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Activist Communique: Update on Occupy Canada cities

Update on Occupy Canada cities

Occupy Calgary:
Occupy Calgary was a split movement, with two locations. The first is Olympic Plaza which was located in the downtown core and the second was St. Patrick Island, the original city sanctioned site but one that activists complained was too far away from the city centre to have any impact.

When residents of Olympic Plaza refused to move to the St. Patrick Island site, the friction with the city increased and Occupy Calgary fell out of favour with Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

City of Calgary bylaw officers moved in on Nov. 21, 2011 during the night to remove several unoccupied tents at the Olympic Plaza encampment. The next day the mayor announced he was no longer willing to negotiate with Occupy Calgary demonstrators who remained at Olympic Plaza.

Occupy Calgary demonstrators say they will fight the city's attempts to evict them from the plaza, as the city seeks a court injunction to remove them for bylaw infractions. Ten structures remain on site after bylaw officers swept through the site to remove unoccupied tents and issue warnings to residents.

On Nov. 30, 2011, the city shut off access to the illegal power supply -- Christmas lights -- that residents were using to power laptops and heaters but did not charge anyone with electricity theft.

The issue was brought towards the courts. On Tuesday Dec. 6, 2011, Chief Justice, Neil Wittmann, sided with the City of Calgary's right to order Occupy Calgary to tear down their camp. Anyone who defied the Friday Dec. 9, 2011 order would be charged with contempt of court. Activists chose to voluntarily vacate Olympic Plaza by the 2:00 p.m. deadline on Friday.

A few Occupy Calgary demonstrators -- sans tents -- have been sleeping next door to the Olympic Plaza. The "Heart of the Beast" sculpture was also removed from the site and debate continues regarding its fate.

Occupy Winnipeg:

Occupy Winnipeg at Memorial Park is still maintaining its presence despite the cold weather - true to Winnipeg's hardy spirit. Occupy Winnipeg first set up camp on Saturday October 15, 2011, and has yet to face an eviction order.

In their opening declaration, Occupy Winnipeg pledged to stay on site across from the Manitoba legislature from Oct. 15, 2011 to Jan. 1, 2012; though residents say they will "remain forever."

The site is located on property owned by the Manitoba government and there has been ongoing dialogue between the two parties. While the campsite itself has shrunk in numbers from a reported 30 tents to now five, those who remain are dedicated to remain despite sub-zero temperatures. City officials ordered Occupy Winnipeg residents to remove empty tents because of a potential fire hazard, similar to requests made in other cities.

Occupy Winnipeg passed a Decolonize and (Re)Occupy Winnipeg statement on Nov. 6, 2011.  that reads:

Occupy Winnipeg General Assembly acknowledge that the capitalist system advanced by the 1% is a primary driver of ongoing colonization and environmental destruction. In solidarity with Indigenous peoples fighting for justice and self-determination in Manitoba and around the world we demand:

1. Sovereignty: An immediate withdrawal of all state supported military, paramilitary, police, and security forces from all Indigenous communities.

2. Cultural Survival: An immediate implementation of fully funded and staffed language/cultural reclamation programs for all urban and rural/reserve communities for Indigenous peoples of all ages, in addition spots for professionals of other communities so indigenous languages can become part of the public sphere - a basic way to begin to actually reverse the results of residential schools world-wide.

3. Economic Justice: An immediate guaranteed material income (water, food, clothes, shelter, health care, education) for all peoples worldwide regardless of status, ethnicity, gender, age, etc - recognizing that this will proportionally affect Indigenous communities the most because of their levels of poverty.

4. Self-Determination: Immediate support and recognition for the revitalization of traditional and hybrid governance structures for all Indigenous communities that express interest in reviving these processes. Traditional systems of government and organizational structures are sovereign and based on traditional knowledge.

5. Ecology: An immediate end to imposed economic development, including the tar sands and associated pipelines; Manitoba Bi-Pole III; Nuclear waste disposal.

6. Social Justice: A complete end to the current child-welfare system that promotes apprehension and removal of Indigenous children from their families.

7. Rights and Responsibilities: Respect for and implementation of all oral, wampum, and written treaties and covenants between peoples.

8. Abolition: Immediate support for the prison abolitionist movement and complete support for transformative justice models based in Indigenous processes of reconciliation.

9. Decolonization: for every individual and people to actively and mindfully transform their beings and organization to promote ecological sustainability and relationships based on respect, and natural democracy.

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