On Jan. 17, the Guardian newspaper reported on a United Kingdom Counter Terrorism Policing document which listed Extinction Rebellion and other environmental groups alongside neo-Nazis and banned groups.
The material was in the form of a guide distributed to medical professionals and teachers as part of the anti-radicalization program in the U.K. called “Prevent.”
On Wednesday, Extinction Rebellion’s Halifax chapter was outside Halifax Member of Parliament Andy Fillmore’s office to protest the proposed Teck Frontier oil sands mine project in northern Alberta.
Jenn Hall is a coordinator with Extinction Rebellion Halifax. She talked about the U.K. document in an interview during the protest.
“I honestly thought that was a bit ridiculous to be perfectly honest, and that seems to have been the reaction in the United Kingdom,” she said.
“I think it definitely represents a massive misunderstanding of what Extinction Rebellion is and what it aims to do.”
Extinction Rebellion operates in many small, autonomous but connected groups around the world. According to the Extinction Rebellion website, the organization’s first action was on Oct. 31, 2018 when 1,500 people announced a declaration of rebellion against the U.K. government in Parliament Square, London.
The group claims to use non-violent civil disobedience. For example, Extinction Rebellion Halifax protested government inaction on climate change by blocking the Macdonald Bridge in October 2019.
“We are not here to destroy property or to hurt people, we are just trying to get the point across and sometimes that requires, we think, different techniques of protest than people are accustomed to,” said Hall. “I honestly thought it was a joke when I first read that article… but it wasn’t.”
Wednesday’s “Reject Teck” protest had Extinction Rebellion members and climate activists singing and holding signs outside of Fillmore’s office. The MP was not at the office.
Protesters also went into the building in small groups to sign the guestbook urging Halifax’s federal representative not to support the Teck Frontier project.
“Extinction Rebellion is about raising awareness of the climate catastrophe that we are facing. We are trying to inform people that we are really headed for disaster. We are looking at the collapse of food systems, mass migrations, lots of parts of the Earth becoming uninhabitable because of climate change,” said Hall about the group’s overarching message.
“Our role is to tell people this, our role is to help people understand that we are really headed for deep trouble if we don’t radically and drastically change our ways and act now to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.”
The Teck Frontier project is a proposed oil sands mine approximately 110 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Alta. It would cover over 24,000 hectares and operate for 41 years.
Vancouver, B.C.-based Teck Resources Limited states on their website that the company has reached agreements with all 14 Indigenous communities in the area. The project would employ up to 7,000 workers during construction and up to 2,500 workers during operation.
Teck Frontier is currently under regulatory review and there is no set timeline for the approval process.
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