Defending Climate, Defending Communities

heidi.jpgLocals support Canadian day of action to defend communities and climate

Belfast, ME—On Saturday, November 16, more than 40 people joined on the Belfast Commons to show solidarity with Canadians and a wall of opposition to pipelines, reckless tar sands expansion, mountain-top removal mining, water extractions and other threats to communities.

The day, which was hosted by a coalition of First Nations and community organizations in Canada, involved more than 100 communities. Only three solidarity actions in the US were recognized by the Defend Our Climate, Defend Our Communities coalition—one in Minnesota, one in Tennessee, and the one on Belfast Commons. The Belfast rally was sponsored by 350 Waldo County, a local group dedicated to addressing climate disruption.

“We are here to stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the north and join them in saying we want to stop runaway climate change; we want to protect our communities. We want our governments to pursue better ways to secure our future and the future of the generations to come,” said Bob Shaw of Belfast, a leader in 350 Waldo County. “We felt that the Commons was the right place to hold this rally, not just because it is in view of the bay we love and depend on, but because the commons represents what we share and how we share it. It reminds us that we not only use and benefit from what we hold in common; we are co-creators, stewards and protectors of shared resources.”

“Today we saw communities opposed to reckless oil pipeline expansion in the West [of Canada] uniting with communities in the east and the north to defend our climate and communities,” said Maggie Knight of Leadnow.ca. “We are seeing the growing impacts of more extreme weather across the world, and the people who stood up today want to be part of the solution.”

The Belfast demonstrators created a human wall that moved down the Commons to another group holding signs that represented threats to communities. They met in the center of the commons and the people overwhelmed the “threats.” After that all joined hands and did a circle dance to celebrate their unity.Several marched up and down one block of downtown Belfast, chanting “Defend our climate. Defend our communities” and singing “This Land Is Your Land.”

“When we protest tar sands extraction and pipelines, our issue isn’t with the Canadian people. It’s with the multinational corporations and our national governments that operate to benefit short-term corporate gains at the expense of our clean air, water, safe food, so much more,” said Heidi Brugger of Freedom, a 350 Waldo County member and event organizer.

“Our Maine communities are at risk from excessive harbor dredging, natural gas pipelines that will bring radon into our homes, mountain-top removal mining, banks and oil companies that promote extreme extraction, an east-west corridor that will aid resource extraction, and corporations that are even now sucking the groundwater out from under us. Corporations are working with our governments to gut our environmental protections.People on both sides of the border understand this. Everyone’s home is at risk,” Brugger said.