The following is a solidarity statement sent to the Climate Welcome organizers by Bill Darnell, one of the founders of Greenpeace.
I believe we are in an important historical moment. These moments are not always easy to recognize as they occur. I think the world is ready to act to protect the climate. This is an important time to show up. Looking back, I can recognize two other political moments of the last century.
In 1935, in the middle of the “Great Depression”, after five years of the government ignoring the fact that there was no work, no welfare and people were starving, thousands of people climbed aboard freight trains in Vancouver for the “On to Ottawa Trek”. People across the country went to Ottawa to confront the government and force them to support strong social nets for those most impacted by the Depression . Ultimately, they were successful in pushing the government to commit to providing welfare, pensions and union recognition.
Thirty five years later, in 1971, after a quarter century of living with the world threat of nuclear annihilation, a group called Greenpeace sailed a fishing boat to Amchitka to stop the testing of nuclear missile warheads. Across Canada, young people, women and men demonstrated, petitioned and shut down border crossings in support of this cause.
I was fortunate to be a crew member of that first voyage and I was there when our determined struggle successfully shut down the tests in Amchitka a few months later.
These moments are a reminder that we have a strong history of mobilizing and demanding, that Canadian leaders take action. And when we push them, they do. The 350.org Climate Action – “Welcome” at the prime minister’s residence will not be easy. Participants will be risking arrest. If you are there, you can expect to be nervous, and, sometimes, just outright scared. You can also expect to be closely connected to a group of committed people from across Canada taking action with their whole being, to protect the planet. You can expect to move climate change to the forefront of Canada’s agenda.
This is an opportunity that doesn’t come very often and one that will stay with you the rest of your life. It is not to be missed.