Though Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not an official holiday in Canada, organizers there honored the legacy of the slain civil rights leader by taking a stand for justice on his birthday.
More than 250 people attended a Martin Luther King Jr. Day action at Torontos Queens Park, demonstrating their opposition to the deep cuts in social programs made by Ontario Premier Mike Harris.
"Martin Luther King Jr. brought the spiritual component into resistance, and we want to keep his work alive," said Brian Burch of the Interfaith Witness for Social Justice and Compassion. "We believe Kings birthday is a perfect day to celebrate that."
According to Burch, much of the leadership of the resistance movement is publicly identified with the faith community. "People of faith are recognizing that this is a long-term movement," he said. "It may not be fashionable, but its important. King and César Chávez knew their movements were for the long term, so they had to be faith-based to survive. The faith community in Canada hasnt let faith die in this movement."
Last fall, the Days of Action coalition, which includes a broad range of religious, non-profit, and labor groups, organized the largest demonstration in Canadian history, bringing more than 200,000 people into the streets of Toronto to protest the severe cuts into the Ontarian social fabric made by the Harris government.