Activists relive glories of past successes at Revolution-ary get-together

Before the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, thousands of Edmontonians participated in several global marches protesting the military action. Back then, it was exciting to find out that millions of other people around the world had also come out to be part of a collective voice against that war—but the excitement was somewhat fleeting. Here were these huge pep rallies, but nobody was allowed to be a part of the game.

“I am not a big fan of marching and rallying,” says activist and U of A student Jenika Watson. “It doesn’t seem to engage people like some of the smaller actions.” Last year, Watson and local activist and U of A law graduate Mike Hudema took part in a protest of the Cheviot Mine, which is situated less than two kilometres outside of Jasper National Park. Their act of civil disobedience involved turning the lawn of Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan’s office into a mock open-pit mine by covering it with landscape fabric and gravel. Watson says they took a carnival approach to the protest, complete with people dressed in costumes. “The open-pit coal mine was one of my favourite actions,” she says. “It was fun because we got the message across, but we enjoyed it at the same time.”

It is in that spirit of enjoyment that Watson, Hudema and Watson’s friend and roommate Amy Sallenbach are organizing Evolution of the Revolution, a party that will offer an opportunity for labour, environmental and student activists to look back on various actions and recount their successes, such as the successful contract negotiations during the A-Channel strike and their lobbying the government to not participate in ballistic missile defence. “It’s just a chance to get together,” Hudema says, “and recognize we’ve done a lot of good work and that we recommit ourselves to the campaigns we’re still working on and the battles we still need to fight.” The trio is inviting people to bring mementos of their favourite protest for all to see, and the celebration will include a few bands, a couple of DJs and some belly dancers.

The party is also meant to raise awareness and funds for Watson and Sallenbach’s Gypsy Extravaganza Awareness Road Show (GEARS), a group that aims to provide people with some of the resources and skills necessary to live harmoniously with the planet, such as composting, organic gardening and punk parenting (which encourages children to be critical thinkers).

Hudema will be keeping himself busy with an exhausting number of other projects. Besides co-hosting Rise Up Radio on CJSR, he’s also helping with the campaign to get genetically modified foods labeled as such in the grocery store, lobbying the Alberta government to participate in the proposed national childcare program, and organizing various activist workshops on direct action and consensus building. He has also been involved with the Boreal Road Show, which has already taken him and other environmentalists to 12 communities across Alberta, setting up presentations on the importance of and the threats to the province’s boreal forests; Hudema reports the project has been getting a lot of positive feedback.

Positive feedback is something Watson, Sallenbach and Hudema hope to encourage at the gathering. “If you burn out, then you can’t do anything,” Watson says. “And you’re not going to encourage people to join the movement if you hate it. And we all have to pick up and carry this ball.” V

Evolution of the Revolution

Queen Alex Hall • Fri, May 20 (8:30pm) • For more information, contact Jenika Watson at 437-1550