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Liberation, not domination

Lisa Scott
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 25/05) - Office workers peered out windows and pedestrians turned their heads as chants of "Liberation, not domination" and "We are walking united for peace" filled Franklin Avenue, last Friday.

A crowd of about 40 St. Patrick high school students and a sprinkling of community members were striding down the main drag, calling for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

The protesters walked behind an Alternatives North sign, many wearing posters plastered with defiant statements about the war, others handed out pamphlets to people on the sidewalks.

They stopped in front of Ethel Blondin-Andrew's office before ending up at the Canadian Forces headquarters just before noon last Friday.

"There is a time for war, but it doesn't appear to be right now," said Mandy Lyons, a Grade 12 student.

"They said they (the U.S.) were going there to liberate the Iraqi people, but it doesn't look like liberation."

"Is it about liberation or oil?" asked the 17-year-old.

Grade 12 student Briony Wright hopes the 45-minute march will hit home with those who caught a glimpse of the group.

"If we can start in Yellowknife, eventually we can spread the message throughout Canada. It all starts with one person," she said before heading back to school.

The students, some of whom took part in the march for a social justice class, expressed disgust with the continued invasion of the Middle Eastern country.

Liz Richards, the minister for the Yellowknife United Church spoke to the students on a loudspeaker, telling them that the $200 billion spent so far on the war would be better used to feed hungry children. As the group dispersed, Richards said she was encouraged to see youth taking social action.

"They are learning to think critically about world issues ... and then to stand publicly and have their voices heard," she said.

Richards own voice was loud and clear Friday, as she denounced American actions.

"There is no way to defend it at all. It's a foreign occupation. It's using tremendous resources of money, of fuel," she said.

Ways to bring democracy

"There are certainly much more effective ways of bringing democracy to Iraq," she said, referring to the need for a worldwide organization to build peace.

Alternatives North organized the march to recognize the second anniversary of the American occupation, March 19. They arranged a viewing of Bridges to Baghdad for St. Pat's students beforehand.

The Canadian Peace Alliance, which the Yellowknife social justice group is an affiliate of, organized 43 cities across Canada to take part in similar activities.