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Climate Justice Edmonton could find a home base, after successful crowd-funding campaign to combat Kenney’s oil ‘war room’

Climate Justice Edmonton (CJE) is in the midst of creating a response to counter UCP leader and recently elected premier Jason Kenney’s war room. During the provincial election, Kenney promised the creation of a $30-million, taxpayer-funded effort to respond to critics of Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

According to Gabrielle Gelderman, the group’s co-founder, CJE originally floated the idea of a green war room to highlight the disparity between the resources available to environmental groups, and the resources that Kenney’s effort could swing around.

“We’re a small, volunteer-run, grass-roots group … mostly young people, workers, students. We do all this work for free,” Gelderman says.

CJE began a GoFundMe campaign last week with the set goal of $3,000—a sum the organization easily reached in two days.

As of this weekend, it has also breached the $10,000 mark, which, according to the GoFundMe page, would allow CJE to “reach twice as many people” and fund various other climate justice efforts, “and start a rapid-response fund to protect our allies and frontline communities as they come under attack from Jason Kenney’s politics of austerity and hate,” the campaign’s website says.

This includes giving added support to the high-school climate strikers who converged on the legislature grounds in protest in March.

With further funds, the group could potentially find and rent a permanent space and begin to collaborate with other groups. According to Gelderman, up until now CJE has been meeting in people’s basements and kitchens.

The next goal on the crowd-funding platform is $30,000, a sum that, according to Gelderman, would allow the group to find a home. CJE has partnered with other groups in the city, and, according to its co-founder, would potentially be interested in creating a shared space with these groups.

“We’re at a critical time. There’s a deep need, specifically in Alberta, to get lots and lots of people engaged directly in … taking action in climate justice,” she says.

CJE has worked with the youth climate strikers before, and the crowd-sourced funds could also help offset unexpected costs like the price of printing signs for protests.

“They’re like 15, 16, 17 years old. They don’t have money,” Gelderman says.

According to Gelderman, CJE would be on the UCP war room’s radar, and the group is expecting to “have surveillance” at some level.

“We’ve had some issues of people trolling us online and in-person encounters. It’s really scary knowing we’re really vulnerable,” she says. “Meeting in your house is not the most secure thing to do when there’s a war room that’s intended to surveil groups like ours.”

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