Business as usual for #ShutDownCanada protests

Many participants said it was a good day, and were satisfied with the small gatherings of good minded people and raised public awareness initiated by the social media campaign’s call to direct action. Others were no doubt disappointed that the call to #ShutDownCanada of Feb 13th made little noticeable impact on the Canadian economy and had little participation from the more than 6000 Facebook endorsers that said they were attending.

In Vancouver about 120 people blocked off the intersection of Hastings and Clark from 10:30am until 2pm. At 2pm participants were forced to the sidewalk by police kettling, a tactic in which police surround the protest and forcefully enclose people. The demonstrators continued to occupy the roads during light changes for some time while attempting to take the intersection a few more times. There were a few arrests, and one protester said she witnessed police pushing the women who were drumming around and other aggressive behaviours.

In Winnipeg 20 or so people participated in a demonstration on St. Charles Street. Police re-routed traffic while the road barricades went up. Though most people were cooperative and supportive, online videos depict aggressive responses from some members of the public.

In Toronto, a group of about 40 people gathered at Yonge and Dundas square. Organizers gave out flyers to the public and community discussions took place in the busy but frigid Toronto downtown core.

In Hamilton 50 people gathered at the intersection beside Gage Park from 2pm until 6. The intersection was held while people danced, drummed, and sang. A fire was also kept for the 4 hour period, burning safely on a traffic island in between the two major roads. Police numbers almost matched the amount of those gathered, but were cooperative in keeping traffic at a safe distance.

In Regina a railway and a street were blocked off. At Stoney point, River Aux Sauble and Kettle Point there was a road closure facilitated by a small group that also handed out information flyers.

In Lethbridge, Alberta a demonstration of roughly 30 people took place. In Sek’wel’was, St’at’imc territory in Lillooet British Columbia, people held the road with a fire and at one point 20 drummers strong.

In Edmonton, Alberta 30 people occupied the downtown core with flags, banners and drums.

In the wake of the event, organizers are asking themselves if the success of this day be measured. Was it unsuccessful because Canada didn’t shut down for the day, while deep-rooted violent systemic racism isn’t even on the government’s radar? Or was it successful because roads were danced on while women and men drummed and sang and allies and many passersby were aware and supportive of the actions.

From the west to the east of this land the issues were talked about a little bit more. Conversations were started and continued about many important issues that should be on everyone’s radar. Communities of all nations may have been reminded that clean water is not endless, oil is not a permanent way of life, and unsustainable ways have their end.

Perhaps the government will never recognize that more people are waking up to realities of our society, if they aren’t already living them daily. It is difficult for such an ambitious call out to be heard and answered. No one can know what it will take, but when it takes, we will all know.

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