Support the Freedom Train
The First Nations Freedom Train against the construction of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipeline has begun and we want them to know they are not alone
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - Last year for International Stop the Tar Sands Day we asked people to create the best "Stop the Tar Sands!" banner, poster or artwork they could be muster, take a picture of themselves with their creation and send it in to us for our website. It worked out great! Take a look for yourself:
This year we are asking you to send us a picture of you with your message of support for the Freedom Train. I have already written about the Yinka Dene Alliance's Freedom Train a couple of times so I am not sure if there is much more about it to explain. The approximately forty members of the Freedom Train left Vancouver on the weekend and arrived on Monday (Apr. 30th) in Jasper, Alberta. After Jasper it is on to Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg (this one will be on International Stop the Tar Sands Day!) and then Toronto for one big march on Enbridge's annual general meeting on May 9th. The Freedom Train is part of the Save the Fraser Declaration of over 130 First Nations who have vowed to not allow any tar sands projects or pipelines (particularly the Northern Gateway Pipeline) to be built on their lands. The Declaration is a solemn promise to protect the Fraser River watershed.
All of the above on its own makes the Freedom Train an amazing moment for this year and the years to come. They are standing up to a company, government and industry who are determined to build a pipeline through Yinka Dene lands in order to transport tar sands oil to tankers bound for American and Asian markets. There is also a certain legacy that goes along with the Freedom Train which makes this week and the next that much more special.
In 1980, the "Constitution Express" traveled by train from Vancouver to Ottawa (stopping in all major Canadian cities in between) to demand full recognition of indigenous rights in the Canadian constitution. Canada gained full authority of the constitution from the British in 1982, but in 1980 the Trudeau government had not consulted with Canadian indigenous peoples about indigenous rights within the constitution. The Constitution Express was also led by First Nations peoples from British Columbia just like the Freedom Train.
When the Constitution Express arrived in Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau actually refused to agree to their demands. Undeterred, the Constitution Express went to New York and brought their message to the United Nations. In 1981, they traveled through the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, and England to raise international awareness. The Canadian government agreed to recognize the rights of Canadian indigenous peoples within the constitution in the end.
I entered the world around the time of the Constitution Express and unfortunately missed out on the whole thing. From what I have read, the Constitution Express received a lot of support from Canadians, Americans and Europeans during their journey. Would it not be great if we could show the same support for the Freedom Train?
Once again I am asking you to get your friends, your family and/or your community together and make the best banner, placard, or poster you can and write or paint a simple message of support for the Freedom Train on it. Messages could be "Save the Fraser", "We Stand With the Yinka Dene Alliance", "Thank You Freedom Train", or "Water is Life". The choice is yours. Take a picture of you and your message and send it to us at:
We will then hand over the photos to the Yinka Dene Alliance so they know they have the support of the many people around the world.
While we are on the subject of solidarity and support, 350.org would love to have photos of you "connecting the dots" for Climate Impacts Day/International Stop the Tar Sands Day. They have a huge list of creative climate dot ideas you could use:
For those of you lucky enough to be in a city where the Freedom Train is hold a rally or ceremony (you guys in Toronto get a concert too!) I cannot urge you enough to participate in or witness a Freedom Train event. This Canadian abroad is somewhat kicking himself that he is not back home to see it!
To all organizers, participants, helpers, and witnesses of the Freedom Train - thank you for what you are doing and thank you for the inspiration.
(photo courtesy of Yinka Dene Alliance facebook group)