Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mohawk Chief: “All I Can Do is Pray Things Change for My People”

(An edited version of this story appears in this week's NOW Magazine)

The Trudeau government has said it will consult with First Nations, but will it respect the duty to receive "free, prior, and informed consent" from indigenous communities?

Mohawk Chief Clinton Phillips in front of the St. Lawrence Seaway (credit: Mohawk Council of Kahnawake)

By Matthew Behrens
As the city of Montreal prepared to open the floodgates on 8-billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River, Kahnawake Mohawk Chief Clinton Phillips received a phone call from the person who ultimately approved the massive dump.
            It was newly minted Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, about to board a plane for the Paris climate conference pre-talk sessions. She spent 30 minutes discussing a scientific report that recommended a controlled sewage release as the least damaging of numerous lose-lose options.
            “She has invited me to participate in what is dubbed a post-mortem committee — their language, not mine – to ensure this doesn't happen again,” Phillips says, noting he appreciated that McKenna’s rock-and-a-hard-place decision was the predetermined product of years of municipal, provincial, and federal failure to fix what was identified two decades ago as a serious infrastructure challenge, one facing many other urban centres (including Toronto).
Phillips, who has served in office for over six years, was nonetheless taken aback to hear her voice. “I don't recall ever hearing at our table that a [federal] minister had called any one of us,” he says. “Even the former Minister of Indian Affairs never called us.”

Nation to Nation Relationship
Although not widely publicized, McKenna’s call could be a small but important symbol of how the Trudeau government will live up to one of its biggest commitments as it strains to be all things to all people. That challenge – the duty to meaningfully consult with Indigenous peoples – was outlined last week in the ministerial mandate letter received by Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett, the new Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
            “No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples,” wrote Trudeau. “It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.”
            If Bennett requires a template of how not to begin such a relationship, she need look no further than the mishandling of the St. Lawrence sewage crisis. 

 Zero Consultation
Indeed, the Mohawk community of Kahnawake lies just across the river from Montreal. “From my reserve to downtown Montreal, without traffic, will take me seven minutes to drive,” Phillips says, yet civic officials aware of such proximity did not think to involve his people in any discussions about the impending flush of sewage into a waterway that “is like blood that flows through our veins. Quebec is fully aware that there is a duty to consult First Nations. To learn about this at the 11th hour,” he says, and through the media no less, was insulting. “Temporary measures were put in place in 1997. So, we're in 2015. How bloody long do they think temporary means? So much time had gone by that different viable options that would have been achievable were not being discussed.”
             While members of the community protested, from launching a flotilla to blocking the Mercier Bridge, Kahnawake leaders who hadn’t been consulted all those years were finally able to attend two Montreal meetings held mere days before the dump. “As a First Nations leader, it’s unacceptable that the government is saying a couple of two-hour meetings constitutes meaningful consultation,” says a frustrated Phillips. “Meantime, I was being inundated with calls and emails from citizens of Montreal begging with me, pleading, ‘don't let this happen, block a bridge, do this, do that.’ But I’m thinking, ‘it’s your government, why don't you do something? You don't need us to always put our people on the line and then be hit by C-51 charges.’”
            For members of the Kahnawake community, the dump, which began November 11, was just the latest in a lengthy series of blows the Mohawk people have been subjected to for centuries. “My people have still not recovered since the Seaway system was put right through the heart of our reserve, denying us access from what we call our river,” Phillips says.  “This hurts like you wouldn't believe. Kahnawake means by the rapids, and we're not by the rapids anymore because there’s a sewer system that goes right through the heart of our reserve called the St. Lawrence Seaway.”

Threats to Indigenous People and Lands
            In addition to dealing with the post-dump environmental impacts, the community is also facing challenges in the form of Enbridge and TransCanada pipeline projects. In this respect, the Mohawks are not unlike many indigenous communities across the country dealing with threats to their lands and water posed by lax pollution standards that may be exacerbated with passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, mining, deforestation, fracking, and ongoing tarsands development.

           It is here that Carolyn Bennett will face her biggest challenge, for while her mandate includes ensuring enhanced “consultation, engagement and participatory capacity of Indigenous groups in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects,” how much power will that ultimately leave First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities whose livelihood and beliefs may prove incompatible with the bottom lines of multinational corporations? Notably, Bennett’s mandate carefully avoids one of the most critical phrases in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the “free, prior and informed consent” that is required of state parties “before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.” While Trudeau seeks to implement the Declaration, the Harper government refused to support it, fearing this phrase could be used to justify the veto of major energy projects.

            McKenna’s phone call may be viewed as a small but hopeful first step in the right direction. But will a government that is friendly to the resource extraction and oil industries go beyond symbolic lip service to fully respect a consultative process that mandates “free, prior and informed consent”?

 “First Nations across this country and the US have been promised every single thing under the sun, and unfortunately, it has never happened,” Phillips sighs. “You look at any infrastructure in this country, it always goes right through the heart of indigenous territory. Is that just another way to annoy us or assimilate us or just get rid of us — genocide? It certainly doesn't make life easier for us.
 “Whether it be Mulcair, Harper or Trudeau in power, at the end of the day it's still the Government of Canada and they still follow the Indian Act. For us, it's the same monster, just different people, and based on history, all I can do is pray that things change for our people.”

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Question of Torture for Canada’s New War Minister

An edited version of this story appears in NOW Magazine's Nov. 12 issue
By Matthew Behrens
            Rideau Hall’s glorious fall foliage produced the perfect backdrop for a series of memorable photo-ops during the Trudeau government’s swearing-in ceremony, from the most diverse cabinet in Canadian history to the large crowds who waited patiently for selfies with the photogenic PM.

            Yet one of the most posted photos of the day did not come from the colourful festivities marking what seemed a refreshing changeover to a government marked by openness and transparency. Rather, it was an old handout of a camouflaged Sikh man packing serious heat in Afghanistan, Harjit Sajjan, who had just been named Canada’s new Minister of National Defence. 

            While the social media universe immediately featured a disturbing round of racist comments – including the conclusion that the bearded man could not be trusted because he must be a Muslim – most press coverage was far more salutary, from Foreign Policy’s gushing “Canada’s New Defense Minister Made His Own Gas Mask to Work With His Beard” to the National Observer’s “You don't know how badass Trudeau’s Defence Minister really is”. 

An Intelligence Asset Complicit in Torture?
Sajjan, in stark contrast to such milquetoast predecessors as Jason Kenney and Peter McKay, was hailed as “some kind of next-level Spy vs Spy war hero” who’d done three tours in Afghanistan and was praised by his superiors as “the best single Canadian intelligence asset in [the Afghan war] theater.” 

