Success of Occupy Vancouver lies within each of us to ensure message – and change- is accomplished.

As someone who was born in a small northern town in the very early seventies, and spent my teen years in the excessive 80’s, protests of any kind were an alien thing to me much of my life – unless you included the ones originating from teen angst, of course!

To be honest, in some ways it’s been a good thing that I have been unable to report on Day 1 of the Occupy Vancouver Rally/March/Protest, because the day left me with mixed feelings about the Vancouver movement itself. This I will get to in a moment.

I arranged with several readers who have also become friends, to travel in together via skytrain from Surrey,which was an adventure in itself. Coincidentally, on the day of a rally that left lawmakers full of apprehension, Skytrain decided to conduct ” routine track maintenance” all day, thus significantly delaying arrivals in Vancouver. We stopped not once, not twice, but three times and the 25 minute trip took over an hour.

There was an energy on the street in Vancouver when we arrived, unmistakable by any standards, and the crowds even at 11 am did not disappoint. I would estimate about 3 thousand at that point, which grew to about 5500, 6000 max by the beginning of the first marches. And now, for the gory details, from worst to best- as I saw it.

The Lows of Day 1:

Standing on the steps( stage) in front of the crowd was totally different from being on the ground in front of those attempting to use the concept of general consensus to decided on even the smallest item for the general assembly. Wow. To be brutally honest, it was a painful thing to watch the shaking hands, the thumbs down, the blocks of which invariably someone would throw up, and it took an incredible amount of time, since there was no one person ‘leading’ the way. And at that point in time, people who had gathered in anticipation of hearing speakers, were leaving before anything had even begun.

After hearing the frustration among people who came to speak, and seeing the edginess of the crowd in front of the stage, I asked one young man if it might not be better to keep the massive crowd out of the decision making of the actual people who were occupying and save it for after the main rally at noon. This was the conversation that ensued. On stage, with several thousand people watching.

Me: Do you have any idea when the speakers will be starting? The crowd is getting edgy and many are walking away. It might not be a good thing to dilute the message.

Him: There is no message, WTF, this is democracy in action.

Me: This is democracy? Taking an hour to let people decide if we should use a mike or not? I just think maybe it might be wise to move on, do this among the actual occupiers, not the general public who are going home later. Seeing this is really taking away from the message.

Him: There is no effing message! It’s an effing process.

Me: Hmm, so there is no message to Occupy Vancouver, no message to Occupy Wall street?

Him: No, no effing message. Got it? No effing message at all. The message can be whatever it wants to be.

Me: So what is the point then, if there is no message?

Him: There is no effin point. It’s a process.

Me: You are an idiot, you know that? I fear for my childrens future with you in it, I seriously do.

Him: Eff you.

Me: Is that the only word you know?

Sigh. I would laugh but this is nearly an exact transcript that I shared with Mike, one of the friends I came with. He seemed to share the sentiment.

There was more behind the scenes on the stage that alarmed me. One girl arbitrarily decided there weren’t going to be any speakers Day 1, if the general consensus process didn’t choose who could and who couldn’t speak. Ah, yes, censorship in the root form….

And then there was the young man who I spoke to, who also said there would be no speakers and I asked him to explain that to some who came from the island to hear those names listed on the Occupy Vancouver website. He said there were two groups who could not decide what to do and that we should have never been told to come.

At that point, with a group of passionate youth being derailed with clear and unmistakable troublemakers in the midst, I went down to the front and  made a suggestion. I strongly suggested that the thousands of average people like myself who had come down to Day 1 to hear speakers, to march, to rally, would be very disappointed to not hear anyone, and that their own website had promised speakers, so they had better deliver.

Shortly afterwards, a speakers line was formed and the fun began.

The Highs:

I have never spoken to more than a few hundred people at a time, so this was an experience. Of course, there was a time limit, I was getting pushed and shoved from behind and the crazy man kept yakking in my ear and I had to tell him to be quiet in the beginning of my talk, but it went well, and I received a rousing applause and cheers at the end. That made my day, as did the photo sent to me by a reader showing the reaction of some VPD to my speech, which I will not share as to not get them in trouble. But thank you to those VPD officers who heartily approved of what I had to say. And thank you to everyone who listened, asked questions and discovered something new to be concerned about with this government.

I have also never had the tremendously humbling experience of having readers and listeners come up to me, in a crowd at times, to share their thoughts and words with me. It was a time that drove home how important it is to continue doing what I do and how many are as deeply passionate about this province as I am.

