Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Occupy Diehards Camp through Fierce Gales and Winter Storms in Newfoundland: Occupy Diehards Persist in Newfoundland

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Occupy Diehards Camp through Fierce Gales and Winter Storms in Newfoundland: Occupy Diehards Persist in Newfoundland

Article excerpt

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A large makeshift tent covered with layers of tarp is all that shields diehard Occupy protesters from the fierce winds that lash their seaside camp in St. John's.

Along with a part-time camp in Moncton, N.B., the shelter nestled into the corner of a harbourfront park in St. John's persists in Canada as part of the Occupy Wall Street uprising that swept North America last fall.

Protesters in major centres such as Vancouver and Toronto were evicted in November, while city staff in Fredericton dismantled a local camp last week.

"It hasn't been that bad," said a shivering Ken Canning, 19, who joined the St. John's protest against corporate power and social injustice on Oct. 17, two days after it started.

He has stayed through ferocious gales clocked at more than 100 kilometres an hour, a storm that dumped 30 centimetres of snow and frigid downpours. He has no plans to leave, and the City of St. John's says it won't force the issue unless there's danger or disruption.

"It's essentially camping in winter in the middle of a city," Canning said. "I've done it out in the woods."

Canning is holding down the Occupy fort with two other young men as various supporters come and go. They've relied on a portable toilet maintained by the local Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, water from an Anglican church and random donations of food and blankets. They shower and do laundry at friends' houses.

Propane, also supplied by the union, fuels a space heater and a cooking stove.

Canning is putting up with any discomfort to make a point.

"Our politics needs to change," he said. "Our politicians do not represent the voter. They represent their financial backers.

"They give lip service to the voters and then they turn around and backstab them."

Canning, who moved from B.C. to Newfoundland two years ago to live with relatives after his father died, has no contact with his mother, he said. Other family members either don't understand or don't agree with his views, he added.

Canning isn't fazed by that, or by those who downplay the Occupy movement as an aimless flare-up. He believes it has made a lasting mark.

"This has been the first time where we've had a global movement that has been willing to step up and actually point out what's been going wrong in our society. …

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