            Despite all the puff pieces, Sajjan’s presence in his new job may open a can of worms that former PM Harper thought was pretty much sealed shut when he prorogued Parliament in 2009 to avoid stinging questions about Canadian complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. Sajjan’s tours as a key Canadian asset and liaison with torture-tainted Afghan authorities dovetailed with an era when significant human rights concerns had been quietly raised by Canada’s foreign affairs representatives, including a 2005 Canadian report that noted Afghanistan’s “military, intelligence and police forces have been involved in arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, extortion, torture and extrajudicial killing of criminal suspects.”

In 2006, as Harper’s Conservatives took over direction of a war begun by the Liberals, Graeme Smith’s remarkable Globe and Mail investigative reporting and the courage of Canadian whistleblower diplomat Richard Colvin brought to light a side of the Afghanistan occupation that most Canadians could not square with their traditional perceptions of the military. Terms like “war crimes” were openly used to describe Canadian transfers of detainees to the torture-stained Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), and the Harper government faced potential contempt of Parliament proceedings over its refusal to release thousands of documents related to the scandal.

            Colvin, who had served 17 months on the ground in Afghanistan, testified seven years ago this month that Afghans transferred from Canadian Forces to the NDS commonly faced “beating, whipping with power cables, and the use of electricity. Also common was sleep deprivation, use of temperature extremes, use of knives and open flames, and sexual abuse—that is, rape. Torture might be limited to the first days or it could go on for months. According to our information, the likelihood is that all the Afghans we handed over were tortured. For interrogators in Kandahar, it was standard operating procedure.  

"We handed over for torture a lot of innocent people"
            Colvin pointed out that many detainees had nothing to do with the Taliban: “many were just local people: farmers, truck drivers, tailors, peasants, random human beings in the wrong place at the wrong time, young men in their fields and villages who were completely innocent but were nevertheless rounded up. In other words, we detained and handed over for severe torture a lot of innocent people.”

            Colvin’s words were echoed by Canadian translator Ahmadshah Malgarai, a cultural and language advisor who, with secret clearance and commendations to his name, bravely told the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan in April, 2010: “There was no one in the Canadian military with a uniform who was involved in any way, at any level, with the detainee transfers who did not know what was going on and what the NDS does to their detainees.”

            While ongoing inquiries into the detainee scandal and the role of key Canadian decision makers were effectively shut down with the 2011 election of a Harper majority, the issue was raised again last week when the Military Police Complaints Commission announced it would investigate a new case in which Canadian soldiers allegedly abused and “terrorized” Afghan detainees at their Kandahar base. This inquiry follows on the little-publicized release of a new report authored by researcher Omar Sabry for the Rideau Institute and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which called for a “transparent and impartial judicial Commission of Inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials, including Ministers of the Crown, relating to Afghan detainees.” 

Strong Need for Public Inquiry
            Peggy Mason, a former Canadian Disarmament Ambassador to the UN and now head of the Rideau Institute, feels strongly that the transfer to torture issue is “unfinished business of the most serious kind – accountability of Canadian officials for alleged serious breaches of international and national law – the only appropriate remedy for which is a public inquiry.  What better way is there for this government to demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability than to call such an inquiry?”

            But considering whether to hold such an inquiry is a decision from which Sajjan may have to recuse himself. Indeed, Sajjan could very well be compelled to answer some very difficult questions. As a high-level intelligence officer who appears to have taken an active role in combat operations, it seems implausible that Sajjan was not familiar with the torture rampant throughout Afghan detention system. Indeed, as Canadian Press reported last week, in 2006, Sajjan became the Canadian “intelligence liaison” to Kandahar governor Asadullah Khalid. According to Colvin’s Parliamentary testimony, Khalid “was known to us very early on, in May and June 2006, as an unusually bad actor on human rights issues. He was known to have had a dungeon in Ghazni, his previous province, where he used to detain people for money, and some of them disappeared. He was known to be running a narcotics operation. He had a criminal gang. He had people killed who got in his way. And then in Kandahar we found out that he had indeed set up a similar dungeon under his guest house. He acknowledged this. When asked, he had sort of justifications for it, but he was known to personally torture people in that dungeon.” (Khalid went on to become Afghanistan’s national intelligence chief). 

Sajjan is also credited with the intelligence gathered for operations that led to the “kill or capture” of some 1,500 alleged Taliban members, a military claim that must be measured against the commonplace reference to any detainees as potential Taliban, as opposed to the broader categories of detainees translator Malgarai referenced in his testimony: “They went from 10 years old to 90 years old. With all due respect, I would ask retired General Hillier to tell me and explain to me how a 90-year-old man.... He was a 90-year-old man. He couldn't even walk without help. His hands were tied. His foot was shackled. He was blindfolded. Sometimes, when he couldn't walk fast enough, they pushed him. He fell many times, and he had injuries on his body. Could he please explain to me how this 90-year-old man, who couldn't even walk, who needed help when you tried to pick him up, could be a fighter?” 

Big Questions
When NOW attempted to reach Sajjan for comment, DND media relations explained that he was being briefed on files and was very busy. When informed that the questions for Minister Sajjan did not involve new files but, rather, spoke to his own experience in Afghanistan, the media office requested a set of emailed questions. At press time, NOW still had not heard responses to a number of queries arising from a reasonable set of assumptions about his role on the ground and connections to key players. Among them: given the widespread and well-known use of torture by the NDS in Afghanistan by the time of Major Sajjan's first tour of duty in 2006, did he undertake precautionary measures to ensure that he was not passing on to his superiors information gleaned from torture (especially given his liaison role with Governor Khalid); alternatively, was such information caveated to the effect that its source may have been the fruits of torture?

            In addition, as someone identified as Canada's top intelligence asset in Afghanistan, was Minister Sajjan aware of the transfers of detainees to the NDS and the documentation of torture then publicly available? If so, how did this colour his relationship with Khalid and the NDS? Equally compelling, in the small, circular world of intelligence operations, was information gleaned from NDS torture of detainees used in the Canadian round-up individuals who, upon detention, were transferred to the hands of NDS torturers? Ultimately, given his likely awareness of torture in Afghanistan, did Sajjan refuse to take part in any operational activity that may have led to the transfer of detainees to torture?

            When the Harper government closed the case in 2011, Liberal MP Stéphane Dion (now Trudeau’s Foreign Affairs Minister) told the CBC “the likelihood is very high” that Afghan detainees were abused while in the custody, adding, "I don't think Canadians will accept that it's over.”

