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FTW Friday: This Week in Protests

Vincent Colistro

“The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work – they are the beginning, not the end. Their basic message is: the taboo is broken; we do not live in the best possible world; we are allowed, obliged even, to think about alternatives.”

-Slavoj Zizek

As we all move slowly into the second week of October, grabbing thicker jackets on our way out the door, wearing chunkier socks, drinking hotter beverages, we can see that in nature things are starting to change—leaves are rustier, grass is sparser and the last, desperate bees try for warmth indoors. Fall has this kind of grey realism about it—people mean business now. And as fall begins, the fall of corrupt institutions, kleptocratic governments and social inequities are given a chance to follow suit. After all, they have—as the leaves—worn out their welcome.

October has always been a month of protests: In 1917, the Bolsheviks led a revolt on Petrograd, beginning the first Socialist state; in 1969 the “Days of Rage” protestors took to the Chicago streets to voice their opposition to the Vietnam War; in 1990, Germany officially reunified after its Berlin wall came down; and, less commendably, in 1970, the FLQ kidnapped James Cross and Pierre Laporte in Montreal, executing Laporte.

However they manifested themselves, whether they were ultimately good or bad, the undercurrent in each of these protests was the same—something is wrong, and so something needs to change. Let’s kick off October by looking at this week’s protests (by no means is this a comprehensive list; it’s merely a smattering; feel free to add, in the comments section below, anything that I’ve missed!).

Idle No More

On Monday, Idle No More called a Global Day of Action to remember the October 7th signing of The British Royal Proclamation in 1763, which legally mandated Canada to recognize Indigenous land rights. Groups across Canada convened to make their voices heard, and many people added videos to the Idle No More website showing support.

Shawn Atleo discusses the day’s significance:

250 years later, Indigenous peoples continue to struggle for sovereignty, especially against large-scale projects such as…

The Pipelines

Idle No More’s October 7 protests, in addition to remembering the Royal Proclamation, took aim at Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, as well as the 14 other new or expanding oil and gas pipeline projects in Canada.

Torontonians meanwhile took to a concert near Finch station on October 6 to call attention to Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline, because, as you can see here, the pipe runs right through Toronto, (something Enbridge would rather we didn’t know).

Also, on October 9, protestors in Montreal disrupted the National Energy Board hearings on the Line 9 project, interrupting those speakers who supported the pipeline. Young protestors launched loudly into stories about a fictional “Mr. Enbridge”, making it difficult for the pipeline to be promoted.

Quebec had more than a pipeline to oppose though, as protestors continued to show their indignation over the misguided…

Charter of Values

On Sunday October 6, around 200 demonstrators in Quebec City gathered to again remind us all how ill-considered the Quebec Charter of Values—that proposed ban on noticeable religious symbols on public sector workers—really is. Adil Charkaoui, the Muslim leader who also organized September’s 5,000-strong protest in Montreal, led the demonstration.

Here’s a video from the protests (okay, this video is not October, it’s the September 29 protest. But hey, it’s the same astrological sign, so let’s watch it.)

Where and how people publicize their religion continues to be a source of contention, but I think we can all agree on when religion is used incorrectly. I speak of course about…

Westboro Baptist Church

Get Shot, a U.S. punk band, protested the WBC’s draconian anti-gay dogma this week in a rather unlikely way: They filmed a porno. Laura Lush, the group’s bassist, was filmed stripping and masturbating on the organization’s front lawn in Topeka, Kansas. She said, in a comment on Facebook, “As a bisexual woman and the bass player of a ridiculous punk band, I wanted to spread my legs and cause controversy.” The video, should you wish to see it, is somewhere on this site (NSFW).

And in other nude protest news…

Spain’s Anti-Abortion Plans (link: NSFW)

Activists for the feminist group FEMEN broke into a Parliamentary session in Madrid on Wednesday to voice opposition to the conservative government’s proposed abortion law reform, which would limit women’s access to abortions. FEMEN (NSFW link) is known for their topless protests, having staged them in such enclaves as the Vatican, the London Olympics, and a “Topless Jihad” in front of the Great Mosque of Paris.

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As I said above, if you have any more to share, or if you have a burning opinion you just can’t hold onto much longer, feel free to drop in the comments section below!

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