The Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition (MEJC) is a grassroots organization that has kept itself very busy. With a core membership of six people, this group has been actively organizing against the Energy East pipeline in Winnipeg and in St. Norbert, a small town just outside of Winnipeg, that falls along the route of the pipeline.
Over the last few months, MEJC has organized rallies, hosted postcard campaigns targeting their premier and, just this summer, added their local struggle to the pan-Canadian struggle against the tar sands by joining the We > Tar Sands national day of action.
In doing this work, MEJC has worked to build a relationship of solidarity with the Shoal Lake First Nation which has been active in the Indigenous resistance against Energy East. Just this summer, MEJC joined the Chief of the Shoal Lake First Nation, and organizers in the Grassroots Indigenous Water Defence group for a Water Walk. Led by dozens of Anishnaabe walkers, this walk covered 125 km of the Energy East pipeline and aimed to demonstrate opposition to the project, as well as the strong local determination to protect the waters threatened by the transportation of tar sands oil. Indigenous solidarity and water protection is a core element of anti-pipeline organizing in the Winnipeg area, as the city draws its drinking water from Shoal Lake, while the community has been on one of Canada’s longest boiling water advisories.
Now, organizers from MEJC are preparing to take their local campaign against Energy East to the doorstep of their new Prime Minister by joining hundreds of others for the Climate Welcome action this November. “We need our Prime Minister to be a champion in Paris,” asserted MEJC organizer Harold Shuster, “For every step we move forward the tar sands sets us back two.”
Harold’s committed to risking arrest in Ottawa in order to push Justin Trudeau to begin a long process of recovery after 9 years of Stephen Harper.
“Under the Harper Government, Canada has become a pariah on the international stage. We are oblivious to how we’ve been perceived at a global scale.”
- -Harold, MEJC Organizer
With just about two weeks until the sit-ins at 24 Sussex, MEJC has been raising funds to subsidize travel costs for carloads of activists heading from Winnipeg to Ottawa in November. Just recently, they held a screening of Naomi Klein’s film ‘This Changes Everything’ where they told community members about their plans and garnered support. They also plan to host another local fundraiser at the University of Winnipeg in the upcoming week.
This November’s Climate Welcome Sit-Ins will bring together grassroots struggles against pipelines from all across Canada in a unified call to freeze tar sands expansion. As Justin Trudeau begins to settle in as the new Prime Minister of Canada, he will be confronted with the voices of hundreds of Canadians calling on him to move beyond the tar sands and begin a justice-based transition to a clean energy economy.