Skip to main content

Chapter 10 – Resistance in the Streets

A photo of several people and Operation Solidarity balloons. A picket sign reads “Canadian Tire the Ghostof Christmas Past Humbug!”. Another reads “PPWC locked out”.

Protests and rallies continued around British Columbia, sometimes combined with local labour disputes. This one in Prince George included picketers involved in a lengthy strike at the local Canadian Tire store.

From August through October, resistance continued and took on many forms – some unsanctioned by Operation Solidarity or the Solidarity Coalition.

BCTF Streetcorner Schoolhouses, Ken Novakowski 

Video transcript


A magazine clipping showing a woman ladling soup into cups, another dressed as a witch and a printed invitation to the Luncheon with Gracie.

Women Against the Budget organized an unsanctioned “Stop Soup Luncheon” in front of cabinet minister Grace McCarthy’s home on August 27, 1983. Jackie Larkin wears a witch costume with a sign that reads “Witches Against the Budget”.

The BC Teachers’ Federation [BCTF] Summer Conference set up “street corner schoolhouses” to educate the public. Women Against the Budget organized a “Stone Soup Luncheon” complete with musical guests outside Minister Grace McCarthy’s front lawn on August 27.

Two photos from the newspaper show a costumed woman speaking at a microphone and holding a soup ladle, plus women applauding after laying funeral wreaths on Minister Grace McCarthy’s doorstep.

Vancouver Status of Women said that the anti-budget fightback was the largest undertaking by BC’s women “since the struggle for the vote”. Many of the women had never been involved in political activity before.

Stone Soup Rally, Lorri Rudland (Women Against the Budget), Marion Pollack (Women Against the Budget, postal worker), Marcy Toms (teacher, community activist), Ken Novakowski

Video transcript

A photograph of nine people holding lit candles face the camera with the BC legislature in the background.

As members of the BC legislature sat around the clock and the government limited debate, members of the Victoria Solidarity Coalition held a candlelight vigil on September 10, 1983. Union activists John Shields and Doug Hensby are at centre.

Petition blitzes began across B.C., and the Solidarity Coalition planned candlelight vigils in Vancouver and Victoria on September 9th and 10th.

Some workers were punished for attending local rallies or even wearing Solidarity buttons, as was the case with Pacific Coach workers in Nanaimo. Their suspensions were reversed when the majority of staff came to work with similar buttons.

Two windows with hand lettered signs read “Human Rights are Not for Sale!!”, “This Budget Hurts Women!” and “Stop Attacking the Poor!”

On September 16, 1983 eighty-seven trade unionists, activists and faith leaders occupied the provincial cabinet offices in Robson Square in Vancouver for twenty-seven hours to demand withdrawal of the legislation introduced in July by the Social Credit government.

On September 16th, 87 people, including unionists, community and tenants’ rights activists and representatives of faith organizations, occupied the provincial cabinet offices in Robson Square in Vancouver for twenty-seven hours to take the province-wide demand for withdrawal of the twenty-six pieces of legislation directly to the government.

A large group of people stand and cheer outside a building holding signs reading “United We Stand” and “People Not Power”. The Vancouver Art Gallery can be seen in the background.

Cabinet Office occupiers emerged from the building to a boisterous welcome from more than 2,000 people outside.

The occupiers emerged to boisterous support from more than 2,000 people who had been staging a demonstration against cutbacks at the Ministry of Human Resources several blocks away.

A photograph shows a group of children watching a man spin a carnivalwheel. The children are holding balloons and a sign reads We Support Operation Solidarity.

Petitions, rallies and picnics were some of the activities organized during the summer of 1983 by the Solidarity Coalition. While festive, there were many serious matters being addressed at the events.

A “Picnic Against the Budget” for Women & Children’s Week was organized on September 25th; A “Tenants Tent-In” was pitched in Vancouver October 1.

On October 15th, the first issue of the Solidarity Times was published – the movement’s own newspaper to report on province-wide activities. The creativity of Solidarity activism was endless.

Resistance in the Streets, Jackie Larkin (Women Against the Budget), Mervyn Van Steinberg (Unemployment Action Centre coordinator), and Stuart Alcock (Representative for Gay Men, Solidarity Coalition)

Video transcript