Islander still marching six decades later

Kami Kanetsuka first marched for nuclear disarmament, now she marches for the climate

It was a great turnout for the climate action rally Sept. 27 with a significant number of Bowen Islanders attending. And for some of us we had the luxury of traveling to City Hall in Peter King’s comfortable Bowen Island Express bus. It was good to be in the middle of the action below the steps where the speakers were and to hear the First Nations greetings and drumming and the voices of youth. As I looked at the sea of youthful energy in front of me, with their many signs, I felt that perhaps change is possible. 

As I said to many people before the day, I hope there will be so many people at city hall that I won’t even see you. After running into a few friends and losing the person I came with, I found myself walking solo over the bridge, surrounded by the masses. As I looked around at all the young people and some with babies in strollers I experienced a kind of déjà vu, with the realization that I had been going to protest marches for six decades. 

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My first protest march was the CND, (campaign for nuclear disarmament) march from Trafalgar Square, London, to Aldermaston, Atomic Weapons Establishment, when I was still a teenager. It was a four-day march that involved camping out or sleeping in halls and churches. My parents did not approve -- but I went anyway.  The marches became a yearly event for years and in 1960 it was reported that 100,000 people marched in reverse from the Aldermaston Nuclear Establishment to Trafalgar Square -- 40% were young people. At the Vancouver Climate Action march on Friday, roughly the same number turned up, and on the Cambie Bridge, I was surrounded by youth.   

American Peggy Seeger, singer and banjo play and half-sister of Pete Seeger, was on the first London to Aldermaston march.  In an interview a few years ago, she was asked about that march, which she said was all about peace.  ‘I would do it again for peace, if it helps,’ she said. ‘Now, we still feel so desperate and depressed about so many things, ‘Like global warming. How do you deal with that? You can’t march against global warming, can you?’

Perhaps now she has seen the tiny powerhouse Greta Thunberg, who has created universal awareness that it imperative that we march for climate change, she may be more hopeful. The pictures from all over the globe, do show that people are waking up. 

But the big question is can we march to change those in power? Only time can tell. 

 

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