Kingston May Day to return to the streets Sunday

Kingston MAy Day Collective will once again mark May 1st as a celebration of May Day and International Workers Day after a two year absence.

The event had previously been organized since 2011.

In a statement, the collective said they plan to come back in full force after a two year absence, with the pandemic highlighting the urgency of issues they hope to lend their voice to.

“It’s time to mobilize. The pandemic disrupted our lives and the connections that make us stronger together,” the statement reads.

“It’s time to rebuild those connections to continue fighting to end capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and white supremacy.”

May Day, or International Workers’ Day, has been celebrated around the world for over a century.

Organizer Erik Sacco said the local celebration blends two different celebrations, which he referred to as a red side and a green side.

The red side dates back to the 1886 Haymarket incident and workers’ struggle for an eight hour work day.

The green side dates back to more Pagan traditions of celebrating spring, and Sacco says in Kingston they try to “tip their hat” to both traditions.

He says the local celebration tries to recognize a variety of struggles faced by people.

“We’ve tried to mark international worker days and highlight class struggle issues in town and anti-capitalist perspectives,” Sacco said.

“We also have to take an ecological perspective and we need to weave in social movements of solidarity of all kinds… We really do try to pitch a pretty big tent for people who are involved in struggles of liberation of all kinds to be able to come together and celebrate our struggles and our shared situation.”

Sacco says speakers and organizers will be focused on the worsening disparity between rich and poor, focused on the affordable housing crisis including criticisms of the proposed Tannery development, and non-local concerns like the push to defund Coastal GasLink Pipeline through Wet’suwet’en territory.

Following a BBQ at noon in Skeleton Park, the group will march from the park to downtown around 1 PM.

Sacco says marching along the streets can be “empowering.”

“It’s an empowering experience to be able to take to the street,” Sacco said.

“I think it ties into people being able to realize their own power outside of the really narrow channels of electoral politics and social media that are currently offered to us… There’s more concrete ways that they can build their collective power.”

Sacco added that while city officials and political parties are always welcome, the event tries to emphasize its grassroots nature by focusing on voices of local labor activists and community leaders.

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