“It’s over now. We realize that.”
As the Plan B protest encampment came down last week, the protestors reminisced, got angry all over again, and said they are deermined to face new political challenges.
© Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong
Keith Kennedy and Cindy Richards work Friday to take down a teepee that has been a year-round home for Plan B protesters. The protest encampment has closed for good, now that construction of a re-routed TransCanada highway is nearly complete.
“We are taking the teepee down today because the time has come,” said Dan Jeffery, one of the stalwart Plan B protestors. “We have to continue on with life.”
The encampment in what had been a quiet field now overlooks roaring traffic on the newly realigned TransCanada highway through Churchill and Bonshaw. The protesters call the camp located off Peters Road, Camp Vision.
They walked to a stream Friday, recalled the events of confrontation and lobby, and sat quietly listing to the stream and wind in the trees.
The teepee along with a mobile trailer and a large fire pit was home to protesters all through the winter and up last week.
“It was a rare day when there wasn’t anybody here,” said Jeffery. “It’s over now. We realize that.”
The group said the teepee poles are destined for a special home, a project they are not yet willing to share publicly.
“This is a sad day but look at all the people here,” said Jeffery, looking around at some 30 people coming and going through the site, talking, hugging, sharing stories. “This touched a lot of people,” said Jeffery. “This ain’t over. We have to stop this government from doing stupid, wasteful things like this.”
“I think it has come full circle,” said Cindy Richards of the teepee encampment. “It’s a year later and we are cutting it down.
“It’s a bit bittersweet,” she said. “I spent a great winter here. This camp represented a lot for a lot of people but as this comes down, new things begin and we are excited about those.”
Catherine O’Brien was removed from the area by police one year ago. On the anniversary she is still analyzing protest strategy.
“We were removed and given trespass fines,” she said. “I was one of the ones in the grove when the police came in and I refused to leave so was taken out.
“I wasn’t expecting police because we had just had a conversation with them a few days before, promising us that we would have time, that they would give us notice.
“I regret that we didn’t see what was coming, that we were misled,” said O’Brien.
That rainy day last October when police arrived to clear out protesters from the direct line of construction work, many of the protest group had left to get changed out of rain-soak clothing and get warm.
“I’m still frustrated and angry, through the whole year, because it’s such a dumb project in all ways, a waste of money, a waste of the environment, waste of what it could have been used to do other good things on the Island,”Larry Cosgrave
“Up to that point we were so organized but everybody was tired,” said O’Brien. “We didn’t have a lot of reinforcements.
“I guess I just wish we had a little bit more forward thinking about understanding how to keep our ground and how to try and stay there,” she said. “Whether it would have worked, we might have been taken out regardless, I don’t know.”
Like others taking down the camp Friday, O’Brien is looking with determination to the future.
“We are still monitoring the highway because there are still some problems that are happening with runoff and siltation so we are trying to keep government accountable for that,” she said.
“We also have now the Citizens Alliance, which has been formed out of this group. We are keeping an eye on government decisions and policies and we are going to be around for a long time. I think this group has a lot to offer.
“We really want to make sure that P.E.I. has a better future and these kinds of decisions won’t be made again,” said O’Brien.
Larry Cosgrave got involved after he walked the proposed highway’s survey line two years ago and could not believe what he saw.
“It was going through beautiful land where I did mountain biking and hiking,” said Cosgrave.
“It’s not a handful of people against this,” he said.
“We hit the road with signs and we did the legislature thing. Look at the video, hundreds in a big circle in front of the Legislature, hundreds of people out here in shifts on the road, there was a plebiscite done with 90 per cent against it out of 5,000 people.
“I’m still frustrated and angry, through the whole year, because it’s such a dumb project in all ways, a waste of money, a waste of the environment, waste of what it could have been used to do other good things on the Island,” said Cosgrave. “See, I’m getting angry again.”