In June of 1935 — at the lowest point of the Great Depression — relief camp workers in Vancouver started holding general strikes, pushing for social programs.
Thousands of workers eventually jumped aboard train box cars bound for Ottawa to take their protest to Parliament Hill.
They made it as far as Regina before they were stopped by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Still, a delegation of eight men was able carry on to Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister R.B. Bennett.
When the delegation returned to Regina, the RCMP clamped down and violently suppressed their protest on Canada Day.
That spirit of fighting for social programs continues, said Am Johal, chair of the non-profit Impact on Community Coalition, who arrived on Parliament Hill yesterday to mark the 75th anniversary of the On To Ottawa Trek to repeat the call for the federal government to create a national housing strategy.
“We have one of the worst homeless situations ever in the history of the country,” said Johal. “There are 300,000 people who are homeless … This is a health and human rights disaster.”
The group on Parliament Hill carried red tents as a symbol of Canada’s housing crisis and the growing support for a funded national housing strategy.