Today was Remembrance Day when Canada remembers those who have served. Being a night shift worker, I slept rather than attending parades or functions. But I have worked as a civilian for the military and it isn’t the uniforms, pomp and circumstance that I remember.
The men and women who serve today live with constant exertion and discipline, constant changing environments and the sacrifices and scars of deployment — and their families do too. Veterans of past times have endured the same, and also sometimes abandonment when they tried to return to civilian life. Lest we forget, all of this has kept us the rights and freedoms we have today.
But today, the battle for basic rights and freedoms is fought on numerous fronts and often by non-military “regular” people. Perhaps the most visible battle right now is the one fought by the water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota — supported by other indigenous folk who have fought the basic battle for clean drinking water on their own land.
Basic rights for clean environment, food and water are more and more being fought by “regular” people against corporations focused only on profit and aided by colluding governments. Here in British Columbia, one of our most visible battles is to keep our pristine coastline — source of food for many indigenous coastal people — free from oil and other pollution.
Less visible but perhaps even more blatant, is the battle of those living in Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island. They are fighting to keep their watershed free of contaminated soil being dumped by a corporation. The provincial government, repeatedly described by various people as arrogant, incompetent and putting dollars above taxpayers champions the corporation. The opposition party has called for the resignation of the Environment Minister but that doesn’t begin to solve the ineptitude of the various endeavours of this government.
It isn’t in British Columbia only though. In Ontario small communities have competed against the Nestle Corporation to obtain water rights. The CEO of that corporation has been quoted as saying that water is a commodity not a human right.
So this Remembrance Day while remembering our veterans, I am also remembering the indigenous and “regular” folk the world over, soldiering on for our basic human rights.