by M. Cooke
A year after the largest student strike in Canadian history, a new documentary “Carré rouge sur fond noir” (Red square on black background) provides a unique perspective into the events of the “printemps d’érable” (Maple Spring).
For those of us not in Quebec during the course of the student strike, the documentary helps bring to life the events that we, at best, only read about from a distance.
Directors Santiago Bertolino and Hugo Samson were able to follow members of the CLASSE (the leading student union behind the strike) executive, capturing key interventions during general assemblies, pickets, barricades and demonstrations.
The film captures great moments about the strength of the student organizing as well as the oppressive state structures that students had to confront.
Early into the strike, the administrators of one of the colleges on strike, ordered the closing of the buildings, essentially locking the students out of their meeting place. This would have meant the end of their strike, but the students broke into the college to ensure they could continue using the space for their general assemblies.
In another scene, we see the administrators of the college in their fur coats pretentiously walking up to the campus. One administrators tells the student spokesperson that she wants to go inside to talk to the students and when he refuses, she tells him “if you’re afraid, I’ll hold your hand as we go in.”
The administrators approach a group of students who are blocking the entrance. The administrators soon realize that the students are committed to keeping them out. Incensed that these “kids” dare disobey them, the directors call the police to remove the students from the college.
Moments like these show the ways in which college directors, the government, and the police, are used to repress peoples’ movements.
However, there are also plenty of moments that show the resolve of the students.
The next scene shows the students outside the college deciding what to do when the police come. One student suggest sitting on the ground and being non-violent.
Shortly after, one of the student leaders shows up and briefs the students about tactics. He tells them that the key when confronting the police is remaining mobile, not sitting down. He counsels them to form groups to block different entrances. He suggests that the different groups should move towards the cops as if to surround them, “but don’t encircle them” he says. “Cops hate being encircled”.
Sure enough, the cops show up and the students move to surround them. The cops panic and back off. One cop is heard saying in distress “there’s only 17 of us” as he retreats.
The scene was greeted with laughter from the audience. There is much to enjoy and also learn from the documentary and its subject.
by Noaman G. Ali
Paved with Good Intentions: Canada’s Development NGOs from Idealism to Imperialism
Nikolas Barry-Shaw and Dru Oja Jay
303 pages (262 pages excluding notes and index). Fernwood Publishing. $25.00.
Nikolas Barry-Shaw and Dru Oja Jay’s book is about the world of NGOs, or non-governmental organizations — like Oxfam Canada, Plan Canada and the Montreal-based Alternatives — that are supposed to be helping lift people overseas out of poverty. The general misconception with NGOs is that they selflessly help poorer people, without concern for their political views or without concern for what our politicians try and impose.
Barry-Shaw and Jay pop this bubble at the outset by showing how Alternatives supported the violent overthrow of a popular, democratically elected government in Haiti in 2004. Alternatives used its reputation as a left-wing, pro-development NGO to support the actions of the Canadian government, which played a central role in the coup by funding all kinds of anti-democracy groups and putting Canadian boots on the ground. It just so happens that Alternatives was receiving funding from the official Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Read more…
by El Machetero
Political music, at its absolute best, does more than just posture and appropriate militant imagery and rhetoric: it offers a revolutionary program and guides and directs the investment of energy born from a place of oppression and frustration.
The song “Made You Die,” feat. Yasiin Bey, dead prez and Mikeflo, more than comes correct in sticman’s opening flow, when he speaks of the need to do more than protest, but to embrace community self-defense for the safety of the children and youth targeted by police, vigilantes, and the prison industrial complex. These are aspirations are essential for all truly revolutionary processes, which are the complete opposite of the predatory individualistic “illegitimate capitalist” mentality propagated by crap mainstream hip-hop.
The need to be proactive as opposed to reactive is named, addressing an adverse condition too common our underdeveloped resistance movements. Nothing can be expected to change when we live asleep until the next atrocity pops off and lights the fire under our collective ass. We need to be on this, since defense of our children and youth and communities should guide and inspire all that we do.