With Liberal promises of transparency and accountability, one of the most celebrated of Trudeau’s ministerial announcements may soon be facing a real test of public accountability.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Remembering Bernice Katz/Deborah Cass, and the Theatre of Resistance


The following story is about my mother, whom many of you met at demonstrations and public events through the years across the U.S. and Canada. Many of you may have seen her perform on stage and TV, or heard her over the radio. A special memorial fund in her name was established by Homes not Bombs to aid the families of Canada's secret trial detainees and other political prisoners and, sadly, it is still needed 13 years later. (See bottom for more details).

(NOTE: 13 years later, we are still raising funds for those affected by the secret  trial process, as well as those behind bars because of Canada's ongoing history of racist colonialism)

In Honour of My Mother
Bernice Katz/Deborah Cass Behrens

May 31, 1930 -- July 20, 2004

By Matthew Behrens

On my mother's cause-of-death certificate, the doctor wrote "Failure to Thrive." This medical term took me aback, for anyone who met my mother would find the term inconsistent with the woman who, despite a lifetime of barriers, managed in her own way to flower, to shine, to thrive.

Indeed, anyone who sat in the light of my mother's all-embracing love would find it difficult to believe she combated a lifetime of physical, social and psychological obstacles which could easily have left her to wallow in bitterness and anger.

Those barriers included being run over by a car as a child, fighting bulimia all her life, suffering thousands of debilitating tiny mini-strokes and Parkinson's, encephalitis, coronary heart disease, dementia and a host of other ailments. She also faced the systemic barriers of sexism and anti-Semitism. Yet despite all this, my mother managed to find a way to express herself, her ideas, and her ideals in a manner which was passionate, loving, and kind.

She DID thrive, as a student, as an actor, as a partner, parent and grandparent, as an advocate for social justice, and as a special kind of mentor to young people in the arts and in grass roots politics.

If she knew I were saying this, she would stop me in my tracks and say, "Oh, stop your bullshitting," hoping to shift attention away from herself, preferring to redirect any spotlight to those around her.

Indeed, to her dying breath, my mother was a truly radical democrat. After the doctors and nurses explained the process of dying -- a cold would start from her feet and hands as the warmth and blood centred on essential organs -- my mother continued to defy them. All night long before she passed on, those areas which had once been cold were warm again.

Her heart, always about sharing, insisted that the "non-essential" parts continue to receive their share of her precious blood. This amazing ticker, condemned two years ago after a major coronary attack, was the organ which continued to work right until the last moment, pumping at an almost desperate pace, screaming out that there were still things to do, people to embrace, faces to caress, politicians to scream at, and a genuine kindness to be shared.

To her last conscious moments, she was apologizing to those who were caring for her -- her wonderful personal support workers, nurses, her family. It all seemed so silly to her, this attention, as she lay at home in her bed receiving palliative care, saying she could get her own water although she could not walk, much less hold a glass.

The years leading to my mother's passing were not pretty ones. They were stressful for her, for my father, for our family. We were grateful as always for her laughter, her outrage, her hugs and kisses. But as time wore on, something was missing. Her quality of life had reached an all-time low, and the pain which she only rarely complained about clearly consumed her.

Going through such a process with a loved one cannot help but force us to examine the way in which we treat the elderly and those who have no quality of life. When I think of my mother's pain, and the fact that her life literally became one of lying on a couch or in bed all day, usually lost in a confused sleep and losing interest in food, I think of the practice of putting horses who break a leg out of their misery. That process is legal. Yet people like my mother, or terminal cancer patients, are not given that option of a quick, compassionate way out, even if they and their family have given informed consent.

Indeed, in a culture which rewards people for killing (look at those U.S. generals in Iraq), we prosecute those who, in an act of mercy and compassion, enter into an arrangement with someone who is terminally ill but in full command of their senses, to help ease them out of their suffering.

Euthanasia is a concept which my mother fully supported, and I look forward to the day that the terminally ill, their families, and friends will not be forced to endure weeks, months, and years of watching a loved one slowly, painfully waste away.

My wonderful Aunt Jean (known to her nephews as Auntie "Shtink") spoke to me a few moments after my mother passed away. "Now is a time to celebrate her life," she said. And while words are almost impossible to describe the magical person who was my mother, I hope what's written below can give a small sense of the passionate, loving soul who inhabited that frail, pixie-like body.

 Lil Abner

Deborah Cass Behrens (nee Bernice Katz) was born on the street. Literally. On May 31, 1930, her mother, Helena Katz, squeezed out her first daughter on the poverty-stricken streets of Transcona, Manitoba. The street remained a place for which my mother would have an affinity the rest of her life, whether engaging the homeless on the streets of Toronto, marching for someone else's rights, or travelling the length of North America to "bring theatre to the people."

Her parents were Russian immigrants from a generation which firmly believed, inspired by the events of 1917, that a revolution might sweep the world, eliminating poverty, hatred, discrimination, and the gross inequities which force so many to live in misery for the benefit of a smug few.

Her father, Abe Katz, was forced to go underground following the Winnipeg General Strike. Her mother, Helena Katz, joined Abe in supporting the Communist cause of the 1930s, about the only place you could go if you wanted to agitate for peace, civil rights, equality, and the social programs we take for granted today: unemployment insurance, health care, workplace safety, and so many others.

Though never party members, they did take a quirky assignment from a CP overwhelmed with people wanting to help and not sure what to do with all these newcomers. Hence, my grandparents took on the serious task of infiltrating the Shriners. A picture of these two proud Yiddish immigrants in Shriner outfits is a testament to their delicate work for the cause! The slight grins on both of their faces informs us that this was one of the more entertaining of their many tasks.

When my mother told us such stories while I was growing up, it seemed still possible to believe in the purity of social struggle, in the ideals of universal equality and solidarity, in the idea that you could fight for these things all the while there was laughter, joy, dancing, and singing, for if the revolution were to create paradise on earth, it had to be the kind fought with love in our hearts, not the kind that would replace one kind of hatred and oppression with another.

It was a passion my mother carried to her final breath, despite her disappointments at the silliness which often divides us on the left of the political spectrum. "Why can't we all just get together?" she would plead. She rejected labels, refusing to identify as a Jew or a communist, insisting that she was first and foremost a Human Being.

At the height of the Depression, her parents established an institution which stands to this day in downtown Windsor: the Canada Salvage store, a place where you can buy almost anything at a decent price, started originally as a place to reclaim the castoffs and remnants of an economic system which produces far too much "crap," as my mother would proclaim.

