Occupiers plan to stay through winter


    Occupy Fredericton protester Robin Ross said the worst part of staying overnight at the camp is people going to and from Fredericton's bars and clubs. (Karissa Donkin/AQ)

    It’s hard to miss the Occupy Fredericton encampment when walking by city hall.

    A large poster reading Occupy Fredericton is splashed against a tree. Behind it is a large green tent, which is deceiving in size. On the inside, it’s bigger than you’d think.

    Inside the tent, in one corner, are smaller tents with sleeping bags inside. On cold nights, they’ll use more than one, with most of the heat in the tent generated by solar power.

    On the other side, food is stored and labeled in clear drawers, while disposable plates sit on top of the container. Outside is where they do their cooking.

    Many of the encampments across the country, including ones in Vancouver and Halifax, have been shut down due to safety concerns or for violating city bylaws.

    However, it appears as if Fredericton’s encampment is here to stay for a while.

    Fredericton Police Cpl. Stephen Horsman said there are no plans to shut it down.

    “They’re been very peaceful. They’re doing their thing, they’re not interfering with any pedestrian travel or city hall workings,” he said.

    “There’s no complaints from the citizens.”

    Dana Hartt has been at Occupy Fredericton since Oct. 15. He tinkers with an open hard drive in the tent, which he was trying to hook up to a power source so they could do research on site at Occupy Fredericton.

    Hartt plans to stay throughout the winter and for however long it takes until he reaches his end goal: dismantling the entire industrial monetary system and replacing it with a resource-based economy.

    “I feel that it’s the long overdue global popular uprising. I wanted to be a part of that, of course, rather than sit on my hands while it’s happening.”

    He sees himself as a big picture outlook kind of person, but if there’s one issue that drives him, it’s health care cuts.

    He works as a patient attendant and has seen the impact of cuts firsthand, he said.

    “I’m seeing it personally, the austerity measures coming into effect there. I had my hours cut back dramatically.”

    Robin Ross stayed overnight at Occupy Fredericton for the first time on Friday. She plans to stay overnight for two to three nights a week throughout the winter.

    She doesn’t consider herself a political person, but said now is the time a movement like Occupy could make a difference.

    “In the past, had any community decided to do this, it would have been shut down very easily. But now with the internet, and the fact that this is around the world, we have so much support all over the place,” she said.

    “Even if one place gets shut down, there are other places that are popping up.”

    While the original Occupy Wall Street movement was an inspiration for Ross to get involved with

    Occupy Fredericton, her 19-year-old daughter was also a motivation.

    “When I look at the world that I have raised my daughter in, I see so many places for improvement and wherever I can be there to help, that’s what I want to do,” she said.

    During Ross’ first night at the encampment, it wasn’t the cold temperature that bothered her or the sound of the tent flapping in the wind. Rather, she said with a laugh, it was the people going back and forth through the city’s bar district.

    “People go by and some people were supportive and like, ‘Yay Occupy.’ But then other people, it’s two o’clock in the morning and they’re drunk walking down the road screaming, ‘Get a job.’”

    She said some people see it as an “unemployed movement,” but there have been young and old, from professors to people with military backgrounds camping out at Occupy Fredericton.

    Both the protesters point to the media for portraying people in the Occupy movement in a negative light.

    But even those who walk by the tent with negative things to say are helping their cause, Ross said – they’re talking about it.

    “Raising awareness is the number one thing.”