Jeff Green | Oct 11, 2007
Feature Article - October 11, 2007 Feature Article - October 11, 2007
Starving for Changeby Jeff Green
Donna Dillman is a Lanark Highlands-based grandmother and political activist who has become heavily involved in the anti-uranium protest at the Robertsville mine. The protest has been focused around a blockade of the headquarters of the exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corporation.
She spent a considerable amount of time at the protest site during the summer, but it was when she visited Elliot Lake during a book tour with her husband, Mike Nickerson, that the potential implications of uranium exploration hit home for her in a profound way.
"There are 140 million tons of radioactive tailings at Elliott Lake, that's a mass of material that needs to be contained forever. I don't think that should be repeated," Donna Dillman said on Monday from outside the gate at the Robertsville mine.
She decided late in the summer to start a hunger strike to help convince the Ontario government that a moratorium on uranium mining should be declared in Eastern Ontario. "I would have started it earlier, but I had some other obligations to attend to," she said.
As October arrived, and Thanksgiving was coming up, she decided to begin on Thanksgiving Day, October 8. In an interesting twist, her protest is beginning as the two Algonquin communities are considering the possibility of ending their occupation of the mine.
She will be subsisting on a brew of maple syrup, lemons and cayenne in a hot water base, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and clean water. Part of the symbolism of the hunger strike is to demonstrate, in a direct, physical way, that it is possible to survive without solid food for a considerable amount of time, but water is essential. "The implications of drilling for uranium on the watershed are a real concern for me, and for everyone. We all need water to survive," Dillman said.
One practical part of the hunger strike that concerns Donna Dillman is warmth. "My fear is the cold rather than hunger. Without food I will not be able to stay warm easily, and the weather is going to get colder."
Fortunately a tent trailer has been donated for the duration of her fast, and a kerosene heater is being provided as well.
Donna Dillman intends to stay outside the gate at the Robertsville mine indefinitely. Her tent is set up on the township road allowance, off to the side of the entrance to the mine, so she will not be blocking anyone entering or leaving the site.
"The only time I am planning to leave is for a Green Party meeting in November."
Donna Dillman was recently elected as an at-large member to the Green Party National Council.