Vancouver Antiwar Movement Rallies Against the War at Home & Abroad!
Demands Money for Education & Jobs Not for War!
“Money for Jobs Not for War!” “Money for Schools Not for War!” “Canada Out of Afghanistan! NOW” were the chants that rang out through the streets of downtown Vancouver, opening Mobilization Against War & Occupation’s 23 antiwar demonstration in just two years. At the busy central downtown location on the South side of the Art Gallery, the rally and speakers attracted over 200 participants throughout the day and spread the message of the antiwar movement through the streets. The protesters calls rang out loud and clear: Stop the War at home and abroad! End the Occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan! Self-determination for all oppressed nations!
The chants and the demonstration were led by dynamic combination of MAWO organizers Alison Bodine and Shakeel Lochan. They explained the important connection between attacks abroad by the government of Canada with increased troop deployment for the occupation of Afghanistan and attacks on working people at home, as in the recent BC teachers strike.
The rally was opened first and foremost by local Indigenous activist and Coast Salish Elder Kelly White who welcomed the rally and protesters to the territory as well as expressed her strong solidarity with the antiwar movement.
She was followed by Claudio Ekhdal of the La Surda Latin American Collective. Claudio spoke of the importance of international solidarity and defense of third world and oppressed nations against the war drive of imperialism. He spoke of our connection as people here with people struggling for social justice in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and all across the Americas.
Speaking on solidarity with poor and working people locally was Martin, a secondary school teacher in Vancouver and a member of the BC Teacher’s Federation. Martin represented the militancy and resilience of the teachers of BC who took job action starting October 7th that was made illegal by the BC government even before the teachers went out on strike. He spoke of the hypocrisy of the BC liberal government in their refusal to increase funding for BC teachers and education.
Noah Fine, an organizer with Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba spoke next following the thread of exposing the hypocrisy of imperialist governments. He spoke about the case of Luis Posada Carilles, a notorious and admitted anti-Cuban terrorist with a long resume of terrorist attacks on the people of Cuba. He spoke of the importance of defending Cuba as a sovereign nation against the terrorism of imperialism and the US hypocrisy of their “war on terrorism” and their refusal to apprehend Carilles.
The final speaker before the resolution was MAWO Co-Chair Kira Koshelanyk who started by leading chants against the new Canadian military spending and the war on working people from BC to Kandahar. She explained the foundation of these attacks and the necessity to demand “Canada Out of Afghanistan Now!” and “US/UK Out of Iraq!”. She also repeated the call for an Independent Public Inquiry into the decision of the government of Canada to send 2000 more troops to the occupation of Afghanistan without any parliamentary debate or discussion.
In MAWO tradition, the rally was closed with the passing of a resolution with the cheers of the crowd. Nita Palmer, MAWO organizer, UBC student and a member of the Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq & Internationally read the resolution closing with “Be it resolved that we, as youth, as elders, as women, as people of colour, and as poor and working people, will continue to organize, will continue to fight back, and will continue to unite in resistance with our brothers and sisters across the world for an end to imperialist war and occupation everywhere!”
Vancouver’s next mobilization is on Saturday November 19 at 2pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery. This protest is part of a weekend of back-to-back antiwar action with an all-day antiwar conference on Sunday November 20 to discuss the past, present and future direction of building an effective antiwar movement.