Panel to offer testimony from the front lines of environmental battles

Panel to offer testimony from the front lines of environmental battles

Charlene Aleck of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation stands at Cates Park in North Vancouver, across Burrard Inlet from Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Terminal in Burnaby.


The environmental and First Nations rights movements are evolving quickly as social media provides new and more democratic spaces for influence and organization.

Vancouver Sun and Province environment reporter Larry Pynn will moderate presentations and an audience-involved discussion on the history of environmental activism in British Columbia with veterans from the front lines at Clayoquot Sound, Great Bear Rainforest and Burnaby Mountain.

The Museum of Vancouver is hosting the event Thursday in conjunction with a photo-based exhibition about how mass demonstration have shaped Vancouver’s identity, called City On The Edge: A Century of Vancouver Activism.

Panelist Charlene Aleck has condemned the federal government’s support for the Kinder Morgan pipeline as a “fundamental betrayal”” of First Nations and their efforts to protect our natural heritage.

Aleck is a granddaughter of Chief Dan George and an elected councillor for the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, which is directly affected by the path of the pipeline. As a child she played Sarah Jim on the Beachcombers.

“The Tsleil-Waututh are leading the mobilization of that protest,” said event coordinator Kevin Shipalesky. “Collaboration between First Nations and the environmental movement looks like it will continue to grow.”

Other panelists include Karen Mahon, who became the Canadian director of to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy. Sophie Harrison was an outspoken youth climate activist and is organizing opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline and oil tanker expansion. Roxanne Charles is a cultural historian and art student from the Semiahmoo First Nation whose work reflects her experience in a colonial society.

“Resistance movements have grown from largely word-of-mouth movements, but now we are seeing huge campaigns mounted on social media so it will be interesting to hear how that has influenced local activism,” said Shipalesky. “There is a lot of opportunity now for people to be heard, who didn’t have that access to media in the past.”

The panel starts at 7 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $15 at the door, or free to MOV members and people who identify as First Nations.


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