The moment that stands out most for me is a gentleman, hair neatly clipped,wearing nice clothing, who was standing near trying not to look at me directly. I noticed him, smiled, and he leaned over and told me he liked my speech. I thanked him, he went on to tell me how he read my site every day, but never commented, but he was so passionate in telling me how important it was what I do and that I must never stop.

His eyes were so intense, so sincere, and he asked me how he could contribute. I told him that I was toying with the idea of a donate/Paypal button so I could try and do this full-time since there is a never ending stack of stories- and he said I should. I moved to shake his hand and thank him, overwhelmed that he would want to support my work, and in his hand there was a folded up bill. Stunned, I looked at him and shook my head.

“I can’t take your money, I can’t! This is what I love to do.”  He kept insisting that it was so important that I do what I do, and he wanted to be a part of it, and to help. And I hugged him tightly, this soft-spoken man with eyes that spoke volumes. He changed my world in ways that I can’t even begin to express. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

There were others. I met readers who worked in government,and from the ‘dark side’. I met moms like me who were fighting for what they believed in and their kids too. I met so many wonderful, passionate people that it is still, even now, completely overwhelming.

And then there was the young man on stage, who was trying very hard to keep everything going when a potential derail before the speakers started, prior to me speaking.

While I was standing in line to speak, he was standing there beside me, looking so overwhelmed, having worked so hard and seeing it all not go the way I am sure he must have imagined it.

I couldn’t help myself. I’m a mother, a nurturer by nature. I got his attention, and told him although it did not go the way he might have imagined it, that I had watched his hard work and wanted to tell him something. He looked at me, his eyes holding that kind of dejected look that maybe only parents can see in kids, although he was probably about 19 or 20.  I told him that I was a mom to a son his age, and that if he were my son, I would have been very proud of what he had done that day, and what he was trying to do, and that he should take pride in that because he is our future. And he looked at me, and his face suddenly seemed much younger, and I hugged him. ( cue tears, it still makes me cry, he was such a good kid)

Another high, meeting Lynn, a long time reader here who never states anything but exactly what is on her mind. I love her. I absolutely love you Lynn. She has such a wonderful energy and spirit that is contagious in nature. Lynn should be representing people somewhere as an MLA.  She cares about people, all people.

Another high was watching everyone throughout the marches. Wonderful spirit, wonderful energy and focus. Kudo’s to everyone who marched around Vancouver  and shared the outrage!!

I think what I most wanted to drive home when I spoke was the essence of this quote:

“Good people elect bad politicians… by not voting. “

I couldn’t have said it better myself. In a country where voting is taken for granted, it is embarrassing to see how low the voter turnout it. People die to vote in other countries, here if there is a sports game on it isn’t happening. Or people assume their vote, one vote, means nil, when in fact it can mean everything in a close race.

When I said that this movement tells me that the hope of the future of this province lies in you, the reader, I meant it. While we might be inspired by those in tents on the Vancouver Art Gallery grounds, we must take that inspiration and apply it, share it, spread it with all others around us. Look here in Surrey, look at how many showed up to oppose the mayor most favoured by the media. What does that tell you?  Not everything is what you see, or hear, or read on the media. People aren’t happy, and while it may have started in North America on Wall Street, is ends here at home, in each of our communities. And we, you and I, and all our other average and not so average neighbours, are done with the status quo.

Now – as I finished my speech off with on day 1 –  is the time to tell the government that they work for us, we don’t work for them.

And put some action to that.

21 thoughts on “Success of Occupy Vancouver lies within each of us to ensure message – and change- is accomplished.

  1. Thank you for being there Laila. Thank you for this most informative background. And thankyou for your indepth reporting. I really wish I had been able to attend but in my case finances were not there. And thanks for reminding the people what I have been saying since the giveaway of our railway, that the government works for the voters.

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  2. Estimating the numbers of just how many people were there, including myself, was difficult to do, whether it was the speaker(s), the organizer(s), the police, the bloggers, or the Press, ….. it varied from 1,500 to 5,000, so, using the guestimates of just how many people were at the Occupy Vancouver here’s a comparison to another similar number.

    Seaspan non-combat contract is an: “$8-billion program (which) will create an average of 4,000 jobs direct, indirect and induced jobs annually”

    I realize that the $8 billion doesn’t cover just the 4,000 jobs, there are many other facets to building non-combat vessels, but it does allow us to get a handle on just what the number of jobs looks like.

    In other words, the amount of people I saw at the rally, in a half City Block, will be okay for the next thirty years, when it comes to having a job, as long as they are between the ages of 19 to 65. But the rest of the City blocks, the rest of the municipalities in British Columbia will be without a $35/hour job…….

