Six students in two vehicles with 230 pounds of pamphlets and flyers will leave Montreal, Canada on April 28th, and arrive in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 22nd. Their plan: Visit 21 small Canadian towns with Wal-Marts along 4,567 kilometers of Canadian highway in 25 days. The project is an undertaking by uberCulture Collective, a non-profit organization based out of Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax. UberCulture co-founder Ezra Winton, who also works with Amnesty International, said “the purpose of this trip is to inform the public of the connections between Wal-Mart’s low prices and how the company is able to achieve those prices.” The six Concordia students say that Wal-Mart’s corporate plan is based on three pillars: Pillar One: Exploitation of labor and violation of international labor laws and regulations abroad leading to human rights violations in over 25 countries. Pillar Two: Discriminatory and poor labor standards and practices in North America. Pillar Three: The domination and dismantling of the socio-economic fabric of small communities in Canada by aggressive business practices like “predatory pricing” and anti-organized labour policies, the group said. Since its entry into Canada in November of 1994, Wal-Mart has opened the equivalent of one 80,000 square foot megastore every 16 days. With over 230 stores built and many more on the drawing board, the chain shows no sign of diminishing its spread across Canada in cities large and small. Ranging from intimidating employees in their attempts to unionize to paying the bare minimum required by law in Canada and running sweatshops abroad, this employer of 60,000 Canadians is anything but the friendly neighbourhood store that it promotes itself as, says Winto. The goal of the trip is to engage customers and employees and promote dialogue about Wal-Mart’s labor practices and the company’s effects on small communities. The group plans on producing a feature documentary of their journey. The Wal-Town Tour has already got the backing of several national organizations, including Oxfam Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Union of United Food and Commercial Workers, the Rights and Democracy Network and Amnesty International Montreal, among many others. “This attention to Wal-Mart comes just as they are making plans to enter the grocery store business here in Canada,” Winton explained. “All this adds up to the need to creatively raise the issues around Wal-Mart and the way it operates. Andwe’re the ones to do it.”
For more information, or to receive a Wal-Town Tour 2004 Media Pack, contact the Wal-Town Tour organizers by phone at 514.966.8237, or send an e-mail to: [email protected] For information or general inquiries about the documentary, contact the director, Sergeo Kirby, at: [email protected], or by phone at: 514.569.6164. To read up more on this ambitious project visit: http://www.wal-town.com.