Posted by: Noni | November 6, 2011

Remembering the first 21 days of Occupy Vancouver

Yesterday was the kind of day I wish I could forget but know I’ll remember vividly, forever. We’ve all had days like that. There are a couple of ways to deal with those memories. They are meant to be lessons for us.

Lest we forget. With Remembrance Day less than a week away I have reflected on the recent events at Occupy Vancouver and wondered how they will be recorded in the history of people’s minds and hearts.

As far as I can glean from the news and public commentary, Occupy Vancouver represents “nothing but a confused pack of jobless whiners” and “Tent City is an eyesore”.

I’m sick of that opinion.

“Just a bunch of drugged out hippies…”  Not liking that one either. I spent nearly two hours on a long distance call assuring a family member that I was both safe and very much aware of the reason I was volunteering. All her worries were based on the coverage she was watching on television. I asked her if she saw anyone who was professionally dressed and articulate on topics. No. She did not recall seeing anyone from Occupy Vancouver that fit that description being featured in the news.

How does another person’s drug addiction pose a safety threat to me? Does the mayor hold a press conference each time someone in the city overdoses? I wish that the news could show the harsh realities of what goes on in our cities more often. These deaths usually go unreported. I tried to get an exact figure on the numbers, but none were readily available. Don’t we care enough to even keep track?

Regardless of the answers to these important questions, what does it have to do with Occupy Vancouver or the global Occupy Movement?

Don’t shoot the messenger people!

Occupy Vancouver did not create homelessness or drug addiction or mental health issues, it merely brought them to your attention. It’s up to the cities, regions and countries to deal with the problem; it’s up to all of us.

The reason the movement has been painted with such a black brush is twofold. Firstly, the mainstream media has either neglected to present the complete story or they have sensationalized or misinformed the public. I look at the photos, the interviews and videos and see confusion, anger and hopelessness. Why have they chosen to portray Occupy Vancouver in that way? In reality there have been countless successes in the first three weeks of this movement. Wide support from the unions and working class, constant donations and thousand of hours of volunteer service.

I’ve watched a medic patiently and lovingly listen to a distraught camper who more appropriately should be housed in a special care facility for those with mental disabilities. I’ve witnessed the transformation from disenfranchised and frustrated youth to responsible and caring members of a community. I’ve watched discussions among strangers, who with nothing in common become unified and form a consensus.

The second reason is attributed to our own restrained and stifled voice. Our silenced or delayed response often the result of unfounded fears. Fear of speaking on behalf of the group (the General Assembly) and not having full consensus. Fear that the public will misunderstand us. Fear that radicals (yes, they too are in our midst) will retaliate or stir up dissension and controversy. Fear that we’ll make a statement, stake a claim or endorse an action that will ultimately hurt our cause.

But there’s one thing that we’re not afraid to do. Stand up! We take a stance with our brothers and sisters worldwide. We join in solidarity with those who call upon the 1% to be accountable. We hold our ground when we know our rights have been violated.

This is a global movement tackling issues that affect humanity all over the world. We fight greed, corruption and destruction of the environment while supporting and providing a voice for those who can not speak for themselves.

That’s something I never want to forget.

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Responses

  1. Alison, I had come across this article which had figures on overdoses: Women die as government ignores their specific needs

    If the figure there is correct–900 fatalities from drug overdoses in 5 years in Vancouver (with aboriginal people, who are 4% of the community representing 12% of the deaths).

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  2. Oh, one gentle criticism, though. As a radical and anarchist, if I come to visit, I promise not to burn anything down ..If I am..you know, in your midst. 😉

    Here is a diagram of radical (anarchist) principles in action.

    Please consider that the press has not been too kind to us radicals either. Unfortunately, that attitude is normalized and even someone as thoughtful as you naturally adopts it.

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    • No worries about me burning anything down. I am a peaceful activist. I often turn the other cheek, but don’t think me a pushover. Oh, and… nothing about my attitude in normalized. I am outraged at what is happening around the world. 😉

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