Friday, November 27, 2009

World March for Peace and Nonviolence

On October 2, a group of marchers in New Zealand decided they would go on a worldwide peace march. November 21 was Canada's day for the march, and Edmonton held a march in solidarity. Some of the reasons for this march include:

• Because eliminating wars and violence means leaving human pre-history behind and taking a giant step forward in the evolution of our species.

• Because we are accompanied by the voices of the hundreds of generations that came before us who have longed and worked for peace.

• Because with 10% of what is spent on arms, we can end world hunger.

• Because a “world without wars” is an image that opens the future and seeks to become reality in every corner of the planet, as violence gives way to dialogue.”

The Edmonton event saw around 100 people march from Laurier Park/Buena Vista to Hawrelak via the pedestrian bridge. A rally followed with music and speakers. Here is my photo set.

Here are videos that I shot at the event:

The March (0:33)
Raging Grannies (2:37)
Rev. Audrey Brooks (4:30)
Letter from Mayor Mandel (1:23)
Me singing "I Only Ask of God" (4:13)
Krystal Dos Santos singing "Redemption Song" (3:44)
Peter Johnston from the Alberta Green Party (4:44)
Linda Dunca, MP Edmonton-Strathcona (6:06)
Naomi Rankin, Communist Party of Canada (2:02)
Unitarian children singing "Shalom Chaverim" (1:39)
Raging Grannies sing another song (1:59)
Finale: "Let There be Peace on Earth" (1:24)

The march will end in Argentina on January 2.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Crisis and Opportunity: It's Time for a Progressive Economy

The Parkland Institute's Fall Conference took place on November 20 and 21. The theme was Crisis and Opportunity: It's Time for a Progressive Economy. Writers, academics, and activists came together to discuss Alberta's economic boom and recent bust. I was only able to attend a few sessions in the afternoon, but I did manage to take some photos.

I also videoed Judy Rebick's closing plenary and question and answer period. This was my first time seeing Judy Rebick speak, and she was just as incredible as I imagined. Rebick is a long-time feminist and activist. She is articulate and hilarious.

I was also a conference blogger once again, so for specifics on the sessions I attended and my reflections on the themes discussed at the conference, visit my blog page.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Moving the Earth

Earth's General Store has been a valuable source of information and supplies for the activist community. The store sells goods that are ethically sourced, environmentally friendly, and fairly traded. Owner Michael Kalmanovitch also helps the community in many other ways, such as storing our banners, sound equipment, and distributing posters for upcoming events.

However, the store is very small. It is also up a huge flight of stairs, making it inaccessible to many.

This is changing soon.

Earth's is moving to a new location further up Whyte Avenue on 96 street. I checked out the place yesterday and it much larger and on ground level. While definitely still under construction, I was amused by the quirky colour scheme and could tell that there is a lot of potential in this spot. Here is a very preliminary sneak peak courtesy of my photoset.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We Are Omar Khadr

On November 15 a rally to support the repatriation of Omar Khadr was held in Churchill Square. The event was organized by several groups, including the local chapter of Amnesty International, students from King's College, and Muslim young adults. Around 300 people listened to songs, speeches, and took part in a short march around Jasper Avenue and back to Churchill.

I normally report on these events without leaving much comment. This time, I have a few words based on feedback I have received for taking part in the rally. One such comment is that Khadr is a criminal and thus should not be welcome back in Canada. However, he has not been tried or convicted of anything. He has been held in Guantanamo for the past six or so years - a prison which, according to international law, is illegal. But these same people who criticize Khadr are not calling for steps to be taken against the United States for its war crimes.

Khadr was also a child when the alleged crime took place (the allegation being that he threw a grenade that killed a medic - according to Amnesty, witnesses have since recanted). He was fifteen, for those who may not know. There are special provisions for child soldiers.

Others have criticized his entire family, saying they are enemies of Canada because of their fundamentalist Islamic beliefs. I am not saying we have to agree with their religious beliefs. I am not even saying they are necessarily nice people. What I am saying is that Khadr is a Canadian citizen and as such, the government has an obligation to protect its citizens abroad. "We are Omar Khadr" because it is our government and our rights at stake. Once people start being stripped of their human rights, there is the risk that those rights will never be returned and that these violations will be extended to others.

And now, here are the photos from the event.

