NOVA SCOTIA: Approximately 50 rural activists from Yarmouth County to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality sat in on local Department of Lands and Forestry offices last week, resulting in several arrests.
They were sitting in solidarity, all making the same demand as hunger striker, Jacob Fillmore; an immediate moratorium on clearcutting on Crown land in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia) until the Lahey Report is fully implemented.
Fillmore is in the midst of a hunger strike, according to the Extinction Rebellion, and so far the government’s only response has been to offer a meeting, then reneging the opportunity.
“Across Mi’kma’ki people are standing up and sitting down, for what they believe in. While the government has yet to hear the call for a moratorium, the voice of the people now speaks more loudly than ever,” Fillmore said in a media release. “We demand an immediate moratorium on clearcutting on Crown land until the Lahey Report is implemented. We must protect ecosystems, protect biodiversity, and create a future we can be proud to live in, and pass on. We need action now.”
In addition to occupying nearly a dozen offices province-wide including Premier Iain Rankin’s Halifax office and the Minister of Department of Lands and Forestry Chuck Porter’s office in Windsor, locally there was a sit in at the Whycocomagh Lands and Forestry office.
“The Lahey Report recommendations and the Endangered Species Act are supposed to be protecting endangered species in Nova Scotia, such as the mainland moose, from unviable forestry practices, such as mass clearcutting,” Patrick Yancey told The Reporter. “But they’ve both been largely ignored for years.”
Yancey, who is a media support person for Extinction Rebellion, said this has resulted in a mass movement from concerned citizens, including demonstrations, a petition with 38,000 signatures, blockades of clearcutting roads, dozens of arrests, and more recently Fillmore’s hunger strike.
“Jacob’s demands are for a moratorium on clearcutting until the new Biodiversity Act comes into force in the fall,” he said. “This was before the Nova Scotia government removed about 10 pages from the act at the request of clearcutting industry lobbyists, (while) the government simply ignored Jacob’s hunger strike.”
Yancey suggests the environmental movement has been petitioning, flyering, demonstrating, educating and lobbying decision-makers for decades to get them to listen to science and take action to avert the climate and ecological crises.
“And we’ve largely been ignored,” he said. “Now time is up and the crises are here, so we are switching to non-violent direct action, civil disobedience, as a last resort.”
As for whether those decision-makers will start to listen, Yancey stresses they hope so, and they’re already seeing signs of that.
“Their rhetoric has shifted, and Premier Rankin won the Liberal leadership race on a platform of addressing these crises,” he said. “However, he also just gutted his own Biodiversity Act as soon as lobbyists complained.”
Yancey suggested we can’t fix the problem by listening to the same people that cause it, so they have to speak up and keep trying.
“That’s what governments have been doing for decades and that’s how we got into this mess in the first place,” he said. “We need to shift public opinion and awareness to the point where decision-makers feel like they have to put science, public need and green jobs above special interests and lobbyists.”