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The emerging Nanaimo branch of the Sierra Club hosted a presentation by Dr. Riki Ott at the Vancouver Island University Thursday night. Dr. Ott is a marine biologist and toxicologist who happened to be one of the first on the scene 23 years ago when the Exxon Valdes ran aground in Prince William Sound. She has become a tireless campaigner for positive change.
While she campaigns for environmental protection from the toxic effects of petroleum pollution, she is also campaigning for commitment to clean energy sources. Last night’s talk was much about the positive actions that people can make in their communities. She pointed out the obvious to people, obvious once they have it pointed out. Concerted, positive action by a united group of people can change the direction of even the ship of state.
The proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would stand a chance of being built with a united peoples’ opposition. With a united and determined population, turning away the supertankers that would infest our coast in British Columbia would also be child’s play.
While the lecture theatre was full to overflowing with a wide range of ages and enthusiasms, I was a little saddened to hear some of the young crowd flinch at the idea of civil disobedience. Memories of the 60’s activism drifted back. Ott pointed out to the audience that women’s vote, abolition of slavery and many other ‘givens’ in our modern society were hard won by people standing up and in some cases sitting down.
If you get a chance to listen to Ott’s inspiring lectures about empowering people in a working democracy, take it. You can also check out her organization Ultimate Civics.