For the last few years, anarchists, Indigenous people and anti-colonial activists in Kingston have been pushing back against what has always been a particularly strong Canadian nationalist spirit that exists here in town, heavily promoted by the city and local heritage enthusiasts. Much of this push-back has focused on the celebration of John A. MacDonald, Canada’s ultra-racist, colonizing first prime minister. Canada Day has also seen a bit of anti-Canada activity in recent years – two years ago, a banner was dropped over the parade, and last year a small group of people burned a Canadian flag while the parade passed by.
This year, with patriots celebrating Canada’s “150th birthday” and a lot of groundwork laid by years of anti-Canada activities, a group of us decided to try for a street march up the main street to meet and confront the annual Red and White People Parade. It seemed ambitious – street marches are rare here and many of us are scared ourselves to openly express our feelings about Canada in a town where a lot of our neighbours, bosses, friends and coworkers are likely to be right there at the July 1st parade, all dressed in red and white and waving their flags. Most of us wondered if anybody at all would dare to show up, if the thing would be a disaster, if we’d experience it as a setback rather than a victory. We spread the word with a small flyer and by word of mouth, hoping to maintain some element of surprise, and called for people to come dressed in black to express a spirit of mourning, grief and rage in opposition to the festive, celebratory red and white parade.
— Steph Crosier (@StephattheWhig) July 1, 2017
It turned out better than our expectations. About 50 people showed up, most dressed in black and bearing their own banners, flags, and giant puppets, and ready to take to the streets. We kept to the street the entire time, moving in the opposite direction to the parade, and passed through it successfully with our numbers intact despite unexpectedly forceful opposition from the police and a larger-than-usual crowd of patriotic citizens. Some people gave out flyers, zines and Canadian flags marked “burn me,” some chanted, and everyone stayed together and kept moving. Two people, one adult and one child, were injured by an overzealous horse cop but at the end of the march spirits remained mostly high.
A more detailed report-back by a local Indigenous organizer can be read here, corporate media coverage with some great photos of the day is here, and a video of the march meeting up with the parade is here.