Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for November, 2011

BUY NOTHING DAY: FRIDAY NOVEMBER 25

Posted by strattof on November 24, 2011

Tomorrow, Friday November 25, is BUY NOTHING DAY, an international day of protest against consumerism. Started in Vancouver in 1992, BUY NOTHING DAY is now celebrated in over 60 countries. In North America, it takes place on the Friday after American Thanksgiving, the day that marks the beginning of the Christmas consumer-spending splurge–one of the top 10 busiest shopping days in the US and Canada. In the rest of the world it takes place on the following Saturday.

What is BUY NOTHING DAY?

●A 24 hour holiday from shopping ●A respite from the rigours of the consumer economy ●A global moratorium on consumer spending ●A pause from shopping for reflection ●A protest against the unequal distribution of wealth in our country and worldwide ●A protest against the damaging effects of overconsumption on the environment and our lives.

Take part in BUY NOTHING DAY:

Spend a day without spending!

The best thing is IT’S FREE!!

CONSUMERISM = DISASTER

  • Our consumerist economic system is based on corporate greed-driven priorities, rather than the interests of all Canadians. It has led us to the brink of financial disaster: massive job losses, rising energy costs, skyrocketing rents, a housing crisis, increased food prices, extreme wealth disparity.
  • Dependent on unsustainable consumer spending as the engine of economic growth, this same economic system has taken us to the very edge of an even more ominous crisis: an environmental disaster. Our reckless consumption–all that stuff we buy–is depleting the earth’s resources and polluting the environment.  

A QUIZ FOR SHOPPERS:

8 QUESTIONS TO ASK EVERY TIME WE GO SHOPPING

  1. Do I need it?
  2. How long will it last?
  3. Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
  4. Can I get it second hand?
  5. How will I dispose of it when I’m done using it?
  6. What resources have been used to produce it?
  7. Are those resources renewable or nonrenewable?
  8. Is it made from recycled materials and is it recyclable?

ALTERNATIVES TO SHOPPING

OR HOW TO FIND TRUE HAPPINESS

Studies show that, after basic needs are met, real happiness comes, not from all that stuff we buy, but rather from such things as ●fulfilling social relationships ●engagement with community ●creative activities ●exercise ●mental and spiritual enrichment ●contact with nature ●activism (we’d be really happy if you joined us at the vigil☺).

We can get out of the rat race by putting a stop to unnecessary shopping. When we are not pressured to work to pay for pointless stuff –a new outfit, a bigger car, the latest gadget–we have more time for activities that can give us lasting happiness.

OCCUPY REGINA, WE THANK YOU

We are grateful to you for helping us to understand how a consumerist economic system works. Thanks to you and other participants in the Occupy movement, we now know that  

  • Income inequality in Canada is the worst it has ever been.
  • Corporate power has undermined democratic ideals at all levels of government in Canada and is destroying the environment.

We salute you for standing against injustice and inequality. And we thank you for standing up for the rest of us, the 99%. It could not have been easy. Yet you stood firm, unshaken by the hostility of the powerful 1% or by bitter winter weather. We are in awe of your courage and fortitude.

THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT CONTINUES

On November 10, the City of Regina served Occupy Regina with eviction notices, citing infringement of the City’s Parks and Open Space bylaw. This bylaw is not intended to violate constitutional rights. However, enforcing it in the case of the Occupy movement does just that: violate the protesters Charter rights to freedom of conscience, of expression, of peaceful assembly, and of association.

City officials also cited “health and safety issues.” If the city had in fact been concerned about the health and safety of the occupiers, it would not have cut electricity to the park or removed Occupy Regina’s portable toilet.   

Despite eviction notices, the Occupy movement lives on in Regina and elsewhere. You can evict people, but

YOU CAN’T EVICT AN IDEA

Posted in environment, justice | Leave a Comment »

NATIONAL HOUSING DAY: TUESDAY NOVEMBER 22

Posted by strattof on November 18, 2011

There is a housing crisis in Regina. ●The apartment vacancy rate is 0.7%, which means almost no rental accommodation is available. ●In 2010, over 3,400 people used one or more of the city’s shelter services. ●Many others double bunk, couch surf, or live in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions. Some even live in cars or garages. These latter groups could easily double the number of homeless people in Regina.

D A Y   O F   H O U S I N G   A C T I O N

Join the University of Regina’s Social Work Students’ Society and the Red Tent Campaign for a housing march and rally. The goal is to draw attention to the housing crisis in Regina and to put pressure on all levels of government to work together to provide affordable housing.    

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 22

9 am        Congregate in Victoria Park and begin to march to the Legislative Building

10 am      Arrive at the Legislative Building for a housing rally

HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA: 10 KEY FACTS

1. According to one estimate, nearly 7,000 people in Regina are close to, or have recently experienced, homelessness.

2. Between 2008 and 2010, homeless shelter use in Regina rose by 44.5%.

3. Between 2006 and 2010, the average resale price of residential homes in Regina increased by 86%.

4. Between April 2008 and April 2011, the number of apartments in Regina decreased by over 500, due mainly to the conversion of apartments to condominiums. Over the same period, Regina’s population increased by over 10,000 people.

