Pro-resource rallies such as the one held in Houston last month do more than show support for industrial development, says the person who kick-started the northern interior movement last year.
They also provide a public way for participants to gather together who might otherwise feel alone and isolated, says Kitimat resident Dave Johnston, a key organizer of The North Matters movement.
Too often, and particularly through social media, people who show support for resource development are attacked, bullied and harassed on-line, he says.
“And these are people who want to show support for their families, for their friends,” said Johnston.
“There’s also just so much false information out there, so these rallies are important.”
Even aboriginal people expressing support for industrial development in social media are commonly called “apples”, a derogatory term meaning people are red on the outside, but white on the inside, Johnston said.
“What you saw at the [Houston] rally were aboriginal people there in support,” he added.
The North Matters movement originating in Kitimat grew out of the desire to demonstrate the broad range of support for a liquefied natural gas industry in that community.
In advance of LNG Canada’s announcement last October it was proceeding with its $40 billion project in Kitimat, rallies were held in Kitimat and in Terrace.
“And we had one at a natural resource forum in Prince George, Johnston added.
“From Day One we knew there was a broad amount of support so it was important to demonstrate that,” said Johnston. “We knew there were people who support jobs, who support their communities.”
“We had to counter those people who oppose everything. We needed to send a positive message.”
The March 23 event in Houston took the form of a motor vehicle convoy followed by rally at the Legion hall.
Organizers said the convoy consisted of approximately 50 vehicles from Smithers, Telkwa, Houston and Burns Lake and that approximately 100 people were in attendance.
Speakers included Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross. He read a message from John Rustad, the BC Liberal MLA for Nechako Lakes who was unable to attend.
Johnston said there’s interest now in having chapters of The North Matters form in communities through the north and central interior.
To that end a first organizing meeting was held in Smithers in January with intent that it represent people within the Bulkley Valley.
“The resource industry can provide a good life and people want to support that,” said Johnston.