Approximately 200 citizens braved chilly minus 19 degree Celsius weather and some light snow for the Yukon Coalition for Climate Change Action’s 24-hour Vigil for Survival, Vigil of Hope in Whitehorse, Yukon.
Vigil-keepers were taking a peaceful stand in response and support of the UN COP15 Climate Talks in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The vigil had a commanding yet old-fashioned esthetic, as three tall flagpoles flanked a large wall tent at a rustic outdoor camp in the front mezzanine of the
Elijah Smith Building on Main Street.
Beginning at 3:50 p.m. on Friday, about 45 people attended the opening ceremony and for the following 24 hours candles glowed, prayer flags flapped, an Earth ball stood sentinel and a large banner stated “YUKON Ã A Climate of Change!”
Through the night on to the following day, a surprising number of people of all ages and descriptions shared from their hearts their concerns and commitment to seeing action on climate change, beginning on a personal level (the inner emotional climate and our day-to-day actions), but also the need to lobby on inter-governmental levels for the development of strengthened laws and policies.
The vigil hosted easily 200 people through the 24-hour period and came to a close at 3:50 p.m. on Saturday, with the jubilant ringing of bells.
This vigil ignited hope and a sense of shared purpose to all who attended. It showed us what can be accomplished, “no matter what the weather,” when we work together.
“It takes a village” and every person’s presence was highly valued and meaningful, however here is a description of a few highlights:
Â¥ New Democrat MLA Steve Cardiff dropped into the opening, his luggage already checked in at the airport, as he was leaving with the territorial delegation to Copenhagen.
Speaking of Copenhagen, government house leader Environment/Tourism Minister Elaine Taylor offered a message of support and acknowledgment the evening before she left to Copenhagen, and youth leader Cassie Andrew came by after a long flight returning from the youth conference in Copenhagen.
Â¥ We also enjoyed the rather dapper tuxedo-clad presence of Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, who visited the vigil en route to being in the cast of The Nutcracker.
He came back later that night dressed for the weather, and amazed everyone by staying all night and on to the following day!
Â¥ Perhaps the funniest was a midnight visit from about 20 folks dressed up like “Santa,” who said, “Santa cares about the climate too Ã his home is melting!”
This vigil was truly a community event and many, many people helped in various ways to support: SNL property management company, PAL insurance company, the RCMP and the fire department, as well the Whitehorse bylaw and parks department, which loaned us the fireplace and a load of wood to get it going.
A few folks did a little extra to put this event together and so special recognition goes out to Bev Brazier and the congregation of the Whitehorse United Church, who kept the church doors open and the coffee hot all night long; Peter Heebink for the tent, the inspirational Madsen/Boothroyd family, Tanya Van Valkenburg for media liaison, Jim Mclellend, John Streicker and Eleanor Velarde for their support and enthusiasm and to Joe Bishop for the very generous gift of wood, which kept us warm and dryÃ‰
For the rest of us, we know who we are.
“This is a first step … may the light of hope, ignited in our vigil fire and kindled in our hearts, glow bright, illuminating our day-to-day choices and empowering us to rise to the ethical and strategic challenge presented by climate change.”
More than 3,000 candlelight vigils were held in the same 24-hour period across the globe, and organizers say 100,000 people held a vigil in Copenhagen alone. Please see websites 350.org and avaaz.org for inspiring local and international vigil updates and photos, including photos from our event.
The momentum is growing and an event to follow up early in the New Year is in the planning stages Ã‰TBA.
Diana Lindley, vigil co-ordinator,