On-to-Ottawa Peace Caravan a hit in Regina

By Ed Lehman  

The On-to-Ottawa Peace Caravan stopped in Regina for a public meeting on May 15, for an event which stressed the theme “Demilitarize, De-colonize and Decarbonize.”

Jointly sponsored by the Women’s International League For Peace and Freedom and Canadian Voice Of Women For Peace, and endorsed by World Beyond War, Independent Jewish Voices, Conscience Canada and the Canadian Peace Congress, the caravan departed Vancouver and Halifax on Mother’s Day and is scheduled to arrive in Ottawa by May 28, the day before the huge CANSEC military arms fair, for a peace rally and teach-in.

The goal of the On to Ottawa Peace Caravan is to build a broadly-based Canada-wide movement to demand that the federal government stop spending billions of dollars on the military and development of fossil fuels; increase spending on urgent social needs such as housing, health, childcare, education, immigrants and refugees; take action on the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the 231 Calls for Justice in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan; join calls supporting ceasefires, UNRWA and support for the International Court of Justice; and initiate diplomatic dialogue to end world conflicts.

Organizers say they take their inspiration from many other cross-country caravans. “From the unemployed men who rode the rails to Ottawa demanding bread and jobs. The Abortion Caravan where hundreds of women gathered on Parliament Hill calling for women’s rights to abortion. The Action Canada Network Caravan that focused attention on NAFTA, which cost thousands of workers their jobs. Gladys Radek and Bernie Skundahl, Indigenous women, who walked to Ottawa in the Walk4Justice campaign forcing the government to set up the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Gim Foon Wong’s cross-country motorcycle ride to Ottawa from the Redress Rally in Vancouver’s Chinatown exposing discrimination of early Chinese immigrants as part of the Chinese Head Tax movement.”

Speaking at the Regina event, caravan coordinator Ellen Woodsworth acknowledged Nakba Day and referenced the struggles of the Palestinians against Israeli occupation and repression, as well as wars in Ukraine, West Asia and Africa.

Woodsworth declared, “the Canadian government does not represent the Canadian people.” However, she also warned that Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre turns people against each other. She discussed how military spending deprives Canadians of the dollars that are needed for social spending, and cautioned that young people are not seeing a future.

While discussing the goals and demands of the On-to-Ottawa Peace Caravan, Woodworth insisted that people in Canada must stand together with people around the world to call for peace, climate justice and support for human rights.

Participants made several observations during the discussion period, particularly that social problems are not receiving sufficient funding, the military wants war, capitalism is an underlying cause of war, and young people are leading the way when it comes to seeing through the propaganda of war. Other issues discussed pertained to the roles of China and Russia, the contributions of Tommy Douglas, the hundreds of military bases around the globe, movements operating in silos as they become more narrowly focused, and the growing numbers of refugees.

All present were inspired by the tasks the Peace Caravan has set itself, and left the meeting feeling invigorated for the struggles ahead. The Regina event was sponsored by the Regina Peace Council and Making Peace Vigil.

[Photo: WILPF Canada X]

Support socialist media!

If you found this article useful, please consider donating to People’s Voice or purchasing a subscription so that you get every issue of Canada’s leading socialist publication delivered to your door or inbox!

For over 100 years, we have been 100% reader-supported, with no corporate or government funding.

Sign up for regular updates from People's Voice!

You will receive email notifications with our latest headlines.