It “started with Positive Energy Quilters (PEQ) and Kristin Miller,” said Gabriolan and activist of 63 years Jean McLaren, in explaining the origins of Save Our Shores (SOS), a Gabriolan group opposed to oil pipelines and increased tanker traffic.
“They decided to make quilts about saving the coast …,” she said.
“You know what the kicker was?” asked Nancy Crozier, member of both PEQ and SOS on a drive to Victoria for an Oct. 22 rally against both pipelines and tankers. “The start of it was the gulf disaster. The oil spill in the gulf. Everyone was just so desolate. It was awful. And we kept on thinking, okay, well we’ve got tankers going out of Burrard and we’ve got this new pipeline that’s going to generate so much tanker traffic. It’s not an offshore drilling rig or a refinery but it’s certainly a danger. And so the impetus was to make beautiful things about the beauty of where we were … It’s positive energy. We didn’t want to turn it into a horrible battle.”
Crozier stated that PEQ has been supporting Dogwood Initiative – a non-profit environmental organisation – by making quilts and donating them. They also did movie nights, “raising consciousness about the issue,” she said. “We’ve shown four films at the Roxy. Kristin’s the organisational mind of the thing, and she’s amazing. She’s an amazing woman.”
The PEQ spurred on SOS, which “has been in operation for six to eight months,” said Miller.
SOS is “divided into different groups,” said McLaren in her home on Oct. 20, the day before she left to attend a Civil Disobedience Workshop at the University of Victoria’s Student Union Building. “There’s an events group, a publicity group, a writing group, Sharon McInnes has been going to the Village all summer and setting up a table to get people to write letters, an internet and information group …”
Crozier continued, “there’s different groups and they’re making new groups all the time.”
“So it’s really well run and mostly women,” said McLaren. “Amazing, you know. Women do a lot of stuff. A lot of volunteering. A lot of stuff. Just sort of quietly doing it. Women are great.”
SOS has been “spreading the word that (the rally) was happening,” said Miller. “It’s got a core group and a lot of activities and supporters and we already had signs and banners, so Mary Gillis organised transportation – mostly by email, but also at our meetings. Just spreading the word that it was happening.”
“We started off by showing some films,” said McLaren. “They’ve (SOS) been telling what’s happening. Getting links. Getting together with Defend Our Shores, the (activist group) that’s working in Vancouver. There are several organisations working there. So they’re organising (the rally) and we’re just going.”
“When the (Gabriola) Theatre Festival was on,” said McLaren, “I had a booth where I had a petition. Everybody signed. People just signed. Anybody I asked. … You know, Gabriola’s so amazing and so different from other places. We can do more here and get more support than Nanaimo … and quite often Vancouver.”
“It will be wonderful,” said SOS member, Ann Buttrick in anticipation of the rally. “So great to see other people who feel the same way.”
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