— Alliance of 31 First Nations
This week, despite broad public opposition, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper approved Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. The Northern Gateway pipeline, seen as a backup option to the Keystone XL pipeline that is currently mired down in a political quagmire in the U.S., would ship 500,000 barrels of bitumen a day through British Columbia to the Pacific coast.
The approval sparked loud protest from First Nations groups and environmentalists. Opposition to Enbridge has already been heightened in British Columbia and with the Harper government’s announcement, opponents took to the streets of Vancouver and promised fierce resistance to the pipeline.
First Nations groups in Canada, which have long fought the pipeline, vowed to defend their land and their sovereignty with no surrender. In an unprecedented show of unity, 31 First Nations and tribal councils have signed a letter announcing their intention to "vigorously pursue all lawful means to stop the Enbridge project."
Furthermore the Uni’stot’en Clan has maintained a blockade encampment in the path of Enbridge and other proposed pipelines on their territory in British Columbia since 2009. Upon the Northern Gateway announcement they stated they “are prepared to continue to defend their territories against the incursion of government and industry.”
The environmental left has also vowed to fight back against Northern Gateway. Direct actions, protests and legal battles are being planned to stop the pipeline.
Immediately after the announcement, environmentalists launched sit-ins in Member of Parliament offices in opposition to the decision. Four were arrested at the office of James Moore, Conservative MP and Minister of Industry.
One of the four was Jackie DeRoo, MBA, a mother and retired businesswoman: “I'd never even been to a protest until Northern Gateway came along and I began to learn about climate change,” she said. “If ordinary citizens like me are willing to get arrested to stop this project, Harper can expect blockades that will make Clayoquot look like a picnic.”
At the same time as the Northern Gateway pipeline and Keystone XL campaigns, Enbridge have lobbied for a system of pipelines to send hundreds of thousands of barrels of tar sands south to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Enbridge has multiple pipelines proposed in the United States.
The oil giants are not backing off on draining the Alberta tar sands of every last drop of oil. Nor should the opposition back off in the slightest.
Photo: Direct action at Minister of Industry James Moore's office
This is not even the full list! There are plenty more African American environmentalists for you to celebrate over on SF Environment's site.
Celebrating Black Environmentalists During Black History MonthWe are excited to feature 29 African American Environmentalists during this celebratory month. There are so many people doing amazing work on environmental issues – from urban and rural agriculturists to environmental justice advocates to naturalists to scientists - we only got to the tip of the iceberg in recognizing those making real and lasting change. While it has been difficult to find information on early leaders, we know that they were there, creating a movement and legacy that grows stronger each day. We’ll let these representative’s short bios speak for themselves.
Will AllenWill Allen is the son of a sharecropper, former professional basketball player, ex-corporate sales leader and now farmer. The founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc., he has become recognized as one of our preeminent thinkers on agriculture and food policy and is a leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. Allen promotes the belief that all people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods. Using methods he has developed over a lifetime, Allen specializes in bringing healthy food to under-served communities using a unique growing system he developed himself. He trains community members to become community farmers, assuring them a secure source of good food without regard to political or economic forces. What started as a simple partnership to change the landscape of the north side of Milwaukee has blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems. In 2008, Allen was named was awarded a prestigious John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellow “genius grant” for his work – only the second farmer ever to be so honored. In May 2010, Time magazine named Allen one of 100 World’s Most Influential People. Photo credit: Jennifer Baynes Picciolo.
Ibrahim Abdul-MatinIbrahim Abdul-Matin is a former adviser to Michael Bloomberg specializing in the field of environmental sustainability. On his blog, he says, “I was inspired to become a steward of the Earth when my father took me from the concrete jungle that is Brooklyn to Bear Mountain, a hiker’s paradise. I was five years old. I recall moss growing on rocks, mushrooms on rotting wood, and a freshness in the air. When it was time for the afternoon prayer, my father stopped to pray. I was used to praying at home or praying in a mosque. That day, my father told me, ‘The Earth is a Mosque. You can pray anywhere.’ From that moment on, I knew, if I could pray anywhere, then everywhere was sacred. It was my duty to protect the planet, to be a steward of the Earth.” Abdul-Matin is the author of the book: Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting The Planet.
