Occupy Regina protesters camp in the northeast corner of Victoria Park on Oct. 19, 2011. Photo by Kim Jay.
by Kim Jay
What started on Wall Street has become a world-wide movement. The Occupy protests made its way across the border to Regina’s downtown. People are gathering in solidarity to protest bank bailouts, corporate greed and the small number of people that control global wealth- now coined the one percent.
Lenore Gold is a mother and Regina resident. She has been sleeping at the northeast corner of Victoria Park since the rally began and has no plans of calling it quits.
“We have a goal and it is needing to be aware of where our money is going. That’s the point,” said Gold. “Such a small portion of the population shouldn’t be controlling where all our money goes, and therefore making all the decisions.”
The Regina movement has become more organized since it began on Oct. 15. Now at the corner of the park there is a large white board displaying the day’s agenda. This includes public speakers, goals, and a laundry list of items needs. To keep their fight going, protesters are requesting people in the community to donate cold medicine, canned foods high in protein, and dish soap to stop the spread of germs.
Occupy Regina started Oct. 15 with about 150 people in Victoria Park. Their voices were not as loud as their Wall Street counterparts, but the message was the same.
“Occupy Regina recognizes that the capitalist system profits the few, at the expense of the many,” the crowd chanted. “For the first time we occupy this land united as one people standing in solidarity with indigenous peoples, peoples of colour, women…,” the crowd chanted on the first day of the rally.
Local and national media has criticized the group for lacking direction and a goal. In early October, radio personality John Gormley said the province of Saskatchewan was not affected by the economic problems in the United States and questioned the group’s motives.
Rob Sutherland helped organize the rally and said people who think this is only an American problem are naive. “The corporations are pulling the strings here, like in the US.”
Signs placed around the tents echoed the same message of an unfair distribution of wealth.
“Profits are private, losses are socialized. Our money bailed out their banks,” one sign read. “Democracy means majority rules,” read another.
“We are all speaking up against the status quo and the political and economic structures that perpetuate it,” said Shayna Stock, an activist in the community. “It's just a matter of taking the time to come together with one another to have the long conversations and the open, messy dialogue needed to come up with collective goals.”
“This shows solidarity, which is really important. And secondly, this is a moment where people are starting to say, 'What can we do next and how to keep this going?'” said Larry Kowalchuk from the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. He suggests looking at the issue of homelessness in our city.
“Why in Canada, especially in Canada, do we have homeless people? It’s supposed to be one of the top places to live. It’s not right,” said Gold. The protestors have been providing shelter for a small group of homeless people since the rally began.
The rally’s size has dropped since it began, but a dedicated group of 30 people contine to live in the park. There is a strict no drinking, no drugs policy in place. There have been no incidents with police and the protests have been peaceful.