M-1 reminds the listener that there are consequences which go far beyond the breeding of mistrust and ill feelings towards police and white supremacist society when they target our kids. They are putting themselves in serious peril when they continue with their ways, and this joint does very well in reminding them we ain’t going nowhere and our continued patience is dangerous.
From a strictly musical standpoint, this joint is a hot one in every sense. Mikeflo’s verse is just plain bananas, and Yasiin delivers with his laid back but assertive flow. The Salaam Remi-produced “Made You Look” riddim first made famous by legendary MC Nasir Jones serves as the sonic backdrop assault here, remaining to this day my personal favourite usage of the well known foundational break beat mined from the Incredible Bongo Rock Band’s “Apache.”
All in all, it’s good to hear some inspiring and intelligent revolutionary hip-hop again. But what would be best of all would be if our communities make our moves to heed the words of the first verse.
The way that a piece of machinery tears into the Earth causing destruction, is the same as how drugs and alcohol tears into your spirit. There is no distinction.
Since the spread of European colonization in North America, Native peoples have faced an uphill battle to survive. Native peoples have weathered, direct warfare, infectious diseases, residential schools, The Indian Act, etc. We now face the most daunting task yet. The complete destruction of our homelands and water resources.
That is…unless we find a way to collectively sober up.
I speak about sobriety, because I used to be one of the hopeless ones. I never thought I was going to make it to see another sober day but I was lucky. I was pretty much hand delivered to an Elder who took a shining to me. He guided me through two years of sobriety. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been the most rewarding accomplishment of my life.
Earlier this year I visited a remote northern Native community in Ontario. The severity of drug and alcohol addictions, and poverty has reached epic proportions. This is just one community of the hundreds of Native reserves that are plagued with this pandemic.
When I sit back, and I try to understand the immensity of a crisis that burdens Native peoples today, it is easy to become overwhelmed, and disheartened by the sheer magnitude of the problems as a whole. With all the pipeline developments, tar sands, shale fracking etc…sobriety seems like a side issue. But sobriety should be placed somewhere near the top (or the very top) of everyone’s “To do list”.
Drugs and alcohol are tools of oppression used to sedate and terminate the mind, body, and spirit of its victims. Native peoples need to reclaim their identities as Nations, along with their National ways of life. Mother Earth is screaming for help, and those that can help her best, are the ones sworn to protect her. We can’t answer that call if we are too drunk to hear it, nor should we follow drunk leaders into battle.
I read a story about Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, how they were sitting in the Black Hill smoking their pipes before going into battle. They talked about the vision they had of the 7th generation and how they would have more power than any previous generation. The generation of people they were talking about, is the generation we now live in.
When I think about my own sobriety, I think about it as a miracle that has transformed me. But in reality, we are all miracles. Its a miracle that we still exist. I don’t know what its going to take for every individual to sober up. I can’t imagine what else Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull saw in their visions, but they saw the 7th Generation of our people rising.
The rising of our people will begin with our sobriety. Our survival depends on it.
Giibwanisi is a founding member of ACTION and Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp. His two years of sobriety is directly attributed to the clean and sober lifestyle of Traditional Anishinabek teachings.
by Noaman G. Ali
For Muslims who want to create a socially just world, it’s time to rethink the way in which Muslims relate to ‘the poor’ during Ramadhan. We are told and we tell people that empathizing with the poor is an important aspect of fasting. As the story goes, Muslims experience (if only for a few hours) what millions if not billions of underfed people around the world go through. Those who are unable to fast are instead supposed to feed poor people. Not only that, Muslims are encouraged to give more charity during the holy month.
I was in Rawalpindi, one of Pakistan’s larger cities, on the first day of this year’s Ramadhan. I was in a market that would otherwise be crowded, walking around, looking for tafsirs [interpretations] of the Qur’an. It was really hot, around 40°C plus humidity, and I was feeling dizzy and even nauseous. It wasn’t the hunger so much as it was the thirst. Then I came upon workers who were unloading big sacks of grain off of trucks, carrying them on their backs or pulling whole carts with their bare hands.
