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“I try to do my part” – An interview with Jacob Fillmore, March 22, 2021

Jacob Fillmore. Contributed.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – My husband, Alan Collins, who is a filmmaker wanted to make a short film about Jacob Fillmore, the activist who recently ended a 23-day hunger strike in support of demands for a clearcut moratorium on Crown Lands. We both admired his courage and wanted to get to know him a little so we decided to interview him.

I interviewed Jacob on Day 15 of his hunger strike. He was definitely feeling the effects of it that day. It was a beautiful day. We met him at the Grand Parade in Halifax. Jacob and his companion Heather arrived just after 2 pm. Jacob walked with a cane. 

“How do you feel?” “I’ve felt better. Trying to remain in good spirits. Feeling a bit weaker, light headed, thinking more slowly, not remembering everything.” 

“How long do you intend to stay on your hunger strike?” “It’s a good question. I’m not sure. I take it week by week, from Tuesday to Tuesday. Hopefully the government will declare a moratorium on clearcutting.”

(Every Tuesday there was a rally in front of the Legislature from noon to 1pm. And Jacob was always one of the speakers.)

I said, “My pronouns are “she” and “her”. What are yours?” “I go by “he”. I certainly don’t mind “they”, not so much a fan of “she” although sometimes that happens.” And he laughed.

I asked him about the mainland moose and the Lahey Report. He was very articulate and well informed about these issues.

“Have any of the politicians come out to speak to you?” “Some of the MLAs have come out and spoken to me. My own MLA spoke to me for 5 minutes. Then she said, “I’ve got to run.” Nothing from Ian Rankin and Chuck Porter. My understanding is that Rankin’s record as Minister of Lands & Forests was not the greatest. He was part of the delisting of Owl’s Head.”

“What would you say to Ian Rankin?” Alan asked. “I guess I would say that really I was hopeful that you would act on environmental issues with the urgency that I thought necessary. I’m disappointed that you haven’t. You were the environmental candidate. I’m disappointed and frustrated and I hope you’re not re-elected.”

“How does your family feel about what you’re doing?”

“They’re very supportive of my camping out and my hunger strike. Heather Moore has been great, hanging out with me about two months now, before and during my hunger strike. She carries my stuff around. And many others, tons of folks, lots of people online, supportive and influential”

Alan asked, “Who inspired you?” “I felt that a hunger strike is where I would end up. I sort of knew it would end up there. Gandhi would be the most famous of the hunger strikers.”

“How did you become an activist?” In Grade 8, I was a member of a play called “Mind Shift” about air quality and water quality and what each of us could do to stop climate change. We performed at the Halifax Public Library and got the Gold Standard. Last summer I was on the West Coast, participating in on the ground activism against the Trans Mountain Pipeline. I participated in the bridge action, the 10,000 person march, the moose blockade and now my own campaign downtown.

“How do you sleep? Do you dream?” “I sleep fairly well. I’m sleeping better than I usually do because of my physical weakness. I don’t recall many of my dreams.”

Daytime dreams? Equity for everybody on the planet. I feel very privileged to live in Canada. That is a big part of why I’m doing what I’m doing. I try to do my part.”

“Are you worried or afraid about the future?” “I think the future could go one of two ways. We could be living in an idyllic world where everyone is provided for or a post-apocalyptic hellscape. The world could be basically climate change has run rampant, people don’t have access to water, clothes, food or shelter. If we push for a better future we could have one. If we don’t demand a better future we certainly run the risk of not having one. I’m hoping we can turn the tide.”

See also: David Patriquin: Why we need a clearcutting moratorium – a brief history lesson

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3 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this piece. Its wondering to have a narrative that is a conversation. You really feel like you are getting to know Jacob and the important work he is doing! Great job as we care for creation!

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  2. I enjoyed and appreciated your interview and certainly the courage and commitment of Jacob Fillmore. Good for you for getting his story shared further!

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