We are Tri-Cities Leadnow and we have been inspired by the Chain of Hope. Who could fail to be moved by the women, mostly Elders, of the Gitga’at Nation, who toiled long hours weaving a net of colourful yarn and memories to span the Douglas Channel and who surged their canoes across the rollicking waters in order to decree “No Tankers,” would be allowed to threaten their homes and ways of life? Massive respect is owed to the First Nations and Indigenous peoples who are on the frontlines of climate change and destructive extractive projects that threaten our province, our country, and “sacrifice zones” all over the world.
Many Canadians feel that legal challenges by the original stewards of the land are really our best hope of saving the planet. So, when we heard about #ShutDownCanada, a national day of action, February 13th, 2015, organized by and in solidarity with First Nations movements, demanding the government let First Nations Elders oversee independent investigations into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women, as well as the disastrous Mount Polley tailings pond breach, among other issues, we asked permission to hold a knit-in. Yup, a knit-in for the future– that’s the level of radical rebellion you’re dealing with.
We wanted to weave together a vision of a healthy, sustainable future with no pipelines, no tankers, and no fracking. More than that we wanted to knit the community together and tell our government it is time to untangle our country from destructive industries and human rights violations. What better place to start than the shores of Port Moody, curled cozily into the water and mountains, where not so long ago our neighbours in Burnaby were blanketed by approximately 234,000 litres of crude oil from a split pipeline which Kinder Morgan wants to twin?
To add more love and ravel-ry to our day, we invited the Raging Grannies from Maple Ridge to join us, those rockstar matrons who span North America to protect peace, justice, and the environmental way (basically the Justice League with more songs and aprons). Imagine our surprise when we learned that the grannies didn’t know how to knit – we did promise to teach them anyone else who wanted to learn!
As we strung together disparate but related groups around the lower mainland, including Force of Nature, LeadNow, PipeUp Network, Burnaby Mountain protestors, and local retired scientists, and cast-on our purpose with In Solidarity with All Land Defenders and groups across Canada, it became clear that we are bound together with other movements rising up all over the world where industry is trying to get rich on the backs of future generations. Half way around the world, the Knitting Nana’s Against Gas, amazing blue-haired, yellow clad warriors are a huge presence against a gas industry lacing
its way through Australia (a land with quite enough water issues without fracking!). Holding a bright yellow “Nana’s Stand with #ShutDownCanada” sign in solidarity, they joined their “Nana rap” with the strong and bright voices of the Raging Grannies singing nursery songs fit to usher a Prime Minister out of office. All the time, our group continued to knit one, purl two towards a more clean and equitable Canada.
Radicals are often thought of as young, angry hippies. However, more and more it is parents and retired grandparents who are worried about the future of the planet they are leaving for their grandchildren; the upcoming generation will not only be the first to be less healthy than their parents (more pollution, obesity, and diabetes), but now also have to worry about runaway climate change threatening to devastate their health and the ecosystems they depend on. From pipelines to hydraulic fracturing (fracking), environmental threats are knitting together unlikely allies and mobilizing folks who would never have been thought of as activists.
We are now staring down the barrel of a loaded bill which could target anyone who questions whether short term economic gain from extractive industries is worth our children’s future. It’s enough to send one’s head spinning. In her book, This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein forecasts that the future success of the environmental movement will not be small groups working separately, but many groups coming together like a patchwork quilt across causes, cities, countries, and the world to share information and organize.
Indeed, a recent report from the gas industry The Global Anti-fracking Movement: Managing Risk, Maximizing Opportunity, stated that this ease of mobilization and connectivity is one of the biggest hurdles they face. Peacefully knitting and singing along with the Grannies and Nanas is a wonderful foil to the image of a hostile protestor; really, we’re all here out of love and hope as we search for creative ways to cast off the damage that has been inflicted on environmental and social policy.
As you’ll hear our elders say, it’s so important to “Listen to Granny”– every one of them.