blog / Raise a Paddle

Thu, 11 May, 2017

Raise a Paddle

In 2014, a group of Pacific Islanders led a blockade of the world’s largest coal port in Australia. Now, these Pacific Climate Warriors are raising their paddles on the Canadian tar sands.

Justin Trudeau’s recently approved pipelines will unleash catastrophic climate change — for Pacific islanders this means rising sea levels threatening their homes, communities, and cultures. These pipelines clearly go against the promises Trudeau made to climate impacted communities and Indigenous peoples on the world stage.

That’s why the Pacific Climate Warriors are inviting Trudeau to join them in Vancouver to explain his broken promises. The Warriors are also calling on people everywhere to stand with them, and stand with Indigenous peoples in Canada, to keep the tar sands in the ground.

 

Who are the Pacific Climate Warriors? 

Responding to world leaders inaction on climate change, a network of young Pacific Islanders began to rise peacefully to protect the Pacific Islands from climate change. Since then, their simple and immensely powerful message has commanded attention globally: we are not drowning; we are fighting.

Active in 15 of the Pacific Island Nations, they stand up to those blocking action on climate change and empower young people to take action to protect their communities, cultures, and Island homes.

To read more on the Raise a Paddle Tour, including event times and details visit 350.org.

- From media release -

Early, on 10 May, three members of the Pacific Climate Warriors, a group of Pacific Islanders visiting Canada from one of the most climate impacted regions of the world, wrapped up a tour of Alberta’s tar sands region.

“What is happening here in Canada has a global impact,” explained Koreti Tiumalu, 350.org’s Pacific Region Coordinator. “Pacific Islanders are fighting to save our homes and families from rising seas, and whether or not Canada allows unchecked expansion of the tar sands has a huge impact on that. That’s why we’re here.”

During their time in Northern Alberta, the group met with local First Nations people and toured the tar sands region on the ground and in the air.

“We’ve never seen anything like this, it’s overwhelming,” Raedena Savea, a member of the Pacific Climate Warriors from Samoa said. “Seeing the scale of the tar sands, breathing in the pollution in the air, knowing what’s happening to water, the land and the Indigenous peoples, it’s heartbreaking.”  

The tour kicked off a two week trip called the Raise a Paddle tour, with the Pacific Climate Warriors meeting with communities and Indigenous peoples working to stop tar sands expansion across Western Canada. Next, the Pacific Climate Warriors travel to Edmonton to speak alongside community representatives before continuing on to British Columbia, where they will visit the proposed terminus of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

“Climate leaders don’t build pipelines. It’s that simple,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, 350.org’s Stop-it-at-the-Source campaigner. “What our governments do in Ottawa, Alberta and BC has a global impact. If we build projects like Kinder Morgan, it’s like we’re telling people in the Pacific that their islands, their homes, don’t matter. People and politicians in Canada need to understand the real impact of these projects, and see the faces of those people being most impacted by them.”

The Pacific Climate Warriors have invited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to join a ceremony with them, led by Indigenous community leaders opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline on May 14th in Vancouver.

“Mr. Trudeau was a champion for the 1.5ºC target pushed by Pacific Islanders in Paris, but since then he’s approved Kinder Morgan, just the kind of project that makes it impossible for Canada to keep their climate promises – we want to know why,” Tiumalu said. “That’s why we invited him to join the ceremony, and why we hope he shows up to explain his broken promises.”

To date, over 3000 people have sent messages to Justin Trudeau urging him to accept the invitation. Join them here.

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