Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Postcards from the Toronto Vigil in memory of Robert Dziekanski

On October 14, 2007, Robert Dziekanski was killed by RCMP officers in Vancouver International Airport. On November 24, 2007 hundreds of people gathered in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, to honour Robert's memory and to demand an end to the use of TASER(TM) guns. I decided to attend the Toronto vigil with a group of friends--lovely people from Bread & Roses.

As our BnR coterie gathered together on the snowy, muddy lawn at Queen's Park, Aga Magdolen, one of the organizers of the vigil read from a postcard that the late Dziekanski sent to his mother last year:

"People become good by doing good; it is rare that a person is good by nature alone.
Goodness does not exist so one can make use of it. Goodness does not flow from a place of weakness but one of power."

"Ludzie staja sie dobrzy poprzez praktykowanie dobroci, rzadko sie zdarza czlowiek dobry z natury. Dobroc istnieje wcale nie po to by z niej korzystac. Dobroc nie moze wyplywac ze slabosci tylko z potegi." Gliwice, 26/07/2006

--from the postcard that Robert sent to his mother, Zofia Cisowski, July 26, 2006
Organizers of the vigil: Mike Mlynarczyk (left), Aga Magdolen (centre), and Wojtek Smiegowski (right)

After observing a moment of silence, the organizers invited a series of speakers:
  1. Former Ontario Premier Bob Rae
  2. Alan Borovoy - General Counsel - Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  3. Andy Buxton--Representative from Amnesty International
  4. Peggy Nash - NDP MP for High Park
  5. Borys Wrzesnewskyj – Liberal MP for Etobicoke Centre
  6. Louiza Szacon-an excellent student representative (UWO); she gave the most passionate speech of the afternoon!
  7. ? (my sincere apologies, but I missed the name of the elegant woman in the beige coat & black wrap)
  8. Cheri DiNovo - NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park
  9. Mike Wallace--Conservative MP for Burlington; the only one to elicit audible Booooo!s (for parroting Stockboy one time too many)
  10. Wladyslaw Lizon – President - Canadian Polish Congress
And you know what? As angry and sad as we felt...the crowd never lost focus on why we were all there. There were no "Legalize Pot!" or "Free X, Y, or Z" signs. No white guys with dreadlocks, walkin' around on stilts (not that I have any problems with those things/people).

Nope. Saturday was a day for Robert, and what his death meant to us as Canadians. Peaceful reflection and excellent signs, most demanding answers and action:

Text of the multi-coloured sign (lower pic): "I was hungry; you didn't feed me. I was thirsty; you didn't quench me. I was confused; you murdered me." This powerful sign was singled out by Cheri DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale/High Park.

Debra at April Reign has also blogged about Saturday's vigil, where she brings the Big Picture into sharp focus:
As was stated at the rally this is no longer just about 4 officers, or TASER™’s this is about a culture and climate of political change which has allowed and encouraged the police to see the general public as an enemy to be subdued.
Finally, if I had one "postcard" from Saturday's vigil that I would be honoured to send Robert's mother, it would be this one:


Blogger Beijing York said...

You brought me to tears Kitty. What a beautiful and thoughtful post.

11/27/2007 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*hugs* Thanks so much for reading, B.Y.

11/27/2007 11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your photo of all those candles says it all, Kitty. (And what you said about how "the public" have become someone to avoid and to fear.)

I worry about what will become of anyone who is vulnerable for whatever reason and under whatever circumstances in our increasingly cold-hearted country. It's so easy to fall through the cracks these days and when you do, the system is no longer just insensitive; it can be unthinking, uncaring, and irrational, and the consequences can be every mother's worst nightmare.

11/28/2007 11:49 AM  
Blogger Godammitkitty said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ann!

These developments are profoundly disturbing--I think my fury over these latest deaths has morphed into true FEAR for our country :(

"(And what you said about how "the public" have become someone to avoid and to fear.)"

Debra over at April Reign deserves 100% of the credit for that part of my post. She always nails it!

Best wishes & please keep up the great work at your blog, Ann!

11/28/2007 4:24 PM  
Blogger S James said...

Great commentary, central to the point, and very sad and sobering. I note that Amnesty International has a backgrounder on Tasers--here below, fyi.


Poignant sign indeed-thirst and death--thank you for transcribing. . .

12/05/2007 9:14 PM  
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