A large gathering of concerned citizens has organized to vent frustrations over the federal government’s response to the English Bay oil spill.
Protests began at Morton Park in English Bay and were set to continue on in a march through Vancouver’s West End after speakers shared their thoughts about the spill.
Audrey Siegl, a member of the Musqueam First Nation, welcomed demonstrators and spoke passionately about her experience during the first few days of the spill.
In her opening speech, Siegl told protesters that she had not been back to English Bay in two weeks. Siegl was volunteering at the spill site for the first three days and ended up getting seriously ill. The spill affected Siegl’s immune system harming her lungs and affecting her with tiring headaches.
“We don’t just fight everyday, we protect everyday. We encourage beauty and encourage unity. Do not let yourselves continue to be a victim of what this man and his policies are working to create. Stand up for yourselves. Stand up for your community and do what is right,” said Siegl.
Included in the demonstration was a comical effigy of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which sat to the right of the makeshift stage in the park.
The point of having the Harper effigy was to tear it down in order to make a visual statement to government.
This protest is one of many that have attempted to capture the attention of media outlets including an April 17 disruption of a press conference by two demonstrators in hazmat suits which later went viral on social media.
While there is a substantial amount of finger pointing by different levels of government on who should have handled the response and how, there is very little doubt in the cheers of locals against the federal government on who should be held responsible.
Transport Canada has officially announced that the ship responsible for the spill, the MV Marathassa, has been cleared to leave Canadian Waters. However, it says that it will continue to investigate the spill and if it is found that there was a contravention of the Canada Shipping Act of 2001, the MV Marathassa may be prosecuted.