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Sudbury Voices: Answers at Northern Lights Festival Boréal

by Scott Neigh

Gerry Labelle, local environmentalist
Gerry Labelle, local environmentalist
Mercedes Quinlan, local environmentalist
Mercedes Quinlan, local environmentalist
David Barber, age 9
David Barber, age 9

This past weekend was the 42nd annual Northern Lights Festival Boréal in Sudbury, Ontario. The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was able to briefly drop by the festival's "Greenville" stage and ask for participants in our ongoing Sudbury Voices series. In Sudbury Voices, along with encouraging people to post their own answers to the question, "What kinds of changes would you like to see in the community and in the world?" using whatever medium feels best to them, we have also been offering to do an audio recording of Sudburians giving their answers, which we then post with a photo and a brief introduction -- see, for instance, here and here.

Unfortunately, due to the background noise of a busy and crowded festival, and the interference of a strong and gusting wind, the audio recordings from Saturday are not of good enough quality to post. But here are transcripts of what three Sudburians at NLFB (pictured in the accompanying photos) had to say about the changes they would like to see:

Gerry Labelle, environmental activist:

“Hi, my name is Gerry Labelle. Some of the changes I'd like to see in our community – I'd like to see council and a mayor who are much, much more proactive and who basically respond to what the citizens want and need, and not to special interest groups like they have been over the last little while. I'd like to see us become a much more green city. I know we've done amazing things in the past, but we need to protect our water. We need to make sure that we do things like restrict the size of boats and the types of boats on certain lakes around northern Ontario. I think that we have to make sure that we don't have cottagers and homes dumping raw sewage into the lakes. And I will be doing a bit of work – going on lakes this summer and checking out what's happening as well.

"In the world, we need the people to get on-side with protecting the environment. Global warming is not a myth; it is a fact. We've seen changes. What's happening in Alberta right now is an excellent example of some of the large storms and events we're going to have. Everybody needs to be concerned. The Insurance Bureau, as a matter of fact, is concerned as well. But we still see a federal government that is insisting on supporting the development from the oil sands, on supporting the oil industry, on changing the laws in order to be able to advance their agenda such as they are doing with the pipelines, for example. I'm not against pipelines, but be honest about it – what are you going to do, what's going to happen, why are we doing it. And let's do what needs to be done to ensure that we are going to prevent accidents from happening. You know, with the tar sands, we haven't heard of anything, but I'm sure there's been problems with this rain [in Alberta], I'm sure they're overflowing, I'm sure there's oil flowing everywhere right now. And it is an environmental disaster.

"I wish governments would stop introducing new terms into our vocabulary and stealing our vocabulary. The coal industry spent $40 million to add 'clean coal' to our vocabulary, and I even heard our Prime Minister use the term in one of his speeches. I was just shaking my head, you know, 'How can you do that?' We need to have people who are proactive and we need to have people who know how to vote. And I don't know which party to vote for, because I don't think their agendas are that much different. I'm tired of being given lip service. I would love for a government to act. And for once I'd like to have a government that doesn't care about getting re-elected, just about doing the right thing. Thank-you.”


Mercedes Quinlan, environmental activist:

“Hi there! I'm Mercedes Quinlan. ... I'm an environmental activist. There are two thoughts that I have. One is that since the city has now allowed us to use clotheslines – and I believe that is so in most of the world – that we should be doing so. Clothes lines are the most – the best example of wind and solar power imaginable. And they've been around for a long time. It's almost like the inventor of the two terms. I think a lot of people don't know this – because I have it on my car and someone was reading it the other day and said, 'I didn't know that!' – that a clothes dryer actually uses more dryer than a fridge, dishwasher, and clothes washer combined.

"My second little tidbit is, let's get into sequestering the carbon dioxide in the earth. Now, how do we do that? Very simple: We promote organic gardening and that way that earth will absorb the carbon dioxide from the air and it will keep it in the soil. So I now buy organic and I encourage everybody to do so, and I encourage others to organic garden.

"Those are my two thoughts.”


David Barber, age 9:

DB: “My name is David. I'd like to make everything free. ... And I'd like to make everything awesome.

SN: "What would be good about everything being free?"

DB: "You would get everything. You would get everything."

DB's mother: "Would that help other people or just you?"

DB: "Other people. Poor people.”


To submit your own answers to the question "What kinds of changes would you like to see in the community and in the world in audio, video, textual, artistic, or other format, please email us at grassrootssudburymedia(at) or make an account and post it yourself. Be sure to include your name and a few lines about yourself, and put the words "Sudbury Voices" in the title. If you want us to do an audio recording of your answer, be in touch by email!

Scott Neigh is a writer, activist, and media producer based in Sudbury. He has written two books looking at Canadian history through the stories of activists and is the producer and host of Talking Radical Radio.

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I am a writer, parent, and activist living in Hamilton, Ontario. To find me in all of the places online, go to And to learn more about Talking Radical Radio, check out

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The site for the Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op has been archived and will no longer be updated. Please visit the main Media Co-op website to learn more about the organization.



About the Sudbury Working Group

The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was formed to create independent media in the North, to speak to our issues and outlooks on our communities as well as the world around us. Independent media provides an avenue for people who are wishing to gain critical perspective on the issues that matter most to us, and to give a voice to those people and stories that you won't find in the mainstream media.

The Sudbury working-group site is no longer being updated and has been archived.