Ottawa: Solidarity Climate Action for the Amazon Rainforest Fires

Anonymous submission to North Shore

Report back from Ottawa for the Global Day of Actions for the Amazon

After the fires in the Amazon rainforest received widespread attention in late August, September 5 was a global day of action in solidarity with a call from Indigenous peoples of the Brazilian Amazon, promoted globally by Amazon Watch and Extinction Rebellion; in Brazil it was the annual Amazon Day, Dia da Amazônia.

Below is a statement from organizers of an action in Ottawa, written in response to media request, followed by some other points of reference.

“This action was global solidarity with the peoples of the Amazon rainforest, the beings of the Amazon rainforest, land defenders, and the work to stop environmental destruction. The destructive violence to our home (the environment) is a mutual product of governments and corporations around the world. The Bolsonaro government of Brazil is particularly harmful to both the environment and human beings.

It was the APIB – Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil [Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil] who initially called for this solidarity.

This action was an opportunity for people locally to meet and converse about these issues and about local organizing, what are people doing here and what else could be done, what possibilities there are.

Not a lot of people came for the late afternoon action at the Brazil embassy. It was last-minute notice, less than 48 hours, but also important to note is that while 70 people RSVPed on Facebook, only 5 people took the opportunity to invite friends on Facebook.

We need to ask:
What things do people choose to support, and in what ways?
And how quickly do people lose attention of important things because of pop culture?

What do we actually need in terms of communication networks, if we want a healthy place to live? Many of the people in the Strathcona Park (near the embassy) we approached with flyers after the protest, were in support of the action but hadn’t heard of it in advance.

The protest reminds us, if the Amazon rainforest are a major part of the lungs of the planet, then the planet is not separate places but all one thing. How do we see ourselves in relation to this, and these problems that are getting worse?

We could say, it reminds us we have individual responsibility to work collectively, and it reminds us of our relations.”

There had also been a noon-hour protest at Canada’s Foreign Affairs department, organized by local vegan groups Climate Save and Animal Rebellion. It had more advance notice but still also had less than a dozen people take part.

As organizers who don’t seek to have ownership of actions, we do note the anti-capitalism and NPIC (non-profit industrial complex) based critiques of Amazon Watch and more recently, Extinction Rebellion, such as are articulated by Cory Morningstar et al, primarily at https://WrongKindOfGreen.org.

We seek to highlight specifically the voices of the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon on this issue, and had a half-page handout https://tinyurl.com/amazon-ppls of a text written by a Kayopo chief originally published in The Guardian.

The bottom of the handout had three links to further sources:
* Explainer video from Sabrina Fernandes https://youtu.be/TfiutlJ7uWc
* Toolkit from Amazon Watch https://tinyurl.com/awtools
* Toolkit from Survival International https://t.co/PaegaAVur5

There are also these recent statements about protecting the Amazon rainforest, from organizations directly within Brazil and-or the Amazon:
* Declaration of Civil Society Organizations on the Crisis of Deforestation and Burning in the Brazilian Amazon
https://www.internationalrivers.org/sites/default/files/attached-files/cso_declaration_amazonia_g7_aug2019-engfinal.pdf
* [In Portuguese from APIB] Nota de repúdio da APIB – Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil
http://apib.info/2019/08/27/nota-de-repudio-da-apib-articulacao-dos-povos-indigenas-do-brasil/
* [In Spanish from COICA] Pueblos Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica nos declaramos en Emergencia Ambiental y Humanitaria
http://coica.org.ec/pueblos-indigenas-de-la-cuenca-amazonica-nos-declaramos-en-emergencia-ambiental-y-humanitaria/
(COICA consists of Indigenous peoples organizations from all nine countries with borders containing the Amazon rainforest)

The other handout at the action was locally produced, about the overall Brazilian situation with Bolsonaro:
https://tinyurl.com/sol-br-4pg or https://tinyurl.com/sol-br-1117

There was a group formed in Ottawa after Bolsonaro’s election, Ottawa-Gatineau Solidarity with Democracy in Brazil, that previously held actions at the Brazilian embassy but now seem to be inactive.

There had also been an earlier action about the Amazon rainforest fires organized by university students in Ottawa from Brazil, people from different circles than the normal Ottawa “activist community”, that did bring a sizable presence. Brazilians in Canada seem disproportionately supportive of Bolsonaro, but concern about the Amazon fires seems to span across Brazilian political ideologies.

This now feels as if it is too long-winded, so perhaps the questions that need to be struggled with:
What are effective resistances to the policies that are killing the Amazon and, by extension, the Indigenous peoples there? Resistances that span continents, that are longer term than social media attention spans, that involve more people, and that evade the implicit control-and-coopt mechanisms of the non-profit industrial complex?

We pose these questions particularly as memory of the Amazon fires fades from public memory, and the mass energy mobilized for the upcoming September 20 and 27 global climate strike actions manifests.

Cory Morningstar / Wrong Kind of Green has also published critical research into 350.org and “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg”. And there are two recent anonymous posts on https://ItsGoingDown.org addressing questions around critical engagement with the upcoming global #ClimateStrike:
* What You Need To Know About The Upcoming Climate Strikes: A Discussion
https://itsgoingdown.org/what-to-know-climate-strike/
* Call To Participate And Intervene Within The Upcoming Climate Strike Actions Happening Across The World From The Week Of September 20th – 27th
https://itsgoingdown.org/a-call-for-radical-interventions-in-the-global-climate-strike/

IMAGE CREDIT: September 5 action in London UK at BlackRock corporate offices, from @XRSouthwark tweet.

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