The emotional highlight of the summer of Solidarity protests came on August 10th, 1983. A rally was to take place at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, and British Columbians from all over took up the call. Over 40,000 citizens united to express their rage at the Social Credit government –
but many recall the atmosphere that day as one of community, strength and determination. In one word: solidarity.
Empire Stadium– “Common Cause”
Musical and dramatic performances and speeches came from the stage, while wave after wave of people filled the stadium near to capacity. Just when it seemed the stands couldn’t hold any more, in marched several hundred uniformed firefighters, played in by the Firefighters’ Brass Band.
Bus drivers, also in uniform – members of the Independent Canadian Transit Union – parked their buses along Hastings Street to join the rally after dropping people off. The day before, the Labour Relations Board had ruled they had a right to participate in the political protest. As the band played, people cheered and cried with joy – “a moment when it seemed anything was possible”, in the words of author and former labour journalist Rod Mickleburgh.
Empire Stadium, Pam Moodie (community activist), Marion Pollack (Women Against the Budget, postal worker), Jackie Larkin (Women Against the Budget), Stuart Alcock (Representative for Gay Men, Solidarity Coalition), Ken Novakowski (Bargaining Staff, BC Teachers’ Federation), Rod Mickleburgh (Labour Reporter), Hanne Jensen (fired Director, BC Human Rights Branch), and Patsy George (Fired BC government social worker & staff for Solidarity Coalition)
As massive and memorable as this rally was, it was far from the largest or last collective action to take place. People took their energy from this event and put it into actions big and small across the province for the rest of the summer and into autumn.