I got in a taxi and I asked the driver, who was struggling with keeping away from tobacco, if those workers were fasting. He said only God knows what the level of their faith is. But what does faith have to do with it? Faith isn’t some kind of a bulletproof vest that enables you to bypass hunger and thirst while performing hard labour. It doesn’t free you from having to work to provide for your family. If anything, Ramadhan makes it harder, because the prices of basic foodstuff shoot up as demand increases. So workers have to find a way to make more money to pay for the same amount of food, or, they have to go into greater debt.
Wealthier Pakistanis move to colder areas with resorts, like Kalam or Murree, because they don’t want to have to deal with the heat. Pakistan’s richer tend to have better access to electricity, which can keep fans going, and may even have air conditioners. But the poor have none of that, power outages (load shedding) are common, so even if you can scrape by the money for a fan it won’t be working. In the cities, the shaded indoors can be crowded and suffocating, and the humidity means that you sweat a lot and get dehydrated easily. Imagine having to abstain from water for 16 hours in these conditions.
Outside of Ramadhan, I found that workers have it the hardest. I was supposed to meet a farm worker in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for an interview in June, but his people sent his apologies. He had suffered heat stroke. The doctor who came to see him had charged 500 rupees, when the worker’s casual daily wage was 300 rupees. This is the story over and over: workers barely make enough to scrape their families by on casual work, and there is practically no permanent work to be found.
Workers often go hungry — a 2011 study showed that 58% of Pakistani households are food insecure, nearly 30% with moderate or severe hunger. Their children often cannot afford to go to government schools — never mind private schools — because they are out looking for work or because they can’t pay the nominal fees. Meanwhile, workers toil in difficult conditions, often not getting paid on time or not getting paid at all by more powerful bosses. Workers can’t even go on strike because there is a whole crew of other workers desperately looking for jobs who would render any strike useless. They work in the heat, they work in the cold, they work all the time.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are poor. The poor are not the minority. Many of them are un- or underemployed people looking to scrape together livelihoods by any means they can find, many are workers who build things or work in factories, many try to hawk wares and goods or start tiny businesses, and many are poor farmers without enough land or farmers with land who don’t get the prices they deserve. So many are women who put in long hours of work at home and then, the poorer they are, often working outside of the home as well.
So what does it mean to empathize with the poor during Ramadhan? The neat package of empathy with the poor during Ramadhan sounds kind of hollow. After all, check out some of the massive iftars [communal breaking of the fast] that people put on; or the fact that a lot of people put on weight during Ramadhan, even though we’re supposed to be eating less and praying more; or the fact that a lot of people spend the day sleeping and the night eating. What’s more, those few hours of fasting throughout one day are actually incomparable to the feeling and effects of chronic starvation and lack of nutrition.
This empathy story is directed at a middle-class audience; assumed to be the typical, average kind of Muslim. The poor may exist, out there, separate from the typical normal Muslim, and if they do form part of the Muslim communities it’s through this condescending relationship of charity. People are encouraged to give to the poor, but not to ask why they are poor in the first place.
Couldn’t a deeper form of empathy involve struggling against the conditions that produce poverty? This wouldn’t come from a place of charity but from a place of solidarity, from a sense of oneness rooted in acknowledging our differences, but seeking to overcome them through struggle against structures of oppression and exploitation. The struggle for good, permanent, well-paying jobs; the struggle for higher wages; the struggle against unsafe working conditions; the struggle for cheaper agricultural inputs and fair prices for agricultural produce; the struggle for land for the landless or better cooperative uses of the land; the struggle to socialize domestic labour performed largely by women; the struggle against imperialist aggression; the struggle against tinpot dictators and fake democrats — all of these struggles have a direct impact on poverty.
What’s more, these kinds of struggles have precedent in the Islamic tradition, in the Qur’an, Sunnah and struggles of pious people. But it is precisely these kinds of struggles that are not emphasized by most scholars these days. The kind of Islam being marketed and produced on television in Pakistan or Egypt or in glitzy conferences in North America is not intended for the poor majority of Muslims. It’s meant for a middle-class audience, and the kind of Islam on offer is personalized and meant to make people feel better about themselves. It’s one thing to revive the spirit, quite another to change conditions that produce class disparities. This kind of self-centered spirituality — which we find across all religious traditions — becomes reactionary and unjust when it tells us that we cannot change these ‘God-given’ conditions, and halts any attempts by the people to change these conditions.
