The number of British Columbian participants in the Friday, November 29, 2019, Climate March was down, everywhere. 100,000 marched through the streets of Vancouver two months ago; A thousand took part in the mock funeral that ended with six arrests. A similar number blocked traffic in front of BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in Victoria for half an hour. Only 200 people rallied in Courtenay’s Simms Millennium Park, before marching downtown. There were only dozens in Kelowna. Fifteen people – all but two of them students – took part in a Cortes Island event. This prompted the organizer to ask, “Where are we when our youth need a helping hand to carry the big load?”
Of course Cortes is a special case. This is an island where the only visible campaign signs during the last federal election were Green or NDP. There is no place to march: no legislature or city hall and the only fossil fuel facility is a gas pump. Only a handful of spectators are available to watch if you do march. In September, close to 50 Cortesians gathered in the Co-op courtyard, in Mansons Landing, for what could best be described as a photo-op. Most were adults and the number is significant because, according to an old adage, for every demonstrator there are usually ten people of a like mind at home. That little group may represent half of the island’s population.
While only two of the adults returned on November 29, many attended the “Facilitated Conversation on Ecological Grief” at Linnaea Farm.
“The Folk U session at 1 PM re grieving climate change had a room pretty full of adults. They did allow some back & forth discussion. I, for one, encouraged all to be hopeful, since our over-the-top powerful & loving Creator can guide us to solutions,” says Nancy Beach.
What Do We Do Now?
For most of us “adults” on Cortes Island, this does not seem like the time for more marches. The real question is what do we do now?
Ashley Zarbatany emailed, “It would be different if we had a population that could achieve critical mass and interrupt business as usual – but we’re on a tiny island. Our whole lifestyle here is an interruption to the capitalist business as usual model. Our community on Cortes is able to achieve different goals because we have different strengths and we should figure out what those strengths are and apply them. So my two suggestions for now:
- strike a climate action committee that can do organising and advocacy in a regular and sustained way.
- have a townhall on local climate solutions and invite politicians to listen and get involved.”
Many in more populated areas, where there actually is a place to march to, are probably asking the same questions.
The Message From 13 Cortes Students
This does not detract from the message sent out by those 13 student marchers from the Cortes Island School. Coming from a student body of approximately 50, this is a call for action.