Occupy Regina started last summer. Photo by David Fraser.
by David Fraser
In April of 1935 roughly 1,600 British Columbia workers walked off the job towards Ottawa, picking up disgruntled strikers and momentum along the way in an On-to-Ottawa Trek.
RCMP in the Queen City met the trekkers. After a tense confrontation that left two dead, stopped the movement – leaving the Regina Riot as an infamous page in the city’s history.
This May 1st, the Occupy movement is planning a protest that will end in Canada’s capital city in an attempt to echo history. Occupy Regina protestors are planning to join others across Canada on a trek to Ottawa.
After being kicked out of Victoria Park last November, the Occupy Regina movement has maintained internal momentum. General assemblies have become a bi-weekly event for them since the eviction.
“We’ve still been working this whole time, throwing rallies around town. We haven’t gone away; we’re still very much alive and well – so expect us,” said Regina occupier Adam Thornton.
They’re also still in court over their eviction from Victoria Park – which could determine if they end up camping there again this Spring.
“There’s a bit of debate: stand on the principle of knowing we’re doing the right thing and going anyway, or waiting to see the court’s decision on that,” Thornton said.
The Occupy Regina movement is clear but not specific. The general thread surrounds money – arguing democracy’s inability to regulate the economy. Thornton noted that deregulation of the business sector and the growing number of public interests being privatized should be seen as part of the same puzzle.
A widening gap between the rich and poor, environmental destruction, the housing crisis, and cuts to culture have all been put forward as part of the protest rationale.
Even without a camp, the Occupy Regina movement could once again grab the public’s attention. The wave of controversy that swept worldwide last year may not have peaked.
One of the reasons Occupy Regina isn’t talked about anymore is because its list of demands wasn’t specific enough to strike a chord with the public – and so the media stopped covering it after the camp shut down. Last November a LeaderPost poll indicated Regina was against the Victoria Park camp: 68.73 per cent of voters said they didn't support the local movement.
“It’s such a wide base of change that this movement is looking for. Which makes it hard to give a media message,“ said occupier Crystal G.
In the aftermath of the 1935 On-to-Ottawa Trek and the Regina Riot, Prime Minister R.B Bennet Conservatives lost the next election. With public support, many of the social reforms that we enjoy today were put in place.
The occupiers can only hope similarly immense changes happen this time around.