The Canadian man who sparked the Occupy movement says Occupy Wall Street and its spinoffs in Toronto and elsewhere have rejuvenated the political left and awakened millions of young people in just three short months.

“They had the kind of epiphany I had 40 years ago — this feeling in the pit of their stomach that the future doesn’t compute,” Kalle Lasn told CityNews on Dec. 22.

Lasn is the co-founder of Adbusters, the anti-consumerist magazine that proposed a peaceful demonstration to occupy Wall Street and took out the domain name, occupywallstreet.org.

He said young people have realized that “if they’re going to have any kind of future, they’ll have to fight for it.”

The Occupy movement, which began Sept. 17 with Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan, spread a month later to about 1,000 other cities around the world, including Toronto.

The largest Canadian demonstration on Oct. 15 was in Toronto in the city’s financial district before protesters settled in at St. James Park and has since ended with their eviction a month later.

Elsewhere, demonstrators also occupied parks, held general assemblies and marched on the streets, protesting the increasing income disparity between the so-called 99 per cent and the top one per cent of income earners.

But authorities didn’t let them occupy the parks for long. By the end of November, they were cleared from their encampments. Most were peacefully evicted but some not so peacefully.

Megan Boler, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, had firsthand experience with the occupiers. She visited the Occupy movements in Toronto, New York and Oakland, Calif., as part of her research on how young people use social media for social movements.

“What I’m seeing is people are engaged in really nuanced dialogue and conversation in the sense of the old time town hall,” she says.

She also noticed protesters want targeted legislative reforms.

“The occupy movement is concerned with entire shift of how democracy functions,” she said. “It’s very significant that people are standing up and want to be involved in their governance.”

And despite the criticism that protesters don’t have a clear list of demands, there have been concrete local successes, she says. Some include the anti-worker law that was defeated in Ohio on Nov. 8. and the unanimous support on Nov. 16 by Seattle city council of Occupy Seattle’s proposals to look at the city’s banking practices and its financing of local elections.

Both she and Lasn expect more protests around the world will occur next year.

Lasn says the occupations in recent weeks were the first phase of the movement, and that interesting developments lie in the new year. The second phase will see one-day “surprise occupations” on banks, corporate headquarters and at universities, he says.

He and a group are trying to organize an occupation of the economics and business departments at the University of British Columbia in January to “give the students there a bit of a shock, and then leave.”

“So that’s something we’re trying to organize here in Vancouver,” says Lasn, who is working on a book called Occupy Econ 101, a manifesto for economics students around the world.

Unlike the park occupations that left the protesters like sitting ducks, he says the next phase will be “harder to put out.”

“I hope next year we will go into the second phase with positive social change that the world so sorely needs,” he said.

Lasn believes the Occupy movement is different from others because the stakes are higher this time.

“In earlier revolutions you may not have liked the king or the royalty but you weren’t confronted with climate change tipping points or the possibility of another 1929 economic meltdown,” he said.

Here’s a timeline of the Occupy movement that began in September:

Sept. 17: Occupy Wall Street, inspired by an Adbusters magazine campaign, begins in Manhattan with about 1,000 demonstrators gathered at Zuccotti Park in the financial district. At least 100 people stay overnight in cardboard boxes.

Sept. 24: The movement doesn’t initially get much media coverage until more than a week into it when a video appears on YouTube showing several young women being pepper sprayed by a New York police officer, apparently without provocation.

Sept. 25: The hacktivist group Anonymous posts a video on YouTube, threatening the New York City Police Department over the pepper spray incident.

Sept. 30: More than 1,000 demonstrators march peacefully to the headquarters of the New York Police Department in response to its heavy-handed response in the pepper-spray incident.

Oct. 1: The Occupy movement picks up momentum when more than 5,000 people marched across New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, stopping traffic for nearly two hours. More than 700 people are arrested. Days later, thousands marched in seven other U.S. cities, including Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles.

Oct. 15: The movement spreads to Canada and Europe, after nearly a month of occupation south of the border. The largest demonstration was in Toronto, and began in the city’s financial district in the morning before protesters began camping out at St. James Park in downtown. Other demonstrators set up in Calgary, Halifax, Kingston, Ont., Montreal, Ottawa, Regina, Vancouver and Victoria.

Oct. 17:
The movement gets a big endorsement a month into it when U.S. President Barack Obama embraces the protests, issuing a statement saying he was fighting for the interests of the 99 per cent. On the same day about 30 members of Occupy Bay Street, an Occupy Toronto splinter group, rally at the Exchange Tower.

Oct. 25: An Iraq war veteran is severely injured during a protest in Oakland, Calif., where police use tear gas and rubber bullets.

Nov. 5: A woman dies of a drug overdose at Occupy Vancouver.

Nov. 11: Police arrest 14 people at Occupy Nova Scotia; the Halifax camp is dismantled.

Nov. 14: Last remaining protesters leave Occupy Saskatoon camp.

Nov. 15: The City of Toronto issues an eviction notice in the morning. The notice is stayed a few hours later, as protesters seek a court injunction. New York police begin to evict Occupy Wall Street protesters from Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

Nov. 16:
Police dismantle Occupy Regina site.

Nov. 17: Police in New York arrest dozens of protesters in Manhattan’s financial district after Occupy Wall Street protesters try to shut down the New York Stock Exchange.

Nov. 18: Campus police at the University of California pepper spray peaceful demonstrators. The video later surfaces online. The officers involved in spraying the students were placed on paid administrative leave.

Nov. 19: Occupy Victoria protesters begin to leave Centennial Square.

Nov. 21: A judge rules the City of Toronto eviction notice is valid and that protesters must leave St. James Park in downtown.

Nov. 22: Judge orders Occupy Vancouver demonstrators to leave Robson Square; protesters begin to remove their tents. Police and city workers dismantle Occupy Quebec City.

Nov. 23: Police in Ottawa and Toronto begin to evict protesters, resulting in multiple arrests. Demonstrators in Calgary receive eviction notices, but say they are staying put in Olympic Plaza.

Dec. 6: Occupy protesters help a family of four move back into their foreclosed Brooklyn home, as part of an Occupy Homes campaign to help homeless people move into homes foreclosed by U.S. banks.

Dec. 12: Protesters attempt to shut down the ports in the west coast, which causes some disruptions at U.S. terminals.

Dec. 17: Occupy Wall Street returns to New York to mark its three-month anniversary by attempting to take over Duarte Square. Trinity Wall Street Episcopalian church, which owns the property, denies them access.