There is a climate movement forming in Ottawa, evidenced by the over 100 people who gathered in Minto Park on Sept. 8 to create art for the continuing resistance, as part of a global day of action known as Rise for Climate.
The community-building event drew a variety of individuals from diverse backgrounds and generations, who collaborated to create banners, signs, and messages centred around climate justice. The focal point of the event was the design and painting of a large parachute for use in future marches and rallies.
Event organizers, referring to themselves as Climate Justice Ottawa, saw this gathering as an important step towards building a strong foundation for a sustainable climate justice movement in the National Capital Region. There was a distinct emphasis on building community within the climate movement in Ottawa and the surrounding region.
“[Building community] is fundamentally important when thinking about the climate justice movement and other social justice movements,” said Graciela Hernandez, a member of the core organizing team with Climate Justice Ottawa. “Achieving community is the main ingredient to achieve mass mobilization and building people power.”
Spirits at the event were high, with the recent striking down of the infamous Kinder Morgan expansion project. On Aug. 31, the Federal Court of Appeal passed down the decision, citing the lack of necessary consultation with First Nations and a need for greater examination of the impacts of increased tanker traffic on Canada’s west coast. This victory came after years of grassroots resistance led by Indigenous groups and frontline communities across Canada.
Despite the victorious mood, the organizers recognized there is still a great deal to be done. “We still have a sense of cause and of urgency,” said Hernandez. “And long-lasting relationships can have an impact on our sense of belonging within the climate movement, a movement that is able to reflect our ideas of inclusion and justice for all of us.”
Attendees at the event took time to fill out small signs, listing descriptions of what needs would be realized in a future where climate justice is a fundamental right for all. One such sign was emblazoned with “Less emissions, less trash,” while another was simply bore a drawing of a scene featuring windmills and solar panels.
For some time, climate organizing in Ottawa has been disparate, with various groups based in the capital working independently of each other, only coming together occasionally to collaborate. Climate Justice Ottawa seeks to change that, and bring together not only climate-oriented groups, but also social and labour movements.
The art build event is building in part towards RISE 2019, a youth-driven event aimed at addressing the climate crisis taking place in February of 2019 in Ottawa.