My mother grew up in a thriving, progressive community along with her older brother Buddy and younger sister Jean. These past few weeks, as Jean sat by her sister's bedside, she would ask my mother to recall the events of the 30s and 40s, when members of the community (Chaverim, or comrades) would join May Day Parades, raise funds for Spanish and later Russian War relief, and gather in a women's reading circle who would meet at their house, arguing politics and screaming in laughter.
Wedding Day, 1961, with Bunny and a drunken justice of the peace

It was a time where good and evil were pretty clearly defined, and it was clear to a Canada suffering through Depression that capitalism was an evil (recognized as such even by the CCF, the forerunner to an NDP that avoids using the C word these days). Songs like the "Internationale" and "Which Side Are You On?" weren't lefty nostalgia pieces, but raw, edgy evocations of the struggle necessary to birth a new world.

The raised fist which was one of my mother's personal trademarks was a real, heart-felt symbol of international class solidarity, not an empty display of machismo. It was to the 30s and 40s what the peace sign was to the 60s and 70s--a meaningful symbol not yet bought off to advertise sneakers or sports cars.

Terms like "the people," "the workers," and " the revolution" had not yet been debased by endless debates in the academy, and to the end words like these always brought a gasp of delight and an "Achhhh!" from my mother. Anyone doubting the extent to which such terms were a part of the atmosphere should view Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times," one of my mom's favourite flicks.

And while some members of her generation no doubt looked back with ambivalence surrounding a lot of issues, rhetoric, and actions, no one could doubt their sincerity.

And sincere they were in this wonderfully anarchistic, Yiddish milieu, where so many wore their hearts on their sleeves and their hopes on their brows. After all, they had nothing to lose and a world to win! So committed to the cause were my grandparents that Abe placed red dye, the colour representing communism, into the still-wet concrete when a sidewalk was poured in front of their Windsor house on Lewis Avenue. To this day, a red walkway leads to that house as if it were a welcome to all who shared those ideals of global solidarity.

In the progressive movement of Windsor, ideals were not simply the focus of Saturday evening debates, they were things which needed to be tested, challenged, and put into practice. Among the "Chaverim" in Windsor was a factory owner who, when his workers went on strike, was told by Abe Katz to settle the dispute with dignity and justice, else he would never talk to him again. Such was the power of that circle that those words had their effect, and the strike was won.

As part of the social movements of the 1930s, progressive summer camps were established throughout North America. Among them was one that my mother's parents had a hand in starting: Camp Naivelt (Camp New World), nestled on the banks of the Credit River just west of Brampton. There the children, getting a real break from the sweltering urban environment, spent the summer learning radical songs, swimming, performing dramatic skits, attending endless meetings about everything under the sun.

They carried the flags left over from May Day parades throughout the summer, and were indoctrinated into the CP dogma of the day. My mother thrived here (I have a picture of her dancing under a huge banner which reads in Yiddish, "Tribute to Heroes and Martyrs.") She eventually became drama director for the camp, also attended by her older brother Buddy and younger sister Jean, whom she lovingly called Shtink ("little stinker").

The land for the Camp was bought by a holding company that did not have a Jewish-sounding name, as this was an era in which signs which read "No Jews or Dogs Allowed" were commonplace. It was not the last time my mother would face the systemic anti-Semitism which was so finely woven into the Maple Leaf.

The songs of Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers, among others, she heard at home and at Camp Naivelt. She sat on Robeson's knee when he stayed at their Windsor house. She sang along with Pete Seeger during his many trips to Naivelt.

Not everyone maintained this passion. Some would remain proud of their association with the camp while others, embittered, would likely prefer to hide their past in the red-baiting 50s and 60s. Following WWII, the RCMP often parked cars outside the entrance to Naivelt, photographing people and taking down license plate numbers of people who went in.

For my mother, politics was not the only the engine which ignited her passions; rather, it was something she had absorbed by osmosis, which informed her every breath, and opened her mind to the many wonders she would discover in theatre school. Indeed, much as the term "the workers" brought her to a reverent, sincere sigh, so too would names like Garcia Lorca, Bertolt Brecht, Jean Anouilh, and William Shakespeare, all of whom produced works which my mother would call "extremely relevant!"

My mother's interest in the theatre developed early. Run over by a car at an early age -- her rib cage was crushed when her distraught father picked her up following the accident -- my mom took dance lessons as part of her physical rehabilitation, through which she developed a passion for the theatre. It was a time of great flowering in the theatre, long before megamusical shlock dominated the stages. Serious drama that could inspire people to change the world was on many people's minds, and organizations such as the left-wing Group Theatre in New York were an inspiration to her.

It was in this milieu that my mother went to the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where she was exposed to much of the then underground flowering cultural scene, discussions about sexuality, poetry, and radical critiques of the massive glob of conformity being imposed on 1950s America.

Ever the rebel, my mother posted on the Goodman call board a protest against the strait-laced approach of some of the older teachers to the development of stage characterization. Insisting that certain characters should be fully rounded, her message read: "Kings and Queens are People Too. They eat, sleep, and go to the toilet."

1980s head shot

My mother worked a lot after she graduated from Goodman, sparking controversy in early 1950s Toronto when she was picked to play the lead role in Eugene O'Neil's Anna Christie. It was unheard of for a Jew to play such a role. Eventually, my mother had to change her name from Bernice Katz to the more "acceptable" Deborah Cass.

She went on to do much early CBC television and radio drama, and played everywhere from the Crest and Jupiter Theatres in Toronto to the Stratford Festival and, for five years, toured North America with the Canadian Players, a group of classically trained actors who, during the off season at Stratford, took their shows to communities large and small across the continent.

When the tour bus lurched into the American South, members of the tour kept out a special watch for my mother, the tiniest of the crew yet the one most likely to raise a stink over the racist segregation then being fought by the early Civil Rights Movement.

Despite being cooped up on an old bus with baggage, props and costumes, she loved those years on the road, greeting people after the shows, and entertaining audiences with a variety of roles that almost 50 years on are still remembered by those who saw her, perhaps as Ariel, flying about the stage in "The Tempest," whose enchanting singing of the "Jewish Shepherd's Song" brought an exotic sound to some very WASP communities, or as Aase in "Peer Gynt," or the Nurse in "Romeo and Juliet."

To read the reviews in those days is to learn about someone who, no matter how insignificant the role, made a huge impression on the stage, not for the sake of her ego, but for the sake of the play, to bring to full fruition the humanity of a character. A petite woman, she was often described as pixie-like, with an infectious laugh and a commanding dramatic and comic presence. In many respects, she was both the loopy sister Martha Brewster in "Arsenic and Old Lace" and the Greek tragedian "Antigone," roles she truly cherished.

Like another petite figure who was a volcanic source of passion, Judy Garland, my mother was someone who became a character, an emotion, an idea, 150%. To watch her from behind was to read perfectly her emotional state. She was always in the moment. She knew how to embrace an audience or an individual, to listen to anyone's concerns, no matter how petty, and how to make someone feel like a worthwhile person.

