September 29th, 2011 was proclaimed, by Mayor Fiacco, Rights and Freedoms Day in Regina. Dr. Marc Spooner spearheaded the effort to have a day to recognize the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in part, as a response to the Profs in the Park controversy from the summer. The event (held with support from RPIRG and URSU) was an opportunity, to learn about the Charter, grab a copy in your language of choice and hear speakers’ views on rights and freedoms in Canada.
It was such a beautiful afternoon Thursday. Trees in the park were starting to turn autumn yellow, with the sun doing its best to warm the crowd. The noon-hour start saw about 50 people gather to hear speakers, get copies of the Charter and create their own political lawn signs.
About half a dozen speakers (like Joyce Green pictured above) spoke to the Charter, Palestinian solidarity, the universal declaration of the rights of mother earth,queering the church and continued vigilance on rights and freedoms we have won.
Later, the mic was opened up to the crowd with the people who came forward expressing diverse perspectives and experiences.
After the speakers, Devon Floyd and Patrick Johnson provided music to celebrate the park, the Charter and the Day.
It was a really lovely day and I left the park refreshed and optimistic about the future of the Downtown. It is not the first time the park has changed, that a new vision for that space has come to the fore. In the past there have been conflicts between different groups hoping to use the park in different ways.
There has been a push back against censorship, and through that developed, an awareness of what the park should be. Freedoms in the Park was a snap shot of the future, Victoria Park as a public space of protest, music, rest, beauty, community, play and remembrance.