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    1. Laila

      I have to agree that the energy needs to be directed somewhere it can impact. I am seeing more links shared, photos shared, everything shared of the wall street movement occupation locally, on facebook,email etc, and even here, than our homegrown local occupation.

      Think about that. Why is that? Are we more complacent? Are we less passionate? Or is the passion and convictions behind many of the occupiers different in Vancouver than in Wall Street? I tend to think it is.

      What I saw on Saturday from 11 am to about 3pm, was phenomenal, astounding, inspiring – to me anyways – in the clear evidence of the rallying of the average person.That energy seemed to have dissipated once everyone else went home, leaving the tents and their occupants behind. What can be done by us, here at home, to make the change happen? Therein lies the key to longevity.

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  3. Blessings upon all who attended OCCUPY events. Thanks, on behalf of those (like me) who couldn’t attend. If you watch Chris Hedges in this YouTube analysis, you’ll realize the great movement you’ve joined. You’re the winners.

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  4. I am pretty sure both the local and international Occupy have damn good leaders already. One of the ways they have been showing their good leadership is by not leaning on the old vote or be damned stick. That stick, in the western democratic context, they seem to be saying, has been used to fool the people once too often. Personally, I am willing to patiently await some consensus to form. If the consensus that forms is to once again hold our noses and vote, I will be moving on thank you very much.

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    1. Laila

      But Beer, half the issue as I see it, is so damned few people vote in the first place!! Geesh, look at the figures at the polls, its bloody embaressing. Imagine what might happen if everyone voted.

      There is also not enough interest in finding out the truth. I spent quite a bit of time explaining P3’s to people who had never heard of them and couldnt believe they were legal. How can anyone fix a damn thing in this province if they have no clue what is going on?

      The biggest issue on day 1, as confirmed by someone who was very involved in the proceedings leading up to that day, was the presence of troublemakers in the group, who had infilitrated by pretending to want change, but really only wanting trouble. That was very apparent in the misdirection, confusion and troubles going on behind the mikes on the stage. It wasn’t only I who saw that, but many others.

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  5. I do not have to imagine what it would be like if everyone voted. All I have to do is look at Australia. They are Occupying there too.

    I was there too Laila. Whatever it was that happened was not stage managed like the political party and labour conventions I have attended. A little misdirection, confusion and trouble was really kind of refreshing, in my opinion, compared the stale, guided direction I have seen in the past. Vancouver’s Occupy is still a baby, give it time to work on its elocution.

    I understand your frustration. I sometimes try and explain government to people. Its legality is just as astonishing to me as P3s are to you and those who get your point.

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  6. Laila, you are a goddess! I so admire you, and I know actions speak louder than words. Which is why your hard work on your blog and your presence at Occupy Vancouver are testimony to ideals of mine that I thought were lost . You see, I am old enough to be your father and the older I got, (sadly) the more cynical I became. That is UNTIL the Occupy “insert-name-here” movement started. There is hope once again!
    Speaking of cynicism, a favourite quote of mine is by Lily Tomlin: “No matter how cynical you get, you can never keep up.” Cheers!

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  7. Arda says: “this movement needs a few good leaders!”
    I agree. Bill VanderZalm led us to victory with the ‘fight HST’, and now we need someone to lead us in the fight against greed and corruption in government and multi-national corporations.

    I nominate Laila. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be in Vancouver to hear your speech, young lady, but I’ve heard nothing but glowing reports. Is there some way that the rest of us can get a transcript or video or something? (BTW, please take some time to re-charge your batteries, and get well. We need you to stay strong and healthy.)

    Sorry if that sounded selfish……I didn’t mean it that way.

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  8. Brent

    Laila, I I suppose I’m a bit of a right winger but with a conscience and I find your articles quite refreshing as well a nice dose of reality. Don’t stop what you’re doing! Anyway, do you have a transscipt of your speech?

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    1. Laila

      First off, I’m staying right where I am, doing my thing here on this site. I mean it when I believe the success this movement will have locally depends on all of you, not neccesarily the people in the tents. If each of you who is up in arms does nothing from this point on, nothing will change. You must educate, you must inform, you must protest. We are not the left wing hippie drug addicts painted by some, we are the average people in BC trying to make a living and finding it harder and harder to do so. We are not all unemployed welfare bums, we are not uneducated, nor are we looking for handouts.

      What we are looking for is the corporate incestuous relationship between corporations and government, to be broken up. And that will take each of us, to achieve.

      Brent, thank you for your kinds words. Mine aren’t always popular, or politically correct, but they are honest and written with integrity. I will post a transcript of what I said, or at least ,what I planned to say but had to cut significantly. As far as I know, there is no video that has surfaced of my speech as of yet. Perhaps some of the media that was taping that day might have it..lol..

