Courthouse solidarity and Women’s Memorial March: Vancouver Unitarians take action
UCV members were out in numbers to support two downtown events on Monday.
Catherine Hembling at the Courthouse
At 9am we gathered under our banner with a crowd over 300 strong, on the steps of the courthouse to support the brave Brunette Six who were to appear before a judge for sentencing. The Six planned to plead guilty to breaking the TMX injunction and take whatever jail sentence would be meted out.
- Related reading: Catherine Hembling’s statement to the Court
Led by Earle Peach, we sang uplifting songs, chanted our anger and resolve to keep up the fight against the oil and gas industry. On the steps, the Brunette Six read out parts of their court statements which expressed their love and concern for the environment and the future of future generations. One of the Six, Zane Haq gave an impassioned speech calling for more people to stand up because it was only when a mass of people get arrested that the government will change.
An overflow room was set up so people could listen in on the courtroom proceedings. Elizabeth posted at 3pm that Judge Fitzpatrick sentenced Jeannette, Ruth and Catherine to 14 days in prison. The other 3 would be sentenced on Tuesday.
UCVers at the courthouse: Cheryl Amundsen, Cynthia Lam, Elizabeth Dunn, Evelyn Pinkerton (WSAT), Hanno Pinder, Jane Kinegal, John Boyle, Karl Perrin, Katherine R, Leslie Kemp, Mairy Beam, Mary Lage, Melody Mason, Nan Gregory, Rob Dainow, Ron Gibson , Rory O’Brien, Rosey Cornell, Skye Richards, Tamiko Suzuki, Ursula Litzke, Yvonne Marcus, and Catherine Hembling.
Women’s Memorial March
A short time later, some UCVers joined a crowd of thousands at the Women’s Memorial March at Main and Hastings to bear witness to the families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The stories that were told were unbearably sad and filled with so much pain. Some families have been looking for their mother, aunt, daughter or sister for decades, fighting police and societal indifference, sexism and racism. Others have lost loved ones in the last few years showing that things have not changed. One speaker’s words resonated with me when she said that the extractive industry and its assaults on the Earth were connected to the attacks on Indigenous women. The word ‘ecocide’ was used along with genocide. This reminded me of the Brunette Six who had spoken about how TMX was destroying the environment and contributing to the ultimate assault on our future, Climate Change.
The march slowly walked their route through the DTES stopping at spots to drum and honour women who had died. Then we reached the intersection of Water St and Powell St and stopped in front of a group of young Indigenous activists who had thrown ropes around the statue of Gassy Jack Deighton. To the crowd’s frenzied cheering and drumming, they proceeded to pull the statue down, throw red paint on it and erect red dresses in its place. The statue had memorialized a 40 year old man who married a 12 year old Squamish child, who made his money plying people with alcohol and whose name has been celebrated while hers has disappeared into obscurity. An Ode to Madeline Deighton. The anger was palpable as was the joy at the toppling of the statue which was one tiny act against a long history of racism and destruction.
While some expressed discomfort with the destructive turn of events, there was no denying the impatience of the young to DO SOMETHING. It was just like Zane of the Brunette Six, who earlier had demanded we get out of our comfort zone and stand up.
UCVers at the Memorial March: Cynthia Lam, Hans Elfert, Hisako Masaki, Kiersten Moore, Leslie Kemp, Lynn Armstrong, Margo Elfert, Melody Mason, Nan Gregory, Nancy Barker, Skye Richards, Tamiko Suzuki, Yvonne Marcus.