Nanki Kaur: I Organized A #FarmersProtest Rally In The GTA, Here Is What I Learned
With unity, mobilization, and thirst for justice, our Kaum can achieve anything
January 22, 2021 | 2.5 min. read
A movement that started against the Indian government’s three farming laws and authoritarian actions, has resulted in the awakening of youth all around the globe. These bills that undermine farmers and threaten our culture have initiated a ripple effect; one that has inspired not just those back home in Punjab, but also us in the diaspora to mobilize in an unprecedented way.
I had the honour of organizing what would be the first farmers’ protest car rally in downtown Toronto, and the turnout of over 2000 cars was astounding. We learned a lot of lessons - lessons that will perhaps be useful for those planning #AskIndiaWhy protests across the diaspora for India’s Republic Day.
We understood the great responsibility we carried when preparing for the rally, as we would be setting a precedent for the community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Organizing any sort of demonstration is not an easy task, but organizing a demonstration during a pandemic so as to not break any government COVID guidelines, is a whole other feat. We knew its success or failure would determine the fate of future protests on this issue in the region.
If taking on this kind of responsibility has taught me anything it is that in order to mobilize and be heard, we must be unified.
The rally we organized on December 5, 2020, would not have been possible without a collective effort, including from members who do not agree with each other ideologically on many things, but nonetheless, put aside those differences for the benefit of the movement.
Our volunteer team was composed of both Punjabi and Haryanvi farmers; we were able to work together with a whole different community towards the same goal. The ability of organizers to utilize their diverse set of connections and network with politicians and leaders allowed us to inform the appropriate authorities of our rally so that everything was done according to the law. We made it clear to anyone watching the route we were going to use and the actions we planned to take.
We also took into consideration a proactive media engagement plan, as the effectiveness of the car rally would be dependent on the mainstream coverage we would get. In India, citizens are labeled as terrorists for peacefully protesting against unjust laws, so utilizing the free press here to counter false narratives was imperative.
We were able to get coverage from major local media outlets such as CityTV News, Global News, and CP24 - all of which practiced true journalism that day by reporting the honest intent of our protests and those back home. It was clear amongst organizers who would be speaking to the media and the talking points we would be stressing in our interviews - leading to strict discipline on messaging.
In the end, we never lost focus of what we were protesting, and who we were protesting for.
Right now as of this moment at the Singhu border, protesters are feeding, educating, and nourishing the impoverished population of Delhi. A movement against these three unjust bills has turned into a movement against everything the government has failed at delivering in India; whether it be the democratic process, social justice, or basic human rights.
With unity, mobilization, and thirst for justice, our Kaum can achieve anything.
In the words of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale, “So long as we have the spirit of love, so long as we have the support of Satguru Hargobind Sahib, the Master of Miri and Piri, is there any power on earth that can subdue us?”
Kisaan Majdoor Ekta Zindabad!
Nanki Kaur is an undergraduate student who resides in Canada and is the co-founder of Kisan Rally Toronto. She served as the co-president of her university's Sikh Students Association. Over the past few years, she has conducted many inter-SSA seminars and guest presentations on Sikh history across various Ontario University SSAs. You can find Nanki on Twitter at @NankiKaur_.
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