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500 Activists Stand Strong Against “Tar Sands Destruction” at Global Power Shift Summit in Istanbul

Last week, 500 activists from 133 nations gathered in Istanbul to send a message for Canada to "Stop Tar Sands Destruction," as part of the Global Power Shift summit to mobilize against climate change.

Among the participants is Canadian activist Brigette DePape, who rose to prominence after being fired from her position as a Senate Page for holding a sign saying "Stop Harper!" in Senate. DePape said that she was amazed "to see a global movement rising to fight dirty energy around the planet, and to see that focused on the tar sands is incredible."

DePape added that they would be "bringing this message from the world back home and right to heart of the destruction next week." She emphasized that the message was already being spread at home as well, "with civil disobedience actions around Line 9 this week, and events like the Healing Walk to bring people together and start turning the tide away from dirty energy."

Nine of the activists chosen to participate in Global Power Shift are from Canada. The group includes First Nations organizers, young workers, climate and community activists, and artists. All will be involved in expanding the youth climate movement in Canada after the global summit.

"We are seeing an international climate movement committed to standing with those on the front line of tar sands extraction and those who are facing the brunt of the impacts of climate change sweeping the globe" said Suzanne Dhaliwal of the UK Tar Sands Network.  

The summit's global statement against tar sands development comes before the 4th Annual Healing Walk, taking place from July 5-6 in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Healing Walk is intended to be a productive event, encouraging local community members to participate in finding solutions to the social, economic and environmental repercussions of tar sands development.

"We welcome everyone to the Healing Walk, and we really hope that those responsible for the destruction of the Tar Sands will come to see the destructive impacts first-hand," said Eriel Deranger, organizer of the Healing Walk, and a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.

Planned by global grassroots organization 350.org, the Global Power Shift summit has taken two years of preparation to reach fruition. The event is proceeding despite, and in solidarity with, the current protests sparked by the Turkish government's plan to replace one of Istanbul's last green spaces, Taksim Gezi Park, with a shopping mall.

Joshua Kahn Russell, who helped create the summit's curriculum, writes for rabble.ca, that when "[we] envisioned convening this broad movement convergence two years ago, we never could have imagined that we would be holding this event in the midst of a popular uprising."

Russell adds that the coincidence feels "appropriate," as Global Power Shift is meant to trigger a "new phase of an international climate movement" that "disrupts the status quo and captures the public imagination…like the Taksim Square activists have done."

According to the Global Power Shift website, the "week-long summit will be a chance for us to refine skills, create personal bonds and community, share a global vision for change, and strategize how to organize different actions and similar summits back home."

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Indrapramit Das is a freelance writer, critic and artist. His work has appeared in Slant Magazine, Vancouver Weekly, Strange Horizons…

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