Solidarity with ‘the poor’ — the oppressed and exploited majority — is the only way to break out of the cycle of self-absorption and to move toward a more just society. Otherwise, the message of empathizing with the poor during Ramadhan is little more than a shallow exercise to allow the minority of more privileged Muslims (or even the most filthy rich Muslims, who are actually part of the problem) to feel better about themselves; or worse, feign that they actually care about ‘the poor’. It’s time for Muslims to use Ramadhan to intensify the struggle for human liberation, not just from temptations of the flesh, but also from oppression and exploitation.
Noaman was in Pakistan for research.
One-day interactive Popular Education workshop on Venezuela and ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas).
Politics + organization + solidarity + Latin food + Music
Join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/events/486252911452139/
We celebrate the memory and legacy of Simon Bolivar, Mariategui, Ernesto CHE Guevara, Salvador Allende, Hugo Chavez and many more who represent peoples’ struggles and ideas from the global South.
We would like to invite you to join this dialogue through your participation in workshops that will include several components such as: presentations, exchange of experiences and debates, with the aim of learning from and implementing the revolutionary ideas from the Global South into a Quebec – Canadian context.
We will split into three groups to discuss:
1.- Peoples’ Media and Media strategies
2.- Peoples’ Power experiences in Venezuela and Canada
3.- Concrete actions for the period 2013-14
Each group will present their conclusions/mandates before the plenary in order to be approved as a mandate to be implemented by the Hugo Chavez People Defense Front across Canada.
Finally we will have a cultural event with theater, Latin musical performers and more!
Each city/delegation will report back to their members in order to engage new members and implement the mandates in their cities/territories.
Agenda and more datails will be sent in due course. ADMISSION IS FREE + FOOD AND SNACKS WILL BE PROVIDED – REGISTER NOW at venesolnet[at]gmail.com
If you need or have transport and have spaces to fill, please let us know
We have secure a special rate for the participants at the Residences Universite Montreal
Single room 45 $ CAD
Double room $55 CAD
Continental Breakfast $7,50 CAD + TAX
When: Sat, Jul 27, 2013, starting at 9:30 AM
Where: Sala Alfred – Lalibertè, UQAM
Direcciôn Pavillon Judith Jasmin
405 Rue Ste Catherine Est
Metro Berri UQAM
Join us for food, a photo exhibition, documentary screening, and fundraiser!
Biimadasahwin means “life” in Ojibway. It is the name given to a place and project led by Darlene Necan, elected spokesperson of off-reserve members of Ojibway Nation of Saugeen no.258. She has started to make her courageous vision of reclaiming her ancestral Anishinabek territory a reality, by returning to live on her trapline.
In June 2013, ILPS-Canada Indigenous Commission supported a log cabin home build led by Darlene. Because grassroots women reclaiming land and rebuilding home builds community power.
In August, Darlene and her organization, Northern Starlights Citizens of Saugeen, are leading the building of infrastructure for Biimadasahwin to be a gathering and teaching place for youth, community members and supporters. Proceeds from this event will go towards this project.
On June 27th, we will screen a short documentary which shares Darlene’s story and showcases the collective home building project. The event will also feature a photo exhibition including beautiful stills of this project, and the Saugeen land and people in Northwestern Ontario. Come learn about and support this inspiring project!
The exhibition will feature work by alex felipe. His work has been published/presented by Amnesty, Oxfam, the Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, This Magazine, and more. He was nominated for a National Magazine Award for his work on Canadian mining in the Philippines.
www.alexfelipe.info / www.alexfelipe.wordpress.c
Video and Online Campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/
Documentary screening of LAST CHANCE to feature the Director & Guest speakers
WHERE: Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor Street West
WHEN: Tuesday, June 4, 6:45 pm
COST: Suggested donation $2-5
This event features guest speakers Paul Émile d’Entremont (director), Trudi Stewart (film subject) and Michael Battista (The Rainbow Railroad) and is co-presented with the NFB and The Rainbow Railroad.
