Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Posted by strattof on October 6, 2011

War! Poverty! Injustice! Environmental Catastrophe! The flyers we distribute every Thursday on the Scarth Street Mall are filled with such bad news stories.

In relating bad news, our intention is not to depress our readers. Rather it is to provide the motivation to resist the way things are in our world: the dollar and human costs of war, for example; the growing gap between rich and poor; the devastation of the environment.

But hope can also be a powerful force for transformation. So rather than adopting our usual doom and gloom outlook, today’s flyer tells only good news stories–stories that show the on-going struggle for peace and justice is not futile but can accomplish much good in the world.

What better time to tell such stories than Thanksgiving.

THE GOOD NEWS

THE REGINA PUBLIC LIBARY

In 2003, the Library Board, with the support of City Council, announced the closure of three library branches–Connaught, Glen Elm, and Prince of Wales–along with the main branch’s Dunlop Art Gallery and Prairie History Room.

In response, Regina citizens mobilized, forming the Friends of the Regina Public Library. Leading five months of public protests and collecting more than 26,000 petition signatures, this group caused the closures to be rescinded.

Today, all nine branches of the RPL are flourishing and, in a remarkable turn of fate, the once doomed Prince of Wales has a brand new and much enlarged facility.

Kudos to the Friends of the RPL and the current Library Board.

NUCLEAR POWER

In November 2008, the Government of Saskatchewan announced its intention to bring nuclear power to the province. Citizens once again mobilized, this time under the banner of Clean Green Saskatchewan, a grassroots organization whose main mandate is to educate the rest of us about problems with nuclear power. 

In June 2009, 1000s of the province’s citizens turned out for public consultations on uranium development, with 84% expressing opposition to the development of nuclear power, compared with only 14% supporting it. The vast majority (98%) also supported the development of alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar.  

As a result, in December 2009, the government ruled out the idea of nuclear power–at least for the meantime. Now, the government is looking to introduce small nuclear reactors to Saskatchewan. There is also a move afoot to bring nuclear waste to Saskatchewan for burial or reprocessing.

Congratulations to Clean Green Saskatchewan and the citizens of Saskatchewan. Thanks to the Government of Saskatchewan for listening to its citizens. When the prospect of small nuclear reactors or nuclear waste burial or reprocessing is raised, let the government know they are too dangerous and too expensive. Go to www.cleangreensask.ca to find out more about nuclear power and nuclear waste. Also listen to the discussion about nuclear waste burial in Saskatchewan on Human Rights Radio:  http://humanrightsradio.podbean.com/2011/06/18/nuclear-waste-in-saskatchewan-committee-for-future-generations/

TAR SANDS

Opposition to the tar sands is growing by the day.

  • 2009–present: On-going First Nations resistance to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would take tar sands oil from Alberta to the BC coast for shipment to Asia. Nearly all First Nations along the proposed route of the pipeline oppose it.
  • August 2011: A two-week sit-in at the Whitehouse to protest the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil from Alberta to oil refineries in Texas.
  • September 26 2011: A demonstration in Ottawa to protest tar sands pipelines and tar sands development. Solidarity demonstrations were held across Canada, including in Regina.  
  • October 4 2011: Yesterday’s announcement that the European Commission has blacklisted tar sands oil.

Despite growing opposition to the tar sands, the federal government continues to subsidize the industry to the tune of $1 billion a year. Possibly even more shocking is the promotion by Prime Minster Stephen Harper and Premier Brad Wall of tar sands oil as ‘ethical oil.’ There is absolutely nothing ethical about tar sands oil. Indeed, it is an environmental, human, and ethical catastrophe:

  • Tar sands production generates as much as 20% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil. According to NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, it is likely to trigger irreversible climate change.
  • Tar sands production generates 6,500 barrels of toxic waste every day. Stored in unlined tailings ponds along the Athabasca River, this waste leaks into the river at a rate of at least 11 million litres a day. Fort Chipewyan, a downstream First Nations community, has a cancer rate that is 30% higher than that of other communities.
  • While both TransCanada and Enbridge claim their pipelines are safe, both have experienced multiple leaks in existing pipelines, causing environmental devastation.

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES! Oilsands Quest, a Calgary-based company, plans to start developing Saskatchewan’s first commercial tar sands project in the very near future.

  • Tell Prime Minister Harper you want the federal government to stop subsidizing the tar sands industry: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  •  Let Premier Brad Wall know you don’t want the province to develop this dirty, dangerous form of fuel. premier@gov.sk.ca or 787-9433.

VIGIL FLYERS

MORE GOOD NEWS! You are still taking our flyers!!

Every Thursday for going on five years, we have been standing on the corner of Scarth Street and 11th Avenue handing out flyers on peace and justice issues. Each week an average of 144 Regina downtown workers and shoppers take one. 

  • Thanks so much for taking our flyers.
  • A special thanks to those who have stopped and discussed issues with us.
  • Let us know what other issues you would like us to examine.
  • Should you ever be free on a Thursday at noon, please join us.

The trouble is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There’s no innocence. Either way you’re accountable.”

                                                                                          Arundhati Roy

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