On June 6th 1965, 50 ban–the–bomb activists attempted to enter the military airbase at Comox, on Vancouver Island, for the expressed purpose of dismantling it and beginning a process of conversion to peaceful uses. When stopped, they sat down and “blocked the road to war” for 24 hours. On August 28th of that year, all 14 entrances to the base were blocked.
To mark the 50th anniversary of this historic anti-nuclear campaign, a reunion and weekend of communal activities and discussions will be held in Roberts Creek, August 28-30.
The action in 1965 was in response to Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson’s decision to allow U.S. nuclear warheads on Canadian soil. Outrage at this decision was fanned by the fact that Pearson had earlier stated that the Bomarc missile was “not a defense in any sense” and that Canada should remain a non–nuclear power. Directly inspired by Gandhi, the U.S. civil rights movement, and peace actions around the world, the sit-down marked the first civil disobedience campaign for peace ever conducted in British Columbia, and only the second in Canada (The first took place at La Macaza, Quebec the year before, in 1964).
The sit–down in June 1965 was part of a summer-long series of actions called Comox Project ’65…culminating in a sit–down on August 28 that blocked all fourteen entrances around the base’s six mile perimeter. Demonstrators were dragged repeatedly off the road at some of the gates to allow for the passage of vehicles. Some were arrested; one had his nose broken. Yet all participants remained faithful to a nonviolent code of conduct.
Organizers of the 50th anniversary reunion have so far contacted 25 former participants, and are searching for more. It is believed that hundreds, overall, played some role in the activities that summer. Anyone interested in attending this reunion should contact Peter Light at 604–886–8527, or write him at email@example.com