I have had the opportunity and good fortune to cover many diverse events in Toronto. I have covered everything from the homeless to some of the largest and most colourful events ever staged. Memorials, celebrations, entertainment, each giving me a bit of new understanding about a particular community, it’s people and their traditions. None of these has left as much of an impact on me as this event did. This event brought together the most diverse groups of people in a united voice. A loud voice to those in power to make the changes that are so desperately needed to avoid imminent catastrophe. Also a reawakening in each one of us to stand up and be heard and in so doing send the message “We The People” ! The day started rather calmly and quietly with a media scrum. Many luminaries and prominent leaders of various groups offered their time to meet and greet the press, answer questions and pose for photos.
I had the chance to listen to David Suzuki explain the environmental situation from his side. His intelligence aside, his passion was extremely evident!
John Clarke, of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty said: “We support this march because the poor and homeless have the fewest options of anyone in the face of climate change and it’s obvious that a society that creates wealth but accepts poverty will not make the just and rational choices needed to avert impending climate disaster.”Those attending included Myeengum Henry (Chippewa of the Thames First Nation), Nigel Barriffe(Good Jobs For All Coalition),Melina Laboucan-Massimo (Loubicon Cree First Nation,Greenpeace Canada), Angel Reyes (Workers Action Centre) Jennifer Henry (KAIROS) , John Clarke (OCAP) , Anistasia Harripaul Registered Nurses Association of Ontario),Naomi Klein (Author) , Bill McKibben (Author and activist) , Jerry Dias (Persident of Unifor) ,Stephen Lewis, David Suzuki, and of course Jane Fonda.
What struck me was the diversity of the groups represented and yet how unified and common the message was. This rally brought together environmental groups, social justice advocates, First Nations, Labour Organizations, Faith groups, even the butterflies and bees were represented.
As the media scrum broke up I turned around to see that the people have come out in numbers. Before too long the lawn at Queen’s Park was full. An impressive array of people, all races, all colours, all faiths and most importantly all ages.
The message was clear and united, we need change very soon before we have crossed the line of no return! The culture of corporate greed must change! After a few inspirational speeches the masses took to the streets. I found some very good friends of mine and found my place in the line! I followed the solar torch which recorded people’s messages on it, was solar powered and will hopefully make it’s way, with everyone’s messages on board, to a world leader’s summit on climate later this year. Behind me one of the most awesome South American drum groups I have ever heard. Hard not to be inspired by that incredible sound.
As John Clarke explained, Allen Gardens was originally intended as a playground for the rich, but in it’s rich and vibrant history has become the centre of resistance and protest as well as a refuge for many of the disenfranchised people of our City. It seemed the right place for such a gathering and felt very much like a warm Sunday in the park with about 10,000 or so like minded people. There was an art display and some great local music to finish off the day.
At the end of the day I thanked the drums for keeping my legs pumping, said goodbye to many, many people I had met at various points throughout the day and knew that this event had changed me. I saw the power and strength of the people, not against each other but with each other. With respect for each others needs and agendas, this unity and strength will make a change, just hopefully, not too late!!
Enjoy Toronto !