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Toronto: Direct Action Star of the Season

BLM-TO and INAC occupations set new tone. No One Is Illegal and Protest Barrick demos coming up.

by David Gray-Donald

Rally outside Indigenous and Northern Affairs office in Toronto, with twelve occupiers inside. April 19, 2016.
Rally outside Indigenous and Northern Affairs office in Toronto, with twelve occupiers inside. April 19, 2016.
Black Lives Matter occupation of police headquarters after another cold night. April 4, 2016.
Black Lives Matter occupation of police headquarters after another cold night. April 4, 2016.
Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLM-TO) braved an attack from police and occupied space at Toronto Police Headquarters for 15 cold days and nights in March and early April.
Now, a bit up town, twelve people are one week into occupying offices of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) over persistently horrid conditions in Attawapiskat (and elsewhere), and a related Indigenous youth suicide epidemic.
Both groups have won some of their demands.
And both peaceful direct actions have sparked shows of solidarity and activity across the country. INAC offices in other cities are now being occupied (check out #occupyINAC on Twitter). Black Lives Matter Vancouver, a brand new chapter, held a launch event a few days ago.
Toronto, Canada's business centre, not exactly famous for its radicalism, is having a little moment of direct action glory. Led by Black and Indigenous folks, the work on the ground is helping push liberatory and decolonial politics from coast to coast to coast. And the next couple weeks are busy.
Upcoming Toronto Protests
The INAC occupation ends tomorrow, Thursday, with a rally at 4 pm at 25 St Clair East.
This Friday, April 22nd at 1:30 pm, No One Is Illegal are holding a rally at Liberal Party of Canada offices (10 St Mary Street, Yonge & Charles), sparked by two deaths in a week last month of people held in Canada's immigration system. 
Francisco Javier Romero Astorga and Melkioro Gahungu both perished. After Gahungu was jailed without charges for at least a year, he commit suicide. In Astorga's case, the family is still looking for answers. In a video, Fransisco's brother Estaban says, "'Francisco was a dreamer and a fighter who never gave up. He was to me a friend, a confidant, a brave person. We are fighting now to the know the very basic things about his death.'" 
The event page for Friday's rally states that, "Immigration detention is indefinite, unjust, and deadly. It must end."
Next Tuesday, April 26, further downtown at 255 Front St (Metro Convention Centre), is the 10th annual Protest Barrick rally at the Barrick Gold shareholders annual general meeting. 
Sakura Saunders, editor of, says at Tuesday's action people can expect "a festive environment because we come together in the spirit of community to support the communities that are impacted by Barrick's operations. At first [event starts at 11 am] there is going to be food, music, performances by Rhythms of ResistanceTest Their LogikAmai Kuda and Y Josephine, and speeches from people that have gone to these communities." 
There will also be people with first hand experience seeing Barrick's effects testifying to shareholders inside the gold miner's meeting. "When the shareholders come out," Saunder says, "that's when things turn from festive to a little more confrontational, but still happy, proud vibes." That's when the marching band starts up.
Then, that Sunday, May 1st, it's May Day, International Workers Day. A demonstration, the 11th annual, is being held (non-Facebook page here). 
Those protests are all happening in the next two weeks. Later in the season is the Grassy Narrows River Run, among other actions. 

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David Gray-Donald (David Gray-Donald)
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