Our legal rights as activists: There’s a lot to know

By Natasha Edmunds

20 of us nestled into the Anglican Church last Friday evening, October 26th, to learn about our legal rights as activists. “Know your legal protest rights” workshop was hosted by the Nelson Women’s Centre, the West Kootenay EcoSociety and St. David’s Anglican Church, in partnership with the BC Civil Liberties Association. Dylan Mazur, Lawyer from the BC Civil Liberties Association, explored how we can move forward in protecting ourselves, our watersheds, and our communities when we are protesting. Representatives from different watersheds around the West Kootenays, representatives from the Women’s Centre, blockade activists and other active communities members all joined in on the conversation.

Under the Charter of Rights, we have the right to protest, but understanding our limitations as protesters and activists is important, and convoluted. Dylan discussed what injunctions are, the difference between being charged with civil contempt of court and criminal contempt of court, and our rights with interactions with police. Did you know that as individuals or organizations we can fight injunctions and can request injunctions against these companies that are threatening our land? Did you know that on foot you have the right to remain silent with an interaction with police? There’s a lot to know, so please do your research before you get out there, folks!

This discussion came at a fitting time. Currently in the West Kootenays, communities are coming together to protect their watersheds and drinking water against logging, mining and other development. With climate change and the threat of wildfires knocking at our doorsteps, the opportunity to protect our water and our communities is now.

This Friday, November 2nd, a peaceful gathering for watersheds will be held at the Kootenay Lake Forestry Centre, 1907 Ridgewood Road in 4 mile, at noon. Come stand together for our water! All supporters welcome.

For more information on Friday’s “Water is life Event” please check out this event: https://ww1.ecosociety.ca/event/water-is-life-event/

For more information on BC Civil Liberties and our rights as activists please check out:
https://bccla.org/2018/03/protests-and-civil-disobedience/
https://bccla.org/2018/04/are-you-charged-with-contempt-of-court/