Greenpeace back in Vancouver for 40th birthday

Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:10pm EDT
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By Greg Joyce

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Greenpeace celebrated its 40th anniversary in the city of its birth on Saturday with a workshop on civil disobedience and a plea to Canada to better protect the environment.

Some 200 activists met in Vancouver for events that also included workshops in banner making and tours on the Zodiac boats that the group uses in some of its high-profile campaigns.

"Canada is not the country a lot of people like to remember it as," said Jessica Wilson, acting Greenpeace director for Vancouver's home province of British Columbia, highlighting a poor Canadian record on curbing climate change and the "dirty oil" from the Albertan tarsands.

"Not only has Canada not been part of the solution, they are actively working against other countries who are trying to develop meaningful climate targets."

Greenpeace, originally called the "Don't Make a Wave Committee," emerged from Vancouver's peace movement and anti-nuclear protests of the early '70s to become a global organization with a 2010 budget of more than $300 million.

In its first mission, on September 15, 1971, the group set off from Vancouver for the Arctic on a chartered ship that they renamed Greenpeace, protesting against a U.S. underground test of a 5.2-megaton hydrogen bomb.

Later campaigns focused on whaling, toxic waste and nuclear power, and in 1985 protests against French nuclear tests culminated in the French sinking of Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior ship in Auckland, New Zealand.

The ship was later scuttled off the New Zealand coast to provide a spot for divers and the development of marine life.

(Editing by Janet Guttsman)

<p>Founding members along with present members of Greenpeace gather to mark the 40th anniversary of the environmental organization in Vancouver, British Columbia September 15, 2011. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>