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Coast Salish Elder Kelly White (L), Thomas Davies from the Fire This Time Newspaper Editorial Board (R)
Jose Angel from the Solidarity Coalition for a United Latin America (L), Fred Muzin, President of the BC Hospital Employees Union (R)
Sarah Alwell, Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Capilano College
US War Resister, Brad McCall
Rally participants stayed throughout the program, despite the winter chill!
The MAWO information tent - very busy with questions, discussion, signing petitions and getting more information against war.
Sheldon Noel of the Dakota Nation and the UVIC MAWO Club (L)
April Desilets delivers the final resolution (L)
Saturday November 24th in Vancouver over 250 people came out to the streets to demonstrate at the MAWO rally calling for an end to the US aggression and threats toward Iran, ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and for self-determination for all oppressed nations. Though the Vancouver winter chill has arrived early, protestors held high their signs reading “HANDS OFF IRAN!” “CANADA/NATO OUT OF AFGHANISTAN!” “END THE OCCUPATION OF IRAQ!” and “OUT NOW!” and chanted together their common demands against war and occupation.
The rally was opened by Coast Salish elder and Indigenous media activist Kelly White who welcomed the protest to the Indigenous territory and led everyone in chanting in rhythm with her drum. Iraqi voices against the brutal US/UK domination and occupation were represented by the calls for end to the occupation by Iraqi activist and film-maker Dalal from the Mesopotamian Womens & Orphans Education & Welfare Society. Thomas Davies of the Fire This Time Newspaper editorial board spoke to echo the calls of Afghan people against the Canada/NATO occupation of their country. Next was Wilson Munoz, a social justice activist in the Unitarian Church of Vancouver who emphasized that people should get involved and organize with MAWO and the antiwar movement. Jose Angel of the Solidarity Coalition for a United Latin America spoke of the importance of being inspired by humanity for the struggle against war and occupation.
Fred Muzin, President of the Hospital Employees Union of BC (HEU) spoke on behalf of the 42,000 members of the HEU against the war at home and abroad. He was followed by Sarah Alwell, co-ordinator of the Capilano College Free the Cuban 5 Committee who condemned the hypocrisy of the US legal system in the case of these 5 Cuban men unjustly held in US jails.
The rallying crowd warmly welcomed Brad McCall, a US war resister and former US soldier from Alabama. Brad spoke of why he quit the US army in opposition to the war in Iraq, became active in the movement against war and a 'soldier for humanity' and fled to Canada to avoid persecution.
Sheldon Noel, of the Dakota nation in Manitoba and a founding member of the University of Victoria MAWO Club drummed and spoke of how the current imperialist occupations in the Middle East are just like the colonial and genocidal occupation of Indigenous nations from when Canada was founded and continuing today.
The crowd cheered loudly to hear Alison Bodine, MAWO co-chair and spokesperson who is banned from Canada for 2 years after being harassed, arrested and charged with ‘misrepresentation’ when Canada border guards found political materials in her car. Though Alison has been removed from Canada, her speech via telephone from the US warmed the hearts of many supporters of her case and campaign as the antiwar movement and defenders of human and democratic rights continue this important fight to lift the 2-year ban against Alison. MAWO executive committee member, Andrew Barry wrapped up the list of speakers, speaking against the escalating US war drive against Iran, the crises of the occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq and called all people at the rally to take action and organize to end war and occupation.
April Desilets, a MAWO organizer read the final resolution of the rally with energy and conviction stating "we as student’s, youth, elders, women, people of color, poor, working and oppressed people, standing on unceded Coast Salish territory will continue to organize, fight back, and unite in resistance with our brothers and sisters around the world to end all imperialist wars, occupations and attacks on our human rights."
The MAWO rally ended with high energy from protesters and organizers having spoken with hundreds of people passing by, giving out more than a thousand newsletters and flyers for the next antiwar actions in Vancouver and the statement to keep mobilizing and organizing to end these brutal wars and occupations!