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Fire Department Official Sparks Conflict at Occupy Vancouver

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Fire Department Official Sparks Conflict at Occupy Vancouver
Fire Department Official Sparks Conflict at Occupy Vancouver


Main stream media reports now state that a violent conflict broke out when the Vancouver Fire department moved to extinguish a fire in a barrel at Occupy Vancouver. What they are not reporting is what really happened, a fire department officer who gave his name as Dan Wilson eagerly approved the fire earlier in the afternoon. (Wearing the black uniform jacket with two shoulder stripes in the photos)

At about 4:30 I encountered this officer detailing exactly what needed to happen for the fire to meet his approval and be safe to a native elder. I wanted to bring more people into the decision making, but Wilson encouraged the elder to quickly get the fire going without further discussion.

As soon as the fire was lit, after the changes Wilson requested which included moving a large canopy tent away, he immediately and dramatically changed attitude and started claiming that he had not approved the fire.

My interpretation of this is that Officer Wilson was working alone or with the police to deliberately create an incident and escalate the situation. Of course, he may have just being irresponsible and behaving erratically as most humans occasionally do - but I would have thought fire fighters would be better trained than that.

So occupiers, beware of overly helpful officials. They may have more planned than is apparent.

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Lies Lies Lies

Lies Lies Lies

Stupid hippies 

Stupid hippies


For what?

Stupid for believing a fire fighter? Guess we shouldn't be so naîve as to trust people in positions of power...

Well, sort of. The fire chief

Well, sort of. The fire chief sent an order stating there were to be no open fires. This guy was probably just trying to be nice, who knows, but it wasn't his call.

And why are fires "sacred" when Aboriginals light them and not anyone else? Would you guys be out their shitting your pants to defend pro-lifers if they wanted to set up a sacred fetus flame or something against city bylaws? Somehow I doubt it.

Was this heavy-handed? Maybe a bit, but seeing as how OV had stated before that they weren't going to follow the city's rules, this placed authorities in a funny position. I know it's hard for you guys to grasp this, but it's sort of important to enforce laws. See, you can't go around calling for stricter laws governing stuff such as lobbying and the environment and expect it to be enforced if you also go around saying that laws don't apply to you. Plus, it's not exactly a good idea to have an open flame in the middle of a tent city that has all sorts of safety issues including people stumbling about on heroin, or with other mental health issues. (Not saying everybody is on heroin, but hey... accidents happen.)

It would have been nice to have seen something worked out, but Dan wasn't your guy. You should have talked to the chief. And when you do, politely see if you can video it.

Either way, yet another failure for Occupy Vancouver. Bummer, cause it started out well enough, but now it's gone totally clown shoes.

if u believe a officer and

if u believe a officer and dont have written or filmed PROOF then u are a stupid hippy!!!!

The firefighters were there during the entire setup

I was at Occupy Vancouver for several hours on Sunday and from about 3ish until 5 Monday night.  There were firefighters around the whole time, clamly checking out the situation, ostensibly keeping things safe - looking out for danger.  The talk of the Sacred Flame was ongoing the whole time I was there yesterday.  There was smudging and blessings with spruce happening long before the portable shelter was moved away from the fire set up location - the three firefighters in the picture were there the whole time - we have pics of them from a different angle but the same guys.  They were there as the sand bags were emptied on the cement where the barrel was set up.  We all watched them put the barrel out.  The announcer said what was happening and WHY - explained the sacred nature of the event and the significant history of that place for First Nations.  It was an honour to be there!  The firefighters were part of the circle simply by standing there in the circle with us and they could hear the explanation as well as I could.  Another elder began to smudge the people in the circle beginning close to the announcer - directly across the open circle rom where the firefighters were watching.  When the smudge came close to me, I stepped back out of respect because I knew I had to leave.  A few minutes later  my husband took a couple more pictures of the smudging (from back a little from the circle) and the firefighters were gone but the flame was not yet lit.  They KNEW exactly what was happening - they had a front row unobstructed view  and the event was being narrated.  There was plenty o talk about how sared this was and that the lame couldn't be extinguished (like the olympic torch okay?)  I didn't hear the firefighters say that they approved it but they made no attempt to stop it or warn anyone that they were in ANY way uncomortable with it.  I thought it was clearly more awesome cooperation happening I am horrified by the video of what happened later.

