Occupy Winnipeg

Yesterday on my walk I went down Memorial Boulevard and saw all these tents set up in the park. I started taking some pictures and realized when I zoomed in for this shot and saw the sign, that the encampment was part of the “Occupy” movement spreading across the world inspired by the Wall Street demonstrations that started on September 17th.

According to an article in the Winnipeg Sun, Trevor Semotok, a spokesperson for the group says they are protesting the growing disparity between the rich and poor in Canada and promoting the idea that “people should come before profits.”  The sign here says “Canada owes $800 billion to private banks.”  Chad Lozinkski another spokesperson for the Winnipeg group gave a less specific motivation for the protest when he was interviewed by the Metro News. He says “our strength is that we have no specific message. We are providing a venue to speak up about any issue. ” This kind of all-encompassing agenda is true of the group who is staging a similar protest in Toronto. A Globe and Mail reporter spotted a variety of signs in the Toronto camp including pleas to protect the environment, provide better services for the disabled, a warning about exploiting aboriginal people and a call to end poverty in Canada. 

The Manitoba protest started on October 15th with 400 people participating in a march that originated at the Manitoba Legislature. According to Metro News there are only about 20 protesters left at the site. I think that is a bit of an under-estimation. I saw more than 20 people there yesterday. The National Post says that the mayors of most Canadian cities are hoping for a peaceful resolution of the protests. They think the cold Canadian winter will eventually drive the protesters inside, although the Winnipeg group has installed a fire pit and an insulated kitchen in hopes they can carry on the protest at least till Christmas.

A 13-year-old girl at the site with her mother told the Winnipeg Sun she is protesting the fact that the wealthy who comprise 1% of the population, control 99% of the country’s wealth. The middle class is rapidly disappearing as the gap between the rich and poor widens. The teenager’s mother said it is a shame that there are people in our country still living in third world conditions. 

 While I was taking photos of the “Occupy Winnipeg” site these workers who were installing windows in a building across the street from the protest  said to me, “Why don’t you take a picture of us? We have jobs. We are working to make our country better. We aren’t slackers like those guys over there.”

The gentlemen made their opinion of the protest perfectly clear. It got me thinking about my own opinions about the occupy movement. Certainly, as a child of the sixties, I know how effective protest can be in changing things. I was a teen in the era of Martin Luther King and the anti-Vietnam War protests. One thing that is different is that those protesters put a lot on the line to defend their issues. People like Gandhi and King went to prison for their anti-establishment ideas.  According to the National Post, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson speaks for most civic leaders, when he says physical force and legal action will not be taken against Canadian protestors. I guess I also have to wonder if this kind of protest is as effective in changing things as taking some kind of concrete action to address the needs of the disenfranchised might be. 

However one cannot dispute the fact that the Occupy movements are drawing attention and inciting lots of discussion.  Last night,  Diane Sawyer did a piece on ABC News about the growing gap between the rich and poor in the United States .  She talked about the wealthy 1% of the population whose income has grown by 240% in the last few years.

The protests are having the desired effect. People and the media are talking about the economic inequities in North America, and here I am writing a blog post about it. What next? Maybe I need to go down to the Occupy Winnipeg site and engage the protesters in a conversation about what they are trying to accomplish. Maybe I need to think about what concrete things I can do to try to ease the disparity between the “haves” and “have-nots” in my community. 

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3 Comments

Filed under Canada, Media, People, Politics, Reflections, Winnipeg

3 responses to “Occupy Winnipeg

  1. this whole occupy movement is very interesting. I love hearing your thoughts… I do not really know what I think about the whole thing, but it is becoming a global movement. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Ricardo

    I cam to this country with nothing, worked long hard hours, learned the language and now live very comfortably. What puzzles me the most is why do people here have such a poor work ethic. Seems like they all want to be provided for without having to actually work to get what they want. Are there greedy people in this world, yes absolutely, however without a little greed there would be zero incentive for those bright minds to discover new technologies, medicines, cures for disease, etc. This experiment was tried in the USSR and we all know how that turned out.

    • Keith

      I’ve been unemployed since 08. I use to work full time as a telemarketer for a small but reputable telefirm. When I started working there they had campaigns come in from the U.S. including, First Direct Mortgage, Allied Home Mortgage, Go Apply.com. All of which were mortgage companies now non existant. Then there was the BMG Music club but they’re out of the picture too. After that I helped handle the over flow of calls for the Haiti relief fund donations for Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Obviously thats not On-going full time work. I moved on to a campaign working for Grants International which deals with tax refunds for family businesses. That only lasts so long.. I eventually left the company on good terms, in hopes of a more competetive higher paying job. Eventually I found a job at Chicken Delight. I stocked shelves, prepped meals, cooked meals, served, processed orders, and delivered most of the food across the city. Business died down a year later and a year after that the place shut down. I ended up working for the proceding owners who cut my hours down before I left them. They ended up going out of business as well. Since then I’ve sent resumes left, right, and center with a ratio of 1:100 for call backs. One day I tried re-applying with the same company I worked for telemarketing but unfortunatly they’ve been shut down too. The company that took over only offers minimum wage which is still $2/hr less the the poverty line with no inncentives at that. You mention your immigrated, well take into consideration that here in Manitoba more immigrants leave this province then our government moves in. Not trying to be rude but…

      Maybe you should go back where you came from. Your opinion is immigrated, as is your logic and insight. It’s not nessecary and unwelcomed.

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