First Nations lead Quebec City march on climate action

Tom Fennario
APTN National News

QUEBEC CITY–Standing at the head of the line, drum in hand, Melissa Mollen-Dupuis and several First Nation drummers took their first step forward. Behind them, an estimated 25,000 people followed.

“I say we need programs for people who are addicted to petrol and money,” said Mollen-Dupuis. “Just like we do for people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs.”

Mollen-Dupuis is a seasoned environmental activist.

The Innu from Mingan on Quebec’s North shore is a staple in environmental marches.

In today’s climate action march, she was walking for a new purpose.

Melissa Mollen-Dupuis marching in Quebec City Saturday

“I’m marching for twice as many reasons now,” said Mollen-Dupuis. “I have the pleasure of being pregnant now, and I have seven times the motivation for the next seven generations.”

Mollen-Dupuis was one of dozens of First Nation, Metis and Inuit people from across the country who led the march Saturday.

Organizer Christian Simard of Nature Quebec said  they were chosen to lead for good reason.

“In the fight against the expansion of tar sands petroleum the First Nations played, and still play, a crucial role,” said Simard.

And now that Alberta tar sands bitumen may be coming east via the proposed Energy East pipeline, organizers know that the fight might once again spill over onto First Nations land.

Grand Chief  Serge Simon of Kanesatake Mohawk territory walked in the march to raise awareness about the pipeline that if approved, will pass through Mohawk land.

“The pipeline is passing under the Ottawa river, and if this thing ever bursts in the middle of winter, and you have four feet of ice like we did this year, how are they going to clean that mess up?” asked Simon. “It’s gonna come all the way down to the lake of two mountains in Kanesatake, where we still fish!”


The march snaked through a three-kilometre stretch of Quebec City, before stopping in front of Quebec’s National Assembly, home of the provincial government.

Toting red bristol boards, the crowd then organized themselves into a giant thermometer to symbolize the perilous rise in temperature that scientists say could lead to devastation if not stopped.

A Recent United Nations environmental report (UNER) released last fallstates that in order to avoid rising temperatures, the Earth will need to be carbon neutral by 2070.

The report also outlines that in order to make this a reality, the switch over to renewable energy sources needs to begin now.

The march was planned ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between Canada’s premiers and Christiana Figures, the Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Christiana Figures

The meeting’s purpose is to improve intergovernmental collaboration to combat climate change.

Mollen-Dupuis hopes the premiers will take heed of the message they are sending today.

“It’s time to listen to the voice of the citizens who demand a lot more innovation on the part of thinking towards the future,” said Mollen-Dupuis. “And not just in a four year (political) mandates, but projects for future generations.”

The premiers have scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to announce the results of the meeting. , and possibly climate change policies for the future.

Their declarations will be eagerly awaited for by Mollen-Dupuis, her unborn child, and 25,000 other marchers today.

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