Act on Climate March draws 25,000 to Quebec streets

Ghislain Picard (far left), Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Quebec and Labrador marches at the front lines of the protest. Photo by Krystle Alarcon

Over 25,000 people are marching in Quebec City right now to call upon Canadian premiers to act on climate change, in advance of the climate talks on April 14. 

"That means no new tar sands pipelines. No Keystone, no Energy East, no Kinder Morgan, no Northern Gateway," states the coalition of organizers for the Act on Climate March.

AFN Regional Chief for Quebec and Labrador, Ghislain Picard, joined the tens of thousands of people at the protest.  

Picard says almost half of all First Nations in Quebec, around 16, will be impacted by the Energy East pipeline, if the project is carried through.

The proposed pipeline will carry 1.1 million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Quebec City and Saint John, N.B.

“There’s too much unknown, TransCanada has yet to provide indications as to what they will do,” which is why the National Energy Board has pushed back the pipeline’s deadlines by two years, Picard says.

“As opposed to out west, maybe Quebec is a little behind in terms of what we know,” he says.

Although the First Nations in Quebec are currently still looking into the Energy East Project, Picard says no community is completely supportive of the pipeline.

 

AFN Quebec/Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard speaks about the lack of information from TransCanada on Energy East -- resulting in a lack of a unified position from Quebec First Nations. Interview and video by Krystle Alarcon

“It’s economy versus tradition versus environment… I think we need to find a proper balance,” Picard says. 

“We contribute the least in what’s happening to the environment but we are impacted the most,” he adds.

Kanesatake says 'no' to Energy East

Kanesatake Mohawk Grand Chief Serge Simon is clear on his stance: he is against Energy East.

 

Kanesatake Mohawk Grand Chief Serge Simon at a press conference before the march. Photo by Krystle Alarcon 

“I cannot in good conscience accept any money from TransCanada,” Grand Chief Simon says at a the march.

Wide shot of protesters at Act on Climate March in Quebec City, courtesy of website: http://act-on-climate.ca/ 

Grand Chief Serge Simon is urging Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard to consider imposing conditions on Energy East, the same way  B.C. Premier Christy Clark has done for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project.

“I have a two-year old granddaughter, and I picture her at my age scrounging for food because the environment has changed so drastically that there are food shortages and that my granddaughter would not be able to feed her family,” says Chief Simon.

 

Kanesatake Mohawk Grand Chief Serge Simon speaks at a press conference before the march. Video by Krystle Alarcon 

Young women at the march: “It’s our future”

Youth shared the same perspective as Grand Chief Simon.

Amongst the thousands of protesters, including First Nations, union representatives, elders, artists and activists were three young women aged 16 to 17.

"It’s something if we can’t change it, it’s just going to get worse, eventually there’s no point of return and it’s something that can’t happen because without the planet being in health, we don’t exist," says Aurora Patterson, 16.

Finding alternatives to oil

A Quebecois man marching amongst the swaths of people is already practicing an alternative way of energy.

Carl Barthe says he fuels his car with water, a system known as HHO.

He believes the petroleum industry is keeping the cleaner energy system away from the public eye.

“I looked on the internet and found the Stanley Meyer system and then I built one and then it’s working in my car.”

 

A Trojan Horse is used to symbolize the "neo-liberal agenda" being pushed on Canadians by the Conservative government to support pipeline projects. Photo by Krystle Alarcon

Canadians united against oil sands

People from B.C, Ontario, New Brunswick and all over Canada came to attend the rally.

Madeleine Endicott, who is a member of the United Steelworkers and Trinity St.Paul's United Church, is calling upon premiers to stop building pipelines, stop tar sands expansions and move towards renewable energy.

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