One year ago Calgary was one of the over 900 cities that witnessed a global movement, when hundreds of Calgarians gathered at Bankers Hall holding posters with slogans like “We are the 99%” and “People before profits.”
In that moment, Occupy Calgary born. Between 100 people occupied Olympic Plaza and St. Patrick Island to protest against social and economic inequality, and corporate greed and influence on government and democracy.
This past Wednesday, over 30 people gathered in a candlelight vigil to evoke memories of the movement that occupied the city for almost two months.
“I miss it a lot,” said Travis Ford, one of the first members of the movement.
For him, regardless of the many challenges that affronted the group, he considers the experience “sacred” and “profound”
“It was a journey of self discovery,” said Phillip Vernon, who was one of the treasurers of Occupy Calgary.
For Vernon, it was an opportunity to test himself and see if he and the others could stand up for the things they believe, and “we did.”
The camps were eventually shut down, but that created many communities that are “still working to change the world,” said Vernon.
While people helped each other to light their candles, Ford explained that the vigil had a different meaning to everyone, but primarily it was an opportunity for them all to come together.
Personally for Ford, the event was a recognition to the people that lost their lives trying to bring change to this world.
“It’s for those that had beautiful dreams and gave everything to advance humanity.”
He believes the entire movement was a success.
“It helped to change the dialogue.”
“Global inequality is no longer an obscure thing that only a few academics, or activist know about,” he said, “Now everyone recognizes it.”
The St. Patrick Island occupation, that was composed primarily of homeless advocating for affordable housing, packed up camp at the beginning of November, after reaching an accord with the Homeless Foundation and other groups for housing.
The Olympic Plaza occupation, that was advocating against corporate greed and inequality, was also evicted at the beginning of November after bad publicity and a tense relationship with Calgary Bylaw and City Hall.