Rage Against The Machine

March 2000 - S.T.O.P. - Students and Teachers Opposing Prejudice.

The Story of STOP

The story of STOP begins in 1987, in the town of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada...

During the mid to late eighties, Red Deer and other surrounding communities were making national headlines for a string of activities by area hate groups. Alberta is known as the most blatantly prejudiced province in Canada and the highest concentration of intolerance probably lies in central Alberta (where Red Deer is the main city, population 64,000), thanks in part to all of the lovable rednecks that populate our area.

Anyway, the main headline that made Red Deer appear so evil to the rest of Canada was the trial of a local school teacher (named Jim Keegstra) who had been trying to brainwash his students into thinking that the holocaust did not exist. This case was a popular topic of discussion and one day in his English class, first year teacher Mr. Darren Lund wrote a poem on the subject of intolerance, prejudice and hatred. His students got very enthusiastic and were very angry that a few high profile fascists were getting all of the attention, and began to discuss forming a group to combat prejudice. Mr. Lund, perhaps believing that his students were "just talking", gleefully agreed to lead their crusade against hatred and thus became the staff advisor to this group. They dubbed the group STOP, standing for Students and Teachers Opposing Prejudice.

During the time since that fateful day, STOP has actively participated locally, provincially and nationally to promote acceptance towards all people, no matter their race, religion, gender, appearance, age or sexual orientation. Although we oppose all acts of hatred and prejudice, we are educational and non-confrontational (physically anyway). That being said, we will rigourously defend our beliefs if questioned and we will challenge all racism, sexism, homophobia and other discrimination we encounter.

Our ongoing include a Holocaust Education Symposium (that we have been coordinating since 1994), setting up displays in schools, supporting a foster child, performing elementary school drama productions, supporting community groups and charities, speaking at other schools, booking guest speakers and inviting classes to enjoy their presentations, holding weekly meetings and organizing a province-wide poster and poetry contest.

We also try to put on at least one or two anti-racist concerts each year. We donate all profits to organizations such as the Ogoni network (protesting Shell's exploitation of the people and land in the Niger Delta). We usually draw 150 or so people to each show, where we hand out our literature and have guest speakers as well as the best in local music.

The gig that we held last October was featured in a full-length local television production that also profiled our other projects that we were working on at that time.

In December we also held our first annual "Take Back the Night" event, with a video and march protesting violence against women (see below).

Another exciting event that recently happened was the forming of a new STOP chapter at George Brown College in Toronto.

Although STOP is now widely known and established in the community, it still has tonnes of work to do. There still remain to be scores of red necks, bigots, and violent people out there to recieve the focus of our attention. And as the attitude of the area changes and evolves over time, so does STOP. After a popular youth in Red Deer was violently attacked and put into a coma, a new energy was put into combating violence and intolerance in our community, not just concerning racism and sexism, but prejudice in the area of style, dress and individuality as well. One of the key figures of STOP is its flexibility; it takes on a wide range of projects, based on what is most important to the community and to the members of the group.

In the future we would like to form more clubs in other schools. We would like to network, enabling all members to take a stronger, unified stance against all the forms of hatred that plague our world.


Additional Resources:
Activities:
  • invited our M.P. Bob Mills (then Foreign Affairs Critic) to present our 682-name petition asking for action against China regarding Tibet's independence in the House of Commons, on October 18.
  • 2 delegates serve on the Central Alberta Diversity Project Committee coordinated by the Central Alberta Refugee Effort Committee on October 20.
  • produced a "S.M.A.R.T." (Students Moshing Against Racism Together) gig, an alternative music benefit concert, where 4 local bands, The Carnies, The Frank, Trow, and Ashbury, and an Edmonton band, Pugnacious, played to about 150 people, raising money to rebuild a health centre in Nigeria, on October 24.
  • 5 members helped with a provincial "Diversity Workers' Mobilization and Empowerment Conference" in Red Deer on October 28 and 29.
  • Mr. Lund attended the first annual Ken Saro-Wiwa Memorial Lecture in Toronto, commemorating the 4th anniversary of the execution of Nigerian rights leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and 7 others on November 10.
  • 10 members presented a session at "The Right to What? A 10th Anniversary Conference on the Rights of the Child" provincial youth conference in Edmonton on November 20.
  • recognized Awareness and Action on Violence Against Women with a "White Ribbon Campaign" in the school on December 6.
  • organized a "Take Back the Night" anti-violence event with other community groups, showing a video, then marching with over 100 people to City Hall to hear several guest speakers on December 6.
  • coordinated a Tibet Awareness Event with support from the Canada Tibet Committee, featuring local dignitaries, a showing of the video, "A Song for Tibet", and culminating in the symbolic hanging of the Tibet flag in our school's International Hall on February 9.
  • organized an Aboriginal Awareness Event featuring the First Nations performing group Morningstar from Sunchild/O'Chiese on March 9.
  • 3 members attended the launch of the NAARR (Northern Alberta Alliance on Race Relations) in Edmonton on March 10.
Support Offered and Received:
  • shared with Mr. Lund a national 1999 Harmony Award of Distinction (first ever) from the Harmony Movement in Toronto.
  • Shaw Cable television and Walden Media donated about $1500 in production value for STOP's S.M.A.R.T. Gig 1999 video production in October.
  • member Thea Wingert awarded an Honourable Mention in the province-wide "Rights of the Child: A Vision for the Future" Essay Contest in November.
  • received an anonymous donation to help with student registration for the Child Rights Youth Conference in Edmonton in November.
  • received a private donation to help with our Central American relief efforts in December.
  • donated $180 raised during our "White Ribbon Campaign" to the Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter.
  • donated $25 to the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Toronto.
Future Plans:
  • coordinating a Day of Action against cuts to education and health in Alberta
  • coordinating our Annual Holocaust Education Symposium
  • assisting the formation of STOP chapters at Red Deer College, Notre Dame High School, and Hunting Hills High School in Red Deer, and other Alberta schools