Inconclusive. >>As soon as


>>As soon as the fire was lit, after the changes Wilson requested which included moving a large canopy tent away, he immediately and dramatically changed attitude and started claiming that he had not approved the fire.<<

Did he inspect the changes that were made? After inspecting them did he give approval? At no point does this article assert that he or anyone else did. Just that he discussed "what needed to happen for the fire to meet his approval and be safe."

To sober and rational people like myself that is not the same thing as "approval." Of course stoners, angry ignorant children and strung out hippies may interpret things differently.

>>My interpretation of this is that Officer Wilson (if he gave his real name) was working alone or with the police to deliberately create an incident and escalate the situation. Of course, he may have just being irresponsible and behaving erratically as most humans occasionally do - but I would have thought fire fighters would be better trained than that.<<

That's 100% conjecture and an inflammatory accusation. Thank-you for admitting it was just the author's "interpretation." That kind of anti-authoritarian hyperbolic brain dead nonsense is hardly news.

The fact is this whole episode was over the right to start a fire in an oil drum. A 'magic fire with mystical healing powers'. So the authorities were concerned with safety and the occupiers were concerned with the supernatural. Safety trumps ancient superstitions for most people.

DIdn't a bunch of new-age idiots die in a sweat lodge in Arizona in June?

So, if you had someone tell

So, if you had someone tell you, "make these changes, and then go ahead with what you planned to do," you would always go back to them and ask again? Or would you take them at their word that what they told you was the truth, and that you could go ahead after making the adequate arragements?

I have a feeling that your definition of "sober and rational people" is a bit of conjecture on your part, trying to establish some general higher standard that doesn't really exist except in order to back up your argument.

And are you really taking someone to task for giving their opinion when they state that it is their opinion? If the author hadn't specified that they were just giving their opnion, you (or others) would most likely be hollering that it was opinion masked as fact...

I'm not a spiritual person, but I believe in the respect for other people's religions. If this was a Christian camp and they had a pool of water they were using to baptise people (in the old school, dunk you in a river John the Baptist way), I'd befine with that too, and not saying that they should be blocked because there's the chance someone could drown.

To call it superstitions is pretty insulting (as well as the comment from another posted comparing it to some fictional sacred fetus flame. really? i'd be interested to see where in the Bible it says that that is part of Christianity)


Sacred Fire

The police intervention on the sacred fire could be interpreted as a assault on the religious freedom of First Nations, as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There was much giving of prior notice and much discussion with officials prior to lighting the sacred fire. As the You Tube of my presentation at OV attests, I witnessed and contributed to the discussion of the sacred fire on November 6. City officials must apologize and if possible take part in a ceremony to reignite the sacred fire and transform bad vibrations into good ones. Crisis is also opportunity.

rules of fair play

He was probably giving a personal opinion.....while in uniform. And he
Was subsequently given thumbs down
At GA with his peers and superiors.
I have read all the avadavits by public
Employees before The court. A litany of small things that would not give any reasonable person any reason for worry. Left out are the hundreds of small constructive engagements like this.
I hope the court is wise and can see the David vs. Goliath nature of this struggle.
One small stone is all it takes. Flung with integrity. Aimed at truth. When it
Hits the target the facade will tumble.
Keep on blogging..posting
..commenting..liking...reading...posting....sharing ....these a

How about no fire?

I support the calls for change being made buy the people at Occupy Vancouver, but I think starting the fire was a dumb idea. If anyone was looking for an excuse for authorities to shut down the protests, the fire was a perfect gift.

It's time to get back to stating the one demand, if that can be agreed to.

