Canadian environmentalist launches a new Rainbow Warrior

14 October 2011 (Toronto) - The new Rainbow Warrior, a campaigning vessel built by Greenpeace and the third to bear the name, was launched by a Canadian activist at a ceremony in Berne-Matzen, Germany today.

Melina Laboucan-Massimo, a campaigner with Greenpeace Canada and Cree from northern Alberta, was chosen as "Godmother" of the new ship in recognition of her work on the tar sands campaign.

She spoke about the Native American prophecy from which the ship got its name at the ceremony: "There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it. . . they will be known as the ‘Warriors of the Rainbow'."

For Laboucan-Massimo, that prophecy is coming to pass in her community of Little Buffalo, Alberta. "First Nations around and downstream of the tar sands have no direct or very limited access to healthy drinking water. Water must be carted into communities where there was previously clean water to drink from the land. People are becoming increasingly afraid to eat off the land for fear of contamination to wildlife, traditional medicines, and berries. And globally, the climate will suffer from dirty tar sands oil. It's my hope the Rainbow Warrior can be a beacon for change."

Purpose built as a campaigning vessel, the Rainbow Warrior carries state-of-the-art communications equipment, two fast rescue boats and can support a helicopter. Her unique A-frame masts carry 1,260 m2 of sail helping keep her carbon footprint to a minimum and making her one of the most environmentally friendly vessels of her class.

"The new Rainbow Warrior is the perfect ship with which to address the perfect storm of ecological, democratic and financial challenges our world is facing," said Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo. "She will enable us to travel to the frontiers of ecological destruction, bear witness and take action. She is built to last for 50 years, and is a promise to our supporters that we will keep up the struggle for a green and peaceful future."

The construction of the Rainbow Warrior was paid for by over 100,000 individual donations. Donors were able to sponsor specific parts of the vessel and items of equipment, everything from the ship's satellite uplink to an egg whisk!

The ship will begin life with a thank-you tour of the European coast before making a first ocean crossing to begin active campaigning in the Americas. Fans of the Rainbow Warrior will be able to watch the crew aboard their new ship and learn more about this remarkable vessel through a series of web documentaries appearing here.


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