Cold Prairie Winds Not Enough to Drive Winnipeg Occupiers Out of Memorial Park

I happened to be in Winnipeg this past weekend, and so was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the initial Occupy Canada events in that city. The turnout for the Saturday march was 300+, which was great, but it’s the folks who have brought their sleeping bags and tents to Memorial Park that really impressed me. Winnipeg isn’t known for its gentle weather, and a cold & bitter Stephen Harper-like wind was blowing tents over on both Sunday and Monday. This morning Environment Canada says the temperature is minus 5 degrees Celcius, and the wind is set to increase again later on. So a big shout out to the “Occupying” folks everywhere, but especially those who are Occupying Winnipeg. These people are using their bodies as well as their voices to send a message for all of the 99% of us, that radical change is necessary; the corporate state isn’t capable of making decisions that are good for us as citizens or for our children’s future.  And let me tell you, it is not comfortable to be doing this in Winnipeg’s Memorial Park in the later part of October, so they need our support. If you, like me, can’t camp overnight, but you are in a community where an Occupation is happening, please take some time to go down and give them the support of your presence. Donations of food, money, and other supplies are appreciated, too. We are all in this together, but right now they are on the front lines for the rest of us. Thank you, miigwich, you who are standing up for the rest of us. You are heroes!

What I found each time I spent time in Memorial Park this weekend were people of all ages who were articulating an unhappiness with the status quo, and a longing for a fairer, more equitable community where everyone has a place. Graham Murray, who traveled from rural Manitoba to participate in this movement, told me the last straw for him was hearing about the English-only, gold-ink-embossed business cards our current Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, had printed for himself with our taxpayer dollars (see “Opposition Slams Baird Over Golden Business Cards for more). Another participant, who joked that as a computer programmer he “read everything on the internet”, said he was in Memorial Park for the long term because of the injustice he saw in our current system. These are the 99% – they are not there because they don’t have a job, they are there because they are standing up for the universal right to have a job with a decent salary, without exploitation. For example, in the United States last year, corporate profits grew 38.8 percent in 2010, but while CEOs earned an average of 20 percent more last year, many ordinary people continued to lose their jobs and benefits.

More links:

Chris Hedges: A Movement Too Big To Fail

10 CEOs Who Got Rich By Squeezing Workers

Occupy Winnipeg

Think Progress is providing excellent ongoing coverage of the “99%Movement”.  Rabble.ca is providing a Canadian perspective.