August 26, 1957 – March 1, 2017
With profound sorrow the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) informs you that our Comrade Wendell Fields died this afternoon, March 1 at 1:55 pm. Wendell learned of his cancer a little more than two short months ago. Despite its severity, he never flinched; he marched on. Five short weeks ago, on January 21, despite his illness and pain, he joined the marches of millions of people in the United States, Canada and other countries following the inauguration of the new U.S. President. He wrote a sign calling for the defence of women’s rights and the rights of all and to Renew the Resistance! Renew Canada!
We express our deepest sympathies to Wendell’s comrades and friends and his brothers, sisters and other family members. We all take solace in knowing that their loving care and attention permitted Wendell to leave us knowing how profoundly he was appreciated and the social love and affection he inspired in so many.
Wendell was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, on August 26, 1957. When Wendell was 10 years old, his father Corporal Hugh Fields and six other paratroopers based in Canadian Forces Base Petawawa were killed in a night-time training exercise when their chutes got entangled because of a sudden change in winds, and they fell into the Ottawa River and drowned. This tragedy was to cause the family great hardships in the following years as Wendell’s mother Eileen struggled to look after herself and her five young children. From an early age, Wendell took responsibility to contribute to the family’s well-being, working the kind of low-paying jobs typically open to young people. From this experience, he formed a consciousness of the problems arising from the relationship between the society and its members and their well-being and the question of social responsibility. Politics was to become a defining part of Wendell’s life.
Wendell became involved in the work of the Party as a young man when he and his family were living in Cambridge, Ontario in the 1970s. He was listening to the University of Waterloo campus radio station and heard about the Anti-Imperialist Alliance, the youth and student branch of CPC(M-L). He was immediately drawn to the work of the Party to organize the workers to oppose the shifting of the burden of the economic crisis onto their backs — the struggle at the time to Make the Rich Pay, which later became focused on the struggle to stop governments from paying the rich at the expense of the peoples’ well-being.
Wendell joined in the unfolding struggle at the university over the student newspaper, the Chevron in 1977. Students rallied to defend freedom of the press when the student council shut the paper down because it disagreed with the student press being open to all political views and opinions, including those guided by Marxist-Leninist theory.
After Wendell joined the Anti-Imperialist Alliance as a community youth activist, he went on to participate in the struggles against state-organized racist and fascist attacks, such as the opposition to the formation of the Tactical Swat Squad in Kitchener-Waterloo, and the harassment and persecution of CPC(M-L). He was amongst those who contributed to the defeat of the state’s attempt to frame Comrade Hardial Bains on the trumped up charge of “aiding and abetting an illegal immigrant” after the political police raided a party research centre in Kitchener-Waterloo. He became a member of the Party in 1979.
Wendell worked as a moulder in a plastics factory in Cambridge in the early eighties and never missed an opportunity to stand in solidarity with other workers fighting for their rights. In 1984, while supporting striking workers at a Canada Trust branch office in Cambridge, he was arrested and charged with “assaulting police” when the police violently attacked the picketers to enable cars to cross their picket line. Wendell initiated a criminal charge of assault against a police officer who had injured him in the arrest. During his testimony as a witness at the officer’s trial, Wendell was questioned about his membership in CPC(M-L). When he refused to answer on the ground that it was irrelevant to the fact that he had been assaulted, the judge demanded he answer the question or be jailed for contempt. Still Wendell refused whereupon the judge cited him for contempt of court and jailed him. Wendell appealed the verdict and was vindicated when the Ontario Court of Appeal decided that he had rightfully refused to answer and that his contempt conviction should be overturned. This decision set two precedents and was written up in Martin’s Criminal Code.
In 1987, after being laid off from his job in Cambridge, Wendell moved to Hamilton, which became his home. In his new location he contributed to the work of the non-Party mass press helping to establish and distribute New Hamilton Weekly. Besides constant work of the Party, Wendell also became active in Hamilton Against Poverty (HAP), which he participated in thereafter. With other HAP members, Wendell organized opposition to the Harris government’s anti-social offensive. He and his comrades never stopped their resistance, as succeeding governments at all levels have continued the anti-social offensive with a vengeance.
