“Going to a Canadian prison is nothing compared to what lies ahead. † This week, Zain Haq, a young Canadian climate activist from the environmental group Save Old Growth, will be jailed for 14 days. A sanction he welcomes with philosophy.
The crime of the activist? After spending five hours on a construction site outside of Vancouver, to prevent the start of an oil pipeline construction in a British Columbia forest. Through this act of civil disobedience, Zain Haq wanted to slow the progress of the project, so feared by the region’s environmental groups and the First Nations. A project aimed at exacerbating the climate crisis.
Indeed, the construction of the 1,000 km pipeline involves cutting down thousands of trees in a protected area, crossing a river and breaching a mountain… Moreover, the construction site not only poses a direct threat to endangered species and ecosystems, but also a royal road to the over-exploitation of resources. The new pipeline should enable parent company Trans Mountain to triple its shipments across Canada from 300,000 barrels per day to 900,000.
Although the prison would have put off more than one, the 21-year-old history student has no intention of giving up. For him, the looming climate crisis is far more frightening than the prospect of spending a fortnight behind bars. Since 2020, he has made a total of ten arrests for non-violent acts of the same type.
The activist works for the NGO Save Old Growth, which promotes nonviolent civil resistance to end logging in British Columbia’s ancient forests.
“I remain hopeful,” he told the National Observer daily after pleading guilty at his trial. We can change the laws to save the planet, and if we have to go through jail to convince, well, it’s not the end of the world, the real end of the world, that’s what will happen if we don’t change anything . †