Sunday, June 10, 2007

free Betty!

Hey everyone,

I just finished reading Betty Krawczyk’s book ‘Clayquot: Sound of my heart’. Betty is a well known (and in many circles, very well loved!) 77 yr old grandmother who has fought for the environment for most of her life. She was most recently in the news for protesting the Eagleridge Bluffs Sea-to-sky highway expansion that involved bulldozing an old-growth arbutus forest as well as wetlands for the 2010 Olympics (I’m sure I will rant about the Games in a future post, they make me so angry!). She was arrested (along with a number of concerned citizens) 4 times and finally sentenced to about 10 months in prison, just outside of Vancouver.

The reason I am talking about her is that I am desperate for strong female role models at the moment. I NEED to believe that I can make a difference and I think we need to be aware of these women warriors who are changing the world RIGHT NOW.

Please check out Betty’s blog ( , she is dictating her posts from jail. There are some very interesting topics to consider. She talks about the conditions in prisons, rights for incarcerated women with babies, the (BAD) food, and of course the environment. Although Betty fully knew the consequences of repeatedly protesting at Eagleridge Bluffs, I still find it extremely painful that she is in jail. Yes, technically she should be there, but ARG, she did the right thing. We all have an obligation to protect what is precious.

While what she is fighting for might not be everyone’s first interest (but it should be!!! This is obviously my own bias, but come on, this planet is in serious trouble), Betty is an extraordinary example of standing up for what she believes in, even with serious consequences. We have to find ways to ACT on these issues we are talking about!

I urge everyone to call up your local assault centre and see what they need, donate your clothes to a shelter, volunteer at a food bank, wake up each day and think about what you can do to change things.

Let us know what initiatives you are involved in/have heard of, lets light some fires under policy makers’ butts and get some CHANGE going on here.

In solidarity,



Mary L said...

If you were looking for a strong female role model, you sure found one in Betty K! She is truly an incredible, principled and highly intelligent woman! I just wanted to clarify one point in your original post ... yes, Betty knew that there would be consequences for her actions at Eagleridge, but consequences for peaceful protest should not involve jail time in a democracy. Since Clayoquot Sound, Betty has dedicated her life to raising awareness about how environmental protesters are treated under contempt of court rules. In this case, the judge who granted the injunction stated clearly that protesters were violating section 64(1) of the Transportation Act. The contractor 'claims' that the police wouldn't arrest protesters and that they had no way to force police to act. In truth, the police were likely told not to arrest as a 64(1)violation is a mere $115 fine, whereas violating a court order results in contempt of court charges which leads to untold penalties ... fines, potential civil lawsuits, jail sentences, outrageously long community service time (well above what is allowable under the law).

How can they do this you ask? Contempt of Court is not part of Canada's laws but rather a rule of the court, and as such judges can penalize as they see fit. The judge could have simply told the police to do their job, but instead granted an injunction whereby violators are judged solely on whether they knowingly violated a court order. The court of course has all the evidence they need before the accused steps into court because police videotape confessions onsite before each arrest to show that the protester is knowingly violating a court order. Handy little system isn't it? And our government openly promotes its use, as it did within the contractors contract with the province.

I hope you will support Betty's continued fight. It is important. Another important initiative she is involved in is a petition on the sentencing of Harriet Nahanee, the native Indian woman who died shortly after being released from jail following her protest at Eagleridge. Have a look at the following petition:

Any help in spreading the word would be greatly appreciated.

edith said...

Thanks very much for clarifying! It is hard to concisely explain the legal tricks that are being used so I really appreciate your insight (although it is infuriating to understand how hard it is to fight the good fight).
I will definitely sign the petition and follow Betty's situation as it unfolds!

Amanda Reaume said...

Edith! You should try to get an interview with Betty for Antigone's Spring issue... I wonder how we contact her... anyone know?