Even my small city got on board with Occupy Canada. Crisp fall air and sunny skies welcomed a couple hundred demonstrators gathered in Kelowna’s Kerry Park to call for an end to economic inequality, environmental destruction and corporate greed.
They came to be part of an international movement in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. British Columbia was well represented, with protests in Vancouver, Nanaimo, Courtenay, Nelson, Kamloops, Duncan and Kelowna. Others gathered in towns across the country, including Montreal, Halifax, Fredericton, Moncton, Guelph, Windsor, Kingston and London.
Many were carrying signs. Daniel Jesson came because “I was inspired by the people willing to come here.” He had followed the protests in New York. “Seeing ours,” he said, “I had to be part of it.”
A young woman named Marylou had moved here from the Philippines, where corruption is rife and expected. She was shocked to discover corruption in Canada, a country where she expected to leave corruption behind. Her sign reads, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power & greed, then we will know peace.”
The young man with Marylou had just delivered a heartfelt speech. He was nervous when he took the stage, but he said once he was there, “It was like karaoke. I let people know I’m just a person in the crowd, and we can make a difference if we’re brave enough to stand up.”
Poet Rawle Iam came to share his message of love with the protesters. He was one of many musicians and writers to perform Saturday. One poem captured his vision for the movement:
Love is fear’s oxymoron
For there is no fear
There is only our spirit.
David Tiessen came to Occupy Kelowna because of the corruption he sees around him. “The system is morally bankrupt,” he said. “Our leaders are not making decisions for the planet. There is no bold leadership.”
On the other side of his sign, he had written:
So much of a nation’s wealth, wealth derived from people’s taxes, is wasted on weapons and war, the world’s #1 economy. Does that make sense? Where is the leadership? Corporations are leading. Not our so-called leaders. That wealth should be spent on food, shelter, and switching the world to solar, wind, and tidal power.
Even a peaceful revolution must be fed. Urban Harvest, a community-minded, organic-delivery service provided boxes of fruit for the protesters. Others shared food they had prepared. When I was there, two young girls wandered the crowd offering cookies their mother had baked.
Whatever the real percentage, the overarching unease has common cause around the globe: as the rich and powerful capture a greater wedge of the pie, everyone else loses. The social fabric is shredded. Injustices increase, and unrest is an inevitable outcome. People can only be pushed so far. With the cliff at their backs, they will move forward, against the greed that has robbed the commons.
In this part of the world, winter is not far away. What will happen to demonstrations once bitter weather sets in is anyone’s guess. But in the brilliance of a northern hemisphere fall, the halls of power have reason to tremble.
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Photos from Cathryn Wellner