February 3, Climate Convergence organized an online celebration of Marta's life, a life well worth living. On this day, members of her family and the climate justice movement in Vancouver came together to share the profound ways she touched so many lives through compassion, encouragement, and a stubborn objection to the status quo.
We will honour Marta with keeping fighting for the better and just world that she stood for and that we fought for together.
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