Nostalgica sign stolen in protest of human rights violations

An activist group by the name of Anarcho Féministe Outaouais stole the Coca-Cola banner from Café Nostalgica on Sept. 25 and asked the Graduate Students’ Association (GSAÉD) to sever ties to the company.

The group explained its motives in a letter sent to the GSAÉD, which runs Café Nostalgica.

“We find it unacceptable that the student union, GSAÉD, accepts to be sponsored by a multinational guilty of serious anti-union practices and human rights violations,” the letter read.

There was no information regarding the Anarcho Féministe Outaouais provided other than an email address. The group demanded a public explanation from GSAÉD officials about their partnership with Coca-Cola.

The group demanded “a commitment from the GSAÉD to break sponsorship ties with all companies that disregard the basic human rights of labourers throughout the world.”

Accompanying the letter were multiple pictures of the group’s members wearing black masks while holding up the banner.

Seamus Wolfe, external commissioner for the GSAÉD, was quick to respond to the letter.

“In your ransom letter you state that the banner in question will not be returned,” wrote Wolfe. “Since, as the anarchist saying goes, all property itself is theft, that is absolutely fine by us. Although, rather than destroying it, we would suggest reusing it—possibly as an umbrella or repainted for a banner drop on Tabaret (these are only suggestions, as we commit to independence in action and organizing).”

GSAÉD explained the history of the Coca-Cola banner and the company’s relationship with the organization. Wolfe said the University of Ottawa administration had “coerced” the Alumni Association to accept a campus-wide beverage exclusivity contract in 1998.

“This is also an example of poor decisions in the ’90s: the same year the exclusivity contract was imposed, Titanic won best picture at the Oscars—in retrospect, The Full Monty, The Big Lebowski, and Amistad were all much better films, but yet not a single award among them,” wrote Wolfe.

Jasmin Cyr, a U of O master’s student in political science, said he does not believe Coca-Cola is the best target for such a protest.

“My theory is that to affect real change, you should go through policy, and protests like this are more symbolic, and you should promote your ideas when you vote and campaign,” he said. “For me, protests put the protesters in a bad light, which kills their message.”

The GSAÉD said it looks forward to “continued solidarity, mutual aid, and general patriarchy-smashing.”