reports on sept 13 day of action for war resisters in canada (updated with more cities - plus photos!)

Yesterday was a rousing success. Here is a wire service story; eyewitness accounts to follow.

Toronto: "About 500 people rallied at Ryerson University. We heard from Jeremy Hinzman, Patrick Hart, NDP MP Olivia Chow, Liberal MP Mario Silva, reps from the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Arab Federation and a few others. We marched through the streets led by Samba Elegua and got lots of thumbs up, and some people joining the march. The NDP sent a bus from their rally across town to kick off their election campaign. The women in a wedding party – carrying beautiful bouquets of roses - jumped into the march for a few minutes, and were filmed by their wedding photographers!"

Ottawa: "About 60 people petitioned and leafletted in the Byward market, then marched to the Prime Minister's office. A new Radical Cheerleaders chapter joined in, and apparently they have some good cheers pertaining to war resisters!"

Montreal: "Fifty to 60 people picketed, and Vietnam war resister Michael Hendricks spoke. Michael was instrumental in bringing the Bloc Quebecois on board with this issue. There were lots of media present."

Winnipeg: "Eighty people rallied, and heard from US war resister Phil McDowell."

Calgary: "In Calgary, we had a forum on Saturday with war resister Chuck Wiley. I also spoke about the campaign and a Vietnam draft dodger spoke. We had over 40 people show up, including two NDP candidates and the president of the Libertarian party of Canada. The NDP candidates very clearly voiced their support for the war resisters and the Libertarian president seemed supportive as well. Chuck spoke very well and there were a lot of good questions. It was a very informative session and the feedback has been positive. We had some petitions signed, merchandise sold and donations given."

Vancouver: "About 100 people rallied outside the Vancouver Art Gallery."

London: "In London we had about 100 in the rain. Resister and former medic Josh Randall moved the crowd to tears as he told the story about how he was forced to leave a young girl with large splinters in her stomach. This happened during a house invasion, after the door had been blown open, sending splinters all over the main room. Josh knew that if he didn't give her first aid she would die. He cast off his army jacket and the other resisters helped him to bury it.

The march through downtown took the streets without hindrance and was very very loud - the single counter protester was drowned out. On A Channel news this evening the resister story preceded one about a change of command at the barracks! The Empowerment Project crew have made an enormous sign. Stephen Harper and crew won't be able to miss it."

St. John's: "CBC interview promoting today's rally. (No other report yet.)

Orillia: "A successful rally in Orillia. Three teams went through the market with leaflets and petitions. The public response was more supportive than ever before. Just outside the market near our information table, the press, the Liberal candidate and his team, the Green candidate, various supporters and members of the public gathered to hear the Raging Grannies making their voices count. We enjoyed a little street theatre dramatizing the government's unwillingness to comply with the will of Parliament. Lots of new names on the petition and a distribution of window signs."

Fredericton: "The action in Fredericton was successful in handing out over 500 postcards and 100 flyers to interested/motivated people at the Fredericton Farmers' Market. Aprox. 60 were signed and handed back on the spot and were mailed immediately. Postcards were only given to people who were supportive and promised to fill them out and post them. We ran out of postcards towards the end but were still able to hand out flyers and talk to people about the situation facing resisters. The flyers have information on contacting local MPs and the PM's office.

Many thanks to activists and messages of support for resisters were conveyed by people as they stopped to talk to us on their way into the Farmers' Market. I cannot stress enough that there was an overwhelmingly positive response from people and dismay over the action of the government. Some from near-by cities (St. Stephen and Saint John) took information to print more postcards and we re-designed the postcards for their local MP Greg Thompson and they were sent to them.

In Woodstock, 200 postcards were handed out and flyers were passed out in front of Mike Allen's headquarters. More information on this action will be available soon.

We did not take any pictures (large signs were not permitted by the Farmers' Market staff). However, there were 9 people with war resisters buttons and other propaganda speaking to people and passing out flyers and postcards. They were stationed at the two entrances to the Farmers' Market from 8am until 11:30am (the market is between 7:30 and noon) when we ran out of the 500 postcards and the 1000 flyers that were printed.

Unfortunately, no press responded to our press release or covered the event. More editorials will be sent in this week.

A new print-run of postcards will be done and distributed throughout the weekend at the jazz and blues festival here in Fredericton."

Edmonton: In Edmonton, they had a rally outside of City Hall. About 25 people showed up.

Guelph: "Awesome!" (No further details yet!)

Nanaimo: Story here.

Oakville: "About 10-15 people attended, including a reporter from the local newspaper, and we collected 22 signatures on the petition. One man, who came all the way from St. Catherine's, said he heard about the rally on the CBC. Supporters wore t-shirts and held signs, and answered questions from passers-by." Note: this was the first-ever war resister event in Oakville, or any GTA suburb. When you consider that Ottawa, with a much greater population, drew about 60 people, it's clear that moving 10-15 people to come out in Oakville is a success!

Vancouver: "We had a spirited gathering of around 80 people plus many people from the public enjoying a lovely day downtown who heard some of the message as they passed by or stopped for a moment. Lots and lots of our window signs were picked up by people, they seem to be a real hit and a great way of making our message visible during the federal election - and beyond.

Sarah Bjorknas did a great job of M/C'ing and speakers included Bill Siksay MP), David Cadman (City Councillor), Terry Engler (ILWU) and two of our war resisters. We raised over $500 through passing the bucket and selling T-shirts. The major media did not show up but it was covered by a crew from a new community cable show focusing on the Muslim community."

Owen Sound: "We gave a presentation on the Day of Action regarding the deportation issue following a poetry book-launch (Crossing Lines) at the public library. Because the readings and book were about Americans who settled in Canada during the Vietnam era, there was lots of resonance with the current resister concerns. Approximately 50 people attended, lots of fliers were taken, petitions signed, some donations."

There were also events in Kitchener, Hamilton, Red Deer, Nelson, and Sidney.

And from Kim_in_TO: photos from the Toronto event. Thanks, Kim!

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