A Bridgetown woman who took part in a protest in Halifax ended up in jail Monday.
Karen Jones was part of the Extinction Rebellion rally in front of two media outlets and Nova Scotia Power on a rainy day that saw about 150 people carrying placards and chanting for the province to do something, media outlets to focus more on the crisis, and for Nova Scotia Power to stop burning coal and other fossil fuels and start concentrating on alternative energy sources.
Extinction Rebellion activists from the Annapolis Valley chartered a bus to travel to Halifax to join other XR groups from across the province in a day of non-violent direct action. They wanted the province to declare a climate emergency to tackle climate change and what they describe as its ever-increasing negative impact.
Extinction Rebellion members met with editorial staff of both The Chronicle Herald and CBC, and with Nova Scotia Power executives.
“We are fed up with the government and media’s cavalier attitude towards climate change,” Jones said prior to the protest. She made it to the first two stops but along with four other protesters was taken into custody by police.
“Five people were detained by police, two were charged,” she said. “I was one of the ones detained.”
She said a man from Antigonish was charged with public mischief and a woman from Halifax was charged with criminal mischief.
“Initially, the police told me I was arrested (for public mischief), put hand cuffs on me and threw me in a cell and three hours later let me go. No charges,” said Jones. “My buddies from the Valley waited for me so I could go back to Bridgetown on the bus. So I missed the action at Nova Scotia Power, which apparently was very moving as a 12-year-old told the head of NS Power that he didn’t see himself having a future, a young man did a brilliant rap song, and the head of NS Power said that, no, he didn’t realize that burning trees was only 22 per cent energy efficient.”
About 40 people took the bus from the Valley, and Jones was impressed with the group.
“Once again I met remarkably intelligent and well-spoken people who care deeply about our province, indeed the world -- and what lies in its future,” said Jones.
One of those people was award-winning artist Deb Kuzyk from Annapolis Royal.
“I went because I feel the need to do something,” Kuzyk said. “This small act, joining in with others, felt positive. There is strength in numbers, we need so many more to join in.”
Kuzyk said they boarded the bus in Annapolis Royal at 6:30 a.m. and collected people all the way up the Valley and arrived in Halifax with a full bus.
“The people involved were the kindest, most respectful ‘salt of the earth’ crowd … lovers of the earth, and humanity,” she said. “We talked, sang, held signs, and stood for hours in the cold rain. But it felt warm.”
“I met a farmer who spoke eloquently about the role of forests in the hydrological cycle,” Jones said. “She wondered how much longer she could go on farming in Kings County with the dryness.”
REAL LIFE STORIES
Jones said there were many others with real life stories of how climate change has already impacted the land, the weather, the climate, and their livelihoods and the landscapes that they have loved. “There were tears,” she said.
Kuzyk said the message to the media was to tell the truth.
“Use your platform to alert people to the true reality of the current crisis,” she said. “To Emera? Stop the clear-cutting of the Acadian forest, bio fuel is a farce, stop burning coal.”
She believes that message will fall on deaf ears with corporations.
“Really we need to get more ordinary people involved,” she said. “The most moving moment was when the young boy spoke about his despair about his future.”
Anthropologist Dr. Niki Clark took the bus along with Jones and Kuzak. She sees Nova Scotia Power as a huge problem in the province, still burning coal and, in her words, not even making a big effort to switch to truly sustainable fuels.
“That was an interesting scene,” said Clark. “That’s where two people were arrested for spray painting with chalk paint. The only reason it wasn’t washing off in the rain was because there was an overhang. But they were arrested for damaging property.”
She said she wants governments to take responsibility for making this, climate change, happen. “They’re supposed to take care of the people. People are assuming they’re taking care of the people,” Clark said. “They’re not and we hold them criminally responsible for adding to the problem.”
“I’ve been watching this train wreck coming at us for 40 years,” said Clark.
She now runs a farm at Granville Beach where she believes it’s the best place to be for the climate change crisis.
“But still I couldn’t believe all these years that the governments are doing nothing,” she said. “So when this group finally emerged, as a global group just trying to take this out to the people and raise awareness and try to get the governments to actually pay attention, and the news media to start making it their headline news – it’s going to impact us all, it has already – I just joined up. I said ‘I’m onboard, I can give talks, I can do walks. If I need to get arrested to get attention, I can do that.’”
Clark has a unique perspective. As an anthropologist she’s studied the downfall of civilizations and she wants climate change truths to be front page, not buried in the back.
“I’m and old lady, so you know, I look like a pretty normal person you wouldn’t expect to be out rebelling, but I’m very, very concerned,” she said. “Even with my best efforts at organic farming and feeding myself and my husband, I doubt we’ll survive, we’re old, but I’m very worried about the next generation. I’m concerned that they very well may not survive and life as we know it on the planet is really at risk.”
“This action is part of a Global Day of Action called by Extinction Rebellion, an activist organisation that originated in the UK in 2018 and now boasts 331 groups in 49 countries,” said Jones. “Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia plans for continued actions to demand immediate action in combatting climate change and ecological disaster.”