Occupy movement grows slowly

Red Deer’s Occupy movement has grown five-fold since Derrick Callan kept a lonely vigil on the steps of City Hall on a cold day last November.

Collen Graham shares snacks with Occupy Red Deer colleagues Ken Collier

Collen Graham shares snacks with Occupy Red Deer colleagues Ken Collier

Red Deer’s Occupy movement has grown five-fold since Derrick Callan kept a lonely vigil on the steps of City Hall on a cold day last November.

But while the active protesters could still be counted on the fingers of one hand on this much warmer Sunday, Callan believes the movement actually has scores of local supporters who stand by its demands for economic fairness and equality for all.

“I get a lot of people coming up to me, saying they support us — people from the churches, people I haven’t seen before . . . I think there’s a lot of back-door support from people who don’t like standing out in the limelight,” said Callan, the Red Deer College student who facilitates the local movement.

The broad goal of Occupy Red Deer is to express dissatisfaction with increasing economic inequality in Canada.

No one wants to shut down the corporations that provide Alberta with economic benefits and jobs — the aim is to distrubute wealth more fairly, said Callan, who would like better government regulations and tax laws. “The gap between rich and poor is growing wider and wider.”

Each person who stood Sunday in front of City Hall — including a single mother on disability, a retired lawyer, and retired farmer — had related concerns about health care, the environment, water rights, the lack of child care and opportunities for the disabled.

“Most of it fits in with poverty,” added Callan, who believes Alberta is still considered the best place to live in the country, weathering the last recession better than most provinces.

Yet, there is “hidden homelessness” here, and working poor people, who often must hold down multiple jobs to squeak by.

“During the boom, companies and big businesses were making huge profits, but the wages of working families didn’t go up at the same rate.

“If our standard of living went up, it was because people were working longer hours,” and going into debt, said Callan. “Companies were making profits off the backs of workers.”

Fellow Occupy protestor Ken Collier added that certain CEOs, who are in the top-paid “one percent,” earned as much in the first three hours of 2012 as most people do for the entire year.

That’s why We Are the 99 Percent has become the name for new groups that have formed after Occupy camps were shut down in other cities across Canada, said Collier, who’s retired and also a member of Friends of Medicare and The Council of Canadians.

While Red Deer’s protestors never had a camp and were never asked to vacate municipal property, city workers did come out to sweep away the word ‘Occupy’ when it was written in the snow, or with sidewalk chalk, said Callan. (He joked that protestors would be doing Red Deer citizens a favour by spelling “Occupy” on the bumpy, ice-caked streets to bring the plows out sooner.)

Because the movement has to change to stay in the public eye, Callan is already planning special activities and events throughout the year to get the message out to more people.

For the next few Sundays, public information sessions will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Red Deer Public Library’s Waskasoo room. Anyone interested can also join the noon to 4 p.m. protest in front of City Hall, before and after the session.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Innisfail RCMP arrest man following ‘lengthy pursuit’

Innisfail RCMP say a “lengthy pursuit” through a rural area ended with… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan speaks in the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday in this image from his Facebook page.
Red Deer MLA Jason Stephan sounds off on socialism in anti-lockdown speech

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has applauded his government’s COVID-19 response, saying… Continue reading

(Photo by Paul Cowley/ Advocate Staff)
Mask bylaws not popular in rural areas

Red Deer and Blackfalds bylaws requiring masks in public places kick in on Monday

A GoFundMe campaign to support a Stettler couple following a fire has raised more than $3,000. (Contributed photo)
Family pet dies in Stettler fire

GoFundMe page has raised more than $3K so far

Canadian Olympic gymnast and National Sport School alumni Kyle Shewfelt announces his retirement in Calgary, Thursday, May 21, 2009. Calgary's board of education will close the National Sport School that has produced Olympic and Paralympic champions for 26 years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Calgary’s National Sport School to close, looks to join a different school division

Canada's Erica Wiebe, left, celebrates after defeating Nigeria's Blessing Onyebuchi, right on the ground, to win Gold medal in women's FS 76Kg wrestling at the Commonwealth Games on Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Canada’s Olympic champion wrestler Erica Wiebe eyes return to competition

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah Mitchell (15) is tackled by Coastal Carolina linebacker Enock Makonzo (43) and safety Cameron Mitchell (49) during the first half of an NCAA football game in Lafayette, La., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. It's already been a season to remember but Canadian Enock Makonzo and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will chase two more firsts Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Paul Kieu
Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Canadian Enock Makonzo, Chanticleers chase Sun Belt East regular-season crown

Atlanta United's Mo Adams, right, challenges Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo during first half MLS soccer action in East Hartford, Conn., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020. Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo says he finished the season with an injured leg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jessica Hill
Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Toronto FC ready to refocus on future as long, hard season comes to an end

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart speak to the media during a visit to the Molson Overdose Prevention Site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Thursday, January 16, 2020. City councillors in Vancouver voted unanimously this week to ask federal officials for an exemption to Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, a decision advocates hope will blaze a trail for the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use in other municipalities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Advocates aim to shape ‘Vancouver model’ for drug decriminalization

Senator Murray Sinclair appears before the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples in Ottawa, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Sinclair is planning to leave the Senate early next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Sen. Murray Sinclair, former head of TRC, set to leave the upper chamber next January

Carolina De La Torre, right, owner of Arepas Ranch in Calgary, poses for a photo with her husband in this undated handout photo. The Venezuelan woman who believes she was used as part of Jason Kenney's argument not to lockdown restaurants in the province remembers her encounter with the premier as a lot less dramatic than he suggested. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carolina De La Torre *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

‘No crying’: Venezuelan refugee Kenney cited says interaction was less dramatic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question from a reporter during a bi-weekly news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Trudeau feels most Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021

Most Read