Today was the first day of my weekly protest to stop the building of new warships outside the Irving Shipyard in Halifax. I have wanted to do something more visible to raise awareness about the Canadian government wasting $25 billion on new combat vessels for the navy instead of investing in environmental and social programs that are desperately needed in this country.
Over the past year, I have written letters to the editor, met with MPs, handed out hundreds of fact sheets, organized events to denounce the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy but I realized that it wasn’t enough. So, I have decided that I will protest every Wednesday from 12:00-1:00 p.m. while it is still light out and my kids are in school. Also, I thought that it sounded catchy “Wednesdays against Warships.”
At 11:55 a.m. I arrived outside the shipyard with my signs: “NO WARSHIPS, GREEN JOBS, DEMILITARIZE.CA” and “ACTION ON POVERTY AND CLIMATE CHANGE, NO WARHIPS”. They are corroplast signs: one I hammer into the ground and the other I hold. A photo journalist from the Chronicle Herald arrived and took a picture (It was published the next day in the Chronicle Herald).
I was surprised how many cars came out of the shipyard at the Niobe Gate entrance at that time. I found it a bit funny to see how many shipyard workers drove by taking a picture of me on their smartphones. It was more amusing to see how some tried to take pictures surreptitiously, hoping that I won’t see them. There was also a lot more traffic on Barrington Street than I expected.
I was really glad to be out there standing for peace even in the cold, pouring rain. I thought about the brave women and men on Jeju Island, South Korea who have been arrested, threatened and imprisoned trying to stop the building of a naval base on their UNESCO world heritage island. Go to their web site to learn more about their brave five year struggle Save Jeju Now [http://savejejunow.org/]. I thought of my friends in the Global Network Against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space who protest every week outside the shipyard in Bath, Maine that manufactures the Aegis destroyers for the U.S [http://www.space4peace.org/]. I thought of my friends in England with the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases [http://www.caab.org.uk]. They have protested against the American spy base Menwith Hill for 20 years. I thought of the committed folks in Wolfville who stand for peace outside the post office every Saturday. They just passed their 10-year anniversary!
I’m in solidarity with all the courageous and compassionate people in the world who are striving for a world without weapons and war and who want to create a culture of peace and sustainability.
In an hour of standing there with my signs, out of the hundreds of cars that passed, six cars drove by and honked and only two drove by giving me the finger, so I’m off to a great start!