12 climate activists were arrested during a protest that shut down Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge on Saturday.
The demonstration, organized by Extinction Rebellion, sought to draw attention to the links between climate change and the wildfires ravaging B.C.’s interior.
Members and supporters Extinction Rebellion rallied at Seaforth Peace Park, south of the bridge, where they collected donations for the Lytton First Nation, whose community was devastated by a fire on June 30.
The group had planned to march onto the bridge, but instead occupied the intersection of Burrard and Cornwall Streets amid significant police presence.
“We are bridging the gap and connecting the dots between the destruction of our forests and the heat waves destroying wildlife, towns, and human lives,” the group said ahead of occupying the bridge.
Demonstrators say the provincial and federal governments have failed to treat climate change as an emergency, contrasting action on the file to the sweeping and disruptive measures taken to address COVID-19.
Earlier this month, an international group of scientists argued the heat wave that roasted B.C. in late June and early July — setting all-time Canadian temperature records — could not have happened without climate change.
The BC Coroners Service says that heat wave may have contributed to as many as 600 deaths in a single week.
It also helped produce extremely dry conditions in B.C.’s interior, setting the stage for the more than 250 fires burning as of Saturday.
Vancouver Police say the group caused major traffic disruptions in both directions of the bridge, which has since reopened.
The people arrested will be released pending a future court date.