Also like Garland, my mother was also forced by an image-conscious society and profession to take diet pills to stay razor-thin, and developed bulimia which would haunt her much of her adult life. In those days eating disorders were not openly discussed, unfortunately, and the toll it took on her frame and long-term health is no doubt incalculable.

On tour she met my father, Bunny Behrens, and spent almost 50 years with him, raising 3 children. My parents helped found the Neptune Theatre in Halifax, and my mother played a range of roles in plays such as "The Fantasticks," "Romanoff and Juliet" (where she played the show stopping role of Evdokia), and the title role in "Antigone," the Jean Anouilh adaptation which fed my mother's anti-fascist soul.

But ominous headlines appeared in Canadian newspapers in 1963: a star of Canadian theatre had been struck by a mystery illness which had paralyzed one side, given her double vision, and forced her off the stage for a time. Encephalitis took a bite out of her, from which she never fully recovered.

My mother made a huge sacrifice in giving up her career at that time to raise her three boys. While we were growing up, she wasted no time in ensuring we knew right from wrong, in making sure we knew what Vietnam, Birmingham, and American Indian Movement meant. And to this day, the concept of eating table grapes is still very new, given that we grew up with the decades-long grape boycott called by the United Farm Workers.

Like the late Harold Kendall of Toronto, after whom the Harolds are named, my mother remained a vocal audience member -- there with you when things went well, laughing her huge, body-consuming laugh, inhaling quite audibly without a touch of pretense during a moving moment, cursing at bad performances, walking out on execrable ones.

She eventually returned to acting in the 1980s, appearing on stage, and in numerous CBC TV shows. One of her first roles back on the stage was in "The Trojan Women" at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, which had been founded in the 1950s by blacklisted actors including the theatre's namesake, who would win fame as Grandpa Walton.

You Can't Take it With You, 1984, National Arts Centre, with Bunny Behrens, Shirley Douglas

But the devastating effects of years of mini-strokes which she never felt had eaten away at her balance and her memory, forcing her to retire. It was a painful period for her, as one of her primary passions had been taken away from her by a cruel twist of fate.

Although no longer acting, she spent countless hours marching the streets in the U.S. and in Canada. The chant of "No Pasaran" (They Shall Not Pass!) which had been the slogan of the Spanish Civil War she chanted again as she worked to end the U.S. terrorist war against Nicaragua.

She was always glued to the radio --growing up, you always knew when the news was on, because screams of "Fucker!" "Jesus!" and "Shit! would fill the air as the news of the war in Vietnam, Watergate, and other events were reported on by her beloved National Public Radio and Pacifica Radio.

One of her favourite days was the Gay Pride parade, and she was a fixture at Church/Wellesley, the heart of Toronto's lesbian and gay community, greeted by name by hundreds of people whose names she could never remember. But she was always there with a kiss on the cheek, a loving caress, and a big smile.

Her last demo on her feet was in December, 1998, at the American consulate in Toronto as the U.S. launched deadly cruise missile attacks on Iraq to distract attention from Bill Clinton's enormous libido. Shortly after that, a fall sent her to an extended hospital stay, where we kept her going by playing Pete Seeger songs, reading her the writings of Paul Robeson, and getting food into her otherwise reluctant mouth with each "Achhh!"

By the spring of 1999, about the same time as the U.S./Canadian bombing of the Balkans, my mother began to enter a serious decline. No longer able to stand on her own, we wheeled her to Toronto's St. Paul's Anglican Church, where three individuals were attempting to remove the sword from the cross on a local monument. Surrounded by riot police monitoring this Good Friday demonstration, my mother was in her element, greeting familiar faces and exalting in the presence of resisters to war and injustice.

My mother's final years were spent in Niagara, close to the Shaw Festival where my father continues to work. She kept abreast of current events as much as she could, though her focus was beginning to go. She raised her fist in support of the anti-war demos last year, and she remained concerned about the plight of Canada's secret trial detainees, whose plight has similar overtones to those of the Rosenbergs, for whom my mother marched in the early 1950s.

I told my mom that many Muslims were fervently praying for her from behind the prison walls of Canada's war on democracy. She delighted in this, and asked about the detainees and their children, whose pictures I showed her. While she could barely remember most things on a day-to-day basis, this was one issue which she never forgot.

Bunny and Debbie, June, 1988, at Toronto rally before march to place citizens' arrest on Reagan, Thatcher and other war criminals  

From his solitary confinement cell at Metro West Detention Centre, where he has spent almost three full years, Syrian refugee Hassan Almrei asked me to tell my mom to hold on so that she could see the day Hassan would be free.

But my mother simply could not stand it any longer. The last few weeks, her family gathered around her as she spent her final days here. She had been so desperately tired these past few years, often saying she had had enough, yet that part of her which was the hopeful, nurturing soul kept her going. She wanted to see how things were going to turn out, and hoped perhaps to go out on a high note.

I reported to her when the terrorist and former President Ronald Reagan had finally succumbed, and she raised her fist in the air and exclaimed, "That man was a SHIT!"

As she entered her final stage of palliative care, we lit candles in her room, and played a wide variety of music which she had loved throughout her life. Broadway shows like "The Fantasticks" and "Finian's Rainbow," the Sibelius Symphony #2, a wonderful piece that evokes a revolutionary journey and eventual triumph, and her beloved Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson.

We took calls from loved ones all over, placing the phone to her ear. She was often half-asleep for these calls, but she would smile or weakly say that she loved them.

On July 15, my mother had an incredibly painful day. I tried to console her with the news that my two brothers, Adam and Mark, would be there soon. "They'd better hurry up," she gasped, writhing in pain. We'd been informed by the doctor and nurses that such patients often hold on until the family arrives, and then let go.

As it was, she did hang on until all her sons had arrived, but then continued going on after that, defying each medical prediction about how much longer she had. It was an exhausting, round-the-clock vigil, hoping she would feel no more pain, hoping she would go to sleep peacefully, her family administering her half hour doses of morphine and swabbing her dry mouth.

It was a surreal time, and we spent much of it telling stories, some sad, others hysterically funny, in the presence of my mother, then in a coma. She occasionally made a slight movement in her facial muscles or raised an eyebrow, as if to acknowledge the silliness that was going on, or perhaps to say this whole scene was truly bizarre.

The last night my mother was fully conscious, her sister Jean and I played Pete Seeger's historic 1963 Carnegie Hall concert CD. My mom's eyes, closed for much of the past year, suddenly opened wide, as she stared at the ceiling and breathed in the sounds. She was there, enveloped in the music, celebrating as much as she could in that frail body. Her sister and I sang We Shall Overcome over her bed through a veil of hot tears.

