Tar Sands Protester Abducted in Waterloo, Held Hostage for Over 2 Hours.

Apr 2, 2010

Tar Sands Protester Abducted in Waterloo, Held Hostage for Over 2 Hours.

The Waterloo Police chose to protect the corporate interests of the Royal Bank of Canada and arrested a peaceful protester after he dropped 2 banners from an uptown branch of the RBC. Indigenous Rights activist, Mark Corbiere, 25, who lives in Kitchener (on the Haldimand Tract), was arrested and charged with mischief under $5000 for his part in dropping two banners which read “Boycott RBC” and “Create a Better Canada, Stop the Tar Sands” respectively. The Royal Bank is the most prominent financier of the tar sands industrial project which is devastating the heart of the boreal forest in central Canada.

As the banners dropped a loose network of citizens, under the name People for Climate Justice, unfurled another banner which read “What Have You Created RBC” with a skull and cross bones over a map of Alberta, with the tar sands highlighted in red.  This banner was at the doors of the RBC and the group started to speak to those assembled in the nearby public square.   While revealing facts about the tar sands with a megaphone, the climate justice advocates urged RBC customers to withdrawal their support for the tar sands by closing their accounts with the RBC.

Event organizer Sterling Stutz charged that “The tar sands are one of the most atrocious industrial projects ever undertaken. From the associated environmental damage, to abuses of the rights of the Indigenous people in the surrounding areas and downstream of the tar sands - This project highlights Canada’s shame!”

This message reached a few customers who left the RBC without completing their transactions, and took time to speak with those bringing out these truths.  Many passersby showed support or stopped to chat with the well informed group about RBC, tar sands, climate change, and stolen land.  An unidentified women from Alberta spoke of the toxification of the water sources in the areas around and downstream of the tar sands.  She also relayed “I don’t want to be in the sort of world that needs duck rakers!” referring to the crews of workers who rake the dead ducks from the mining operations tailings ponds’ each night.

Counter to their negotiated claims (as a manager from the RBC branch apparently vetoed them); the police arrested Corbiere and violently stole him away from his allies, they also took the banners as “evidence.”  While a crowd of people were waiting for Mr. Corbiere to be released by his captures, 5 police approached them, took their pictures and threatened to arrest them if they did not take their banner off the police station.  The police also indicated that the peaceful presence of Corbiere’s allies in the public park near the police station was causing them to “take longer” as they had to “deal with” the group.  This mirrors what the arresting officer threatened when Mr. Corbiere was first arrested.

13 Canadian cities had events marking the day and while this was Fossil Fools day, Stutz offered that “This is not a joke, the tar sands developments are killing people, poisoning ecosystems and destroying cultures.  They eliminate the possibilities of clean water and air for future generations and will enshrine Canada’s place as a perpetrator of violence against this planet!”