This year, the annual G8 Summit is being held in Kananaskis (K-Country), Alberta, from June 26 to 27. Already, anti-globalization activists have begun to plot and plan their protests of the summit, just as police have already begun to plan ways to thwart the pesky agitators.
What is the G8?
Taken from the definition provided in the official government information kit, “the G8 [Group of Eight] is an informal group of eight developed democracies — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.”
The summit itself will focus on three major priorities: “strengthening economic growth, building a new partnership for Africa’s development and fighting international terrorism.”
Activists planning to attend G8 protests have a different perspective of the summit. According to the Convergence des Luttes Anti-capitalistes (CLAC), the meeting is really where “the ‘elected’ CEOs [Chief Executive Officers] of the main capitalist countries of the planet come together” and “behave like vultures that gather to share stolen treasure, to the detriment of ninety per cent of the world’s population and to the total detriment of the environment.”
In fact, some people feel that nobody should meet in Kananaskis — leaders, delegates, police or protesters. They worry about what will happen to the sacred, fragile nature of the site’s environment.Environmentalists are especially concerned if this summit sees a repeat of the type of the destruction that occurred in Genoa and Quebec City.
Bruce Leeson, the director of Environmental Affairs for the G8 Summit, was quick to reassure activists and local residents. “The Government of Canada recognizes [the unique environmental situation of Kananaskis] and is determined to take extraordinary care to avoid adverse effects in the planning and conduct of the G8 Summit meeting,” he said.
Environmentalists, though, don’t seem to be convinced. However, the protesters who plan to attend the summit have pledged to show respect for the region. Activist and rabble-rouser Erin George went further to say that it is “hypocritical for the G8 to suddenly act concerned about the environment in light of their policies.”
The previous G8 gathering — held in Genoa, Italy last July — was marked by the death of Italian demonstrator Carlo Giuliani, who was shot twice in the head after attempting to throw a fire extinguisher at police.
As a result, some activists speculate that this year’s G8 is being held in Kananaskis to avoid the growing demonstrations that follow these types of meetings. “They specifically picked Kananaskis to marginalize the protests and hide the G8,” said Scott Harris, a West-coast activist and counter-G8 organizer. “Kananaskis is the Qatar of Canada.”
Room for Many Movements
There are a number of different, cross-country initiatives being planned to counter the G8, from solidarity caravans of “Bikesheviks” to revolutionary knitting circles. At first, the activist movement seemed divided on where to demonstrate against the G8; just in Kananaskis country, or should there be solidarity actions across the country? It was soon decided that the choice could be “All of the Above.”
Here is an early draft of what might be in the works and why:
K-Country | Calgary
“It is important that there be a sizeable counter-presence in Kananaskis, because it is where the G8 will be. People want to show their rage where their leaders are,” said Ritch Whyman, an organizer for the International Socialists. He also said activists should not be scared off by the recent anti-terrorist legislation, including Bill C-25, which would make it illegal to demonstrate against foreign dignitaries and heads of state.
Anti-G8 activities are being planned both in Calgary and Kananaskis, including a People’s Summit in Calgary and a Solidarity Village in the forests near the site. West-coast activists are particularly excited about the latter. According to a recent press release, “Solidarity Village will provide a setting for education, teach-ins, and workshops, and to celebrate art, music, and drama as an integral part of building a global popular movement.”
Two particularly interesting invitations have been sent out, one to witches and another to Ewoks.
The Gaia Resistance Movement has invited pagans to join them in collective, spiritual resistance against the G8. “We must stand with [the oppressed], with them all. Our Ancestors require it, our Mother Earth requires it, our own spirit and honour requires it.”
Ewoks are also being asked to resist the G8 through forest actions. The Deconstructionist Institute for Surreal Topology (DIST) — which unveiled the teddy-bear catapult in Quebec City — has studied the forests of Kananaskis. According to DIST, “The terrain is ideal for hippies, crappy for cops. Can you imagine riot troops in full body armour plodding through dense forests? What were they thinking? Don’t they remember Vietnam? Don’t they remember Return of the Jedi when the Ewoks kicked Storm-trooper ass in the forests of Endor?”
DIST claims that Ewok activists are the answer to shutting down the summit. The group predicts, “June 26, 2002: Summit cancelled — too many fucking Ewoks in the area.”
Two days of popular education and action are being planned in Ottawa, Ontario. Unlike the Kananaskis resistance, which has a broader basis of unity, CLAC has spearheaded the Ottawa call under the banner of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist resistance. “These two premises are a good starting point in opening up a political space for discussion. It is important for activists to link these two issues together and frame them to people in a meaningful way,” said CLAC’s Jaggi Singh.
June 26 has been tentatively declared the day of direct action, where June 27 will be the day of popular convergence. According to CLAC, “Of the two days of action, the first aims to encourage different forms of protest and revolt. For the second, the priority is on organizing a large, unifying anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist demonstration.”
Taking the need for local organizing to heart, Toronto plans to host a social forum of its own, with a festival of resistance on June 22. Dave Banerjee, an activist with the Mobilization for Global Justice (Mob4Glob) feels activists “should celebrate global acts of resistance to the G8.” The local action is tentatively scheduled to include exhibits and workshops during the day and a “rave of resistance” at night.
The Halifax Mob4Glob has planned its own resistance, coordinating it with West-coast activists. They plan a teach-in and a solidarity demonstration.
Canadians are not the only ones mobilizing to resist the G8. Italians are preparing a symbolic rematch of sorts, inspired by the G8’s Genoa visit last year.
According to Patty Barrera from Common Frontiers, “Italian organizers, disobedients, white overalls and anarchists are planning parallel actions in Italy and some may even come to Canada to avenge Carlo Giuliani’s death.”
Watch Out, the Mice Will Play
Andrea from CLAC (as she identified herself) agrees with the tactic of having different actions in different places all resisting the G8. “It’s like making a statement to them that we are everywhere. We have this saying in Montreal that goes: When the cats are gone, the mice will dance. And we are going to dance and there’ll be many nice places to go,” she said.
We’re so glad you stopped by!
Thanks for consuming rabble content this year.
rabble.ca is 100% reader and donor funded, so as an avid reader of our content, we hope you will consider gifting rabble with a donation today!
Whether it be a one-time donation or a small monthly contribution, your support is critical to keep rabble writers producing the work you’ve come to rely on as a part of a healthy media diet.