Being Direct – An Interview With Ann Hansen by Deanna Radford (published first in Herizons magazine)

Ann Hansen was a member of the militant group Direct Action, also known as The Squamish Five. Formed in the early 1980s during an era of punk rock, radical counter-cultural politics and an active anarchist community. Direct Action was made up of Hansen, Julie Belmas, Brent Taylor, Doug Stewart and Gerry Hannah. They lived and worked as an underground cell.


Belonging to a radical group, Direct Action’s members were united in their desire to draw attention to the environmental impact of hydro development, and to Canada’s contribution to the arms race. Some Direct Action members stole dynamite and built a bomb that destroyed the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir Hydro substation in rural BC. Later, members built a bomb that exploded outside of the Litton Industries plant in Toronto, where guidance system components for cruise missiles were manufactured. The blast caused millions of dollars in property damage. While no one was killed, there were several injuries. Ann Hansen was also part of the Wimmin’s Fire Brigade, which claimed responsibility for firebombing three locations of Red Hot Video in Vancouver and won the tacit approval of many women’s organizations.Sentenced to life in prison, Hansen was released in 1991 after serving seven years at the Prison for Women in Kingston. In 2001, she wrote Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerilla. Based on her recollections, on newspaper articles and on court documents, it is a story that is impossibly true and unbelievable, simultaneously passionate and enthralling. A must-read for modern activists, Direct Actionrepresents a glimpse into a controversial chapter in Canadian protest history. Lire la suite

We Don’t Care What You Say by Grant Shilling

20 years after, Grant Shilling ponders the legacy of the « Squamish Five » and the future of punk activism in a post-9/11 world.

Well, come on, man you better jump right in
This is one game that everybody’s in
Don’t care where you’ve been, don’t care how you look
It’s hell fire, man, you’re in, you gotta cook
We don’t care what you say – fuck you!

– » Fuck You » by Gerry « Useless » Hannah, Subhumans

It’s November 2001 and Joey « Shithead » Keithley of DOA, the legendary Vancouver punk group, is firing up a Cumberland, British Columbia crowd with a chorus of cathartic FUCK YOUs. The put-downs are for the province’s Liberal government and their bone-headed decision to remove the « Ginger Goodwin Way » signs that dot the new Vancouver Island Autobahn. The signs were designated in 1996 by the NDP provincial government in memory of the labour martyr, who was shot in the back by the RCMP in 1918 in the woods just outside of Cumberland. Keithley, who has written a song about Goodwin, was invited by local labour leaders to take part in the Cumberland rally. Ginger Goodwin was a worker’s friend who fought for a 40-hour work week. Many consider Goodwin the Che Guevara of the region. Others consider him a coward for taking a pacifist’s stand during World War I.

 » Fuck You » is an old Subhuman’s song, which DOA initially covered in 1983 as part of a benefit single to provide support for Subhuman singer Gerry Hannah and the other members of the Squamish Five. « Fuck You » is the verbal equivalent of a bomb. It is a total rejection of structure, power or polite society. « Fuck You » is non-negotiable, nihilistic and knowing. It is the essence of punk and once uttered it often finds its agents. Hannah was one of those agents.
Lire la suite

Interview with Juliet Belmas, former member of Direct Action and the Wimmin’s Fire Brigade, about the Missing and Murdered Women and the sham Oppal Commission