Just before noon on October 24, Gabriela Hirt stood outside MLA Ida Chong’s office on Vancouver Island, her heart aflutter.
“I looked at my watch: almost noon,” she thought as panic set in. About 150 people stood in front of her. She held the megaphone and they were looking to her for direction.
Hirt admits she almost fled the scene and contemplated hiding behind one of the large “Ida, Say No” signs.
“My saviour wore a red jacket and had blond hair. I don’t remember her name,” Hirt says.
“She came up to me, suggesting, she would start lining us up. With a sigh of relief, I nodded.”
Before long, everybody was in motion, stopping their conversations to find their place and join arms. After all, this is what they had come for.
Hirt was one of 70 community organizers, many of them first-timers, who hosted rallies across B.C. on October 24 in one of the most wide-spread days of action our province has ever seen.
About 7,000 people attended these events, each community unique yet sharing a common theme of unity and determination in stopping the expansion of pipelines and oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast.
In Saanich, participants were welcomed to share a lunch of locally sourced foods at MLA Lana Popham’s office. Host Samuel Godfrey noted, “There was a real sense of community with people of like minds meeting for the first time and connecting.”
In Kelowna, 165 people gathered outside MLA Steve Thompson’s office, where people danced in the street during red light intervals. Kelowna’s host, Danielle Prins, could not have been happier with how the day went.
“Kelowna is normally a quiet, peaceful town and I’m so impressed at how everyone stepped up. Many people showed, and are continuing to show, a lifelong commitment to defend the coast, our earth, our human rights and our future,” Prins says.
Community hosts across the province reported their groups’ desires to continue momentum forward toward the next provincial election. The message was clear: the expansion of pipelines and oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast will not be accepted and communities are organizing.
On October 24th, British Columbians came together in a way we’ve never seen before. Yet they were there all along, just waiting for their chance to jump into the streets and dance.