Each day, we were told, should have been her last, given that she'd not eaten in over a month and that someone in her condition could not last more than a day or two without water. But still she kept going, confounding the doctors. Was there a significant date she may have been waiting for? I joked in her ear that she was probably just waiting for July 19, the 25th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution in NIcaragua that was so dear to her heart. And so she did wait, and I was able to wish her a happy anniversary that morning.

My mom was still with us, in a coma, on the 19th, passing away on the morning of July 20 at 10:45 am, just aftrer we placed an hysterical Mother Goose and Grimm cartoon on her pillow. We laughed that morning, and we cried too. And we joined hands around her bedside to say goodbye.

As I reflected back on her last days and nights, I recalled a Pete Seeger song that made my mother stir, even in a coma. It is the song of the 15th brigade, a tribute to those who fought against the fascists in Spain. I had spoken to her about the lyrics, and how it was like she was fighting a form of fascism in the ailments which afflicted her.

"Yes," she had said. "There's fascists in my body."

The final verse of the passionate song goes like this:

 "Spain, 1937
Long live the 15th brigade...
We fought against the mercenaries and the fascists;
it was our only desire to defeat fascism.
But on the Jarama Front
we had no tanks, no cannon, no airplanes.
Now we are leaving Spain
but we'll keep on fighting on other fronts."
 It made me think of the battles my mother had been waging and how, at age 74, she had had enough of the fascism ravaging her body. Like those who had to make a strategic retreat in Spain, my mother had to make a similar retreat from this mortal form.

 Niagara, 2004
Long live the loving spirit of my mother
She fought the fascists all her life
She shared her art and her passions and her unconditional love
But she could not conquer the fascist diseases which wracked her tiny frame
She is leaving this mortal world for now
But she'll keep on fighting on other fronts.

And so she will go on.

Although she passed away in Niagara, her body was taken to Milton for cremation. Milton is just a stone's throw from where the still-alive Camp Naivelt carries on. Perhaps a few of her ashes will drift over this place of happy memories and lifelong hopes and dreams.

Later in the afternoon, a sun shower gently passed over her house. Sensing that she was here as a kindly spirit, we three sons went out looking for a rainbow.


 In honour of my mother, Homes not Bombs set up up a memorial fund named after one of her favourite readings, printed below. The aim of the The Bernice Katz/Deborah Cass Behrens "Esperanza Fund" is to meet the significant needs of the families of Canada's secret trial detainees, who, as a result of Canada's anti-democratic (some may say leaning toward fascist) refugee, immigration, and "security" policies, face poverty and lack access to the kinds of summer camps, educational and cultural programs my mother enjoyed as a result of another generation's struggle. My mother recognized that we are not placed on this earth merely to survive; that life should be a celebration of laughter, of theatre and dance and song, of play, of freedom from fear.

 To contribute, write a cheque to Homes not Bombs and mail it to PO Box 2121, 57 Foster Street, Perth, ON K7H 1R0. (Note on your cheque in the memo space this is for the Esperanza Fund.) You can also send an email money transfer to

 "There will come a time, I know
When People will take delight in one another
When each will be a star to the other
And when each will listen to their neighbour as to music.
The free people will walk upon the earth
People great in their freedom.
They will walk with open hearts
And the heart of each will be pure of envy and greed
And therefore all of humanity will be without malice
And there will be nothing to divorce the heart from reason.
Then life will be one great service to humanity!
Our figure will be raised to lofty heights
For to free people all things are attainable.
Then we shall live in truth and freedom and beauty
And those will be accounted the best who will the more widely embrace the world with their hearts
And whose love of it will be the profoundest;
Those will be the best who will be the freest
For in them is the greatest beauty
Then life will be great
And the people will be great who live that life."

 From "Mother," by Maxim Gorky

Celebrating our parents' artistic and social justice legacy, Canadian theatre history exhibit, Perth, Ontario, 2013, with portraits of Debbie and Bunny as done by Gordon Pinsent overlooking us.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Join Ten Hours Against Terrorism, a Nonviolent Protest at CANSEC15 (aka Torturefest15/Terrorfest15), Canada’s largest weapons fair and host to some of the world’s worst human rights violators and torturers

DETAILS ON HOW TO GET TO THE PROTEST (and how you can support if you are outside of Ottawa) BELOW

"I will kill everything in sight, every single time." CANSEC exhibitor

Join Ten Hours Against Terrorism, a Nonviolent Protest at CANSEC15 (aka Torturefest15/Terrorfest15), Canada’s largest weapons fair and host to some of the world’s worst human rights violators and torturers (Background on visitors and companies below)

Wednesday, May 27, 8 am to 6 pm (come for some or all of the day if you can)

EY Centre, 4899 Uplands Dr., Ottawa

Suggested times to come for highest impact. (But anytime is great.)

8:00 -9:30 am.  The 11,000 delegates will be arriving, many on foot from the nearby Hilton Garden Inn.  Our sound system will be ready for anyone wishing to speak or perform.

11:30 am-2:00 pm.  Again, delegates will be coming and going. Jason Kenney, Minister of Defence is speaking at a luncheon with a sell-out crowd of 4000.  We are lining up speakers, and performers for this key time.
At 12:00 noon, we will do a die-in accompanied by the sounds of war to symbolize the lives lost through the weapons on sale within.

4:30 to 6:00 pm.  This is another prime time to have people at the microphones and to leaflet delegates.  They will be coming and going. The exhibits close at 5:00 pm and there is a “networking” reception from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Please come when you can.  Here is how to get to the E-Y centre.

Best option is the 97 Bus to the Airport. It goes every 15 minutes. Get on anywhere on the Transitway. Get off at stop AIRPORT / UPLANDS (6144). The bus is free for Seniors on Wednesday!

We will be running a shuttle van.  To reserve a spot call us at 613-267-3998.

Going by car will be iffy for finding places to park. You may be able to find a spot at one of the nearby hotels.

(if you cannot make it to Ottawa, consider organizing a vigil at your local weapons manufacturers—there’s hundreds of them across Canada, and we can help you locate the one nearest you

Above, Kuwaiti military officials attending CANSEC weapons bazaar test out the latest in repression before heading home where, according to Amnesty international, "The authorities increased restrictions on freedoms of assembly and expression, including by prosecuting some social media users. Riot police used excessive force, tear gas and stun grenades against peaceful demonstrations by government opponents."


“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.  The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.” Arundhati Roy

May 27 will be a day-long witness against terrorism, war, torture, and the human rights violations that arise from such conspiracies as CANSEC15.

