Friday, October 26, 2012

We Defend Our Coast at Pacific Gardens

By now you will have read the news reports about the Defend Our Coast demonstration on the lawn of the BC legislature Monday. Perhaps you even saw Chad being interviewed - not once, but twice - by CTV about why he was willing to commit civil disobedience.

A baker's dozen of Pacific Gardens residents went down to Victoria on that cold, wet and windy day - but as usual, in our own anarchistic fashion.  Gloria went with her friends; I went with Tara and Jason; Jonathan and John went with Bill; Chad and Susana went the day before to attend the civil disobedience training; Kara and Matt went with their friends; Sharon drove down a day early to visit with a friend; and David was there, too, but I don't know who he went with!

We joined the 3,500 people gathered in front of the empty legislature who showed their political leaders the depth of our commitment to keeping Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines and tankers from our pristine coast,  through several hours of speeches, prayers, dances and songs.

I have to say I had mixed feelings about the event.  As someone who has a tendency to over-analyze and is uncomfortable with group-think, I have never been a fan of demonstrations, even for the best of causes, and this one was no exception.

Why was it that all the speakers shouted, and often used threatening language? (You can see the influence of my Pacific Gardens non-violent communication training here). Why did I see raised fists?  Why did everyone shout "shame" when speakers recited the litany of wrong actions by governments or corporations?

Those responses seemed more reminiscent of those evangelical church services held in a tent rather than a thoughtful expression of protest. I've never liked being told what to say or think, even when I agree with what I'm being told!

I did find it so typically Canadian that the act of civil disobedience was pounding a stake into a lawn - omigawd, they're desecrating the grass! - and that the police were determined to nice everyone to death.

And I loved the creativity of the signs, banners and art work, especially the giant puppet of Mother Earth, who gave those same police a big hug, much to the delight of onlookers, and the fact that for once, First Nations people were front and centre, not an add-on to the event.

Did this achieve anything, other than a feel-good experience for those who have already made up their minds?  I don't know.  I hope against hope that it is the beginning of a new movement that will see thousands and thousands protesting, not just in B.C., but all across Canada.

Whatever does happen, though, I know that the dedicated people at Pacific Gardens will be there at the forefront, and this demonstration skeptic will join them.


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