The videos:

Charlene Scharf with Amnesty International (6:01)
Peter Johnston of the former Alberta Green Party (8:25)
Paula Kirman sings "I Only Ask of God" (4:52)
Marching (3:04)
Rally back in Churchill (1:14)
Closing with "Oh Canada" (0:45)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Twenty-Five Lessons of Nonviolence

1. There is no proactive word for violence.
2. Nations that build military forces as deterrents will eventually use them.
3. Practitioners of nonviolence are seen as enemies of the state.
4. Once a state takes over a religion, the religion loses its nonviolent teachings.
5. A rebel can be defanged and co-opted by making him a saint after he is dead.
6. Somewhere behind every war there are always a few founding lies.
7. A propaganda machine promoting hatred always has a war waiting in the wings.
8. People who go to war start to resemble their enemy.
9. A conflict between a violent and a nonviolent force is a moral argument. If the violent side can provoke the nonviolent side into violence, the violent side has won.
10. The problem lies not in the nature of man but in the nature of power.
11. The longer a war lasts, the less popular it becomes.
12. The state imagines it is impotent without a military because it cannot conceive of power without force.
13. It is often not the largest but the best organized and most articulate group that prevails.
14. All debate momentarily ends with an “enforced silence” once the first shots are fired.
15. A shooting war is not necessary to overthrow an established power but is used to consolidate the revolution itself.
16. Violence does not resolve. It always leads to more violence.
17. Warfare produces peace activists. A group of veterans is a likely place to find peace activists.
18. People motivated by fear do not act well.
19. While it is perfectly feasible to convince a people faced with brutal repression to rise up in a suicidal attack on their oppressor, it is almost impossible to convince them to meet deadly violence with nonviolent resistance.
20. Wars do not have to be sold to the general public if they can be carried out by an all-volunteer professional military.
21. Once you start the business of killing, you just get “deeper and deeper,” without limits.
22. Violence always comes with a supposed rational explanation—which is only dismissed as irrational if the violence fails.
23. Violence is a virus that infects and takes over.
24. The miracle is that despite all of society’s promotion of warfare, most soldiers find warfare to be a wrenching departure from their own moral values.
25. The hard work of beginning a movement to end war has already been done.

Take from Non-Violence: Twenty-Five Lessons From the The History of A Dangerous Idea by Mark Kurlansky. The Modern Library: New York, 2006.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Support the Troops - Bring Them Home Decal

***I am posting this on behalf of some friends of mine who are long-time members of the peace movement here in Edmonton***

We are an Edmonton couple who are very disturbed by the loss of life of 133 young Canadians and probably 1,000 Afghanis due to the participation of Canadian troops in the war in Afghanistan. An Ipsos Reid poll of Oct./09 states that 37% of Canadians want our troops out of this war theatre. For this reason we have started a campaign to gain support to bring our troops home and to counter the propaganda by the Canadian military to justify our troops continued involvement.

Consequently, we have purchased and have on hand 500 magnetic ribbon decals for placement on the back of cars. These state, "Support our Troops, Bring Them HOME". They are 3 1/2" x 8", very attractive with bold red lettering, a red maple leaf on one end and set on a white background. We can acquire thousands more of these. Please see attachment for decal photo.

The rational for our stand on this question is as follows:-

Most of us know that Canadian troops went in to Afghanistan to support the war on terrorism. We have now learned that Mr Bush's main purpose was to acquire an oil pipe line through Afghanistan to supply more oil to the West.

The Afghan war is promoted by our government to Canadians stating,"if we kill the terrorists, it will make us all more safe". In truth, with todays mindset,the families of every one of the 1,000 Afghanis who have died, will be targeting Canadians in future. CSIS warns us regularly to be prepared for an attack in Canada.

Further, the Taliban are not stupid. They will be infiltrating Karzai's army for several obvious reasons; one of which is that NATO invaders will leave when the Afghan army is big enough. Karzai's army will then consist of a large percentage of Taliban sympathizers so their country will be back to square one.

Some people say our troops need to be in Afghanistan to insure girls get an education. We, agree with retired Canadian diplomat, Robert Fowler, who commented recently on CBC TV. I can show you many countries where girls need to be educated and we could help, where no lives would be lost".

More and more people are becoming aware of the hopelessness of using violence to stop violence. Recently the family of the 131st. Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan spoke out against the war. The loss of these lives, massive suffering and exorbitant costs is unconscionable compared to the benefits. Lets demand our government engage our troops in peacemaking, peacekeeping and other humanitarian work.

We are selling these decals at $2.00 (tooney) each, or $1.50 each for over 10 or more and $1.40 for 50 or more, plus express.

We look forward to hearing from you and we have every hope that this campaign and other initiatives will save lives.

