We are the 99%

We will be heard!

Regina Anti-Pipeline Activists Seeking Outside Support

350.org, Council Of Canadians Helping Prepare For Energy East Fight

by Daniel Johnson

May 10th Climate Rally Regina
May 10th Climate Rally Regina
June 4th Wave Of Action Event In Regina
June 4th Wave Of Action Event In Regina
Tarsands Information Stand in front of Service Canada in Regina
Tarsands Information Stand in front of Service Canada in Regina

On Saturday January 18, 2014 an accident at the Rowat pumping station led to a discharge of over 125 barrels of oil in about 30 seconds just south of Regina within view of the city.

It was a wake up call for activists whose main concerns had been centered on other parts of the country, petitioning and demonstrating against problems away from home. The initial meeting at a downtown restaraunt drew a small group of regular activists from different local groups including Mother Earth Justice Advocates, Idle No More, the local Council Of Canadians chapter and Occupy Regina as well as non-activists who had just learned how close their home town came to a potential disaster.

Discussions started about the plan to convert the existing pipeline and pumping station into part of TransCanada’s Entergy East Project, and how much more of a danger this presented.

The project involves converting 3,000 km of an aging natural gas pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to eastern Ontario and joining it with a section of new pipeline which would run from eastern Ontario more than 1,400 km across southern Quebec to Saint John, New Brunswick.

A massive project with major environmental and social impact, and risk of much worse impact, to make it easier to sell the oil from the tar sands which have already had a terrible impact on our Country’s ecological health.

A loose knit coalition was formed near the end of January, tentatively named ‘Regina Oil Watch’ and began working to draw attention to the issue through small random street demonstrations, protest, occasional banner drops and recently a mock marriage in front of Regina City Hall, between Energy East and The City Of Regina, with First Nations activist Susanna Deranger officiating.

On July 3, some Oilwatch supporters organized a meeting featuring 350.org campaigner Cameron Fenton  on how to begin organizing and mobilizing Regina citizens against the proposed pipeline conversion project, which would carry over 1 million barrels per day of tar sands crude to the Atlantic coast. As the organizers said, ‘Fighting Energy East is crucial in stopping renegade tar sands expansion that is violating Indigenous rights, threatening frontline communities along the pipeline route and driving dangerous climate change.’.

Fenton explained the plan for a movement that would use all methods available at key points across the country all along the pipeline route, with Regina being an urban center close the pipeline, it’s a good strategic point for anti-pipeline campaigners, and since it is also a city with many people at risk in the event of a major leak or spill.

 

stop banner

 

This year the 99% went above and beyond the challenge for the Bigger Badder Banner Drop in Regina Sk. Measuring in at 20′ x 40′, they won for the second year in a row. With over 2 and a half hours of great exposure, it is estimated by an average count per 10 minutes, that they reached THOUSANDS of Regina and area residents and visitors to the Canada Day celebrations happening in Wascana Park that day.

The day truly started at the local Speakers Corner where Saskatchewan Green Party candidate, Sara Piotrofsky, opened with a welcome speech and a few words of her own for the Harper Gov’t. After that, the crowd heard from lawyer, Larry Kowalchuk, Council of Canadians spokesman, Jim Elliott, local activists, Star Andreas, and Susana Derange, Student, Adam Thornton, and Green Party Candidate, Crystal Giesbrecht.

They then proceeded to the Albert Street bridge where they unrolled and proudly waved the giant, slightly modified Canadian (Renamed: Harper Gov’t) Flag for all to see.

The Regina Police force sent officers to the site of the banner drop and respectfully requested that the people holding the banner not stand on the bridge as the potential of falling was not acceptable to the Wascana Center Authorities. The peaceful protesters agreed and cooperated with the police request. Contact information was exchanged and the police agreed to contact the group directly if the Wascana Center Authority requested the banner be removed, instead of pursuing it legally. By all accounts, it was well managed by both groups and at no point was it requested to be removed. The group packed up the banner and left of their own accord after a long, warm day.

Many great conversations were had, and much knowledge was shared. There were no arguments, and many cheers! Here on the 99% we call that a great day!

A giant thanks to all who participated, weather you were sewing the banner, talking to the crowd, or part of the crowd passing by. Every picture is worth a thousand words, and that day, there were many, many pictures. Again, thanks you all!