"The police intervention on

"The police intervention on the sacred fire could be interpreted as a assault on the religious freedom of First Nations, as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

Nope. God freaks, be they Aboriginals, Christians, or whoever, are still obligated to follow laws set down to keep people safe. The fire chief said no open flames, and people just went ahead and did what felt like, thus further increasing tensions and damaging the movement as a whole.

Leave it to Vancouver flakes to fuck up the entire Occupy movement. You guys have managed to get people talking about all sorts of sub-issues that have very little to do with the orginal intent of the Occupy movement, namely how wealth distribution is basically the root of so many of humanity's problems.

Occupy Vancouver's tactics (and lack-there-of) are now what people are discussing, NOT the issues that affect the vast majority of the 99%. That means the chances of building a populist movement go down, and with that, the chance for success.

Once again, way-to-go White radicals and First Nations "sacred fire" activists. Honestly, if I were in the 1%, I'd be funding you guys. You guys are a one-percenter's wet dream.


John, while I don't doubt

John, while I don't doubt that the conversation has now shifted to include issues of law and order (as they most surely would eventually, since governments have mostly been treating it as a benign threat until now, hoping it would eventually go away) I'm wondering to what degree you've been participating and helping to make sure that it stays "on message?"

More and more it seems like as the occupations last and pressure from the government and authorities mount, people are starting to turn on the movement. And while disagreements are sure to abound on how things should proceed, it seems to me that a lot of these criticisms are coming from people who have done very little to help ensure the safety and success of the Occupations and the occupiers.

"I'm wondering to what degree

"I'm wondering to what degree you've been participating and helping to make sure that it stays "on message?""

First, let me say this... I work full time. I'm married with two kids, one of whom is special needs. So for me, anyways, each minute of my time is like a precious diamond.

When this whole thing first started, I joined the FB group, and tried to suggest that the msg be kept as simple as possible. That things like "diversity of tactics" be rejected, because they always, always fail to engage anyone but a tiny contingent of radicals. That the movement be as populist as possible from the begining, and avoid losing sight of the core issues, by getting caught up in all the usual bullshit that Vancouver activists seem to get sucked into.

It didn't take long to see that this wasn't going to be the case, and I decided that I wasn't interested in wasting my time being associated with a group that was most likely going to fuck up a really good opportunity.

Fast-forward to where we are right now... as I figured, everything has come to pass. The movement is bogged down in side issues, which are really just symptoms of the core issue, namely the 1% getting richer while the middle class stumbles, and the ranks of the poor are growing. The protest itself has become the msg, rather than a means to transmit a msg.

So here is how I would best put things, and my bet is that the vast majority of the left-leaning in this city and across the country agree with me...

I'm not interested in trying to support the Occupy movement at the Sunday dinner table if I know it's going to degenerate into an argument with my rightwing brother-in-law (who is basically a descent guy) where I have to spend time defending against stupid shit like overdoses, refusals to comply with the fire department, and every single goofball cause out there, including arguments that calling the movement "Occupy" is offensive to Aboriginals who can't seem to grasp the notion that the word in this context isn't about them, 911-truthers, chemtrail conspiracy theoriests and all the other stuff that is generating so much noise that nobody is addressing what should be the biggest issue of our time.

Anyhoo... the trick to getting this back on the rails is for the far left to basically put a lid on it, and try to meet the couch-bound middle class at least half-way, if not significantly more.

They won't do this though, because there is a chance that it might actually work. That maybe capitalism can be retro-fitted to work in our favour, and this won't do, because they want a revolution. They seem to think that anarchist policies could run a planet of 7+ billion people when they can't even run a potlock without endless discussions and pointless arguments.

So yeah... I'm not interested in coming down because i'm not interested in wasting my time. (He said as he spends 30 minutes writing a response on an anarchist website, hoping that he might convince people to tone it down.

John's Observations on populism and OV's sacred fire

Dear John.