Carl AnthonyCarl Anthony has spent his career working to solve social justice problems. His two passions are the battle for justice for people at the bottom of the economic ladder--particularly people of color—and working for an economy that is environmentally sustainable. He has been instrumental in expanding the environmental movement to include those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. He is the founder of theUrban Habitat Program, one of the oldest environmental justice organizations in the country and is the former head of Earth Island Institute. He also started the only environmental justice periodical in the United States: Race, Poverty and the Environment Journal.
MaVynee Oshun Betsch(1935-2005) MaVynee Oshun Betsch was an environmental activist known as “The Beach Lady” for her tireless conservation efforts on behalf of Florida’s coastal environment. With her seven-foot long dreadlocks and colorful dress, Betsch made for an impressive figure and was hard to ignore. While she was raised in luxury she gave away her entire fortune to environmental causes. She was posthumously honored as an Unsung Hero of Compassion by the Dalai Lama in 2005.
Solomon G. Brown(1829-1906) Solomon G. Brown was the first African-American employee at the Smithsonian Institution working continuously from 1852 until 1906. He held a number of roles during his 54-year tenure including preparing maps and drawings for lectures, and working in the International Exchange Service. Brown was also self-educated and while at the Smithsonian obtained considerable knowledge in the field of natural history. He became well known for his illustrated lectures on natural history and lectured frequently at scientific societies throughout the Washington, DC area.
Dr. Robert BullardDr. Robert Bullard is often referred to as the “father of the environmental justice movement.” He has been one of the leading voices on the issue for decades. In 2008, he was named one of Newsweek’s 13 “Environmental Leaders of the Century”. In 2013, he was the first African American to be honored with the Sierra Club John Muir Award. Dr Bullard has authored numerous books on the prominence of waste facilities in predominately African-American areas all over the nation, as well as others that address urban land use, industrial facility siting, housing, transportation, climate justice, emergency response, smart growth, and equity. When asked what keeps him going in his quest for environmental justice, Bullard answers, "People who fight... People who do not let the garbage trucks and the landfills and the petrochemical plants roll over them. That has kept me in this movement for the last 25 years." Another thing he believes is that if you live on this earth, if you breathe this air then you are an environmentalist.
Majora CarterMajora Carter is an internationally urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster who views urban renewal through an environmental lens. The South Bronx native draws a direct connection between ecological, economic and social degradation. With her inspired ideas and fierce persistence, Carter managed to bring the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years. She was one of the first of six speakers on the prestigious TEDTalks series. Carter's confidence, energy and intensely emotional delivery make her talks themselves a force of nature. In 2005, Carter was awarded a 2005 John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation Fellow "genius" grant. Her company, the Majora Carter Group is putting the green economy and green economic tools to use, unlocking the potential of every place -- from urban cities and rural communities, to universities, government projects, businesses and corporations - and everywhere else in between. Photo credit: MDavidLeeds.com
George Washington Carver(1864-1943) George Washington Carver is regarded as one of America's greatest agricultural researchers and educators. His innovations in the field of crop rotation are considered breakthroughs in resource conservation, by preserving soil and making farms more productive. Carver may have been one of the first scientists to look at systems through the lens of biomimicry; he observed that nature produces no waste--what is consumed is returned to the whole in another usable form. As we are coming to understand 150 years later, Carver believed that in the natural world everything is a part of the whole. He understood that nothing exists in isolation, everything is inextricably connected, and ignoring that fact can have disastrous effects. An intensely spiritual man, Carver believed that God spoke through the beauty of nature and the joy of creating. He taught that any action must be considered in light of its overall long-term consequences, not just its immediate benefits. In 1941, Time magazine dubbed Carver the “Black Leonardo". Photo credit: Library of Congress
John FrancisJohn Francis is known to all as the Planet Walker. After witnessing a massive oil spill in San Francisco Bay in 1971, Francis gave up all motorized transportation. For 22 years, he walked everywhere he went - including treks across the entire United States and much of South America - hoping to inspire others to rethink the petroleum economy. As Francis traveled about on foot, he often found himself arguing with others about his decision, which led him to an even more radical decision - to stop speaking for one day and instead listen to what others had to say. This turned into a 17-year vow of silence. His charm and ingenious ability to communicate without talking earned him bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. The day after he ended his vow of silence on Earth Day 1990, he was struck by a car, but still managed to convince the ambulance crew to allow him to walk to the hospital. In 1991, Francis was named a United Nations Environmental Program Goodwill ambassador. "Part of the mystery of walking is that the destination is inside us and we really don't know when we arrive until we arrive," he said. He is the author of: Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking, 17 Years of Silence. Photo credit: Glenn Oakley