Jan 25

January 23, 2013 – Week #6

RobertIt was sunny but very cold today. Within five minutes my fingers were frozen and I was wondering how long I would last outside.

My protest today is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The great American civil rights leader, social justice activist and pacifist. A few years ago, I committed to do something public to keep his memory and message alive. In 1967, Dr. King gave an incredibly profound and prescient speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” and said,

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

Warships are for the pursuit of war. I want Canada to pursue peace in the world. I want the federal government to re-order its priorities and invest in a national strategy for green jobs, affordable housing, First Nations, municipal infrastructure, and early learning not new warships.

One navy person who was driving out of the base rolled down his car window and asked me if I drank coffee. What a nice gesture I thought. I told him “No thank you I don’t drink coffee, but I do love café mochas. Don’t worry though because I’m going to have one at Julien’s Café afterward.” I love Julien’s Hedgehog mocha. It is delicious with espresso, chocolate, hazelnut and foamed milk.

At 12:20, Robert showed up to help me hold my signs. It was nice to chat with him and get to know him better. In his retirement, he is trying to get more involved in the community and social justice issues. We talked about Dr. King and the civil rights struggle in the U.S. Robert suggested that I watch this new documentary about a tragic story of racism in the south in the 1960s called “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story” I was reminded of Dr. King’s challenge,

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

It wasn’t easy for him to hold up the sign with one hand, because he had to keep the other in his pocket. The poor guy forgot his gloves!

We got about 7 honks and 1 finger.

Jan 21

January 16, 2013 – Week #5

January 16 protest SharonThere were many navy personnel entering and exiting the base today. I say “Hello” to everyone who passes me, most of the personnel reply with a “hi” back but don’t say anything more. However, today, I had some, short conversations.

Me: Hello

Young navy person: Hi, what’s this all about?

Me: You are the first person to stop and ask me about what I’m doing.

Young navy person smiles.

Me: I’m protesting the building of new warships. Please check out my web site. It’s www.demilitarize.ca

Young navy person: OK.


Me: Hello

Navy person with glasses and beret: Hello, how are you?

Me: You are the first person to ask me how I’m doing.

Navy person chuckles and carries on.


Guy in car: What are we going to do when they come and get us? We need warships.

Me: Who is going to come and get us?

Guy in car doesn’t reply and drives off.


Me: Hello

Tall, thin navy person: Hello, how’s it going?

Me: Fine, but it could be better. I wish the HMCS Toronto wasn’t on its way to the Middle East.

Tall, thin navy person: Yes, I think that the guys would agree with you.

Me: They shouldn’t be going.

At the protest today, I brought a new sign “Canadian warships out of the Middle East”. The HMCS Toronto deployed to the Persian Gulf on January 14th for six months. The frigate will be under US Command and stationed at the American naval base in Bahrain, which is across the Strait of Hormuz from Iran. Canada just instituted new sanctions against Iran. I believe Canadian warships are aiding and abetting US control of the Middle East and should not be there. In my opinion, this is another reason to oppose warships. At 12:50, Sharon walked by on her way to Veith House and helped me hold up my signs for a few minutes.

There were 8 honks of support!

Jan 12

January 9, 2013 – Week #4

Group at WagainstWI was nervous today. Yesterday, Global TV said they wanted to come to my house to film me preparing for my protest and then outside the shipyard with my signs. I didn’t want to be alone. So, I emailed all my peace email lists to ask people to come and join me.

I was so pleased that Lucia, Carolyn, Brian, and my husband Ben came! Sarah stopped for a few minutes while out on her jog and I gave her some of the “Stop Harper’s Crimes: Climate, Militarism, Mining, Palestine” stickers to pass out. It was so nice to have a lot of help to hold up all the signs including the banner “Sink the Ship Strategy! Green Jobs, Not War Jobs.”

Global TV came at 12:15 pm and filmed the protest and interviewed all of us. I could overhear what Carolyn said in her interview as she was helping me hold up the banner, “I’m a retired school teacher. I used to tell my students that democracy is more than voting. It is taking a public stand about the things that you care about.”  Unfortunately her statement got cut in the clip that aired later on the 6 o’clock news, but it is such an important point to remember.

Carolyn’s comment reminded me of what great US historian and social activist Howard Zinn said many years ago, “Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.” We were only five people outside the shipyard, but we were taking direction action against the warships and we got 8 honks of support!

You can watch the Global TV clip here

Jan 06

January 2, 2013 – Week #3

Lucia_MarieHappy New Year! Another year for activism and optimism for a more peaceful and just world! I’ve been really inspired by CODEPINK’s video “Hot Pink Ladies in Action: 10 Years of CODEPINK Creativity”. Please watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/codepinkaction

It is a beautiful sunny day but very cold and windy. It is -19 C. I picked up Lucia today and she brought her sign “In solidarity with Theresa Spence,” the Aboriginal leader on a hunger strike demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Harper. Much to our pleasant surprise, Marie joined us. She held up the sign “Action on Poverty and Climate Change: No Warships”. It was so nice to have company for the first time at my weekly protest.

The traffic was still light because of the holidays. Nevertheless, we were again pleasantly surprised to receive 6 honks of support.

It was so cold that we were glad to warm up afterward at the Hydrostone Café. The three of us discussed current affairs and signed cards to US war resister Kim Rivera who was deported out of Canada and Omar Khadr, a Canadian child, who was tortured and detained for years in the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Marie mentioned how she was initially supportive of the shipbuilding strategy because it meant jobs and then she realized that it was warships that were being built so she couldn’t support it. Now when she talks about the warship contract with others, she says that the federal government is making a choice as to how to spend our tax dollars – spend it on building warships or investing in education and the environment. She doesn’t agree that the federal government should be spending money to prepare for war. I agree completely.

We gave each other hugs of support as we left to carry on with our day.