What better way to spend Thanksgiving Monday than to share food, solidarity and support for war resister Rodney Watson in Vancouver.
Rodney has been in sanctuary at First United Church for over two years, and Monday's event organized by Vancouver East MP Libby Davies, was a great show of support for Rodney and his struggle to get permanent residence in Canada.
Try to fathom what being in sanctuary means: Rodney must stay in the church at all times, and not step outside, for risk of arrest and deportation. His story is compelling: he, his wife Natasha, and young son, Jordan, have made the church their home since shortly after he received a deportation order in September 2009. Rodney was a U.S. soldier who served in Iraq, and became a conscientious objector.
He is now up against a Conservative government that has shown no compassion for Rodney and other war resisters in Canada.
Today's event was to let Rodney know that he has support, and that he is not alone. More than eighty people, including elected representatives -- MP Don Davies, civic representatives Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, school trustee Jane Bouey -- as well as local activists such as Seth Klein, CUPW Vancouver President Tim Armstrong, Stop War organizer (and rabble blogger) Derrick O'Keefe, First United Church Minister Ric Matthews, Working TV's Julius Fisher, documentary-maker Bonnie Klein, and many others attended.
Those who dropped in to share a plethora of home-cooked food were encouraged to write a personal letter to Minister of Immigration and Citizenship Jason Kenney detailing their support for Rodney's case. A CUPW mailbox was filled with letters by the end meal, and will be delivered to the main post office in Vancouver by CUPW representatives, bound for Ottawa.
Those who met Rodney in person left with a greater awareness of how brave he is, and to quote MP Don Davies, who shared his father's wise words to him: "It takes a brave man to know when not to fight."
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