After the last year and a half alone brought wildfires, atmospheric rivers, floods and landslides and repeated heat waves to many communities in B.C., a group on the Sunshine Coast is calling on residents to join the Sue Big Oil class action lawsuit targeting the world’s largest oil companies.
“It’s time that we make the polluter pay,” Fiona Koza, a climate accountability strategist with West Coast Environmental Law said, receiving a rousing applause in response.
More than 60 people, including at least 10 local election candidates, gathered in-person at the Legacy Garden in Roberts Creek on Sept. 18 for the campaign’s official local launch. The event was also live-streamed online by the Sunshine Coast Climate Action Network.
The local launch of the campaign comes after the City of Vancouver voted 6-5 to join the lawsuit in July, and set aside at least $1 per resident. (Koza says the Sue Big Oil group also plans to do crowdfunding and seek private donations and grants.) Attendees were asked to help convince local governments to make a similar commitment, sign and share the petition, and share information from the Sunshine Coast-specific campaign website www.scsbo.ca. They were also encouraged to approach local election candidates, vote in the upcoming Oct. 15 election, and approach councils as delegates after the election.
Between the soft launch in Gibsons on Sept. 5 and the official launch in Roberts Creek, 85 people signed the Sunshine Coast petition in person, and more have likely signed online.
Candace Campo, a shíshálh Nation member whose ancestral name is xets’emíts’á, welcomed attendees, shared a brief history of the land, and asked everyone to take care of the land. She spoke of the impact of climate change on people of colour, Indigenous communities and their ways of life.
“I sometimes have to not just wear my hat as an educator, but to step forward and wear my hat as a spokesperson, as an advocate for the environment. I share with you that within our society within a human being, there are four spheres that we have capacity as human beings. There's teacher, leader, healer, and warrior. Warrior is the advocate that steps forward, that steps up for other people in their time of need.”
“I have to say the past year and a half, I think, was a real wake up call for people across British Columbia. I know living in the Lower Mainland. living through the heat dome, it was quite traumatic,” Koza said.
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