Building on Friday’s successful town hall meeting, attended by approximately 500 people and featuring Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians and civil rights lawyer Leo M’Grady, the Peaceful Direct Action Coalition presented a workshop on civil disobedience at the Native Sons Hall in Courtenay on Saturday.
About 150 Comox Valley residents participated and learned their legal rights at demonstrations, direct action tactics and how to strategically employ those tactics.
As part of the hands-on credo of the coalition, participants organized a colourful parade to the offices of MLA Don McRae and MP John Duncan. Accompanied by songs, drums and chants, participants put up hundreds of multi-coloured post-it notes on their windows, each bearing a message.
Many had to do with the proposed Raven coal mine, but dozens of other concerns were expressed, ranging from unlimited growth to Stephen Harper’s foreign policy.
Kel Kelly, one of the organizers, stated that the goal of the workshop was “to inspire and to educate people that the streets and the commons belong to them. They need to speak up and act up. In fact it is their responsibility to do so and it is even more important in these times.”
One participant stated that she “keeps getting the feeling the government has lost its moral compass and they need to start listening not just to the CEOs but to the people.”
Another, who had recently moved back to the Comox Valley after a 30-year absence, commented that the changes he saw were not positive ones and he was quite concerned about deteriorating water quality.
Mike Bell, another of the organizers, stated, “What’s next? More training, growing the coalition and helping plan strategies to increase activism. We are in this for the long haul.”
He and Kelly stressed that the goal of the Peaceful Direct Action Coalition is not to organize direct actions but to provide education on peaceful direct action.
However, as Gwyn Frayne pointed out, “With 13 local organizations already on board and more planning to join, all levels of government will sit up and take notice that so many people in the Comox Valley are coming to a townhall and a workshop about civil disobedience.”
For more information, contact Brian Charlton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Peaceful Direct Action Coalition