"They are 8, we are 6 billion"

IssueSeptember - November 2002
News by Theresa Wolfwood

A banner in the rally said it all.

The events in Canada during the week when the big boys met in their bunkerised luxury resort in Kananaskis (owned by a Saudi prince) were wonderful expressions of the lives and visions of the world's people.

On 23 June an exuberant rally of over 5000 people wound through the city to Olympic Plaza where a First Nations speaker reminded us of Canada's role as a colonial power. She called on us to support First Nations' struggle for justice. A long time union activist encouraged us to continue to oppose the privatisation and erosion of public services and to work for democracy locally. A speaker from the Arab world called on us to be in solidarity with oppressed peoples everywhere. The speaker from Victoria brought greetings from the city that said “NO TO NATO” and predicted that soon there would be no safe place for the big boys to meet.

A snake march at 6am through the business streets blocked streets for a while, giving us a chance to explain our aims to drivers and bystanders. They were given excellent little leaflet saying: Who are we? What do we want? Many activists were asked by observers what we were doing. This interest is unusual and there were many instances of friendly discussion along the route.

At the die-in one hot noon hour, tombstones were displayed for Sudanese people who have died as a result of oil development by the Calgary-based Talisman Resources. Others died for victims of AIDS. An eerie silence descended on the plaza while large black vulture puppets swooped over our bodies.

Many speakers criticised the role of the IMF-WB, servants of the G8, who force countries to have an export-based economy. Here is the real root of G8 power.

Self-sufficiency is destroyed by export economies. Cash crops are forced on peasants, destroying their subsistence economy. People and governments become victims of corporate price changes and currency fluctuations.

We must have no illusions that our resistance will be easy or swift, but Calgary showed that we are gaining strength and experience. The downtown events there were organised by a large community coalition of activists working openly and democratically to plan all aspects of actions from food to publicity and from tactics to music (Bruce Coburn sang at the picnic). In fact the planning process was a model of the kind of world we want to live in.