We will be organizing transportation to and from the site, so consider how long you can stay: a few hours, half a day, or perhaps the whole day. (With that in mind, pack a lunch, bring snacks and water)

We will be hanging lots of banners on the fences. Consider making some artwork that is representative of resistance to war.
We will read aloud the reports of human rights groups, the testimonies of the disappeared and detained,  the stories of survivors who have lived in terror under the bombs that come from Canada. We will nonviolently, lovingly lay siege to CANSEC15 by, as Arundhati Roy suggests, telling our own stories and refusing to buy the myths of militarism and CANSEC’s glorification of terrorism and barbaric cultural practices. We will build a large graveyard to commemorate victims of CANSEC’s exhibitors, guests, and hosts. We will sing. We will speak our truth. At the same time, we will refuse to engage in any acts of violence, whether physical or verbal, and will not seek to humiliate CANSEC15 attendees or those hired hands patrolling the vicinity.


1.     1. Coming from out of town? Let us know if you need billeting.

2.     2. Can you provide transportation to help people get to the EY Centre (next to Ottawa airport)? Can you put up out-of-town visitors in your Ottawa home? Can you help provide food and water on the day of the event? Contact or call 613-267-3998

3.     3. Can you donate to help us meet our costs? We are building a large mosaic of the Human Face of War. You can sponsor one of those faces for $60. Cheques can be made out to Homes not Bombs and mailed to PO Box 2121, 57 Foster Street, Perth, ON K7H 1R0 OR you can arrange to send an interac e-transfer to

4.     4. Can’t make it? Send us a poem, an essay, something that you want shared at our day-long speakers’ platform. Let us know if you would be able to organize a vigil in your community art a weapons manufacturer, a federal office, etc.

      5. Consider endorsing our event.

More information: Homes not Bombs,, 613-267-3998,


“When you are engaged in activities that explicitly promote or advocate terrorism, that is a serious criminal offence no matter who you are." PM Stephen Harper

"I will kill everything in sight, every single time, that’s what F-22 and 10 years of it’s employment has taught us." CANSEC exhibitor Lockheed Martin

(see a video on CANSEC at )

“Children are being routinely detained, ill-treated and tortured in Bahrain.” Amnesty International report on Bahrain, an honoured CANSEC guest.

“I thought they were killing Said, and that I was next. I could hear beating and shouting. I didn’t want to die afraid; I wanted to be strong, honourable. I prayed and thought of my parents. I will never forget the sound of the sticks hitting him.” Basimah Al-Rajhi, human rights lawyer, on being detained in Oman, one of CANSEC’s honoured guests.

The weapons sold at CANSEC, when used properly, are tools of terrorism as categorized under Canada's own laws, given that they are designed to cause " (A) death or serious bodily harm to a person by the use of  violence, (B) endangers a person’s life, (C) causes a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public, (D) causes substantial property damage, whether to public or private property, if causing such damage is likely to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C), or (E) causes serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private."


CANSEC hosted 31 international delegations last year in cooperation with the Canadian Commercial Corporation, with the beheading capital of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, heading the list. Other regular violators of human rights who are officially touted as 2015 guests include Bahrain (according to Amnesty International, “Children are being routinely detained, ill-treated and tortured in Bahrain.”), Kuwait (repression of women, torture), Israel (well documented by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, as well as war crimes documented by Amnesty International), Mexico (the use of torture has grown by 600% in the last decade), Oman (Human Rights Watch reports “rights routinely trampled” and where “Torture has become the state’s knee jerk response to political expression.”), United Arab Emirates (where torture is commonplace with as many as 75% of detainees experiencing abuse), United Kingdom (intensely complicit in the rendition to torture program) and United States (U.S. Senate report on “ruthless” brutality). Saudi Arabia is not yet officially listed as a guest in 2015 but as the largest purchaser of Canadian weapons, they are sure to be in attendance.   As host country, Canada is also complicit in the torture of its own citizens (as established by two separate judicial inquiries as well as Supreme Court and Federal Court decisions) as well as deportation to torture.


A who’s who of the world largest weapons manufacturers (what used to be more properly called “death merchants”) will be selling their wares, as well as smaller companies who provide key components for weapons systems. What they are selling can properly be called tools of terrorism, for their use is intended to make political points, to create fear, and to coerce governments and societies. Also on display will be the tools used by increasingly militarized police forces.


Under Canadian anti-terrorism law, anything that would normally constitute a terrorist act is exempted if it is committed by a member of the armed forces under the “laws” of war.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Join the Chain Fast Against Canadian Government Racism

(photo from Witness Against Torture's 2014 Fast for Justice)

How it works:

You can fast as per your tradition (some people refrain from eating sun-up to sun-down, others do it for 24 hours. Some people will drink water or other fluids, others not). You sign up for a day (or more) by emailing with suggested dates, which will be publicly posted at the Homes not Bombs blog site ( The key thing is to do this publicly: while the roots of racism are deep in our culture, they receive a huge boost when the racist messages comes from on high.

I am joining the Chain Fast To End Canadian Government Racism

Members of the Harper government are contributing in word and deed to an increased climate of racist tension with comments that equate Islam with violence and abuse the term jihad. Such comments include telling Muslim women to "stay the hell where they came from", declaring that Muslims are connected to a "culture that is anti-women," and tweets like " Niqab, hejab, burqa, wedding veil -- face coverings have no place in cit oath-taking." This is part of a broader attack on racialized communities, including the comment that it makes no sense to pay "whities" to stay home while companies bring in "brown people" as temporary foreign workers, and an incendiary Conservative-sponsored petition insulting First Nations governments.

The Harper government is rushing through legislation (C-51) that will likely increase the targetting, surveillance, harassment, and potential detention and torture of members of Canada's Muslim communities, while also criminalizing/terrorizing First Nations, Inuit and Métis, as well as all racialized communities.

The Harper government has repeatedly refused to answer calls for an inquiry into the over 1,200 missing and murdered aboriginal women, and done nothing to address the shockingly high rates of suicide in aboriginal communities, nor to end the hundreds of devastating boil water alerts in First Nations communities, some lasting for well over a decade. Instead, this government has targeted First Nations leaders and treated them as security threats.

The Harper government is refusing to act on a motion passed by a majority of the House of Commons in December, 2009, to apologize to, provide compensation for, and clear the names of three Muslim Canadian men – Abdullah Almalki, Ahmed El-Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin – who were found to have been falsely labelled as security threats and tortured with Canadian complicity. All cases were motivated in part by racist/religious profiling.

The Harper government has refused to apologize to, provide compensation for, and clear the name of Canadian Muslim Abousfian Abdelrazik, in whose overseas torture the Canadian government was found to be complicit by  a Canadian court.

