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Saturday was the first protest my girls attended. How did it go? Well, they complained of being bored and of being hungry (even though I fed them a huge snack before we got there), and they jumped off concrete steps of the Parliament Buildings for something fun to do (luckily they didn’t get hurt). My youngest was oblivious to what was going on, but she clapped when everyone else did, (which made her look very smart I thought). The oldest, who is 5, had some idea of why we were there (no, it wasn’t just to see grandma), which was good. I prepared her in the car on the way, you see.
“Why are we going mommy?”
“Well, the salmon that live in the ocean are dying because other salmon that people make to live in cages in the water are getting sick and passing their disease onto the wild salmon. The disease is called sea lice and when the wild baby salmon get it, it kills them. That means they don’t live long enough to make more salmon babies. The wild grown up fish are sick too. They have so much lice that when fishermen catch them the fish are almost already dead. If the people with the salmon in cages don’t move them onto the land, the wild salmon will all die before you graduate from school. So we are going to tell the people who make all the rules for us and Mother Earth to change things so the salmon can live.”
“Why do we want all the salmon to live mommy?”
“Because the salmon are important to many other animals and without them, they might start dying too. Whales eat salmon and so do eagles and bears. And even the forests need salmon to help them grow.”
“Oh. Well, I’m hungry mommy.”
“Grandma and Grandpa and Nana and your uncle are all going to be there too!”
“Yay! Can we have dinner with them?” (My girl has a one track mind!)
I know I got through to her, I just know it!
I do plan on raising socially and environmentally responsible children.
How do you think I did?
In my opinion, a peaceful legal protest is an okay place to take one’s children. I would never put my children in harm’s way though. I don’t believe in using children to make an adult’s point. Children who hold a sign telling a woman going to an abortion clinic that she’s going to hell is not cool. But it is important to me to show my children that the values of one person are actually the values of great numbers of people. And when people come together for a common good, we can make a difference in the world.
Now for what we were protesting.
On Saturday, the lawn of the British Columbia legislature held its largest environmental gathering in history. Close to 4000 people showed up. Fish farms are killing wild salmon. We were there to protest it in what was the culmination of The Get Out Migration.
The Get Out Migration was a 500 km walk, organized by Alexandra Morton, biologist, whale researcher and author, who has spent the last decade of her life devoted to researching the effect of fish farms and sea lice on the wild salmon populations. What she has found is that disease, pollution and escapes from open-water salmon farms pose serious threats to the survival of wild salmon and the environment in general. [Source]
But other people are finding this too. One of the speakers Saturday was a long time friend of Alexandra’s (and my dad’s), Billy Proctor, 86, author, and voted one of the Seven Wonders of Canada – People. He was a commerical fisherman for 60 years and has been a resident of the Broughton Archipelago for 74 years. At the rally he said that years ago (I forget how many – I wasn’t being a good jounalist and taking notes) there were over 700,000 salmon coming out of the river. Last year they only counted 126. When he was a fisherman it was nothing to catch over 3000 pink salmon in a net. The last time he went fishing he only caught three.
Feel sick yet? I know I did.
If you want wild salmon to be around for your children, if you want to ensure our killer whales who exist on salmon (70% of their diet is salmon) will be around, and the eagles and the bears who all contribute to this Earth we share, then please sign this on-line petition. It only takes about 30 seconds and you don’t even have to live in British Columbia to be counted. Declining salmon stocks affect all of us.
To see a great documentary by Twyla Roscovich, (who also happens to be a good friend of my brother’s!) please take a moment to watch this video.
Have you ever taken your kids to a protest or rally? If so, how did it go? If not, what are your thoughts on this subject? Please share!