For Immediate Release
Contact: Avery Pittman
Red Clover Climate Justice
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS DISRUPT GOVERNOR'S CONFERENCE CRUISE
BURLINGTON, Vt., July 30, 2012 - Paddling two canoes with signs for sails, members of Red Clover Climate Justice, Maine Earth First! and the Green Mountain Delegation disrupted a cruise that concluded the 36th Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canada Premiers.
In an act of solidarity with a delegation of Innu First Nations representatives from northern Quebec, the signs read "No Hydro Quebec," and, "With the Innu, Defend Mother Earth." The protesters paddled several times across the Burlington waterfront, displaying their signs to diners and tourists, and finally intercepted the cruise boat as it docked at the U.S. Coast Guard station.
Sara Mehalick, one of the protesters in the canoe, said, "Earlier in the morning, the Innu delegation, accompanied by a member of the Nulhegan Abenaki, were refused a seat inside the conference. We wanted to bring their message directly to the governors and premiers as they cruised around Lake Champlain."
Mehalick, a member of Red Clover Climate Justice, was in the water for two hours along with the other paddlers. As they sailed behind the cruise boat, a Vermont State Police watercraft tried to intercept the canoes. No protesters were arrested, and they were allowed to safely dock at the Coast Guard Station.
Around 50 demonstrators, gathered along the pier near the Coast Guard station, chanted at the governors and premiers as they floated by. People taunted Quebec premier Jean Charest and Vermont governor Peter Shumlin, the co-hosts of the conference, and chanted "Non Plan Nord" in solidarity with the Innu. Protesters tried to intercept the governors and premiers after they left the boat, but the officials were ushered into state police vehicles and taken to a cocktail party at the nearby Echo Center.
"I think its important that the governors and premiers know they can't ignore the rights of First Nation people without resistance from First Nations and their allies," Mehalick said. "It is unfortunate that we had to take to the water to deliver the message of the Innu, but we will do whatever it takes until they listen."
As the governors shared drinks on the balcony of the Echo Center, the paddlers joined other demonstrators and individuals addressed the governors using a bullhorn. "You have domination delusion disorder. You need to stop killing our planet" one protester said. Another protester delivered a message in solidarity with the Innu, telling Charest and Shumlin to stop Plan Nord and Hydro Quebec development on indigenous lands amidst chants of "Non Plan Nord!"
After an hour of chants, protesters dispersed on the final day of the Governor's Conference.