The Occupy movement spread to Canada Friday with rallies, marches and activists pitching tents in public spaces in major cities across the country. The province of Alberta saw protests in Calgary and its capital Edmonton.
Organizers of Occupy Edmonton estimate that 2,000 people converged on Churchill Square at noon for a rally and marched around the city’s downtown center. Protesters of all ages marched peacefully, waving signs and chanting “We are the 99%.”
After the rally, organizers led a couple hundred protesters to a nearby park on Jasper Avenue. Here they led discussions aimed at defining their message and goals, and allowed participants to give heartfelt speeches outlining frustrations and hopes for a better world to grow out of this and other occupy movements being held around the world. Although Occupy Wall Street was mentioned, participants and organizers were clear about the need for Occupy Edmonton to focus on provincial issues like the tar sands, environment, education and health care.
The group’s most immediate goal, however, was setting up camp and occupying the park until Monday morning at least. Not a small task. Organizers warned those planning to pitch tents that they could find themselves simply evicted, or worse, before morning, but between 50 and 60 people stayed overnight without incident. The group is in talks with the police and Melcor, who owns the park, about how long they might be allowed to continue the protest. Melcor’s current position is that the Occupiers are to vacate by 10:30 A.M. on October 18th.
Protesters met again Sunday at noon in the park, which is located at Jasper Avenue and 102nd Street, to continue discussions about goals and future plans with the most immediate needs of those occupying the city space are blankets, food, water and sanitation. Discussions follow the same pattern of consensus building that has become a hallmark of other Occupy events: consensus building and hand signals.
Photo from mastermaq via flickr creative commons