On Sunday October 12, activists from [email protected], Six Nations, Guelph,
London, Kitchener, Toronto, Waterloo and Hamilton blocked the Olympic
“Spirit Train” on the tracks as it approached Toronto, by locking down
on the tracks and occupying a railway bridge.
This highly coordinated and well executed non-violent action was taken
in solidarity with the Olympic Resistance Network of British Columbia,
the Native Youth Movement of the Coast Salish People, and the
Anti-Poverty Committee of Vancouver, who have called for actions
against the Spirit Train and all 2010 Olympic related activities.
The non-violent action to block the Spirit Train was a resounding
success as our goal to have national media coverage that actually spoke
about the true issues surrounding the Olympics was met. Hopefully we
have inspired others to take action as well. More and more people are
gaining an understanding that the Olympics in general, and more
specifically the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, are no longer about sports
and culture, they are about profit for a small elite and wide scale
environmental destruction through development of stolen First Nations
Canadian Pacific (CP) called the action a "serious safety risk", though
no train was within five kilometres of the blockade as scouts were
tracking the progression of the train from Sudbury. Also, the lock down
team had full safety control of the situation by using a self-release
device. CP followed their pre-set safety precautions and no one was
ever put in danger.
The situation was tense at times as the activist liaison negotiated
with the police (first York Police then CP police), but after a three
and a half hour blockade, and the arrival of independent media from The Real News, and corporate media journalists, a peaceful de-escalation was completed and no one was arrested.
The 2010 Winter Olympics are being held on unceded First Nations land
and are causing environmental destruction through venue, road and real
estate development. The Games are also leading to a massive
expropriation of social housing units in one of Canada’s most at risk
communities – the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
Further, these games are diverting tax money from social and
environmental programs so that a small elite of land developers may pad
their bank accounts.
Additionally, the 2010 Winter Olympics are being used as a catalyst to
expand the police state in Canada. Those made homeless because of the
gentrification of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and those already
living on the streets are being criminalized by the implementation of
“no sit, no lie” laws. Also, security costs for the Olympics are likely
to exceed 1 billion dollars as a planned force of more than 12,500
police, mounties and army will converge on Vancouver. It is quite
likely that we will also see American troops on our soil resulting from
the February 2008 signing of the Civil Assistance Plan by the Harper
Broad coalitions are forming and the resistance to the 2010 Olympics is
growing. This action is an escalation of the protest rallies that have
met the Spirit Train at many of its stops including Port Moody,
Edmonton, Winnipeg and Sudbury.
The Spirit Train itself is an escalation of the dissemination of
Olympics propaganda and with each new escalation initiated by Olympics
organizers and sponsors, there will be an escalation in the non-violent
resistance to the 2010 Winter Games.
Dan Kellar is a PhD student at the University of Waterloo.