Fears that Occupy Fredericton would interfere with Fredericton’s tree lighting ceremony proved to be unfounded.
Last night’s tree lighting ceremony ran smoothly, with both Occupy Fredericton and tree lighting participants. There was a constant stream of people breaking off from the ceremonies to come to Occupy Fredericton’s tent and table to talk to members of Occupation Fredericton about the global Occupation movement and the multiple issues that movement focuses on.
The idea of “buy local” was one topic of discussion that had favorable response from those who participated. The premise asserts that the big chain stores come into a town and displace local business, and the profits are directed out of the community, leaving “chicken feed” for the community and low paying wages, the resulting consequence is that local businesses have to close their doors and lay off their employees because they can not compete with these mega-chains.
The myth that it was only homeless people that were staying full time at the occupy site was dispelled when members of the group were questioned on that point. “Everyone who stays at the tent has a home to go to, and hold jobs or are full time students”, these people are sacrificing the comforts of their homes because they recognize that it’s time to initiate change in the way we do things.
During the course of the evening people in attendance were asked what their opinions are about Occupy staying in Phoenix Square. The main concern was Occupy’s ability to survive their stay during the harsh winter days and nights that Maritimes’ winters have to offer. Others shared their dismay at the City of Halifax and what was perceived as an underhanded move on the part of Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly and his council, and commended Mayor Woodside and council for thinking of alternative solutions to Occupy Fredericton’s presence.
Occupy Fredericton accepted donations to be given to the Fredericton Food Bank, to help them move into their new greenhouse location. Over the course of occupation, Occupy Fredericton has received a great deal of support from the general public in terms of food and cash donations. In addition to the general public “Labour (Unions) have been very supportive in offering assistance by supplying hardware to operate the facility, access to office space if needed, sharing accumulated knowlege from their experiences as labour advocates”.
While Occupy declined to voluntarily vacate the premise, Occupy did promise the city that they would downsize their shelter to give more space for the ceremony, and excluding their banner, remove all signage from the immediate area. The intention was to not cause a distraction from the ceremony, but to co-exist alongside the ceremony and welcome dialogue with those present about the current economic system, which allows the rich to get richer at the expense of the masses.
Both Occupy Fredericton and the City thanked Tim Horton’s for supplying hot chocolate, and the Daily Gleaner for providing volunteers to help make the event a success – which shows what happens when communities work together.
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