Diemaco Transformed...For a Day

Mother's Day at the Weapons Plant, May 13, 2001

On a beautiful spring day May 13, about 30 people held a mothers day march, picnic for peace and non-competitive badminton festival at Kitchener, Ontario arms manufacturer Diemaco. The event, organized by Homes not Bombs, was the latest in a series of nonviolent events designed to expose and transform the weapons facility which calls itself "Canada's Centre of Excellence for Small Arms."

While Diemaco employees were invited to take part in the event, none showed up. As two police cruisers, joined by two undercover vehicles, stood by in anticipation of who knows what, a parade led by the spirit of feminist/abolitionist Julia Ward Howe walked from a local mall just over 1 km to the site where machine guns, assault rifles, grenade launchers and other weapons of mass human destruction are made with federal money. Over $250 million has been pumped into the facility since 1980, while social services in Waterloo Region continue to deteriorate.

Upon their arrival at Diemaco, a company whose privacy is protected by its distant location in an industrial park, the group read out the 1870 Mothers Day Proclamation, reminding those in attendance that the holiday was originally created as a statement about ending war. Howe, played by Laurel Smith in period costume, said it was appropriate to meet on such a day at the place where future wars are planned and the deaths of countless future generations are just another part of the company's business plan.

After lunch, children and parents took over the empty parking lot with soccer and non-competitive badminton, a dog pulling children along on a skateboard, and curious inquiries as they peered into the windows of the plant, where designs and packets on making heavy machine guns were placed neatly on the desks that were visible from the outside.

As individuals approached the building, an unmarked police car would venture close, warning them to stay away from the building, which was locked up tight and secure. In an abandoned area where a small group of people were having some fun, making far better use of the grounds than the uses to which they are put by Diemaco, members of Waterloo Regional police burned carbon fuels for well over three hours as they sat in their vehicles taking in the scene.

"This is a symbol of the kind of thing Diemaco could be if they were Lifemaco, a builder of community," remarked Howe/Smith. "Today marks the first time that something life-affirming has gone on at this weapons factory. Hopefully our ongoing presence here will begin to speed the transformation process."

Two members of Homes not Bombs were arrested at the facility on Martin Luther King day last January, and will go to trial this fall facing criminal charges for chalking peace signs n the building. The group has held numerous demonstrations at the plant, and last Christmas hosted a visit from two Santas and numerous elves and reindeer, where the Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss was offered as a gift to employees.

As the group prepared to leave, many pledged to travel to Hamilton this June for the Fathers Day Weekend Festival of Life in opposition to the Hamilton War Show. Last week in Hamilton court, the remaining resisters arrested at last year's war show were acquitted of all criminal charges.

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