Occupy: "We're staying put"

photos and text by Parisa Azadi

Pressure has been mounting for Occupy Vancouver to leave its encampment at the Vancouver Art Gallery, after a death over the weekend and a skirmish with police on Monday. 

People from the Occupy camp spoke with The Vancouver Observer about why they continue to stay, despite threats of removal. 

Jason Morden: I think tent city is an important part of Occupy Vancouver. This is a place where people can come and speak their minds without fear. You can come here 24 hours a day, and it's a safe place. A lot of people from the Downtown Eastside are coming here for that very reason. They are listened to and are allowed to have a voice and speak on issues. These are some of the people that are the most marginalized and demoralized in our community. If we lose the tents completely, we'll probably also lose some of that occupation of space.

Maxine Fisher: I think what people have created here is amazing. We have a such a huge problem with addiction and homelessness. This is a place where people can go to and feel like they are part of a community. The tents give people a place to live during the winter time when they have nowhere else to go.

Ricky Lavallie: Where do the homeless go in the winter time? All the shelters in the Downtown Eastside are full and there is no where else to go. So this is why we started the tent city, to invite the homeless people out here to join us. This is a peaceful camp. We are not here for violence. We are here to help the homeless people.

Raven Ferara: People are just expressing their minds here. The city is looking for little loop holes like what just happened over the weekend to kick us out. I think they should back off and let us be humans. I think having the camp is important.

I feel at home here. I am Native, this is my land and we treat the land properly here. I feel a sense of community, a sense of belonging and I feel like I have a family. It's just the connection you feel when you're here.

Muckwa: It does not matter what the city of Vancouver does to the encampment. They can't stop this movement. People started this movement because we all believe in one single thing there is something seriously wrong with the world we live in today. We are here to discuss this. We will not go away until these issues are resolved.

Jane (real name not provided): I wish they had the option to do it differently. I prefer domes where we would fit eight to 10 people per dome. I don't agree with any alcohol or drug use on site. I'm all for having the domes so we can watch out for each other. I hope they don't break our basic civil rights by taking tents away because they don't like it or because there is drug use. There will be drug use anywhere.

That girl (Ashlie Gough) -- I don't believe she was even here for occupation. She was only here for the weekend ... there is bad heroin going around. [The death] could have happened across the street and nobody would have paid attention. I don't want anybody to step on our basic rights. I believe in free speech and democracy. If they can provide us with a safe and warm place that would be wonderful. We could watch out for each other.

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