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Saskatoon unwelcomes Harper

Catherine Gendron

October 14, 2015

Harper is known as a lot of things, but transparent is not one of them—so it came as no surprise when residents of Treaty 6 Territory learned of his impending visit on October 6, but without clear details. It wasn’t until the day of his visit that we were able to confirm his whereabouts.

Immediately after, organizers put the call out for a “Stop Harper!” flash-mob at Nu-Fab Building Products in Saskatoon’s north end. It was amazing how fast news traveled, and social media particularly boosted the protest: within the first hour, the unwelcoming event was shared hundreds of times.

By 6pm, roughly 200 people came together to let Harper know he is not welcome on Treaty 6 Territory. People held signs that read, “Pro-Women, Pro-Peace, Anti-Harper,” “Stop Harper: One Planet, No Do-Overs,” “New Idea: Swap Racists for Refugees,” “Stop Corporate Puppets,” “Stop the Tar Sands,” and the most common, “Stop Harper”—a sign that incorporated all concerns.

The flash-mob carried an incredible sense of solidarity: it was an encouraging and peaceful event that shared a powerful sense of collective belonging. Our collectivity demonstrated our power to those that were lining up to attend Harper’s speaking event; they had to walk through us, and many had to cover their ears due to our loud chants and singing.

After half an hour or so, our singing got so loud that Harper supporters tried to (unsuccessfully) drown us out with music; that only compelled us to sing and chant louder—they could not overpower us. Together we sang “Harperman” and called out “Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay, Stephen Harper Go Away,” “Hey Ho, Harperman’s got to go!” and “Stop the Hate, Stop the Fear, Refugees are Welcome Here!”

As to be expected, Harper brought along his large team of security, who aimed to keep the protesters away from the fence that blockaded us from entry. As the evening progressed, protesters collectively grew bolder and were pressed up right against the fence—an apt symbol of Harper’s reign as a leader for the rich, not for the rest of us.

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