For collective survival and resistance: Whalley Centre Founding Statement
Whalley People’s Resource Centre
We acknowledge the Whalley People’s Resource Centre operates on the unceded and occupied territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Qayqayt, and Kwikwetlem peoples.
The Whalley street community has no place to go where we can be together and be safe, where we can help one another survive the everyday violence and degradation of poverty, homelessness, and criminalization.
Every time we lay down roots, the municipal and provincial governments band together to displace us. They forcefully destroyed three tent cities in as many years: the Surrey Strip, Sanctuary Tent City, and Whalley World. Over the years, the government has responded to these self-organized survival sites with less and less tolerance, allowing each to stand for a shorter period than the last before sending in their troops to threaten us with arrest, steal our belongings, and break up our community.
Every time they uproot our community, politicians pretend they are taking action to “address homelessness.” But all they are doing is scattering us across the city, pushing us into alleys, doorways, and the bush, into invisibility, isolation, and early death. Why do they do it? Because they are scared of the power we can build when we are organized, when we have somewhere we can talk together about our struggles and how to resist the inhuman treatment we receive at the hands of police and bylaw officers, social workers, and the politicians who refuse to build the housing we need.
Because of the state repression that we face as a community, we have nowhere to go that we control ourselves. On the streets, we are pushed around by cops and bylaw officers. In shelters and supportive housing, we are under the thumb of social workers.
We have had enough. It is time to create a space run by and for our community: people surviving on the streets, warehoused in shelters, and incarcerated in supportive housing. Our people are part of the working class, which has been thrown into disarray by decades of cuts to social housing and welfare, attacks on unions and socialist organizations, and investment in policing and prisons; and our people belong to Indigenous nations, which have suffered centuries of colonial land theft, child apprehension, settler violence, and countless other genocidal laws and practices.
We are opening the Whalley People’s Resource Centre, because we need a sanctuary from the rain and icy winds, from constant police harassment and surveillance, from racism and gender violence, from isolation and indignity. We need somewhere we control, where we can exercise leadership and rebuild our capacity for self-organization – a capacity that has been stolen from us by politicians, police, and social workers, who do everything they can to disorganize and dominate us.
The Whalley People’s Resource Centre is a space for collective survival and resistance. It is a street-run centre, where we can practice self-organization and develop the collective power we need to survive.
Whalley Street Council
The Whalley Street Council is a group of unhoused and underhoused community leaders, supported by Red Braid Alliance for Decolonial Socialism. We are independent from the government and non-profit organizations, like Lookout Society, because we believe it is only through our self-organization that we can fight and defeat the forces that repress, punish, and kill our friends and kin. We hold weekly meetings to manage the Whalley People’s Resource Centre. We also organize broader political interventions, like demonstrations, occupations, and press conferences, to support community survival struggles and build power.