August 27: MAWO Mobilizes in Vancouver Against Canadian Occupation of Afghanistan and War & Occupation in Iraq!
In the midst of the mercury rising in the Canadian war drive and the remaining but high heat of the summer in Vancouver, people in Vancouver are mobilizing to protest war and occupation of the “Canadian” variety. On Saturday August 27, over 250 people rallied downtown Vancouver at the Art Gallery to protest the Canadian military’s increased involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan and also the continued US/UK occupation of Iraq. This rally followed 3 consecutive pickets at the Canadian Armed Forces recruitment center, targeting the increased Canadian troop deployment to Afghanistan.
Speakers at the rally addressed the crowd in a show of the wide variety of grassroots community support for an end to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and for self-determination for Haiti, Palestine, Iran, Syria and Indigenous Nations in Canada. The speakers represented youth, students, immigrants, refugees and people of color and organizers within the Indigenous community.
The program opened with a welcome and a moving speech by Cease Wyss of the Squamish nation. Cease welcomed the rally’s participants to the occupied territory they were standing on and spoke of her experience growing up under colonial rule and attacks on Indigenous people by the colonial government of Canada.
Bringing the perspective of a student organizer next was Ben West, Chairperson of the Capilano Student’s Union. Ben spoke about the lies used by the US administration to justify the invasion of Iraq in connection to the lies and manipulation of the BC Liberal government toward students in their attacks on students and cutbacks to funding for education in the past 4 years. Ben’s contribution ended with the crowd chanting “Money for Schools not for War, OCCUPATION NO MORE!”
The rally honored the struggles of Indigenous people in Canada for a second time and was reminded again of the never-ending attacks by the colonial government of Canada on Indigenous nations as Coast Salish elder Kelly White took the stage. Kelly’s words enveloped the crowd and emphasized the connection between all human beings in the fight for self-determination and justice and an end to war and occupation.
The final speaker before the resolution was Nicole Burton, Coordinator of MAWO’s “Operation: Canada Out!” Campaign and a student at Douglas College. Nicole gave a powerful speech condemning the government of Canada’s racist and murderous war drive and calling for an independent public inquiry into their participation in the occupation of Afghanistan, without any consultation or approval from people in Canada in how their tax dollars are spent.
The rally closed with MAWO organizer Shakeel reading the resolution that was passed by the crowds cheers as all of the participants resolved to continue mobilizing and organizing for an end to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and for full and unconditional self-determination for all oppressed nations!
The August 27 rally was an important step for the antiwar movement in mobilizing with a focus on war and occupation by the Canadian military. To build an effective and genuine antiwar movement in Canada, alongside the rest of the world, it is necessary to target the Canadian war drive and demand “Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!” “Canada Out of Haiti Now!” “Self-determination for Indigenous Nations!”