Ann Hansen is a Canadian anarchist and former member of Direct Action, a guerrilla organization famous for the 1982 bombing of a Litton Industries plant, which made components for American cruise missiles. She was sentenced to life in prison, but was released after eight years. Hansen wrote of her experiences in her 2002 book, Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla. She now works as a freelance writer in Ontario.
Ann Hansen was born on July 16, 1953 and was raised in Concord, a rural town outside Toronto, by working-class Danish immigrants. Her father worked as a produce manager at a local grocery store while her mother stayed at home to look after Ann and her four siblings.
Hansen describes herself as having been a "nature-loving tomboy who gladly helped around the house, hoed weeds in the evergreens on weekends, and did well in school." She attributes her idyllic childhood with having heightened her sensitivity to the negative aspects of society which she encountered as she grew older. Her life abruptly changed when her father died suddenly of cancer when she was 16.
By the time she entered her teens, Hansen had begun to strongly identify with the hippie counter-culture and clashed sharply with her family over values and social issues. In high school, she admired the Front de libération du Québec.
At the University of Waterloo, Hansen began to fully develop her political consciousness. She studied political theory and briefly worked on The Chevron, a Marxist-Leninist dominated school paper, before becoming disillusioned with Marxism. In 1979, she traveled to Europe for six months to study urban guerrilla groups such as the Red Army Faction as part of the university's Integrated Studies Department. While in France Hansen was influenced by the Autonomists, anarchists who lived largely outside of mainstream society and were well known for violently clashing with the authorities.
After she returned from Europe, Hansen was involved with the prison abolition movement and Bulldozer, a prisoners' support newsletter in Toronto.
In 1980, Ann Hansen traveled to Vancouver where she reconnected with Brent Taylor whom she had met previously and his friend Doug Stewart. The three identified both politically and strategically. Soon they decided to form their own guerrilla organization, later named Direct Action, with the addition of Julie Belmas and Gerry Hannah, local fixtures of Vancouver's punk scene.
For more information on Direct Action (later dubbed The Squamish Five by Canadian press), see Squamish Five.
- Excerpt of Direct Action: Memoirs Of An Urban Guerrilla (mp3)
- This Is Not A Love Story: Armed Struggle Against The Institutions Of Patriarchy at The Anarchist Library (co-written by Julie Belmas & Ann Hansen)