The Harper government has continued to demonize and block any efforts seeking justice for detained Canadian Muslim Omar Khadr, who was tortured with Canadian complicity at Bagram Air Force Base (Afghanistan) and the U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and remains behind bars in Alberta based on a fundamentally flawed process.

The Harper government continues pursuing secret trial security certificates against a number of Muslim men (all of which were signed by previous Liberal governments).

The Harper government plays a racist double standard when it refuses to categorize the actions of white supremacists and gun fanatics (such as the targetted murders of RCMP officers in Alberta and New Brunswick and the planned Valentine's Day masscare in a Halifax mall) as terrorist threats, preferring to dismiss them with terms such as "murderous misfits".

Canada's state security agencies (RCMP and CSIS) are pressuring and threatening young Canadian Muslims to spy on their communities and self-censor opinions on social injustice, while those same agencies continue treating First Nations as surveillance targets because of the false connection to  "threats to national security and criminal extremism or terrorism".

The Harper government has falsely, slanderously accused the reputable National Council of Canadian Muslims as connected to terrorism, with one MP openly attacking the group's executive director at a recent Parliamentary hearing.

Recognizing that the latest attacks are part of a long, unfortunate Canadian tradition of provoking fear and hatred by targetting specific groups and spreading racist lies, we believe standing up and speaking out is an obligation.  

Beginning April 15 and lasting until the beginning of Ramadan, June 18, 2015, we pledge to join the chain fast for one full day (or more throughout the time period), explaining to friends, colleagues, and neighbours, as well as local media, why we have undertaken this fast, and educating our fellow residents about the need to reject the dangerous discourse of racism infecting public life and emanating from the highest levels of the Canadian government.

The day after our fasting, as the chain fast passes on to a new member, we will continue to raise these issues in our communities and refuse to stay silent.


TO JOIN: Email with your name, city, and dates you would like to fast

Chain Fast Participants

Thursday, April 16: Michele Schmidt, Toronto, Sadia Jama, Kingston, ON
Friday, April 17: David Heap, London, ON, Tenzin Tharchen, Owen Sound, ON
Saturday, April 18: Tanya M. Gulliver-Garcia, Toronto
Sunday, April 19: Matthew Behrens, Perth, ON
Monday, April 20: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON, Sadia Jama, , Kingston, ON
Tuesday, April 21: Sue Breeze, Barrière, BC, Jamie Page, Toronto, ON
Wednesday, April 22: Murray Lumley, Toronto, ON
Thursday, April 23: Michele Schmidt, Toronto, Sadia Jama, Kingston, ON
Friday, April 24: Mary Cowper-Smith, Charlottetown, PEI, Judy Deutsch, Toronto, ON, Helga Mankovitz, Kingston, ON
Saturday, April 25: James Campbell, Toronto, ON
Sunday, April 26: Genevieve Gallant, Ottawa, Ontario
Monday, April 27: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON, Ria Heynen, Ottawa, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON, Jamie Page, Regina, SK
Tuesday, April 28: Louise Slobodian, Kingston, ON, Nino Pagliccia, Vancouver, BC, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Wednesday, April 29: Murray Lumley, Toronto, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Thursday, April 30: Michele Schmidt, Toronto, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Friday, May 1: Donna Loft and Ed File, Priceville, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Saturday, May 2: Nino Pagliccia, Vancouver, BC, Angelina Martz, Saint John, NB, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Sunday, May 3: Jozef Konyari, Toronto, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON, Jamie Page, Regina, SK
Monday, May 4: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Tuesday, May 5: Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Wednesday, May 6: Murray Lumley, Toronto, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Thursday, May 7: Michele Schmidt, Toronto, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Friday, May 8: Genevieve Gallant, Ottawa, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Saturday, May 9: Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON, Jamie Page, Regina, SK
Sunday, May 10: Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Monday, May 11: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON, Deka Omar, Ottawa, ON
Tuesday, May 12: Barbara Gordon, Toronto, ON
Wednesday, May 13: Murray Lumley, Toronto, ON
Thursday, May 14: Michele Schmidt, Toronto
Friday, May 15: Jamie Page, Regina, SK
Saturday, May 16: David Heap, London, ON
Sunday, May 17: Matthew Behrens, Perth, ON
Monday, May 18: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON
Tuesday, May 19: Luke Stocking, Toronto, ON, Ria Heynen, Ottawa,  ON
Wednesday, May 20: Jamie Page, Regina, SK, Helga Mankovitz, Kingston, ON
Thursday, May 21: Michele Schmidt, Toronto
Friday, May 22: Jennifer Deguire, Grimsby, ON
Saturday, May 23: David Janzen, London, ON, Dunia Hamou, London, ON
Sunday, May 24: Marisa Conte, Rome, Italy, Dunia Hamou, London, ON
Monday, May 25: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON, Dunia Hamou, London, ON
Tuesday, May 26: Jamie Page, Regina, SK, Dunia Hamou, London, ON
Wednesday, May 27: James Campbell, Toronto, ON, Tina Stevens, London, ON
Thursday, May 28: Michele Schmidt, Toronto, Nusaiba Al-Azem, London, ON
Friday, May 29: Juan Davis, Victoria, BC
Saturday, May 30: Chris Stroud, London, ON, Elaine Stewart, Toronto, ON
Sunday, May 31: Marie Lloyd, Kingston, ON
Monday, June 1: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON
Tuesday, June 2: Jamie Page, Regina, SK
Wednesday, June 3: Paula Marcotte, London, ON
Thursday, June 4: Michele Schmidt, Toronto, Nusaiba Al-Azem, London, ON, Leila Almawy, London, ON (note that a community discussion event on C-51 takes place in conjunction with the chain fast,
Friday, June 5: Sâkihitowin Awâsis, London, ON
Saturday, June 6: Sâkihitowin Awâsis, London, ON Sâkihitowin Awâsis, London, ON
Sunday, June 7: Jamie Page, Regina, SK
Monday, June 8: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON
Tuesday, June 9: Matthew Behrens, Perth, ON
Wednesday, June 10: Nusaiba Al-Azem, London, ON
Thursday, June 11: Michele Schmidt, Toronto
Friday, June 12: Elaine McIlwraith, London, ON
Saturday, June 13:
Sunday, June 14: Jozef Konyari, Toronto, ON
Monday, June 15: Gary Connolly, Brampton, ON
Tuesday, June 16: Jamie Page, Regina, SK, Barb Campbell, Ottawa, ON
Wednesday, June 17:
Thursday, June 18: Michele Schmidt, Toronto

Week-long march against Canadian government racism, repression and war, Summer, 2002, Hamilton to Scarborough (Homes not Bombs/Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada)