Jan 12

January 9, 2013 – Week #4

Group at WagainstWI was nervous today. Yesterday, Global TV said they wanted to come to my house to film me preparing for my protest and then outside the shipyard with my signs. I didn’t want to be alone. So, I emailed all my peace email lists to ask people to come and join me.

I was so pleased that Lucia, Carolyn, Brian, and my husband Ben came! Sarah stopped for a few minutes while out on her jog and I gave her some of the “Stop Harper’s Crimes: Climate, Militarism, Mining, Palestine” stickers to pass out. It was so nice to have a lot of help to hold up all the signs including the banner “Sink the Ship Strategy! Green Jobs, Not War Jobs.”

Global TV came at 12:15 pm and filmed the protest and interviewed all of us. I could overhear what Carolyn said in her interview as she was helping me hold up the banner, “I’m a retired school teacher. I used to tell my students that democracy is more than voting. It is taking a public stand about the things that you care about.”  Unfortunately her statement got cut in the clip that aired later on the 6 o’clock news, but it is such an important point to remember.

Carolyn’s comment reminded me of what great US historian and social activist Howard Zinn said many years ago, “Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.” We were only five people outside the shipyard, but we were taking direction action against the warships and we got 8 honks of support!

You can watch the Global TV clip here

Jan 06

January 2, 2013 – Week #3

Lucia_MarieHappy New Year! Another year for activism and optimism for a more peaceful and just world! I’ve been really inspired by CODEPINK’s video “Hot Pink Ladies in Action: 10 Years of CODEPINK Creativity”. Please watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/codepinkaction

It is a beautiful sunny day but very cold and windy. It is -19 C. I picked up Lucia today and she brought her sign “In solidarity with Theresa Spence,” the Aboriginal leader on a hunger strike demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Harper. Much to our pleasant surprise, Marie joined us. She held up the sign “Action on Poverty and Climate Change: No Warships”. It was so nice to have company for the first time at my weekly protest.

The traffic was still light because of the holidays. Nevertheless, we were again pleasantly surprised to receive 6 honks of support.

It was so cold that we were glad to warm up afterward at the Hydrostone Café. The three of us discussed current affairs and signed cards to US war resister Kim Rivera who was deported out of Canada and Omar Khadr, a Canadian child, who was tortured and detained for years in the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Marie mentioned how she was initially supportive of the shipbuilding strategy because it meant jobs and then she realized that it was warships that were being built so she couldn’t support it. Now when she talks about the warship contract with others, she says that the federal government is making a choice as to how to spend our tax dollars – spend it on building warships or investing in education and the environment. She doesn’t agree that the federal government should be spending money to prepare for war. I agree completely.

We gave each other hugs of support as we left to carry on with our day.

Dec 30

December 26, 2012 – Week #2

Idle No More_Dec 26_smToday is Boxing Day. It is a beautiful, sunny winter day. I took off my sunglasses so that I could make better eye contact with people. As I expected, the traffic is light on Barrington Street because of the holiday.  Only one car drove into the shipyard. I’m glad the workers have the day off to be with their families.

I brought a new sign to my protest, which read “IDLE NO MORE, INVEST IN FIRST NATIONS, NOT WARSHIPS, NO BILL C-45”. I am standing in solidarity with Chief Spence who is on a hunger strike in Ottawa demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister and Governor General to discuss the needs in First Nations communities in Canada. In 2006, the Conservative government cancelled the Kelowna Accord that committed $5 billion to improve education, healthcare and housing for First Nations. This year, the Conservative government has introduced Bill C-45 that will reduce protection to our waterways, reduce opportunities to engage in environmental assessments, and adversely change the Fisheries Act and the Indian Act. Bill C-45 is not good for First Nations and for all Canadians.

I believe that instead of investing in warships, the federal government should be investing in our First Nation communities.

In an hour of standing with my signs, one person waved, another honked and another gave me the finger.  Bruce, a long-time member of the Halifax Peace Coalition, showed up at 12:50 p.m. and took a picture of me protesting and then we went for a coffee.

In this holiday season, let us reflect by what is meant when we wish others “peace and goodwill.”

Dec 22

December 19, 2012 – Week #1

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!