Environmental activists congregated in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories, on Saturday, June 13 for Toast the Coast, an event organized by Greenpeace to celebrate the seashore and defend it against oil tankers and pipelines.
It followed a mass mobilization of “kayactivists” in Seattle against Shell’s Arctic plans. Two days later, on June 15, 13 people were arrested in Seattle for attempting to block the path of the Polar Pioneer, a drilling rig now en route to the treacherous waters of the Arctic to explore for oil.
The theme of the day was #PeopleVsOil, with the goal of building towards the kind of direct action seen in Seattle over the past month. Last week a group of 100 prominent scientists called for a moratorium on new development in Alberta’s tar sands, in a move sure to reignite debate over the future of this hotly contested natural resource.
Ricochet spoke to Mary Lovell of Greenpeace, one of the main organizers of the day who was in Seattle for the confrontation. “You can expect to see a lot more kayactivism along the coast in the coming weeks as Shell moves their equipment up though Vancouver. Some equipment has already been stored in Vancouver, and it will continue to be used as a port for Arctic oil tankers as well as Arctic oil drilling equipment.”
The threat posed by oil is “a widespread issue,” said Melina Laboucan-Massimo, an organizer for Greenpeace and member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation in Alberta. “It’s more people than the small fringe that mainstream media like to say cares about these issues.”
Actresses Jane Fonda and Rachel McAdams were among those in attendance for the day of music, art and speeches, all powered by an array of solar panels brought in for the day.