More than 400 protestors marched through downtown Nanaimo on Oct. 27. They were demanding fundamental change in the Harper government, austerity measures, and to advocate for the environmental concerns surrounding the Enbridge Pipeline project.

The protest was organized by the Council of Canadians Mid Island Chapter to draw support towards the Council of Canadian’s Making Waves: Sinking the Harper Agenda conference which was held from Oct. 26–28.

Protestors dotted Pioneer Plaza with placards reading, “Harper: Stop Being a Dick-tator” and “Say ‘No’ to Tankers.” They marched onwards along Bastion St. and continued down Commercial St.

Norberta Heinrichs, a teacher in School District 69, was among the marchers. She was motivated to join the march because she felt that the implications of the Harper government’s actions will adversely affect the futures of her children and students. “I work directly with youth all the time. This is the future of the children I teach and that of my own children,” Heinrichs says. “We talk about modelling in the class room—I have to act as model citizen because one of my mandates is to instill what it means to be good citizen.”

Heinrichs says that she doesn’t support the Harper government and adds that protesting is an active way to show social concern. “I don’t think all voices are being heard and that is primarily the issue. In a democratic society you have voices and if they aren’t being heard—this is one avenue where we can hear them,” she concludes.

The march concluded at Pioneer Plaza with a presentation by Council of Canadians Mid Island Chapter. Brent Patterson, Political Director at the Council of Canadians, delivered a speech to the cheering crowd of protestors.

“I’m just stunned by how large this march is and how special it is and how great it is when we can all come together. It really is just once a year that council activists and supporters come together in a city for our conference and general meeting,” Patterson says during his speech. “It’s an occasion to come together to share information, to discuss ideas and strategies, and to move forward with our common vision around sinking the Harper agenda, around challenging climate change, and about moving forward in democratic community-based ways.”

Patterson presented the first annual System of Change Legacy award and a $1500 cheque to the Hub City Cycles Community Co-op, a non-profit community service cooperative. The award recognized Hub City Cycles’ efforts to empower youth in Nanaimo to become future leaders in the community.

Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada’s largest citizens’ organization. It aims to protect Canada’s independence by promoting policies of social and economical concern to Canadians and is sustained without support from corporations or governments.

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