Friday, October 21, 2011

Bishop of Qu'Appelle visits #OccupyReginaSk

This evening, I had the privilege of accompanying Bishop Greg Kerr-Wilson when he visited the site of #OccupyReginaSk.  There are about 50 people actually living onsite in Regina's Victoria Park.  One of the saddest commentries on the state of things is that sleeping on an air matress in a tent on a brisk October evening is actually a step up for the 10 - 15 homeless people that are part of the occupation.

We had planned the Bishop's arrival to coincide with the 8:00 pm assembly, where business is usually conducted and where occupiers and visitors are able to speak to the whole group.  However, with the organic logic of anarchic process, it had been decided the assembly would be pushed back so tents could be moved while the greatest number of people were there.  And yes, the Bishop and I helped move tents.  (The tents were being moved in order to have better shelter from the wind and so the grass in one part of the park would have a chance to recover.)

While the corporate media have tended to depict the #Occupy protests as little more than inchoate rage against the financial system, the Bishop and I spoke to several people who clearly understood not only that the system isn't working, but could also articulate why the system isn't working.  One of the most interesting bits of analysis came from an ex-Saskatchewan Party MLA.  (For my non-Canadian readers, that would be like an ex-Republican State Assemblymen in the US.)  He spoke about how the movement of capital and the accumulation of profit is no longer related to any productive activity.

Bishop Greg spoke only briefly - in part to indicate that his agenda this evening was primarily to listen to the people occupying the park.  Several people spoke to us afterwards about the need for religious leaders to speak about the moral dimension of the economic crisis.  I expect we'll hear more from our Bishop in due course.

We live in a strange time when the Governor of the Bank of Canada, a former US Treasury Secretary, some of the richest men on the planet and even the Conference Board of Canada can acknowlede that the system is broken and that income inequality is breaking the system even further, yet the political system is seemingly unaware of the problem.


theiconoclast said...

A warm and compassionate person, the Bishop's sincerity is undoubted. Nor is there any reason to doubt that those occupying the park appreciate the politics and economics that have and do shape their circumstances. However, I wonder what the tent-dwellers would say if he asked them what they thought of Habitat for Humanity, an enterprise that he strongly supports. I wonder how he would respond if he were asked why a family, newly arrived from overseas, probably with education and training and certainly with strong community support---for this is one of Habitat's preconditions---gets a spanking new house while they, the tent people, long time residents of the province and perhaps its original custodians, are de facto shut-out of the programme.

Malcolm+ said...

While those arrived from overseas CAN qualify for a Habitat for Humanity house, that is not a prerequisite for the program. While I don't know all the qualifying requirements, I have been involved in Habitat builds where the house went to working oor families.

Rob-bear said...

Thanks for the insights from the Bishop's "Episcopal Tour" of Occupy Regina.

I'm a United Church cleric with Occupy Saskatoon; I've been involved since planning began. My post graduate training is in ethics. I try to examine the ethical dimensions of what is happening.

When adjusted for inflation, the current average Canadian wage is $2,000 less that what people were making in 1978. At the same time, the average house cost in Canada is about $350,000.

I suppose that trying to buy a house in 2011, with $60,000 a year (today's average wage), is a bit of a challenge. But it bothers me. Not because I'm trying to buy, but because others are trying to buy, and can't.

Sic transit gloria mundi.