So. The protest! This was such an entirely Canadian affair, with several people showing up with signs bearing slogans that included the word “Please”.
If you want some background on this whole shebang, my little sister Hilary was recently invited to film a documentary on the First Nations Unist’ot’en Camp, currently mounting a resistance against the Pacific Trail Pipeline, an initiative by Chevron. You can read more here, if you like.
Hilary spent ten days at the Unist’ot’en camp and returned utterly changed. We’ve spent hours talking around the issues involved in this conflict between people and profit, as well as her deep desire to be part of this fight.
All I can say is that my sister is an incredibly determined, charismatic and persuasive individual and if you’ve got her on your side – look out.
At the protest itself, everything was very civilized. I had Olive in her carrier, and waved our sign and handed out pamphlets. Cars honked their support (including a guy who drove through the intersection with his torso hanging halfway out of his car window, screaming “Fuck Chevron! Fuuuuuck Chevronnnn!” with such fervour and hatred that we were all stunned into shocked silence).
We met a few rough and tumble looking guys who I expected to dismiss the protest as the futile efforts of a bunch of crazy hippies, but one of them paused as he walked past and said that he had worked fracking for a few months before quitting, admitting that it was “terrible, soul-sucking work”.
There was another guy who stopped to ask what we were doing, and then after getting the schpeil, smiled and said “Sorry guys, I’m pro-pipeline.” and so we smiled too, and wished each other well.
Police showed up at one point and chatted with Hilary, making sure everything was alright before going on their way.
There were old ladies with tea sets and earnest young men in suits holding homemade banners, and it was all just so hopeful. And optimistic. To think that a few people holding signs on a street corner could make a difference.
But indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
The rest of the weekend was decidedly less activist in tone. We visited the petting zoo again, meeting a baby donkey born on the same day as Will and Kate’s son, appropriately named Prince George. Olive grunted excitedly at all of the animals, which was quite gratifying, to see some sort of reaction to all of these ridiculous things we keep dragging her to.
Tomorrow I leave this city of sisters and sea, heading back to home and to Adam who has been desperately missing his baby (and, I’m sure, his wife. Though he likes to pretend he is living a wild bachelor life.)