I had planned to write something else for my blog post today, but decided after participating in today’s Climate March that I needed to write about this instead. I, and about 750 other Bellinghamsters, gathered in chilly 30 degree weather this morning in Maritime Heritage Park to show our support, along with marchers in 2,000 other cities throughout the country, for the United Nations’ Conference on Climate Change which begins tomorrow, November 30.
After a moment of silence for all the victims of recent terrorist actions in Paris and elsewhere, the group was rallied with signs bearing environmental slogans and set out on a short march through downtown Bellingham. The mood was not exactly festive but determined as people made their way en masse to a downtown building that currently serves as the Salish Sea Marine Sanctuary space.
People poured into the building to the lively beat of drummers positioned at the front doors. Shortly afterwards, Lummi Nation elder Darrell Hillaire introduced the guest speakers who took to the stage and spoke about the importance of taking care of our environment as one day we will all meet our creator and have to account for our actions. They instructed us to ‘listen with our hearts, instead of our ears,’ when it comes to climate matters because if we do, it will stay with us.
The Lummi Nation will send an Indigenous Delegation to Paris later this week to participate in the conference and to present the video, “The Earth is Alive” which has been made especially for the big event. The Lummi Nation has taken center stage in the environmental arena locally as they work together with other environmental groups such as ReSources, Climate Solutions, 350 Seattle and the Sierra Club to block the construction of a shipping terminal that would threaten and likely destroy their fishing waters.
Treaties made back with President Ulysses S. Grant gave the Lummi Nation protection of its natural resources, salmon being among them. They argue that building the proposed shipping terminal, intended to ship coal from here to China, would jeopardize and break that that treaty.
Just two weeks ago, a Lummi Nation delegation appeared at the White House Tribal First Nations Conference to express their concerns about these violations and to rally other First Nations to support their efforts.
No decision has yet been made regarding the terminal but it has bonded, and in some cases, divided the entire county and the state. At stake is the environmental well-being of the entire corridor that runs the length of the Salish Sea as increased train traffic, up to 25 trains per day, would run to and from the terminal carrying loads of coal destined for export.
Today’s march, while part of the larger worldwide effort to show solidarity for climate justice, was much more personal to those in Bellingham.
More of my photos from Bellingham’s Climate March can be seen on my Portfolio page.