As thousands of so-called peaceniks take to the streets this weekend, their mandate is about more than promoting peace.
“Most activists in Victoria agree peace is the better way to go, but it’s on the backburner. People in Canada think the country isn’t involved in peacekeeping anymore,” said Steve Filipovic, Earth Walk committee member.
Saturday’s Earth Walk (April 16) is a reincarnation of the Peace Walk, launched in 1981 in Victoria. At the time, a few hundred people hit the streets in a protest against the Cold War arms race.
The following year, 3,000 people rallied.
As the times changed, so did Peace Walk’s message. By 1990, the Peace Walk added Earth Day to its theme and the 15,000 who marched in Victoria were partly responsible for the region being declared a nuclear weapons-free zone, Filipovic said. The event officially became the Earth Walk in 1993.
Three decades later, the message is not limited to the environment, Filipovic said.
Of the 2,000 people expected to attend, some will have social justice on their agenda, others are anti-war or politically motivated.
“It’s all part of the same struggle,” said Zoe Blunt, a Victoria-based activist who will speak at the event on protecting the Juan de Fuca lands from development.
Earth Walk is at the same time a rally, a celebration and a networking event for Island activists. The atmosphere is described by Blunt as “a smorgasbord, an all-you-can-eat buffet of environmental groups.”
Earth Walk is an important movement during a crucial time for Island environmentalists, Blunt added.
“It’s a very interesting time to be an environmental activist in B.C., especially here on the South Island. The politics and the development and social justice issues are all coming to a head right now and people know how urgent it is. (Earth Walk) is a celebration, but it’s also a crisis.
“For those of us facing reality, this is the reality and we actually do have the power to make a change.”
Walk this way
Earth Walk kicks off at noon on Saturday (April 16) on the Legislature lawn.