Water is life

This spring a team of Clayoquot Action volunteers gathered to plan an event for the April 29 National Day of Action. Most of the team were graduates of our in-house Doing Democracy course back in November, so had a handle on concepts like the 8 stages of social movements and the 4 roles of activists (Citizen, Rebel, Reformer, Social Change Agent), and were thus equipped to think strategically about what to do.

Nobody had an appetite for marching down Tofino’s 3-block main drag chanting ‘hey hey Kinder Morgan’s got to go’. It’s different in a small town—we needed something fun and inclusive! We began by looking together at the Beautiful Trouble website, and the team quickly settled on the tactic of a human banner.

In the weeks leading up to April 29, we gathered weekly to share some Red Can pizza and plan the action in detail, while also keeping in touch with a national network convened by Metro Vancouver’s Climate Convergence.

Tofitians not daunted by rain
The morning of April 29 was a cold, rainy day. I knew Tofitians would not be daunted by a bit of rain—in fact, it simply underscored the message. The crew had a great plan to spell out ‘Water is Life’ in giant letters before everyone arrived, but it was a gamble as to how many people would show up. We had settled on 100 people, and sure enough right on time people began streaming down the beach in colourful rain gear, ready for action!

It was humbling to hear Tla-o-qui-aht elder Kaamatḥ (Levi Martin) speaking about the Nuu-chah-nulth philosophy that everything is connected, and his reminder that our actions will affect Kinder Morgan, that we need to act in a way which is respectful to everyone. Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks coordinator Terry Dorward gave a spirited speech about the urgent need to protect Mother Earth.

We then prepared to lie down in the water pooling on the saturated beach sand to write the human banner with our bodies. Right on schedule Atleo Air flew over with local surf photographer Adam Chilton pointing his camera out the open door, barely hanging on as the plane bounced along in the strong winds. True to form, Adam got the shot we needed before everyone dispersed back to warm back up.

Heading back to Clayoquot Action’s downtown headquarters, volunteer Sam Rose Phillips was able to edit and launch a short video called Water is Life within hours, just in time to catch CTV’s coverage of the human banner.

If you haven’t already, please take a minute to watch Sam’s uplifting movie by clicking on the image below, or watch it on YouTube.

Thanks to all the volunteers, everyone who participated, Atleo Air, and Red Can Gourmet for making this action a success!

Kinder Morgan is still claiming they will have shovels in the ground this September, sparking what many pundits are already calling Clayoquot 2.0. Stay tuned…

Dan Lewis is Executive Director of Clayoquot Action.


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