This is a guest post from Karel Mayrand. Karel is General Director of the David Suzuki Foundation in the province of Quebec. Karel spoke at a historic demonstration in Montreal, asking over 300,000 participants to stand up for their moral rights and intensify the fight against climate change.
A version of this blog post can be found on the David Suzuki Foundation website.
Montreal held the largest environmental demonstration in the history of Canada on Sunday, April 22. At 2 p.m., bells rang in 1200 churches across the province. In downtown Montreal, people gathered and you could not see the end of this massive human wave. Apparently, there were so many people that the Metro system could not handle the traffic and some people could not even make it to the demonstration!
We were 250,000 strong when I went onstage to speak to the crowd. I said, “The future of our children cannot go through a pipeline. It cannot be captured in a barrel of oil. It cannot be bought or sold at the stock market. Protecting our future does not belong to the right or the left. It is not a partisan issue. It is a fundamental right. A moral imperative. Stop intimidating environmental groups, first nations and human rights groups! We are 250,000 and we are taking back our rights.”
Their response was like thunder.
Buses came from 50 different cities throughout Quebec. Dozens of artists were with us, along with the three major unions. We created the largest human tree ever made.
You can read our demands in the declaration that is hosted on the David Suzuki Foundation’s website, and signed by over 50,000 people.
DSF along with Equiterre, Greenpeace, AQLPA, Earth Day Quebec and many other groups were the organizers for the event. Cirque du Soleil, major Montreal festivals, the city of Montreal, churches, unions, student associations and so many others helped us. There were more than 1,000 volunteers. People demonstrated peacefully, but the message was strong: We are the citizens and this is our land. We get to decide what to do.
Don’t let anyone tell you that people in this country can’t rise when it’s important.
- ‘Biggest Act of Civil Disobedience in Canadian History’ (commondreams.org)
- Canadian Student Protest Erupt Into Political Crisis With Mass Arrests (freeinternetpress.com)