Active dialogue with Adélie a student activist from the Occupy Vancouver Movement.
The International Communist Youth Organization
1) Tell our readers a little about yourself first.. how old you are, what do you do, when and how did you get involved in the political activism?
1) My name is Adélie Houle-Lachance, I am a student at Capilano University and an editor for the Capilano Courier, the student newspaper at the university. I am 21 years old, and I got involved in political activism when I was in high school through the Peace Committee. We would organize small gatherings every weekend to promote world peace and compassion towards citizens of the globe, and we would also attend marches and rallys for peace keeping, social justice and environmental issues. I later went on to work with Greenpeace Canada in Vancouver, and when I entered Capilano University I was active in the Social Justice committee for two years.
Q: How and when did you get involved in the Occupy Van? What is your role?
A: I got involved with the Occupy movement in Vancouver on the day that it started, October 15 2011. I marched with everyone, listened to the speakers, danced to the music, and assessed for myself an idea of what the movement was all about. When I saw that there were definitely here to stay, I decided to be present with the movement and with the individuals who were organizing it. I started by helping out here and there, and really saw how the movement burgeoned from the ground up. I finally found my place with Food Not Bombs, the radical organization that organizes the food tent at the camp. They are a great movement, with some anarchist roots, who have for mandate to distribute vegetarian and vegan food to communities, They are conscious activists and their way of carrying out change is through food. There is so much food in the world, resources are not what we are lacking – rather we suffer from a misdistribution of those resources. So FNB collects food in many ways (not always through purchasing) and redistributes it to anyone in need. FNB will often be found at gatherings or movements such as Occupy Vancouver, where they have set up a food tent and the volunteers are constantly feeding occupiers and passer-bys all day long. I volunteer with FNB by serving food, cleaning, organizing the pantry, making food, and just by giving my energy and presence. We get 80% of our food through donations from the community, and we buy items with donation money, and we also salvage some food in good healthy condition from dumpsters around the city.
Q: What is you assessments of the movement so far? What has it achieved?
A: Since it started on Wall Street (NYC) in September, the Occupy movement has expanded and reached out all over the world. There is an occupation in almost every major city around the globe. Lately, especially in Vancouver, the occupy movement has gotten a lot of media criticisms saying that it isn't truly accomplishing anything. However, it is important to keep in ind that Occupy is a decentralized movement, meaning that there is no leader with a specific agenda. The internal structure of the movement is built on a consensus decision-making model, and people who attend the General Assembly vote on policies and proposals that the different committees prepare. This is a long process, and often requires a lot of energy and debate. This means that sometimes, things move slowly and it seems as though no progress is being made. The reality though, is that although there may not be any specific and direct actions being taken to implement immediate change, the actions that are being taken will have repercussions in the future and will create change on a long-term level. From what I have experienced so far, Occupy is a space that allows for people to express themselves, connect with others who are like-minded, create community and support each other. This is so important, because our society here is so segregating and self-expression is not especially encouraged. It can be hard sometimes for people to make sense of what their thoughts are for their world, but when they are surrounded by other people who have similar ideas, it can be very empowering. Because Occupy is in so many places, each movement varies from city to city. Each city is going to have different issues that need to be addressed, different minds taking on leadership roles, and a different environment to live in. All these things mean that each Occupy is slightly different, which is a great thing because it means they are personalized, specific to what needs to be changed, and gives people a sense of belonging and ownership. In Vancouver for example, Occupy has been very present in showing its colours throughout the preparations for the municipal elections coming up in mid-November.
Q: How do see the future of it? Where should it go? What is it lacking?
A: Occupy is not going to last forever, but the ideas and inspirations that come out of it will have repercussions for times to come. It is important for those who are involved in setting up the structures and those who put a lot of heart into growing the movement to not be attached to it. Change means that we cannot hold on to what has been already created, we must be progressive, accepting of new situations and adaptive. If Occupy would be to remain as what it is now, nothing would come out of it. Those who are involved need to find a way to take these ideas, these plans, these proposals they are coming up with, out of the movement and onto the game field. Especially for those of live in the tent city, it's easy to get comfortable and forget about the bigger picture. This is counter-productive. The movement needs to evolve, and eventually grow out of Occupy to become something bigger and truly change-provoking, whatever form that may take.
Q: What is your vision for the world? What kind of world do you want?
A: This is a hard question, because in a lot of ways I feel that my visions for the world are very idealistic, and I have a hard time finding a balance between ideals and what is actually feasible and practically applicable. In an ideal world, globalization would stop, governments from other countries would stop interfering in the affairs of other countries, capitalism would end, free trade would end, we would move away from oil consumption to sustainable and renewable energy sources, centralized governments would no longer stand, and instead we would live in small local villages, take care of one another as a community and live simply... Some call it anarchism, some call it counter evolution or de-growth... Whatever the name, I feel that many of the problems we face today would not exist if we focused on local community and lived in consequence of each other, redeveloped our connection to nature and stopped seeing ourselves as having power of the natural forces of this world. Technology and capitalism makes us believe that we can live separately from our environment, and that we are above/ have control over it... This is such an illusion. We are one, not only with nature but also with each other. There is no us and them, we each share the same consciousness and are mirrors of one another. My ideal world is one of true equality, self-expression, unity, respect, peace, spiritual evolution, and unconditional love.
Q: How do you picture yourself? What are you going to do for that?
A: It all comes down to daily individual actions, big or small, being conscious, mindful of our decisions and the power they have, and also of our thoughts... Our thoughts are what shape our reality, we must take back control of our minds and realize how powerful we really are. As individuals, we can accomplish just about anything. As a community, we are even stronger. We must focus on community development, and empower each other to be conscious active actors in every moment, not only when an occupation takes over a part of our city.