APTN National News
OTTAWA – Without Mother Earth there is no life.
That was the message in Ottawa where thousands gathered – joining many more across the world – in what was to be an international day of action on climate change Sunday on the eve of the United Nations climate summit in Paris, France.
“We stand together today for one important reason and that is to save, to protect and respect Mother Earth and the water,” Claudette Commanda told the large crowd in front of City Hall on Laurier Street. “For without Mother Earth, who is the mother for all people, we do not have life.”
The list of speakers also included the likes of environmental activist David Suzuki.
The purpose of the gathering was to urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his new government to get Canada 100 per cent reliable on renewable energy like wind, solar and hydro. They also called for the end of investing in fossil fuels.
Trudeau is in Paris to take part in the international summit on climate change, along with his cabinet ministers and Canada’s premiers. Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde is there, as well, along with other Indigenous people representing the grassroots.
Many marchers in Ottawa wore green to represent renewable energy with hundreds busing in from out of town on what was a cold and cloudy Sunday afternoon.
The march stretched to nearly a kilometre beginning at City Hall with organizers estimating 25,000 making their way up Elgin Street, pausing for a minute of silence at the National War Memorial, down to Sussex Drive and looping around United States embassy before making their way to Parliament Hill.
— 100 Percent Possible (@100possibleca) November 29, 2015
Georgie Horton-Baptiste came from the Peterborough, Ont. area and said she did so for those who couldn’t.
There is no player at http://bcove.me/acbx6z5c.
Police shutdown roads for marchers and there didn’t appear to be any incidents, unlike in Paris.
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) November 29, 2015
Meanwhile, in Vancouver demonstrators added heir voices to a crescendo around the world demanding swift and concrete climate-change action from world leaders gathered in Paris for the United Nations climate talks.
Thousands of people packed the shaded square outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on a sunny Sunday afternoon before marching through the city’s downtown core.
“What you’re seeing here today is a massive display of community spirit,” said Ruth Walmsley on Sunday, a Vancouver Quaker and one of the event’s organizers.
“We’re here to send a very loud and clear message that we need immediate and meaningful action to be taken to address the climate crisis.”
Those demands include an end to subsidies for fossil fuels and large-scale investment in renewable energy, she said.
“This is the 21st conference of the climate summits and we have yet to see the kind of action that we really need to address the crisis that we’re in,” Walmsley added.
“Honestly, I think that the only way that change is going to happen is if enough people take to the streets and demand it.”
The event attracted an assortment of attendees advocating a smorgasbord of different causes, from combating open-pen fish farms to endorsing alternative energy, and from supporting protection for endangered species to opposing pipeline expansion.
The event was co-ordinated by a network of more than 70 organizations from across the Lower Mainland, including First Nations, faith groups and environmental associations.
Squamish First Nation Chief Ian Campbell stressed the need to work together in the battle against climate change.
“Bringing in traditional Indigenous views into that discussion I think is important for the values that First Nations bring around stewardship of the land and long-term planning around resource extraction and development.”
Speaking from Paris, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson echoed the importance of citizen engagement in a message to the crowds assembled in his city and across the country.
“Keep your voices strong and make sure we hold all levels of government accountable to taking action on climate change,” he said.
“We’re seeing real leadership at a grassroots level and a business level that needs to be enabled by government.”
– with files from The Canadian Press