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New Westminster activist chained to door for six days

New Westminster immigrant activist and city council candidate Paul Mulangu is now six days into an outdoor hunger strike to protest closure of the Centre of Integration for African Immigrants.

New Westminster immigrant activist and city council candidate Paul Mulangu is now six days into an outdoor hunger strike to protest closure of the Centre of Integration for African Immigrants.

Mulangu chained himself to the door of the centre last Wednesday to protest the provincial government cutting off funding for the centre's jobs program, and the landlord changing the lock and terminating the lease.

"I am doing OK but I am starting to get dizzy," Mulangu said Monday afternoon.

Since Oct. 12, Mulangu has had nothing but water and tea. He has been sleeping on the sidewalk with help of a portable heater on nights when the temperature has been dipping down to the single digits.

Mulangu said he has been given lots of support from New Westminster's African immigrant community, many of whom have been coming by to keep him company during the protest.

"They all are supportive because they desperately want this place back," he said. "Where else can they go?"

Mulangu said he is also now collecting signatures from passersby for a petition he plans to take to the federal, provincial and municipal governments, asking for financial support for the centre. The centre used to provide English language and employment skills training.

Since the government cut funding in January, the centre has fallen almost $40,000 behind in rent. The centre received a federal stimulus grant and a $280,000-loan to make upgrades to the centre, though the landlord says most of the new infrastructure will probably have to come out.

To make rent, Mulangu also began holding events at the centre though neighbours say the events turned into loud, all-night parties.

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