While India continues to stay divided on who Gandhi’s legacy actually belongs to, an activist far away, in the Lelu Islands, has decided to observe ‘Aqua Satyagraha’, a non-violent, Gandhian way of letting the fracking and the LNG industry know that the rich natural elements of his state are not theirs’ to exploit.
Christian Tatonetti, an activist from Canada, says, “Gandhi is about the only person who brings me hope for the world during these incredibly difficult times. I wish someone like him was around to help us all tone down the rhetoric of fear and division, to come back to the root of peace and truth (and reconciliation).”
Sounds incredibly like what India and its caste politics is doing to the people of the country, right? But Tatonetti is referring to the Pacific NorthWest LNG’s plan to export liquefied natural gas from Lelu Island on B.C.’s northern coast. Protests have swelled up in the region as many have objected to the proposed terminal site because it is next to Flora Bank, an ecologically sensitive area that nurtures juvenile salmon in the Skeena River estuary.
Two years back, Tatonetti walked about 600 kms against fracking and tar sands pipelines in British Columbia. He also lead a protest where he went into the forest to represent the “silent voice of nature which never gets a say in any of the big oil projects forced down the throats of animals and people.”
In this world, it is not possible to not have heard of Gandhi, the activist who lives in the wild outdoors, as a part of his ‘civil disobedience’, believes. “I have met a lot of Indians and I play the sitar as well. While I am disturbed by the developments of my province, I always keep in mind the philosophy of Gandhi while trying to bring a change,” he says. As if to highlight what he believes in, he shares how he went on a hunger strike for 18 days a few years ago; to bring back Omar Khadr, Guantanamo’s only child soldier to Canada, as Geneva Convention requires.
The term ‘Aqua Satyagraha’ came to Tatonetti, not too long ago. As he explains, the fracking industry destroys vast amounts of land and shoots trillions of gallons of litres of water deep down out of its cycle of life. It mixes really harsh toxic chemicals with water; water that could be put to far better use. «Like Gandhi’s Satyagraha, I am calling my civil disobedience towards the fracking and LNG industry as Aqua Satyagraha and hope it becomes a powerful mantra for activists worldwide,» he says.