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Shell Arctic Drill Rig Confronted at Sea by Indigenous Activists and Greenpeace Canada

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Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 22.51.53Press release from Greenpeace

June 17, 2015 – 4:51pm – By The Arctic Journal

Indigenous artist and activist Audrey Siegl today approached the 300-foot-tall Polar Pioneer drill rig in an inflatable boat launched from the MY Esperanza, while two Greenpeace Canada swimmers spread out in the water behind her to put their bodies in the way of the rig heading to the Arctic to drill for oil.

Siegl, dressed in the traditional regalia of the Musqueam people, stood at the front of the inflatable boat with her drum and feather out in front of her, signaling the Polar Pioneer to stop. Speaking from the action, she said:

“Facing such a massive machine from a tiny boat is terrifying, but I believe that we all have a duty to do whatever we can to protect our sacred lands and waters.”

Siegl has been travelling with Esperanza to connect Indigenous communities along the coast of British Columbia already opposing extreme oil from Canada’s tar sands, with the seven-million-strong global movement to save the Arctic.

“My message to Shell is that you may have money and massive machines, but a people united are more powerful. Together, we will stop Arctic drilling to defend our coast and our climate,” added Siegl.

The Esperanza intercepted Shell’s Polar Pioneer drill rig as it headed to the Alaskan Arctic, where Shell plans to begin exploratory drilling in early July.[1] Shell has spent $7 billion USD on this project. One of Shell’s contractors pleaded guilty to felony offences related to the drilling operation. The plans to drill have already faced massive global opposition, including six activists who boarded and occupied the Polar Pioneer on April 6th [2], and hundreds of kayaktivists who gathered in Seattle to protest Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet during its arrival in May [3] and as the rig prepared to depart for the Arctic on Monday June 15. [4]

Research recently published in the science journal Nature found that development of any oil and gas resources in the Arctic is inconsistent with efforts to limit average global warming to 2 °C. [5] In addition to the global climate impacts, Arctic drilling would also mean increased oil tanker traffic along B.C.’s already threatened coast.

Jane Fonda, who spoke out against Shell’s Arctic plans at a Greenpeace Canada event in Vancouver this past Saturday, offered her support to the activists and for direct action:

“When our governments fail us, when corporations refuse to bow to public pressure, when Shell insists on capitalizing off a climate crisis of its own making and ignores the more than 7 million people who oppose their Arctic plans — then it is up to us, to individual people, to put our bodies in the way. What these First Nations activists and Greenpeacers are doing right now is courageous and selfless. They’re doing it for all of us, and if Shell pushes past them, then next time, you just might find me standing there next to them.”

– END –


For more information:

Contact Ellen Booth, [email protected] 07807 352 020.

Photos and video available shortly.







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