From Wall Street to Ottawa:
From Wall Street to Ottawa:
In the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement, hundreds of Ottawa residents are preparing to descend on Confederation Park at noon on Oct. 15 to hold a people’s assembly, according to a press release issued by the Occupy Ottawa Media Division.
The occupation surrounding Wall Street began in mid-September when demonstrators gathered in New York City to protest the vast concentration of wealth in the hands of society’s richest.
“We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%,” according to occupywallst.org.
The “Occupy” movement has quickly spread to hundreds of cities around the globe and is slated to hit at least two dozen Canadian cities on Saturday, including Ottawa.
“Occupy Ottawa gathers in peace and solidarity with Occupy Wall St., and the 99%, to reclaim our planet from the unfettered capitalist corporate oligarchy that has commodified everything, rendering our citizens impotent, our governments corrupt, and destroying the ecosystem on which all humanity depends,” according to a communiquÃ© issued by occupyottawa.org.
The group aims “to force a reconsideration of our current economic and political systems, and offers hope to those who previously felt alone in their belief that the current system is broken, and that the time for systemic change is now.”
The diverse protest movement is attempting to emulate the Arab Spring and anti-austerity protests that have swept parts of Europe and Latin America.
A preliminary organizing meeting was held on Oct. 6 in which around 150 people crowded a small room on the University of Ottawa campus. Participants democratically decided on a location to host the next general assembly where the occupation site would be determined.
Various working groups were formed to tackle important issues surrounding, among many others, safe(r) spaces, food, sanitation, education, legal, and media.
The organic movement is grassroots and horizontal in nature and uses a consensus-based decision making model. The participants represent a diverse array of backgrounds, from veteran community organizers to newcomers to activism.
The Occupy movement has presented an opportunity for people to come together in a spirit of solidarity and resistance, while creating opportunities to listen to one another and actively participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
The enthusiasm has been contagious.
The movement is not without its challenges. Many have pointed out the trouble surrounding the terminology, as the United States and Canada are already occupied.
At a meeting to organize the logistics in preparation for Saturday, Mohawk activist Ben Powless acknowledged that, “Ottawa is situated on already occupied land never given up by the Algonquin people.”
Indigenous peoples throughout Turtle Island (North America) continue to be dispossessed of their lands and marginalized through the ongoing practices and processes of colonialism.
“We’re not simply occupying Ottawa,” Powless continued, “Ottawa is on occupied land.”
Participation of the Algonquin nations will be crucial in giving the movement legitimacy.
In New York, despite threats made Thursday by the mayor and the police to “clean” protesters from Zicotti Park – renamed Liberty Square – the movement has held its ground and remains steadfast.
In Ottawa, protestors ready themselves for a rainy weekend and prepare to settle in for the long haul. The communiquÃ© promises that, “This is a demonstration you will remember.”