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Int’l Peasants Day celebration in Hfx!

There was a march and rally on Saturday afternoon (April 17th) here in Halifax, in celebration of International Peasants Day, a day to celebrate local, sustainable food and oppose a world food system run by agri-business. On April 17th 1996, nineteen landless Brazilian peasants were massacred by the military police while defending their right to produce food by demanding access to land. Since then, actions are organized on this day each year to demand food sovereignty and peasants’ right to produce food.

The march started at the Farmer’s Market and included some wonderful puppets and banners, marching drums, a trombone and other instruments and noisemakers, and chants like “Reap it! Sow it! The people’ve got to grow it!”. We marched through rain/wet snow to the commons, where organizers had a spread of delicious food prepared for lunch. Around 100 people attended (including some media) and ate a local-sourced lunch together.

Once our bellies were full, there were a few speakers including Cammie Harbottle, Youth Vice-President of the National Farmers’ Union, and Chris Stroud, one of the founders of a group at Saint Mary’s University – SMU local food campaign – that has been formed to address food issues on campus, including one food company’s monopoly of all things food.

I mostly focused on the upcoming negotiations between Canada and the European Union *this week* on the CETA – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – including how this agreement would have an impact on farmers in terms of their rights to save and reuse seeds. I also made the connection to the G8 (Development Ministers are meeting here next week), who perpetuates social and political inequalities while lacking transparency and accountability.

The organizers did a great job! Too bad Gerard Choplin of Via Campesina (http://www.viacampesina.org/) was not able to attend due to the volcanic ash grounding most flights from Europe. Maybe this will have an impact on the CETA negotiations too – is the world trying to tell us it’s time for a new model?!

Beet the system; beet the G8!!