Jane Fonda Joins Canadian Activists Calling for Climate Justice, Jobs and an End to Tar Sands Mining

Over the weekend, thousands of activists mobilized across Canada to engage in a number of direct actions calling for climate justice, jobs and an end to tar sands mining.

The environmental group 350.org, which supported the nationwide mobilizations, said that the coast-to-coast actions demonstrate that citizens "care about their communities, and that we are ready to stop digging, start building and move beyond the tar sands."

On Friday, students led sit-ins across the country. On Saturday, "We > Tar Sands" rallies we mounted. And on Sunday, activists participated in the March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate in Toronto.

RELATED: North American Scientists Call for End to Tar Sands Mining

The #JobsJusticeClimate actions included the formation of a giant human chain on the sea wall at Vancouver's Sunset Beach, a flotilla of boats — including a solar-powered catamaran — touring the Salish Sea in British Columbia, as well as musical performances, poetry readings and speakers discussing jobs, unions and front line resistance to support climate action.

"This mobilization brought together a truly diverse coalition, from frontline indigenous communities to Canada's largest public and private sector unions, students, social justice organizations and grassroots groups mobilizing against destructive industries," said 350.org about Saturday's march in Toronto.

On Sunday, actress and activist Jane Fonda, environmentalist and scientist David Suzuki and author and social activist Naomi Klein joined Labour groups, First Nations leaders and hundreds of people outside Ontario's legislative buildings for a rally and march calling for a green economy and climate action.

"This is the kind of coalition that will make the difference," Fonda told the crowd. "They are saying we don't have to choose between the environment and the economy. That's a false choice. In fact, renewable energy — doing away with the fossil fuel-based economy — will create more jobs, more democracy and more justice."

RELATED: Could Frustrated Tar Sands Industry Start Shipping Oil Through Arctic?

The actions came ahead of two major international summits this week. From July 7-9, 300 regional government and business leaders from across the hemisphere — including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, California Governor Jerry Brown and the former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón — will convene in Toronto for the Climate Summit of the Americas. The summit will "work towards commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and highlight opportunities for investing in a global low carbon economy."

And from July 8-10, Toronto will also host the Pan American Economic Summit, which will bring together executives from Shell, the Rockefeller Foundation, Canada’s Finance Minister, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perez and U.S., Canadian and European Chambers of Commerce to discuss the connection between climate action and low-carbon economies.

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Klein wrote about the actions in The Nation:

What you’re seeing are the first steps towards a new kind of climate movement. It’s a climate movement that recognizes that time is too short to allow our divisions to keep us from building the kind of coalitions that will safeguard life on earth. Canadians are clearly getting tired of the fossil-fuel roller coaster. Tired of being told we have to sacrifice our environmental protections and our international standing when times for industry are good. Of seeing our budgets for social programs slashed and livelihoods destroyed when times for industry are bad. It turns out we sacrifice on the upside and we sacrifice on the downside."

RELATED: Naomi Klein: We Can Save Ourselves, but Only If We Learn to Work With Nature

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Actions calling for jobs, justice and climate action are sweeping across Canada. (Image: 350.org)

The #JobsJusticeClimate actions also helped to drive momentum leading up to COP21, the U.N. climate talks happening in Paris in December.

In an opinion piece published in the Toronto Star on Friday, Suzuki wrote:

"[T]he government and much of the mainstream media appear to be hell-bent on promoting (and subsidizing) rapid oilsands expansion and pipeline development with little concern for the consequences of pollution and global warming, and with little attention to the tremendous opportunities for healthy communities and a healthy economy from clean technology and renewable energy and efficiency. It’s absurd and extremely short-sighted that a country like Canada, with its energy resources and vulnerability to climate change, doesn’t even have a national energy strategy. The current and relatively recent fossil-fuel-based global economic system once offered tremendous benefits for human societies, but it emerged during a time when resources were abundant and we didn’t fully understand the consequences of our actions — from exploding population growth to resource depletion to social inequity to pollution and global warming.

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