Niagara Falls, July 26: Defenders of the last captive orca in Canada demand that her free relatives be kept safe from oil tankers
by Neil Bodimeade
Neil Bodimeade is an organizer with Wild Niagara and a supporter of MAD and the July 26 rally.
This Saturday, July 26, from 14pm, Marineland Animal Defense (MAD) will be hosting a rally in support of those fighting Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline at Conservative MP and Minister of National Defence Rob Nicholson’s Niagara Falls constituency office.
Does an animal defense organization seem an unlikely group to challenge environmental problems on the opposite side of the country? It begins to make more sense when you consider that just as MAD organizes for Kiska, the sole remaining captive orca in Canada, held at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Kiska’s free relatives deserve to be safe from oil tankers too. And as locals from Kitimat, the proposed shipping terminal for Northern Gateway’s oil, have said, you should “expect dead whales” if the project were to go ahead.
Since their inception in 2011, Marineland Animal Defense, “a campaign of concerned citizens determined to end animal captivity at Marineland”, has gone from initial rallies of dozens, to hundreds of people hopping the turnstiles of Marineland’s entrance to shut down their final dolphin “show” of the year, they’ve marched through downtown Niagara Falls (see photo), supported local residents evicted by Marineland, and fought lawsuits designed to silence their campaign and make it ineffective. They have been helped by the Toronto Star’s reporting former Marineland animal trainers’ stories of alleged abuse of animals over which the captive animal facility, known by many in southern Ontario and western New York for its incessant ads, claims ownership.
The picture comes into further focus beyond nonhuman animals when we examine some of the ties between what’s happening on the west coast, what’s happening in Ontario and Niagara, and how these projects put life everywhere at risk.
Oppose Northern Gateway
A major focus of the event will be relating opposition against the Northern Gateway project back to resource extraction locally – Line 9; Line 10 (which passes through Niagara to the US); fracking in Ontario and New York State; and protecting the Great Lakes from further degradation – and how we can show solidarity and support for Indigenous sovereignty and the issues facing Indigenous communities in our area.
Just as the Northern Gateway and other projects have been given government approval to pass through unceded territory without Indigenous people’s consent, pipelines like Line 9 have been given approval to pass through the territories of First Nations in Ontario without their right to consent or in at least one case, even consultation!
But from Kitmat, to Bella Bella, to Unist’ot’en Camp, to Niagara – MAD’s community rally aims to offer support and solidarity with those people fighting resource extraction and pipeline expansion on the West Coast.
MAD is looking to hold Rob Nicholson accountable for the Federal Conservative Party’s decision to protect profits over wildlife. He is a cabinet minister in the Harper administration, which approved the Northern Gateway against opposition from the scientific community, Indigenous communities, environmentalists, and all common sense. MAD is seeking to hold Rob Nicholson accountable, as Federal Minister of National Defense and let him know that any act of aggression on the part of the Harper Administration to forcibly remove Indigenous land defenders off of their land will not be tolerated by our local community.
How Enbridge, a company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, expects us to trust them with pumping some of the most polluting oil on the planet through southern Ontario, I do not know. Not everyone loves Marineland and we certainly don’t love Enbridge.
Defend land, water, wildlife
That’s why myself and others are coming out to voice our support for resistance in the name of protecting the land, water, wildlife, and respecting the sovereignty of Indigenous peoples everywhere. Whether it’s threatening British Columbia, Aamjiwnaang First Nation, or my small hometown with pipelines, we seek to hold Enbridge, those like them, and those allowing them to operate with such reckless abandon, to account.
The event will feature speakers and performers. Signs and literature will be provided, but attendees should feel free to make their own. For more information, check out the action’s Facebook event page and Marineland Animal Defense.
Community groups looking to get involved in organizing or endorsing the rally can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.