Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Granny Power

Magazine article Canadian Dimension

Granny Power

Article excerpt

She has howled under a full moon on the Nevada nuclear test site, been arrested as Mother Earth in a temperate rainforest, and shared an Israeli jail cell with 14 women and no toilet paper. And that's just what she did last year.

At age 65, Jean McLaren is living proof you can't keep a good Raging Granny down. In fact, this silver-haired grandmother of twelve who co-founded the Gabriola chapter of the Raging Grannies has been raging most of her adult life.

In the 1950s she hit the bricks in Vancouver gathering signatures on Ban the Bomb petitions, undaunted by people spitting on her, slamming doors in her face, and sicking their dogs on her. In 1968 she was turfed out of the Communist Party for protesting the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Today this self-described weaver, witch, poet, and rabble rouser belongs to no political party and says she doesn't need a label to know who the oppressed people are.

McLaren is one of the unsung heroes in the worldwide struggle for peace, social justice, and environmental sanity. Although she has travelled the globe to confront injustice, she is anonymous outside of her small coastal BC community of Gabriola Island near Nanaimo.

But to those who know her, she is a reminder that social change is brought about not by faceless movements and their authorized leaders but by ordinary people challenging extraordinary wrongs with whatever resources, wit, creativity, and sweat they can muster.

Last June, McLaren spent two days in an Israeli jail with 100 other peace activists from around the world who tried to walk into the Israeli-occupied West Bank on the 25th anniversary of the Six Day War.

When she returned home, she didn't even unpack before heading off to Vancouver Island's Clayoquot Sound, the largest lowland temperate rainforest left on the planet. …

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