Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Africville

as attention around the world focuses on the Occupy protests and what to do with them - and what the protesters should do - a cbc calgary reporter started thinking about long-term protesting and what it takes to stay the course. he had studied at king's in halifax in the mind-1990s and remembered eddie carvery's africville protest. he googled to see what ever happened to him, found The Hermit of Africville and that he was still there and sent me an email. i stopped by the camp yesterday and lent eddie my cellphone so the afternoon radio show's host could interview him about Occupy and his own 41-year occupation.

i listened to the first five minutes in the trailer with him before going outside to quiet the barking dogs. you can listen to the full thing here.

as eddie says in the interview, in a depressing recreation of history, now that he has moved peacefully off the church site and the church has been built, he's been dropped. all of the africville heritage trust talk of a curator's position, of paying him for the winterized home they destroyed, of honouring his protest has vanished like morning dew. the church is built and stands empty. eddie's locked out.

eddie hasn't vanished, though. you can hear in his voice he is tired and weakened physically, but unbending in his determination to stand his ground.

he has heard that some people are thrilled with the church, but unhappy with the unattractive camp in front of it. it ruins the photos, apparently.

he's now preparing for the winter. the trailer gets ice cold and the insulated little house he had built is gone, so he's starting over again. this is an extra good time of year to visit with hot coffee, food, and company.

Occupy Africville

City Council says Occupy Calgary can stay but not the tents, making the protestors lives more difficult if they decide to stay. It's just one bump in the road if they are truly serious about a long-term protest, and no one knows more about the art of sustained protest than Eddie Carvery. He lives in Halifax and grew up in the mostly black neighbourhood called Africville, it was bulldozed by the city to make way for other development and residents called that racist. Eddie Carvery decided to protest the move, setting up his own Occupy-like movement in the area in 1970, 41 years later The Hermit of Africville is still protesting.
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