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CUPE member Jacquie Robertshaw from CUPE 1063 in Manitoba submitted this inspiring piece about fellow member Leo Cheverie for CUPE’s website. Leo, from CUPE 1870 in P.E.I., took part in a recent sit-in on Parliament Hill, using non-violent civil disobedience to protest the XL pipeline.

Here’s Jacquie’s story:

Our brother Leo

I have never met Leo Cheverie in person, but I do have the privilege of being a friend on Facebook. If his posts are a reflection of his heart and mind, he is a leader for many on issues of social justice and environmental activism, not just in his union but in endeavors of his life and activities in the community.

On Monday September 26, 2011, Leo did an amazing thing. He joined hands with fellow protesters and crossed the fence at Parliament Hill, not knowing what the outcome would be. Knowing he would likely be arrested. Knowing he faced the possibility of criminal charges which would affect him for the rest of his life.

His reasons for crossing that fence are his. As a union sister I thank him for being there and going over the fence. Too often we have to separate ourselves from our union as environmental activists. Too often we take the innocuous route to protest. Leo did what many of us fear to do; he risked his here and now to protest not just the tar sands and the XL pipeline but the practices of environmental carnage for profit, and the pillaging of resources with often toxic consequences dumped on the First Nations people of Canada.

There are a myriad of reasons to take a stand against the XL pipeline as there are a myriad of reasons to be an environmental activist. At the end of the day it is about the future, not just for indigenous people but all of us and all the generations to come.

I speak to the impact Brother Leo’s act of civil disobedience has had on me. It has been very powerful and has moved me beyond the point of articulate expression. The expression “out of sight, out of mind” often comes into play regarding environmental or First Nations issues, but on Sept. 26 our brother Leo was is plain view, and now he is very much in my mind. I hope he is in yours. I am proud to call him my brother!

If you’d like to share a story about a fellow CUPE member, send it to us at comm@cupe.ca.