Northwestern opponents of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project gathered to hold a peaceful rally in front of the Prince Rupert Courthouse on Oct. 22, in solidarity with the Defend Our Coast rally held in Victoria.
City councillor Jennifer Rice coordinated the event, in collaboration with northern B.C. teachers and Aboriginal groups.
“Our union has a decades-long history of speaking out on environmental issues, and it is not unusual for teachers to care deeply about potential risks that impact the lives of our students,” Joanna Larson, president of the Prince Rupert District Teacher’s Union, said last week.
The rally included a speech by British Columbia Teachers’ Federation Vice-President Jim Iker, and messages from MLA Gary Coons and MP Nathan Cullen, who were at the rally in Victoria. There were also songs, Aboriginal dances and a drum circle.
Rice said as the rally progressed, there were more than 250 people in attendance.
Many stressed that if the Northern Gateway pipeline went through, it would destroy what sustains the north coast. Among those was protester Joe Daniels, who moved to Prince Rupert from Toronto to take the Applied Coastal Ecology program at Northwest Community College.
“The ecology and cleanliness of this coast is what brought me here. Programs like the Applied Coastal Ecology program would be deeply affected by a spill, so in the interest of students in general we stand in solidarity with this movement,” Daniels, who is chair of the Northwest Community College Students’ Union, said.
At least 2,000 people showed up in front of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria for the rally against oil sands pipelines and tankers, which some are calling the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience to protest the topic.
“Today is a game changer… I haven’t seen people rally together like this [about an issue] in a long time,” Rice said.
There will be rallies in 62 communities across the province on Wednesday, Oct. 24.