Wendell waged an informed ideological offensive against the legislation of the anti-social offensive, exposing the retrogressive direction that was destroying the very conception of a modern society and its responsibility towards its members. He fought to elaborate a pro-social program in the face of the attacks on the rights of the workers and the most vulnerable sections of society. Wendell lived by the mottos that Our Security Lies in the Defence of the Rights of All and that No Means No! He refused to go along with the marginalization of any section of the people, be it on the basis of their political beliefs, race, national origin, gender, religious beliefs, social status or ability.
Wendell also stood with the Mohawk of the Six Nations against the illegal encroachment of their lands at Caledonia and participated in the struggles of the disabled for their rights and dignity, as well as in many other battles.
Wendell was a candidate of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada in the 1997, 2000, 2011 and 2015 federal elections and highlighted the need for the people to fight for their political empowerment. In his statement made on cable TV to the people of Hamilton during the 2015 federal election, he pointed out among other things:
“For all the working people of the Hamilton area, for the many thousands of retirees and for the good of the entire community — we need to recognize the need for political renewal so that we can empower Canadians and not have political parties form governments which reduce citizens and residents to spectators of decisions taken in the boardrooms and corridors and back alleys. We need a new direction for the economy that is set by and for the people in which they have the decision-making authority to halt the destruction of everything they have built.”
He also ran as an independent candidate in the 1999 Ontario elections and was a mayoral candidate in Hamilton for the 1997 municipal elections calling for mechanisms to be brought into being so that Hamiltonians could exercise political decision making power over the affairs of their city.
As an activist in Hamilton, Wendell stood with steelworkers from the first day of their epic fight against the legalized theft under the CCAA perpetrated by U.S. Steel. Rolf Gerstenberger, President of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada and former President of USW Local 1005, recalls:
“Wendell moved to Hamilton around 1987 when the New Hamilton Weekly was started. He volunteered to help with the distribution, helping to deliver NHW to stores and apartment buildings. In those days we printed 140,000 copies paid for with advertisements and distributed for free so it was no small feat to distribute them in a timely manner. Our project would not have succeeded without Canada’s unsung heroes like Wendell.
“Wendell was an avid reader of political literature and an active participant in the Party’s programs and never hesitated to volunteer for various projects. He fought all his life to affirm the rights of all by virtue of being human, and it was a rare demonstration in Hamilton that Wendell did not participate in. He was active in the anti-war movement and in opposing the U.S. imperialist domination of Canada. He was one of the stalwarts in Hamilton fighting for the rights of the most impoverished. And of course the steelworkers knew Wendell for he attended all their rallies, demonstrations and events.”
All those who knew Wendell and worked with him will forever treasure his uncompromising fidelity to his principles, his revolutionary communist spirit, as well as his warmth and comradeship. When Wendell was undergoing medical treatment, one of the staff asked him, “What would you like to do more than anything else?” Without hesitation Wendell answered, “I want to overthrow this man-eating system and build a society fit for human beings.” This was the spirit that characterized Wendell throughout his life as a Communist fighter for the rights of all and for the new world being born.
In a letter to Wendell shortly before he died, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of CPC(M-L) wrote:
On behalf of the entire Party I send you our most profound revolutionary communist greetings, social love and appreciation for your contribution to building the New in Canada and the fight for peace and justice internationally as well.
One of the things that always stands out for me is your steadfast refusal to permit the most important concerns of the people to be marginalized or dismissed. You did this by putting your own self on the line time and time again – standing up to the cowardly powers that be as they paraded as democratic and humanitarian and tried to present those like you, who fight to humanize the social and natural environment, as extremist, fringe and dispensable.
Dear Wendell. Never ever under your watch has that ever succeeded. You addressed public consultations and meetings. You ran for parliament as a worker politician. You joined forces to build the technical base of the Party and non-Party press. You stood with the Party and modern communism through thick and thin. You even set two legal precedents in defence of the rights of all, especially the right to conscience. You have made us so proud time and time again.
The spirit of modern communism has your name on it, Wendell Fields. It is an inspiration like no other.