Highlights: Defend Our Coast protest in Victoria

Up to an estimated 4,700 people came to protest in front of the BC legislature against oil sands and tankers in the BC coast on Monday. Photo from DefendOurCoast.ca.

An enormous peaceful protest against oil tankers shut down the BC legislature in Victoria and fired up Twitter in Canada with the hashtag #DefendOurCoast on Monday.

"Largest civil disobedience on tar sands in Canadian history - happening NOW!" tweeted actress Daryl Hannah, who was arrested for protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

#DefendOurCoast became the #1 trending topic for Canada on Twitter at around 2pm. Over 3,000 people gathered outside the Victoria legislature at 11 am-- a mix of young, old, private citizens and environmental advocates. The purpose of the protest, organized by coalition group Defend Our Coast, is to oppose further developments of pipelines carrying Alberta oil sands that will be shipped overseas on oil tankers.

"Together we can send a powerful message to the BC and Federal governments that the coast is not for sale and must be protected," Defend Our Coast stated on its website.

First Nations prominent presence at Defend Our Coast

First Nations leaders spoke within the first hour of the protest, giving impassioned speeches about why they opposed oil sands and oil sands pipelines being built in BC.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip. Photo source: @UBCIC.

First Nations community leaders came out to support the protest, including Rueben George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

"Our land, our waters to protect - 4000 strong on the BC legislature lawn," Atleo tweeted, with a picture of the crowd. Many media outlets reported earlier in the day that 3,000 people were at the protest, but Defend the Coast and individuals at the protest insisted the number was between 4,000 to 5,000. 

According to Global BC, the final estimate was reported at 4,700.

Politicians call for opposition to oil sands

Green Party MP Elizabeth May took the stage at around 1:45 pm and called for an intervention.

Photo source: @DefendOurCoast

"When you have a friend with an addiction, they need an intervention," May was quoted as saying by Quinn Runkle (@quinnrunkle).

Among the politicians in attendance: BC NDP leader Adrian Dix, NDP MP and federal environment critic Rob Fleming, NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, NDP MP Murray Rankin, and former Federal Fisheries Minister David Anderson.  

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