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Calls for clearcutting moratorium grow in urgency as hunger strike enters day 9

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KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A rally at Province House to raise awareness about the fate of the fast disappearing mainland moose drew a crowd of some 50 folks early this afternoon. 

The protest, organized by Extinction Rebellion, the SIerra Club Atlantic chapter, and the Atlantic Climate Community, was also in support of hunger striker Jacob Fillmore’s demands that the government institute an immediate temporary moratorium on all clearcut activities in Nova Scotia. 

“People have said to me that a hunger strike is an extreme way of getting my message across. Well, folks, it’s time for extreme measures. The hottest seven years on record up have been in the last seven years. The climate crisis requires urgent action. To call it an emergency and then close our eyes and hope it goes away is lunacy. We need to start treating the climate crisis like the crisis it is. We need to start respecting the ecosystem of Mi’kma’ki. We need to stop clearcutting now,“ Fillmore told the crowd.

Fillmore is now in the ninth day of his fast, and the effects are beginning to take hold, he said.

“I am moving slower, thoughts come a little bit slower. I forget things sometimes. But we’re in good spirits and trying to remain hopeful that some change will come of it,” Fillmore told reporters after the protest.

“I was spending time out at the moose country blockade, I saw clearcutting taking place and it felt like being punched in the gut. I was really very inspired by what the folks at the moose country blockade were doing. There are tonnes of other issues like Alton Gas and open pit mining and the sale of Owls Head, just to name a few. But this is something that’s happening right now, it’s a very pressing issue,” said Fillmore.

Either the government puts in the clearcutting moratorium, or I end up in the hospital, Fillmore said when asked how this would end. 

Prior to the hunger strike, Fillmore spent 12 weeks camping out on Grand Parade Square and in front of Province house to protest the government’s lack of action, and he did so through all kinds of horrific weather.

38,000 people have signed a petition asking for a halt to clearcutting in the area the blockades were protecting. Additionally, the Department of Lands and Forestry has received around 10,000 postcards demanding a moratorium on clearcutting.

Also at the rally was Nina Newington, an author who lives in the Annapolis Valley and one of the nine forest defenders arrested at the blockade in Pictou County.

People overwhelmingly supported the blockade, Newington said, but they despaired about what to do. 

“Well, I’ll tell you something. The blockade was a direct action, and I had never felt better. I was told that it was scary, and that it was inconvenient, that it was difficult, just like what Jacob is doing is difficult,” said Newington. “Jacob, you’re a brave man, and we all need to step up with you. And together we can.”

Alton Gas water defenders were also at the rally. Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman spoke, and money was collected to help rebuild the recently vandalized Treaty Truckhouse on the banks of the Shubenacadie River.

“For nine days Jacob hasn’t eaten. What does it take for the people of Mi’kma’ki to be listened to. What will it take for this young man to be listened to. Will it take this young man starving to death for (premier) Iain Rankin to sit down with him for five minutes,” she asked. 

Traffic on Hollis Street in front of Province House was being detoured for some 15 minutes before Halifax police moved the folks blocking the street onto the sidewalk.

See also: We the People say “Screw you”

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