5. Regina’s apartment vacancy rate (currently 0.7%) has remained at or below 1% since 2008. A 3% vacancy rate is considered normal. In April 2011, Regina had the lowest apartment vacancy rate in Canada. There were only 74 vacant apartments in the city.

6. Since 2006, average rents in Regina have increased by 9% a year.  Between 2006 and 2010, average rents in Regina went up 43%.

7. The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Regina in April 2011 was $770, an increase of $53 (7.4%) a month from the previous year. Assuming a 40-hour work week for 4.34 weeks a month, individuals earning the minimum wage of $9.50 an hour would spend approximately 46% of their before-tax income on rent for a one-bedroom apartment. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “Affordable Housing” as costing a household 30% or less of its before-tax income.

8. 20% of Regina households live in ‘core housing need,’ meaning they can’t find a home that costs less than 30% of their household income, that has enough room for its occupants, or that doesn’t need major repairs.

9. A recent Salvation Army survey reported that one in five Saskatchewan adults has come close to or has actually experienced homelessness at some time in his/her life.

10. Last winter, Carmichael Outreach put out a call to citizens of Regina to donate used tents–a desperate and pathetic response to the homelessness crisis. 

SOLVING THE HOUSING CRISIS

The biggest causes of homelessness are

1. Financial: loss of a job, rent increases, a fixed income;

2. Lack of affordable housing.

Relying on the private sector to solve the housing crisis will only send more people out into the cold. The Saskatchewan housing market has been unregulated for 20 years. If it were in the interest of the private sector to provide affordable housing, it would already have done so and there would be no housing crisis.

The solution to the housing crisis is intervention in the housing market by all levels of government. Here are some of the things each level of government can do:

CITY COUNCIL can

  • Pass landlord licensing laws.
  • Develop affordable housing units that would be managed by the Regina Housing Authority.
  • Require developers to include affordable housing in their plans or to pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
  • Deny applications for condo conversions when the apartment vacancy rate is under 3%.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT can

  • Pass rent control legislation to prevent exploitative rent increases.
  • Build affordable homes and rental accommodation.
  • Allocate 3% of all natural resource royalties to affordable housing.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can

  • Develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

BOOM FOR WHOM?

Our city is experiencing unprecedented prosperity. But clearly the economic good times have not delivered equally good results for all. We could house everyone if we had the will to do so. What kind of city do we want to live in?

HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT

Safe, secure housing is a human right, protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, [and] housing.”

OCCUPY REGINA

A number of homeless people in Regina found a home with Occupy Regina. Earlier this week, the City of Regina shut Occupy Regina down. Given that Canada is a signatory to the Declaration of Human Rights, the City is legally obligated to find safe, secure housing for those with Occupy Regina who do not have a home to go to.

TAKE ACTION

  • Let Mayor Pat Fiacco and your City Councillor know about the City’s legal obligations to those with Occupy Regina who are homeless: Go to the City of Regina homepage (www.regina.ca) and click on “contact” (upper right-hand corner).

Posted in justice | Leave a Comment »

REMEMBRANCE DAY: TO REMEMBER IS TO WORK FOR PEACE

Posted by strattof on November 10, 2011

AFGHANISTAN:  REMEMBERING THOSE KILLED, 20012011

CANADIANS: 157

SOLDIERS FROM OTHER NATO NATIONS: 2562

AFGHAN SOLDIERS: Untold 1000s

 AFGHAN CIVILIANS: 17,61137,208

R  E  M  E  M  B  E  R    F  O  R    P  E  A  C  E

WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE–Jimi Hendrix

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy?–Mahatma Gandhi

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.–Albert Einstein

We used to wonder where war lives, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves.–Albert Camus

Peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth and the larger whole of which we are a part.–The Earth Charter

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.–Martin Luther King, Jr.

You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb the world to peace.–Michael Franti

W  H  I  T  E     P  O  P  P  I  E  S

In place of the traditional red poppy, some of us are wearing a white poppy. Our reason is as follows:

The red poppy has been the emblem of Remembrance Day in Canada since 1921. In the beginning, Remembrance Day ceremonies were an occasion to mourn the dead, renounce war, and pledge to work for peace.

In recent years, however, Remembrance Day events have become celebrations of militaristic values and opportunities to build support for war and massive military spending.

The white poppy is a symbol of peace without violence. It represents a commitment to work for a world where conflicts will be resolved without violence and with justice.

If you would like a white poppy, please ask one of us. We are happy to give you one, as long as our supply lasts. To order white poppies for future Remembrance Days, go to: http://www.ppu.org.uk

Posted in afghanistan, justice, peace activism | 3 Comments »

ELECTION SPECIAL: FIVE MORE QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES

Posted by strattof on November 3, 2011

1

What would you do to stop school closures in Saskatchewan?

