one step at a time a spring time for marching

A week ago Wednesday, Yukon Peace Coalition supporters bolstered by students form Vanier Catholic Secondary School staged a peaceful march and…

A week ago Wednesday, Yukon Peace Coalition supporters bolstered by students form Vanier Catholic Secondary School staged a peaceful march and demonstration.

With peace flags flying they walked from city hall to the Elijah Smith building. Their action was occasioned by the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Their footsteps echoed the hundreds of thousands of others worldwide decrying the violence inflicted on the Iraqi people.

This spring seems to be a particularly fertile season for people taking to the streets. From Baghdad to Minsk, Paris to Los Angeles literally millions have lifted banners and voices in opposition to government actions and in calls for the defence of basic human rights.

The great majority march and express their opinions peacefully as they did here in Whitehorse.

To the south of us the most recent manifestations have been in opposition to punitive US federal legislation aimed at illegal immigrants and their families.

Last Saturday hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Estimates range from 500,000 to two million for the number of people wearing white shirts to symbolize peace and waving US and Mexican flags.

A similar demonstration with 300,000 occurred in Chicago on March 10.

Tens of thousands of others marched in Denver, Phoenix, Milwaukee and other cities in between.

They all joined in demanding that the US Congress abandon proposed legislation, which would make aiding illegal immigrants a crime and turn the more than 12 million illegal workers currently in the USA into felons.

Building longer and higher walls along borders, whether between Israel and Palestine or along the Rio Grande, will not solve the underline social and economic problems that divide us.

As Los Angeles demonstrator Elger Aloy, a premed student, said to a Globe and Mail correspondent, “Everybody deserves the right to a better life.”

Many business leaders side with protesters in calling for an amnesty for current undocumented migrants followed by a legislated guest worker program.

Industries such as fresh-produce growers say that they couldn’t exist without access to this foreign work force.

An estimated 53 per cent of the 1.8 million farm workers in the USA are believed to be undocumented.

Trades like dry walling, house framing, building and grounds maintenance and meat processing are dominated by immigrant labourers with a high percentage of them being undocumented.

The Pew Hispanic Centre reports that of the 2.5 million new jobs created in the USA during 2004, a million were filled by Hispanic immigrants with as many as 700,000 of them currently working illegally.

United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has convinced 70 of its 197 dioceses to formally commit to a campaign calling for legalizing the status of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA.

They have sent tens of thousands of postcards to their legislators and urged as many parishioners out into the streets to support the protests.

Speaking out against injustice and speaking for a more-humane alternative vision of the way things should work, offers the hope of social renewal just as spring holds out the promise of a renewed earth.

Taking one step at a time, and speaking with voice at a time, we reshape our planet.

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