      Mr. Beer. That is an occupation I would love to see. Very proactive people in Ladner, maybe it could be held at Sharkeys..lol…. Your response below is wisely spoken and contemplative. My concern still is that some of the good dedicated organizers are very young, and very naive in some ways and the potential for derailment by trolls for lack of a better word, is high. You should speak to David Allan Beattie.

      gini, thank you for your support and beautiful words, but I won’t be leading the Occupy Vancouver movement. If you read the facebook group online, there are several groups purporting to being the organizing group, which are not, and are posting some disturbing comments. I would like to see ongoing rallies in a sequential fashion to keep the spirit, around the lower mainland. And no, you don’t sound selfish at all. I do need to take care of myself now more than ever, and will be doing so, because my children are my priority always, then everyone else!

      Ole, I know how you feel. I too have become cynical at times, and perhaps I am being so now, but I just dont see that essence and conviction that is carrying the Wall Street Occupation here in Vancouver. And that bothers me. I did see it in the large main crowd and rally, and that is why I wanted to speak, to offer a bit of balance to some of the things that were spoken by others that day. I do believe strongly we all need to get on board in a variety of ways, and it doesnt mean you have to sleep in a tent. Some of the people at the VAG are really dedicated and passionate and full of conviction, but I do have to be honest when I say that there are a lot of people there just for attention, and some for a new place to live.

      What can I say? I feel strongly a revolution is needed, but as long as that is confined in BC to some tents at the VAG, we have an issue. We need to see protests outside the company doors of some of these offenders I and others write about. We need to have protests outside the MLA’s offices who support those corporate friends and ignore the social needs of our province. And again, I don’t mean handouts. I have no issue with making money, nor do I have money with industry because we do require a substantial revenue stream to sustain and improve education and healthcare, but that corporate involvement must be balanced rather than onesided.

      Dale, I think of this quote when I read your comment: A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
      Christopher Reeve

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  9. Julie

    Good job Laila.
    Being ill, you still went to bat for the BC citizens. We owe you thousands of thank you’s. I would like to read your speech too.

    We are all weary with corrupt politicians greed, their wholesale thieving from the people. And, the handing over of our tax dollars to the wealthiest corporations in the world. We are fed up with the dictatorship, the loss of our democracy, our Civil Rights and Liberties have been taken away from us. We are sick to death of the dirty tactics our politicians use in this country.

    We are angry Campbell thieved and sold our assets and resources. The corrupt judicial system, regarding Campbell’s corrupt sale of the BCR trial, nothing other than a farce. The useless media, a propaganda machine spreading the politicians lies.

    Campbell, Hansen and Harper forcing the HST onto the BC citizens, in a deep recession….People who had lost their jobs, homes and everything they had. We are sick of the price gouging in BC.

    Harper has been asked, why is it citizens can save up to 50%, by shopping in the U.S? Why are Canadians gassing up their vehicles in the U.S.? As usual the arrogant Harper, ignores all the questions, or prorogues Parliament so he can get away with not answering questions.

    This country needs a damned good purge….To get rid of ALL the corruption, starting with Harper and go right down to the bottom. BC is a seriously corrupt province because of the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals.

    The people of this country, are living in very evil times. So are the citizens of many other country’s. All of us are sick and tired of, being sick and tired.

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  10. Lynn

    Thank you, Laila for your kind, and thoughtful words. It was a pleasure meeting you, Jean, and Mike.
    The occupation collective attempting to reach conses us is a noble one, however, it shall never launch itself forward if all they do is mike checks.
    Mike check.
    At some point a leader has to emerge so as to bring their ideas out from the shadows.
    Preferably a 20 something leader who open to be advised by a demographic ranging in ages from 19 to 69.
    In the mean time the one percent will continue to kick back in their leather wing back chairs sipping on a brandy smokin cubans knowing the occupiers are out of work drifters looking to feel included.

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  11. Is there some way that we can organize a rally on the grounds of the legislature while they are still in session? This latest atrocity, Clark and her clowns trying to take all the credit for the $8 billion ship-bulding contract, when in reality, they had nothing to do with it. It was non-political and I was disappointed that, with only a couple of exceptions, the MSM let Christy get away with it.
    Even Adrian Dix didn’t call her on it. John Cummins did…….sort of, but his quote seemed like the fine print at the bottom of a shady contract.

    How many of the general public saw through this brazen photo-op? Only time will tell. I have a hunch that Christy will use this little ‘victory’ as a spring-board to call a snap election.

    We cannot afford another 4 years of BC Liberal corruption. We need to do something.

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