All across the province, communities and neighbourhoods are being devastated by school closures. In Regina alone, 5 schools in the public system have been closed since 2008. At a recent Regina Public School Board meeting two more, Haultain and Dieppe, were cited for closure.

As a result of these closures, more and more of the province’s children are being bused to large and distant schools. Should closures continue at the present rate, 46% of public elementary school children in Regina will be riding the bus to school.

School closures have a negative impact on neighbourhood stability, quality of life for residents, and local property values.

  • Research shows that students do better in smaller schools and smaller classrooms. It also shows that small schools are more economically efficient than large schools.
  • Busing is not good for students or for the environment.
  • Closures are often based on outmoded school enrollment data. The fact is the population of the province is growing and overcrowding has become a serious concern at many schools.

For more information about school closures in Regina, visit the website of Real Renewal: www.realrenewal.org

2

What will your party do to reduce income inequality in Saskatchewan?

  • Who is benefitting from Saskatchewan’s booming economy? It is definitely not those who are unemployed and/or homeless. Nor is it seniors or recipients of social assistance or students or minimum wage workers or middle-income earners or Aboriginal communities or….
  • In Saskatchewan in 2009, the richest 20% held 43.1% of total after-tax income, while the poorest 20% held 5%.
  • In March 2010, 22,662 people in Saskatchewan used the food bank, a 20% increase over 2009. 44% of these food bank users were children.
  • Since 2008, homeless shelter use in Regina has risen by 25%. In 2010, 2,686 adults slept in homeless shelters in Regina.
  • Last winter, Carmichael Outreach put out a call to citizens of Regina to donate used tents–a last “housing” option for people.
  • In 2010, the CEO of PotashCorp took home $11,264,973, while a full-time minimum wage worker earned $19,240.
  • In 2010, PotashCorp earned $1.8 billion on its potash mines in Saskatchewan, but paid only $76.5 million in taxes and royalties, a mere 5% of its earnings.

 6 WAYS TO REDUCE INCOME INEQUALITY

  • Increase the minimum wage to at least $11.50 an hour and then index it to cost-of-living increases.
  • Raise social assistance benefits until they reach the poverty line and then index them to cost-of-living increases.
  • Build affordable homes and rental accommodation.
  • Pass rent control legislation.
  • Raise the royalty rates on corporations extracting natural resources.
  • Allocate 3% of all natural resource royalties to poverty reduction.

OCCUPY REGINA

Find out more about income inequality in Saskatchewan by visiting Occupy Regina, Victoria Park plaza, 12th Ave. and Scarth St.  When the Occupy protesters say “we are the 99%,” that is what they are referring to: the concentration of the province’s wealth in fewer and fewer hands. We salute the occupiers of Victoria Park for their bravery and fortitude and thank them for standing up for the rest of us.      

3

Do you support natural resource revenue sharing between the province and Aboriginal peoples?

Saskatchewan is leading the nation in economic growth. But the wealth of the province is not being shared with First Nations and Métis peoples. Indeed, 45% of the province’s Aboriginal children live in poverty. That’s over three times the poverty rate for non-Aboriginal children.

Resource sharing would help close the economic gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Since Saskatchewan’s wealth comes mainly from the exploitation of resources on Aboriginal land, it would also be a first step in righting a historical wrong.

4

Where does your party stand on the development of tar sands in Saskatchewan?

Oilsands Quest, a Calgary-based company, plans to start developing Saskatchewan’s first commercial tar sands project in the near future.

Despite claims to the contrary, there is nothing ethical about tar sands oil, which is an environmental, human, and ethical catastrophe.

Tar sands production generates as much as 20% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil. It is the single biggest contributor to the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. According to NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, the continued development of tar sands is likely to trigger irreversible climate change.

  • It takes 3-7 barrels of water to produce a single barrel of tar sands oil.
  • Tar sands production causes acid rain. Acid rain caused by Alberta tar sands production is already pouring down on Saskatchewan, causing damage to the ecosystem and human health.

To find out more about tar sands oil, visit the website of the Pembina Institute: Pembina.org/oil-sands

5

Are you committed to establishing a long-term plan, with long-term funding, to substantially increase the number of regulated early-learning and childcare spaces in the province?

Saskatchewan ranks last among the provinces in providing regulated childcare spaces, according to a recently released YWCA study. A 2008 study shows that only 9.1% of young Saskatchewan children have access to regulated childcare, less than half the national average. Quality buildings and trained staff are also in short supply.  

Early childhood education matters:

  • Social Benefits: Studies show that high quality early childhood education boosts literacy, high school graduation rates, postsecondary participation, and adult productivity. It thus increases equality.
  • Economic Benefits: Quality early childhood education also pays huge economic dividends. It is estimated that $1 invested in the early years saves between $3 and $9 in future spending on health, social assistance, and criminal justice systems. According to another estimation, investment in early childhood education generates a long-term annual return of 12.2%. In other words, kids outperform government bonds and equities by a long shot.

Posted in climate, environment, justice | 3 Comments »