Tuesday, June 29, 2010

G8 and G20 aftermath in Toronto

By day's end on Saturday June 26th I had received calls from family and many friends as far away as my home province, Nova Scotia, asking if I was safe and if I needed a place to stay far away from my downtown Toronto condo. There were times when I considered their offer but in the end I felt safe tucked away in my little corner of this vast city that I am trying very hard to call home.

The Black Bloc was unfamiliar to me prior to the protests and riots here this past weekend. It appears the Bloc is a group with no leader and no organization. They show up, wreak havoc as they hide their faces and then they leave. They hid among well intentioned protesters on our steets and then broke away storming through streets, damaging banks and corporate storefronts as well as setting fire to police cruisers. They refer to our city as a State - suggesting, to me, they are from out-of-town. For over 90 minutes here a mass of black-clad protesters took over the streets. "Nobody speaks for anybody in this milieu. They're totally organic structures of people that come together in a certain time and place, and then they disolve," said a graduate student with a US University. Sina Rahmani, a graduate student with the University of California, has written on the history and meaning of the Black Bloc tactic.

On our streets, Bloc members sometimes appeared organized - they used code words to pass along directions and as their rampage came to an end, they formed a tight huddle, changed into street clothes and carefully dispersed into the crowd.

What I was bothered by, almost as much as the Black Bloc, was hearing the many locals who felt they had been wronged by our police when they were simply "out for a walk," or "just wanted to see what was going on and forgot my ID," or "I was just taking my daughter for a walk and we came across the protest." Come on! Imagine how ticked off we would be with our police force if one of the Black Bloc had gotten away from a policeman by saying, "Officer I am just out for a walk and forgot my ID!"

The visible fences are coming down - but the invisible fences will be up for some time to come. Probes will take place, blame will be cast and the police forces from all areas that came to keep us safe will be talked about by so called experts - who really are not experts at all.

This is a tough city to call home - I am working on it.

Carol Ann

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Here Comes Summer!

Where did June go? This month has passed in a blur . . . and now we make plans for the summer. This is an exciting time of the year and I love it.

I have a few very different projects on the go but the one taking most of my time and the one I find totally rewarding at the moment is a writing project with the Good Neighbours' Club. I spend each Wednesday morning at the Club working with different members who would like to have their life story (or part of it) captured in words. Many of the men are homeless, most are unemployed and some have various forms of illness to deal with. I find it humbling to work with these individuals - I am learning so much from them. They share their story with ease and spare no detail - most have lived a very hard and difficult life and they are still young men. If we are able to capture a sufficient number of stories I hope to put them all together in a book that would raise much needed money for the GNC. We will see.

I visited with family at beautiful Sylvan Lake (about two hours South of Edmonton) this month and it was nice to have a short vacation at this time of the year. It was so relaxing and much more quiet than downtown Toronto!

Jalen's school year is winding down - next year - Grade ONE.

Enjoy Canada Day - coming up fast.