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StopWar Drops in on the Canadian Forces

Keeping the armed forces company at community events

by Marla Renn Dominion Stories

Gunned entrance to Canada Day
Gunned entrance to Canada Day
Surrounded by our love for chalking
Surrounded by our love for chalking

Also posted by marlarenn:

In recent years the Canadian Forces have noticeably changed their public relations approach. As the Canadian state has become more obvious and unabashedly aggressive war makers on the world stage, the Canadian Forces have kept their publicity in step. They have now taken to the trend of frequent and public displays showcasing an increasingly brazen glorification of war and our role in it.

In response to the armed forces being on display recently at the Dragon Boat Festival and Canada Day Festivities in Vancouver, StopWar, a broad based anti-war coalition, kept them company. We handed out balloons, stickers, leaflets, wrote messages in chalk on the ground, and talked with people about the occupation of Afghanistan, all while positioned right in front of the armed forces. We did this because this type of display is propaganda that must be opposed by peace loving people in a democratic society. We don’t think that war and machines of destruction are “cool”, nor are kids playing with guns and tanks. We were also at these events to provide information about the occupation of Afghanistan, especially the opinions of Afghan people on it, who now say very clearly that they want Canada and all of the occupation forces to leave.

At both the Dragon Boat festival and Canada Day festivities our members had overwhelmingly good and inspiring experiences. Many of those at the festivals, including Afghan people, students, concerned citizens, a war resister, and personnel from armed forces around the world came up to StopWar members and thanked us for being there, for demonstrating dissent to this type of display, and for getting the information about Afghanistan out. Again and again people communicated their support.

We did of course have some people express their distain for our presence there (one member was physically assaulted by a very angry man), and we were met with harassment from security at each festival. But it became more interesting when the Canadian Forces exerted pressure and even lied to the security at the Dragon Boat festival in an attempt to have us removed. We did not fulfill the requests nor demands that we move at either festival, we were on public property after all, and in the end we all agreed that these were successful days well spent.

Kimball, one of the StopWar members in attendance at the Dragon Boat festival had this to say: “One of my best moments at the [Dragon Boat] Festival was when three elderly Japanese tourists spoke to me while I was handing out stickers right under the barrel of the huge artillery piece brought along by the the Armed Forces. "Peace, yes?" they asked, pointing at my stickers. "Yes, of course," I said. Before I knew it two of them were grabbing my arms to pose on either side of me while the third took several pictures of our little group in front of the gun. They left delighted to have met Canadian peace activists at the Festival.”

The facts and stories coming from Afghanistan and it’s people show quite simply that our occupation has made life worse and continues to do so every day that it continues. We were there because it is our responsibility to do so.

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