(Originally Published on Occupy Ottawa website)
The Occupy Ottawa Movement observed a moment of silence before its General Assembly last night to commemorate the death of Vancouver Occupier, Ashlie Gough. The 23-year-old Victoria native died of an apparent overdose at the Occupy Vancouver encampment on November 5.
“This s a tragedy that profoundly affects the members of Occupy Vancouver and the entire Occupy family worldwide,” said Arun Smith, an Occupy Ottawa activist. “We at Occupy Ottawa convey our deepest sympathies to everyone who was close to Ashlie and to Occupy Vancouver.”
Some pundits in the mainstream media have tried to exploit Gough’s death to tarnish the global occupy movement, and to nudge mayors of occupied Canadian cities to evict Occupiers. A columnist with the Globe and Mail suggested recently: “The weekend death of a female protester at the Occupy Vancouver site has done incalculable damage to a global protest campaign that suddenly finds itself at a crossroads.”
Occupy Ottawa activists like Smith disagree.
“This death highlights a number of the reasons why we are engaging in these Occupations,” Smith said. “Blame lies in the hands of a society built on inequality and oppression, a society where Ashlie, even in death, is considered by the media little more than another drug user, instead of the human being she was.”
The National Capital Commission (NCC), a corporation of the Government of Canada, has hinted at evicting Occupy Ottawa from its occupied site, Ottawa’s Confederation Park, to make way for Winterlude. Theough Winterlude takes place in February, site preparations for often start in December.
A statement posted on Occupy Ottawa’s Facebook Page earlier expressed condolences to Ashlie’s family and called on mayors of Canadian cities to “focus on the serious challenges we face instead of evicting peaceful protesters.”
“For Ashlie, the fight is now over, but for us, it lives on for all of us – for us, her memory lives on,” Smith said.