After almost two years of research it’s become quite clear that a large part of Canada’ environmental protest movement is organized an led by a small, tightly knit, group of people. They have a lot of commonalities between each other- the tactics they use, their connections to unions, the messages they put out, and their connections to TIDES Foundation NGO’s. People at Occupy Toronto outside their circles coined a name for these professional activists: Activistocrats.
Well, it turns out that a number of the activistocrats have one more thing in common, many wear the same tattoo- the mark of the Activistocrat…
I first heard of this when someone from Occupy Toronto mentioned that Dave Vasey (OT’s defacto leader) has the tattoo on the left side of his chest. Vasey’s a professional protester who’s done a lot of work against the Oil Sands, he has deep connections with other Acticvistocrats across the country. He’s also worked with several organizations with funding from the TIDES Foundation including the Indigenous Environmental Network, Rainforest Action Network and the Ruckus Society. Vasey is also connected to the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a group of Christian Anarchists with deep ties to violent people.
Standing next to Vasey in the above picture is Taylor Flook, who also took a leadership position at OT. Like Vasey, Flook as the same tattoo, only on the left side of her back. Also like Vasey, Flook has a history of working with TIDES funded organizations including the Ruckus Society and the Sierra Club. Flook is also known for having a very dirty mouth.
Taylor Flook’s sister, Chelsea Flook, was (not by coincidence) is one of the people who wrestled control of Occupy Edmonton out of the hands of ordinary occupiers (just like her sister). Chelsea Flook is the Executive Director of the Prairie Chapter of the Sierra Club. In the past, Chelsea was active in the notorious CUPE 3903 at York University- there’s a great picture of her and Taylor wearing anarchist masks at one of their events. (The CUPE 3903 were deeply involved with the native uprising in Caledonia.)
Next up the Activistocrat food chain is a woman named Eriel Deranger, a tar sands campaigner from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta. Deranger is also one of the main organizers for the Tar Sands Healing Walk that took place on July 5 & 6- people involved with this march include Naomi Klein and Bill McKibbon of 350.org. In June Deranger was a speaker at the Hollyhock Social Change Institute, an event held at TIDES Canada’s Hollyhock new age resort on Cortes Island, BC. Deranger is deep in TIDES Country.
Clayton Thomas-Muller is a superstar Activistocrat who works with the Indigenous Environmental Network- yet another organization that’s received funding from TIDES. According to an article by Rabble.ca writer Ethan Cox, Clayton also has the same tattoo. He’s close with Dave Vasey too, and was a speaker during Occupy Toronto at the Occupy Talks conference. Muller was also a faculty member at the Hollyhock Leadership institute.
Next there’s a filmmaker who goes by the name of Velcrow Ripper, the man behind the movie called Occupy Love. Ripper got involved with Occupy after meeting Judy Rebick (godmother of Occupy Toronto) at a meeting at Hollyhock. It’s unknown if he has the same tattoo, but “Love is the movement” is the tagline he used for the movie. People who were featured in the movie include Clayton Thomas-Muller, Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein. Is this a coincidence?
Last, but certainly not least, is a woman named Emily Hunter. If there’s ever been the perfect example of an Activistocrat, Hunter is it. Not only is she a very high profile activist, but she was born into the part- her father, Robert Hunter was one of the founders of Greenpeace (another organization connected with TIDES). Hunter has been working in Southeast Asia and Australasia. An article discussing her work in Indonesia describes her tattoo.
What does this all mean? Well, first, it’s more evidence that the people leading environmental activism are a small and closely knit group. Each of the (known) people with the “love is the movement” tattoo have personal connections to NGO’s like TIDES- most of them have strong relationships with the activists who brought violence to the streets during incidents like the Toronto G20 and the Vancouver Olympics.
There’s another angle to all this that I’ll get to in a future article- the phrase “love is the movement” has ties to the Christian anarchist movement. Stay tuned, this is going to get very interesting…