TORONTO – Approximately 1000 people gathered at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto’s downtown core to stand against Bill C-51 during the city’s tenth annual May Day demonstrations.
Sage Indigo- a man of hope and a long-standing community activist in Toronto, showing solidarity within many struggles – was part of the crowd and shared his thoughts: “I oppose Bill C-51 because any bill, by its nature, summits the people to undue hardship is unjust. A bill that says you must give up liberty for security is ill-conceived. Security and liberty go hand-in-hand without one trampling over the other. If this bill becomes legal, we will have modified what we are, and it will be so far from the vision of a ‘just society’ that it will be unrecognizable.”
Every year on May 1st, grassroots organizations in Toronto rally and march to mark International Worker’s Day-trying to highlight the most pressing issues of the day, and committing to people’s struggles against oppression and exploitation. May Day aims to unite people’s struggles for self-determination and liberation.
This year May Day organizing sought to highlight struggles around the eight themes: indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, migrant workers’ resistance to border imperialism, solidarity with the working class struggle globally, anti-poverty and anti-austerity organizing, student strikes and academic labour battles against neo-liberalization, environmental justice, militant rank and file labour movements, and gender justice.
Elder Wanda Whitebird offered a blessing at the beginning of the May Day gathering, followed by many great speakers from various organization who shared thoughts and ideas to inspire the crowd and provoke some passion. Members of ‘The Red Nation: Centuries of Resistance’ group traveled from the Lakota Nation (Albuquerque) to also walk down the streets of Toronto, and were also invited to lead the march.
One of the invited speakers, Josephine Grey, who founded LIFT in 1986, has been a human rights advocate and public speaker for more than 30 years. She sparked the crowd’s momentum with her truthful and positive messages. “I use human rights as a basis for people to come together. We all share common needs for basic human rights. I try to talk about going beyond resistance into starting conversations about solutions. Define what we want and fight for that instead of fighting against something negative.”
Grey is a widowed single parent of 4, a grandmother, a survivor of domestic abuse, and is studying for a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies at York University. Grey has dedicated her life to educating, inspiring and mentoring youth and community in helping to address humanity’s greatest challenges.
Many expressed how uplifting it was to be gathered together regardless of colour, gender, sexuality, religion and socio-economic status – yet with a common voice, demanding freedom and equality for all humans.
Celebrating International Worker’s Day has been a world-wide tradition on May 1st, and will continue to be so in the future.
This march was also another step in the right direction towards stopping Bill C-51; securing the peoples right to protest, have privacy, and be sovereign and autonomous if they so chose.
Anti Bill C-51 organizers have been speaking to the public throughout the city for weeks and are planning to demonstrate in Ottawa at the end of May.