What is ISTSDay?

There has always been a little confusion about what International Stop the Tar Sands Day actually is. We hope the following explanation will fill in some of the blanks.


 If we had to answer "what is International Stop the Tar Sands Day?" in one sentence this would be our answer: 

International Stop the Tar Sands Day (ISTSDay) is a series of international events to raise awareness around the world about the destructiveness of tar sands development in northern Alberta, Canada.

But ISTSDay is so much more than this...

It is a day

ISTSDay is not an organization or a group. It receives no funding and it has no office. It is like any other day that has some sort of meaning or purpose like Christmas, Easter or a national holiday. You could call ISTSDay a network, but we prefer to think of it as global citizens' initiative.
It brings people tgether from all different parts of the world, from all different walks of life to do the right thing - shut down the tar sands and move on towards sustainable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) and a better future.

Do what you can, do what you want

What each person does for ISTSDay is up to them. Some people send out emails for us, put up posters, blog, or create the symbol of ISTSDay (see Francis' story on the right!). With people around the world doing what they can and what they want ISTSDay has been able to grow from nine events in 2010 to fifty in 2011!

And just like Christmas, Easter or a national holiday which are celebrated by people in their own way, we encourage people to raise awareness about the tar sands in their own unique way. All we ask is that they use our three pillars of raising awareness to guide them:

Be Creative, Stay Positive, Have Fun 

We encourage people when putting together their ISTSDay event to make it as creative as possible, bursting with positivity and make it in a way that the organizers and the participants have a lot fun. It may sound surprising to some, but it is possible to have a good time and save the planet in the process. The demo-fest is probably the best example of this (see "what is a demo-fest?" to the right). If stopping the tar sands will have a positive outcome, why not use positive methods to get there? 

Getting the uninvolved involved

By being creative, staying positive and having fun the possibilities for ISTSDay are endless! It is also a great way to get the uninvolved involved in stopping the tar sands. People are drawn to positive activities and fun. ISTSDay tries to make activism, making the world a better place or whatever you prefer to call it accessible to everyone. We hope it will encourage and inspire people to get involved in stopping the tar sands, extreme energy and climate change.

There are many ways to bring about change. International Stop the Tar Sands Days is just one. 


One person's contribution  - Francis Luta of Toronto, Canada created the International Stop the Tar Sands Day symbol in 2010 while living in Berlin, Germany. Aside from making the Berlin ISTSDay 2010 video ,the symbol was the only thing he ever did for ISTSDay.  His small but meaningful contribution is a perfect example of how  by doing what you can and doing what you want  it helps ISTSDay spread its message and in turn helps to stop the tar sands.  

What is a demo-fest? 

Our first demo-fest was the first ISTSDay in Berlin (2010).  The name was coined by Renee and Stephen Leahy and it simply takes the best parts of a demonstration (standing up for a just cause) and the best parts of a festival (fun activities) and mixes them together. Fun activities are used such as live music, stand up comedy, hand painting, games, etc. to encourage people to get involved whether as part of the organizing team or someone who just happens to be passing by a ISTSDay event. Each activity is related to the cause and never distracts from it. For example,  ISTSDay 2011 in Toronto had "mutant fish fishing" using a kiddie pool, cut out cardboard fish and toy rods to address tar sands leaking toxins into and contaminating the Athabasca River in Alberta. 


Our very first demo-fest - International Stop the Tar Sands Day  2010 in Berlin, Germany.

 The demo-fest is just one example of how you can raise awareness on ISTSDay. There are others:

  • a bike tour in your home town of all the banks and oil companies who have tar sands investments, 
  • screening a tar sands film in your favourite cafe,

  • a talk on renewable energy, or 

  • taking a picture of that homemade "stop the tar sands!" banner you and your friends made and sending it to us to put on our website just like the ones you see below!

International Stop the Tar Sands Day 2011 -  an UNBELIEVABLE day! 

Benin city, Nigeria

Melbourne, Australia 


Vancouver Canada

Seatown, UK

Los Angeles, USA

Oslo, Norway

London, Ontario

Oxford, UK - Photo credit, Zoe Broughton

Seattle, USA

Galway, Ireland

Northampton, UK

Lisbon, Portugal 

Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

Brussels, Belgium

Toronto, Canada. 

 London, UK - photo credit, London Rising Tide

London, UK

Copenhagen, Canada

Copenhagen, Denmark 

Manchester, UK

The Hague, Netherlands

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK

Ottawa, Canada

Montreal, Canada

Vienna, Austria

Edmonton, Canada

Berlin, Germany

Victoria, Canada

New York, USA

Barrie, Canada

Cincinnati, USA

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