Former Senate Page Brigette DePape Addresses Council

Port Elgin, ON

April 13, 2012


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AutoIndustry Brampton town Hall
Former Senate Page Brigette DePape Addresses Council
April 13, 2012

Toronto, Ontario
April 17, 2012



Port Elgin, Ontario
April 13, 2012


Brigette DePape
Activist

"There is a myth that youth in Canada are apathetic. Look at the thousands of people who are taking to the streets in Quebec. Are youth apathetic? No youth are burning for change, we are hungry for change and we are starting to wake up and take action. I really think that young people want to get involved but often times they don't know how.

When I went to Ottawa as a senate page I had a choice and on the one hand, I saw what the government was doing, I saw its attacks on workers undermining bargaining rights, undermining women's rights, reopening the abortion debate now, are they serious? What the hell is this? Seeing how they are disrespecting the environment. I knew I had to act on the one hand but on the other hand I was so afraid. It was really when the Senate rejected the climate change bill I said Ok I need to do something they are compromising our future.

I had the idea to take action during the throne speech when I was in my room and it was a few days before the actual speech was happening. I realized that this was a good chance to make a difference and to be heard. I told a few friends about the idea, my room mates and my partner at the time. My partner said; "Are you crazy? You are compromising your future do you really want to do this, but I think it is a great idea and how can I help".

So I was really so grateful to have these other people, to be working with them, to make this happen. They helped me. They had been trained in direct action so they knew what to do. They helped me write up a press release, to practice for interviews, to work on some of the core messaging that we really wanted to get out there.

I want to take you to the moment in the Senate when I was standing there. So it is June 3rd. and Governor General David Johnston is reading his speech and I have this sign in my jacket. I want to take action and I know I have to but I am so scared and I feel sort of alone. But then I remember all of the people who are wanting change and have a different vision for this country and I thought of all those people who are being attacked by Harper's agenda, workers, women, indigenous people, people of colour. All these people who are wanting change and need change and it was really remembering all those people that gave me strength to take the action. I must say it was an incredibly liberating feeling, to be there and holding that sign and to be feeling the power of others with me at that time.

You know what can we do about this? Sometimes it just feels so big and so beyond us to be able to do something, but there really is so much that we can do when we realize our power. We often think about power as operating from the top down and from these decision makers as holding all the power and them dictating to us what we should be doing and what kind of policies we should have. But really I've been learning that we have the power. These systems and governments they only function when we support them. Their power is derived from our labour and support and when we revoke that in a strategic way and an effective way then we regain power and reclaim our vision for our future.

So I think that the way forward is very much, more coordination between these groups who are engaged and I want to thank CAW for supporting the enhanced coordination of movements to breakdown those silos and to come together.

One of my favourite quotes from a young woman, a young activist was: "What we need to do is join together so we can be dangerous together"

For so long I though I was so alone but now I feel that I am a part of this progressive family. I really believe in a society where we can all feel part of that and feel a sense of belonging and unity. I do not believe in the government to change things. I don't believe in the system to change things, I don't believe in corporations to change things. But I do believe in you and in us when we come together."



CAW Making A Difference.


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