Yours in Peace,
Bill & Rhyl Stollery

FOR SALE Magnetic decals 3 1/2 " x 8" to display on rear of vehicles
$2.00 each or 10 for $15.00,plus mailing
To order and receive details to promote campaign: e-mail or
Order cheaper in larger quantities from
Ph. (860) 455-9621 Fax (800) 553-0006


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Light Up and Farm Fair

It is less than 40 days until Christmas, and by the looks and sounds of things, the city is gearing up for the holidays. Most stores and coffee shops where I head have Christmas decorations on display, gifts for sale, and are even blasting Christmas tunes (I can live without the latter).

On Saturday, I went to the Christmas on the Square Holiday Light Up. Although I have often admired the large Christmas tree placed every year in Churchill Square, I never went to the actual light up. After an afternoon of horse-drawn carriage rides, ice carvings, food, balloons, and music, at 5 p.m. the tree was turned on. Then, a spectacular fireworks show began. Here are some photos and this is a video of the fireworks. As well, here is an iReport for iNews880 that used my media.

Another first for me took place on Friday when I headed to Farm Fair with some friends. Farm Fair is like a trade show for farmers, with different kinds of livestock on display and in competitions. Friday was bull day apparently, as the Northlands was filled with these gigantic animals. It was amazing to be so close to animals that huge. I also saw a calf herding competition. Here are my photos.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Boyle McCauley News - November 2009

November's issue of Boyle McCauley News is online! Here is a sneak peek at the contents:

* City Revokes York Hotel’s Tavern License
* The Works Moves to Boyle
* The Dedicated Helpers of Innroads
* Letters To The Editor
* Homeless Connect
* Volunteer News
* Rally for Healthcare
* Revitalization Update
* Community League Updates

To download the entire copy in its colour goodness (it's in PDF format), click here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Die-Ins, No Nukes, Health, And More

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. Towards the end of October, I went to three rallies in four days. First came the International Day of Climate Action on October 24. Greenpeace held a die-in on the steps of the Legislature, where a group of about 100 of us lay down to show that we were "dying" for leadership in Canada in terms of the climate. For once, I decided to hand my camera off to someone else and take part. Our group shot made it into the local media. Here are the photos taken by the daughter of one of The Raging Grannies, who sang as we lay dying.

October 26 was yet another healthcare rally, organized by Friends of Medicare. It was short and sweet during the noon hour. Not as huge a turnout as some of the other healthcare rallies, but important nonetheless. Here are some photos.

The next day, a rally was held outside the Legislature calling to Keep Alberta Nuclear Free. It was a colourful and spirited event, despite the rain. Here are some photos and this is a short video.

Last week, I went with a friend to hear Andrew Nikiforuk speak about the Tar Sands, in particular the effects of the resulting pollution affecting Aboriginal communities who live downstream. I videoed the presentation - it is about an hour and worth watching. I saw Mr. Nikiforuk speak again on Saturday afternoon as part of the Global Visions documentary film festival after two films dealing with the Tar Sands were shown. He had a major update to report, in that the doctor who had been treating Aboriginal patients in Fort Chipewyan (John O'Connor), was cleared of all charges brough on by Health Canada. He had been accused to causing "undue alarm" in the community because of his questioning the connection between the Tar Sands and the high prevalence of rare cancers amongst his patients.

Another documentary I watched at Global Visions was Broke, about a pawnshop owner and his relationship to an Aboriginal man who helps him around his shop. The film was shot in the very inner city community where I spend most of my time, and it was extremely interesting to see the area on film. A lot of neighbourhood folks were at the screening (it was a repeat screening and was previously shown on opening night) and they all had different reactions to the film, the pawnshop owner, and how he conducted business. I'm gathering these opinions for an article in the next issue of Boyle McCauley News.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Goldstone Report - A Jewish Opinion

The B’nai B’rith has denounced the Goldstone Report. Now, I’m Jewish, and I’ve read the report. I’ve also read criticism of it and support of it. My conclusion? I don’t find the Goldstone Report biased or an attack on Israel. We can’t just blindly support a nation in everything it does when it commits atrocities. Just because a UN sanctioned report is critical of Israel, doesn’t mean it is attacking Israel either. There’s a saying: the truth hurts. Perhaps instead of condemning everything that doesn’t paint Israel in a positive light, we as Jews should be looking towards ways of building peace in that nation with the Palestinians. I say this as a Jewish person and someone who fully believes Israel has a right to exist. I realize I am going to take a lot of flack for this, but I don’t believe blind nationalism is a Jewish value. In fact, the only people who are saying the Goldstone Report is biased and one-sided are the Zionist lobby and those who support them. So who is really being one-sided?