My name’s Anna and there’s a good chance that you and I have met. I’ve been doing community outreach with Dogwood for the past four months and during that time I’ve talked with thousands of people about oil tankers on our coast. I’ve had discussions at music festivals, parades, marketplaces, public lectures and sports events. Each day of canvassing provides a reminder of just how many diverse groups feel strongly about stopping oil tanker expansion on our coast.
Spending a lot of time outside while having honest, meaningful conversations about an issue that matters to me is the ideal way to spend the summer, but canvassing downtown Victoria or Vancouver can be challenging. Sometimes it seems like people are accustomed to ignoring anyone with a clipboard in their hands. Luckily the No Tankers campaign tends to draw people in. It’s amazing how quickly people will warm up and respond when they learn what our petition is all about.
We see a lot of faces when we are canvassing but some conversations stay with me long afterwards. One day, at an event called “Jump Ship” in Victoria’s inner harbour, a girl came up to us already wearing a No Tankers pin on her bag. She was from Kitimat and felt strongly about keeping oil tankers out of her community, telling us that the general feeling up there was one of strong opposition. It was inspiring to see this young woman take initiative to stand up and protect her home and to know that we will be working hard to help her.
On the other hand, it can be disheartening to hear things like “It won’t do any good,” from folks who believe that we have very little influence or local control over how we use our land and resources. I remind them that oil tanker proposals like Enbridge’s Northern Gateway are still a long way from being approved and there are still lots of avenues to stop the project. To me, the Dogwood Initiative is all about surpassing that hopelessness and providing the tools and tactics that will enable and empower communities to make decisions about what they want to happen on the land that they live on.