A crowd estimated at about 1,000 people gathered at Clover Point on Saturday, part of a countrywide rally against pipeline projects and oil-tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast.
Harsh winds whipped off the Juan de Fuca Strait and buffeted the crowd, which ranged widely in age.
Speakers called on the throng to rise up against pipelines and tankers but pace themselves for a long battle.
“I am here today to say: ‘No means no,’ ” said Caitlyn Vernon, a campaigner for the Sierra Club, prompting the crowd to pick up the chant. B.C. residents, First Nations and municipalities have said no to Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, she said.
The 1,200-kilometre pipeline would carry 550,000 barrels of heavy oil a day from Alberta to a port in Kitimat, for shipment to lucrative markets in Asia.
“When we say no to pipelines and tankers, we are saying yes to salmon, yes to good green jobs,” Vernon said. “We are saying yes to a livable climate, yes to a future where dinner can still be pulled from the ocean, yes to a world with orca whales, with spirit bears, and wolf pups playing with ravens on the beach.”
The nationwide day of action — called Defend Our Climate! Defend Our Communities! — was held in about 130 communities.
Organizers of the Clover Point rally said they were thrilled with the size of the crowd, which they suggested exceeded 1,000. Victoria police estimated the number at 750 to 1,000.
Supporters waved placards directed at the Alberta oilsands, declaring: Tough Love Alberta, Water Before Oil. Some signs targeted the B.C. government with the message: “Frack U Christy Clark defend our climate and our community.” Other placards focused on the environment with a gentler message: “This World Needs a Group Hug.”
In Vancouver, hundreds of people danced to First Nations drummers during a rally that drew dozens of environmental groups, First Nations and families.
Dozens of protesters in Toronto lay on the ground to form a “human pipeline” to illustrate their opposition to pipeline projects.
Last week, Premier Alison Redford and B.C. Premier Christy Clark endorsed each other’s energy strategies in a move that could more easily pave the way for oil pipelines to B.C.’s west coast. Both premiers said the deal does not mean any pipeline projects are immediately going ahead.
— With files from The Canadian Press