SYNOPSIS: Their names are Trudi, Carlos, Jennifer, Zaki and Alvaro. They come from Jamaica, Colombia, Lebanon, Egypt and Nicaragua, and are seeking asylum in Canada because of their sexual orientation. The documentary Last Chance by Paul Émile d’Entremont retraces the turbulent journeys of five people who flee their native countries to escape homophobic violence. They face hurdles integrating into Canada, fear deportation and nervously await a decision that will change their lives forever. All five remain hopeful their adopted country will show them the compassion they deserve.
by Julian Ichim
On May 15th, people gathered at the Queen St. Commons to participate in a popular education workshop on Venezuela.
The workshop started with Santiago Escobar of the Popular Front Hugo Chavez Network discussing the history of Venezuela’s struggle against imperialism. He then went on to discuss the role of corporate media in working to undermine the people’s struggle, and the role of people’s media as an alternative to inform people of the realities of Venezuela.
He also talked about the current attempts by the United States and Canada to undermine the election of President Maduro of the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela by supporting attempts by the opposition to destabilize the country. He ended his presentation by discussing the role of people’s media in giving the people of Venezuela means to inform themselves and mobilize in defense of the revolution.
The workshop ended with people creating a magazine in support of Venezuela and against imperialism and corporate media. We divided into groups and each created several pages. The event was informative and fun and we all agreed we would like to do more popular media and support to support Venezuela.
by Binnadang Migrante Canada
The Cordillera Day event is a uniting activity held in our home country of the Philippines and here overseas. In these yearly celebrations, it would serve us well to look back in time to where we came from, the difficult paths that we had to go through in order to be where we are today.
Cordillera Day is on its 29th year of celebration in our native land (the Cordillera region of the Philippines) and its 5th year here in Toronto. On May 4, we will be guided by the theme “Strengthen unity in the indigenous people’s struggle for self determination. Uphold the rights and welfare of migrants and families. Support the politics of change.”
Binnadang – Migrante is spearheading the celebration. We are an organization of indigenous migrants to Canada that is advocating for our rights as migrants and actively engaging in the struggle of the indigenous peoples in the Cordillera for self-determination and for the Filipino peoples’ struggles for genuine freedom and democracy.
Cordillera day was born out of the struggle of the Cordillerans. It provides us a venue to give tribute to our martyrs who courageously defended and protected our indigenous people’s rights for our land, life, honor, rich culture, and vast resources of the Cordillera region in the Philippines. Ama Macling Dulag, a respected tribal chieftain, helped unify tribes in the Northern Cordilleras from the late 70’s to early 80’s to resist the construction of the World Bank–funded Chico River Basin Hydroelectric Dams. On April 24, 1980, Dulag was brutally killed by the Philippine military. Up to now, no justice has been served for his murder.
Today, we reflect, learn, derive inspiration and gain further guidance from our Cordilleran martyrs’ perseverance in various struggles throughout the past decades. As migrant workers, we have been forced to leave our families and live under exploitative and oppressive conditions abroad by the very same reasons why Ama Macling struggled before and why many of our people are still struggling now.
The land, life and livelihood of the Cordillerans are under attack! Across the region, the adverse effects of large scale mining have resulted in irreparable damage to the natural environment and local agriculture, the economic and even physical displacement of indigenous communities, and the aggravation of climate change impacts. Human rights are trampled through militarization, employment of union busters, private armies and pseudo-unionists who do not really serve the interest of the people.
The problem of development aggression and security continue to intensify the worsening phenomenon of forced migration. Most of the Cordillerans live on the graces of our fertile lands. But the richest of our lands are claimed by foreign capitalists and local elites. Thus many of us were left with no choice but to migrate overseas, a condition that makes us vulnerable to different forms of exploitation.
The indigenous people together with the other toiling masses of the society are left with no recourse but to resist. We want to finally go home to a country where there is an opportunity for a decent life, where Cordillerans are the ones who benefit from the riches of Cordillera, where our culture is respected and where the Filipino people are free and our society is truly just.