Democracy Hereafter: Voices of Occupy Toronto – Day 1

When I got down to St. James Park on Saturday afternoon, I found that the first day of Occupy Toronto seemed to have more the atmosphere of a street festival than a political protest. There were the requisite samba squads providing relentless beats, tonnes of teenagers dancing, and more than a couple of spliffs being passed around. But weren’t there some serious issues that people had gathered here for? Wasn’t there something about the inherent unfairness of our economic system which has allowed for an extreme imbalance in the distribution of wealth? I was inclined to give the protesters the benefit of the doubt (I was one, in a way) so I set off with WordSmith to get some first-hand accounts from some of the folks who had made it out in the rain to hold up their banners and proclaim their messages…

Andrew Capra from Toronto

Nick: Why are you here today?

Andrew: I’m taking pictures and voicing my dissatisfaction with the cohesion with these protests.

N: If you could change one thing what would it be?

Andrew: The amount of violence here.

N: More violence or less violence?

Andrew: More violence! This stupid narrative of 99% of people, all amalgamated under this false idea that they are somehow unified with no clear demand and yet they want to be peaceful. They can’t have a clear demand and actually achieve it though peace.

Sarah from Hamilton & Geoffrey from Peterborough

N: Why are you here today?

Sarah: I woke up this morning and heard a guy from the CAW on the radio saying they were doing occupy Windsor, and at that point something shifted for me and I thought that it was really important that I be involved in solidarity with these protests.

N: If you could change one thing what would it be?

G: I think that both of us are people are interested in community investment. Building up local infrastructure. It’s about shifting the economic powers to a more municipal level.

Fiona from Waterloo, John from Toronto, Miriam from Ottawa, and Lyle from Nova Scotia

N: Why are you here?

Fiona: We chose this quotation because it signifies our feelings on our economy and our environment and everything in between. It’s a switch on the way things are currently running where the economy controls everything even though economy is a made up thing that we created. We should be creating systems for ourselves that work for people

N: If you could change one thing, what would it be?

Lyle: I would go with a carbon tax.

Miriam: I would like to see the education system overhauled and the way we teach kids totally different from how it is now.

John: I would like to see all decisions filtered through an environmental lens. So everything that you are doing, make sure that you take into consideration the environment.

Fiona: I would like to see as much energy and effort and money that is put into useless wars and saving giant banks and I would like to basically a shift in money and I would like to see things like renewable energy and more sustainable solutions to our problems and our world, I would like to see those funded.

Gregory from Barrie

N: Why are you here today?

Gregory: I’m for jobs. I haven’t been able to get a job in two years and I don’t think I should have to be on welfare at my age. I’m 21. I want to go to college but I can’t afford to pay my rent so how am I going to afford college.

N: If you could change one thing, what would it be?

Gregory: Equal voting. More distributed voting where you…you know…

N: Proportional representation?

Gregory: Yes! That’s it! I was having a brain fart.





Casey and Sarah from Toronto

N: What’s your cause?

Casey: I think that there are a lot of things that people are saying that they don’t like and I think that we can come together and find solutions to our problems.

N: If you could change one thing, what would it be?

Casey: I think we need to start with respect for one another. I think when you have respect then you are not just thinking about yourself and you’re not just being like “well if I just support his then I’ll make more money”

Sarah: I just want people to support their own communities. Smart Centres kill communities. If you put a Smart Center in a town then nobody shops downtown and you end up with all these fucking ghost towns. Everyone just goes there because it’s easy and then all these small stores get pushed out by big business.

Erin and her daughter Ava from Toronto

N: Why are you here today?

Erin: She’s my cause, with the current trends in our economic system I fear for my daughter’s future. I know that we have a lot lacking in our social and welfare systems. I’m not quite sure about what corporatization and globalization is going to do to her opportunities so I want to make my voice heard no matter how small it is.

N: If you could change one thing what would it be?

Erin: I would like to see a tax on the top 1% and see them have to contribute to the social welfare system that they been taking away from.

N: How about you Ava?

Ava: I want give money to the poor and have money for me to save and I’m going to get money and give it to the poor.

Anonymous #1 & #2 from Thornhill

N: Why are you here today?

Anon #1: We are protesting ourselves essentially. You understand that when you stop working for one month you are evicted essentially. Everybody here is working full time, paying their mortgage, property taxes, income taxes, food and everything else and then at the end of the day you have nothing left. So if you lose your job you are screwed, you are out of your basic necessities. So it’s like a new form of slavery. If people knew about the banking system in Canada, the reason why we have such high income tax, the reason why we interest payments are so high, the reason why prices go up but salaries don’t go up… This is what regular people know. They know that the cost of living goes up but the salaries stay the same. And if they understand why, then things could start to change. I want to get this message across to people because they know they’re being screwed but they don’t know how. The biggest criticism of these protestors that I’ve been hearing is that these people don’t understand economics. First of all, you need to understand economics to know you are being screwed, but second of all, if everybody here just shared it with someone next to them about how banks create money out of thin air and then charge interest on it and then foreclose on houses and indebt the government and bribe politicians then I think the message would be much clearer.

N: So if you could change one thing, what would it be?

Anon #1: Money is debt! If money was created out of value and not out of debt then I think we would be in a much better starting place and we would be much better off.

(Photography by W.S. Rivera)


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About Nick Kiverago

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