The fact you do not identify yourself beyond being "John" might speak to the elusiveness of your relationship to many things, including the on-the-ground realities of life in the community of those sharing a place of communal habitation and decision-making adjacent to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Ashlie Gough died at the site on November 5. On November 6 the community of activists present at OV tried to cope with the tragedy and move on. Those present on Nov. 6 included distinguished First Nations activists, some of whom were rallying against various mining incursions throughout British Columbia where Aboriginal title is only now being addressed in Crown-Aboriginal treaty negotiations covering large parts of the province including Vancouver. These facts of contemporary legal and political history in BC obviously bear heavily on any assertions by Gregor Robertson and other Crown officials about who is trespassing, who has what kinds of  jurisdiction, and so on.

The discussion on Nov. 6 of the protocols, meanings and responsibilities of attending a sacred fire at OV were lengthy and many faceted. FD officials were quite involved in those discussion. I contributed to discussions with them about what was intended. The concept of the sacred fire was embraced enthusiastically by activists of many backgrounds. After all, the importance of fire in human life and human community is something of a universal, something of a constant in human affairs that cuts across many kinds of boundaries. Moreover, in an outdoor encampment anywhere in Canada in mid-November, the importance of access to the soothing heat of safe and attentively-kept fire is, not surprisingly, a topic of interest and importance especially for those commited to camping in the cold.

This discussion all took place as disinfo jackals like The Globe's Rod Mickleburg and the media-police complex in and around BCTV were intent on exploiting the tragedy of Ashlie Gough for political objectives whose advancement depends on us being isolated from one another, mesmerized by the usual broadcasting of consumerist anti-life. Then comes the unilateral and unannounced actions of the VFD, the VPF. Following in their wake come the media jackals that, true to form, misprepresented the episode the with predictable disinformation and smear tactics made infamous in the Gustafsen Lake Indian War and in the RCMP-BCTV takedown at his small working-class home of NDP Premier Glen Clark. Remember Sargeant Montague? Remember Wolverine?

Then in comes you, "John," adding insult to injury with your snearing contempt for our communal attention on anything so unpopulist as OV's attempt to integrate into its community life a carefully-attended fire whose sacred meanings and purposes were eloquently interpreted for us by wise and experienced keepers of the land. With your comments, John, you might as well be putting medals on those who decided to break through the delicate cultural, legal, and political nuances of this situation with a display of police force and with the usual brand of well-coordinated lies and misrepresentation from the media-police complex.

In my view the Indian title-trespass questions that arise from the particular circumstances of jurisdictional issues in Vancouver should have a prominent place in deliberations within OV and in deliberations concerning OV's relationship with the larger community. As I see it, Vancouverites are uniquely placed to draw on the specifics of the local history to contribute to the larger negotiations involving the worldwide occupation movement. After all, the same issues of title and jurisdiction are coming up again and again at virtually every site we are collectively inhabiting in our effort to regain our capacities of collective self-determination.

So far OV has been fortunate enough to be able to integrate the advice and commitment of a number of First Nations activists whose contributions have been significant, including in what they shared with us about the life-affirming attributes of sacred fire. Can't anything be sacred these days, John? How about the enormous police protections afforded the commercialized Olympic Flame that misrepresents the current regime of monopoly capitalism as if it was genuinely competitive?

For my fuller observations on these and other matters, including the Gustafsen Lake Indian War and the BC land question, you can consult my texts in the OV Library. The most recent and comprehensive work is entitled Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010) For my verbal reflections on how to move ahead you could check out the presentation Patricia Keely and I did on Nov. 6 at OV at

Yours Sincerely,

Tony Hall 













inside out

just start turning all their cynicism right back (an inside out) at them.

here is a sample, based on the dogma from cbc comments this morning.

"unfortunately, in this society, thinking people who pay taxes find their right to peaceful protest subject to the whimsical complacently of the employed and  too busy to bother.

its time for the politicians to serve the canadians who actually vote for them, and make democracy work for the people, rather than simply preserve a system that gives ascendency to corporate welfare, rather than the welfare of the people.

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