by Hassan Reyes
While the jury is still out on Kanye West’s statement that he is the “most influential artist” around today, it goes without saying that he is one of the most talked about artist-celebrities out there and has been for sometime.
Unfortunately however, the conversations provoked by his music and especially his statements, gets more confused and hollow by the year. How did this happen?
Born in Atlanta, Kanye West moved to Chicago at the age of three. His father, Ray West, is a former Black Panther and photojournalist at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; while his mother, Dr. Donda C. (Williams) West, became the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to become her son’s manager.
In the late 1990s Kanye started producing for local acts in Chicago, but got his break by producing beats for artists from the Roc-a-fella label and in particular, Jay-Z’s The Blueprint. Kanye also had considerable underground recognition as a producer through his work with Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, and fellow Chicago native, Common.
A few years later, after years of trying to get recognition as an MC, Kanye made his mark on hip hop, releasing The College Dropout to critical acclaim and commercial success. The album went triple platinum in the US, and received 10 Grammy nominations. Kanye’s humour and sincerity broke with the bravado and flash that was dominating hip hop at the time through the likes of 50-cent and others. The album also contained social commentary that, while lacking the clarity of acts like Dead Prez, was very rare for a commercially successful hip hop artist at the time.
Kanye also featured on Def Poetry Jam and the Dave Chappelle show, and was generally recognized as being within the ‘conscious’ element of hip hop, despite his success. Kanye appeared in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party movie, which not only brought a number of conscious artists together, but also gave a prominent platform to Fred Hampton Jr, the son of murdered Black Panther Fred Hampton and the chair of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (POCC).
It’s rumoured that Hampton was also influential on Kanye’s scathing attack on George Bush during the Hurricane Katrina television fundraiser, where he spontaneously stated that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”.
Since then, beyond his continued musical success West began to move into other business areas. Aside from his GOOD Record label, West owns a chain of Fatburger restaurants in the Chicago area through his KW Foods LLC, as well as a line of athletic shoes for Nike called Air Yeezy, another shoe line with Louis Vuitton, as well as other lines of shoes and clothes. Currently Kanye’s net worth is estimated at $100 million.
In 2013, Kanye released Yeezus to mixed reaction not only due to its different musical direction but also because of its lyrical content. Not surprisingly, as Kanye’s wealth has soared, his social criticisms have become more confused and convoluted, as seen in numerous interviews in 2013. On the popular Breakfast Club show on NY’s POWER 105.1, Kanye was directly questioned on the shift in his message:
Charlemagne da God: “Why do talk so much about money nowadays, man? I used to look at you, like, as a real revolutionary. You know real revolutionaries didn’t need money to change the world? Malcolm X wasn’t rich. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t rich”.
Kanye: “Cause you need product. You need to own something to have a voice…”
While Kanye continues to speak about racism and corporate control, his reference points have shifted. The old Kanye saw racism as the government keeping black people poor, including how the police “harass and arrest us.” He saw corporate control in the manufacturing of consumerism, preying on people’s insecurities while ravishing places like Sierra Leone for their resources.
The $100 million Kanye sees racism as the scandalization of his relationship to a white woman (although Kim Kardashian has Armenian background), or his inability to be ‘taken seriously’ by the fashion and clothing industry. He sees corporate control in that he is not being let into the circle.
So who is to blame for this? Is it Jay-Z, Russell Simmons and the black bourgeoisie in the US? Can a popular artist be a millionaire and stay true to a social message?
With his recognition and talent, Kanye has the potential to be a modern-day Bob Dylan or Marvin Gaye – a popular artist capable of reaching a large section of the people while speaking honestly about what’s happening in the world and on the streets. In a different era, it’s conceivable that Kanye could have taken direction from the Black Panthers or even something of a broader political, social movement. But without such a movement, it is likely that we will lose many more talented artists and voices to the logic and ideology of the capitalist ruling class.
by Jordy Cummings
In May 1970, National Guardsmen in the U.S. were called in to respond to a highly militant anti-war protests taking place at Kent State University in Ohio. The protests were an immediate, emergency response to then President Richard Nixon “spreading the war” from Vietnam itself into Cambodia. On May 4, these armed instruments of state power used the same weapons used against the Vietnamese revolution, and opened fire, killing four protesters.
Within a few weeks, Neil Young, with his on again/off again bandmates, Crosby, Stills and Nash, were in the recording studio recording a response which was on the radio within four days. The song explicitly situated itself as coming from “the movement” at a time when millions of Americans believed they were on the cusp of revolution at home. The governor of Ohio felt the same way, calling the protesters violent revolutionaries, and proclaiming that “these people just move from one campus to the other and terrorize the community. They’re worse than the brown shirts and the communist element and also the night riders and the vigilantes.”
“Ohio”, the sparse and angry song recorded that day wasn’t your typical protest anthem. It was neither a preachy message song or a simple pacifist chant that reduced the movement to giving “peace a chance”. Instead, it seethed about “tin soldiers” who had caused the four dead. Instead of giving peace a chance, it made the unambiguous plea “gotta get down to it, soldiers are cutting us down..should have been done long ago”. What should have been done, it seems, was revolution. Moving from the general to particular, it then addresses its listener, “What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground, how can you run when you know”?
Just as Neil Young did the right thing about the anti-war movement, he has the opportunity to do so on an issue at least as important. With that in mind, I’d like to turn the questions that Mr. Young raised in “Ohio” back onto Mr. Young. Mr. Young , think of the Palestinian people killed by Israeli weapons or the quiet weapon of starvation and open-air prisons. What if you knew them? How can you run when you know? Let us not forget the treatment of Africans by the Israeli state, migrant workers who have been as of late agitating for their rights. Israel’s racist attitudes, far right hate groups and mounting detentions against Africans is not dissimilar to that of the “Southern Man” that Mr. Young inveighed against not too long after recording “Ohio”. Would Neil be “Rocking in the Free World” by playing Israel? Is this in the interests of the dispossessed “patch of ground people”, or the interests of “Vampires” that “Sell you twenty barrels worth”.
Even very recently, Young has proven himself to be on the correct side of the question of the day’s most pressing issues. Young has been a lifelong supporter of indigenous struggles, not merely in the form of his songs, like Pocahontas, but in his actions, most recently in his “Respect the Treaties” tour and publicity event. For this sin against Canadian interests, Neil Young was attacked in the corporate media and even by the Prime Minister’s office. This was perhaps one of the most effective political interventions made by a cultural icon in Canada in recent years, and at least so far as I remember. The Two Row Times praised Young’s integrity, calling him “a deeply spiritual man with the heart of a prophet, who has pointed the way to the future for nearly three generations of young people.” Neil Young seemed to be the Anti-Bono. As opposed to palling around with George W. Bush and Bill Gates, ostensibly in the service of helping “poor Africans”, Young has taken the lead in what is one of the most important and pressing issues within Canada’s borders.
It is for this reason, more than any, that progressives must demand that Mr. Young cancel his concerts in Apartheid Israel this summer . How can Neil maintain this deeply felt and deserved reputation, as a craftsman, a guitar visionary, a wise man, if he were to betray every principle that culminated in his recent interventions?
It is not unlikely that Mr. Young is aware of the calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. From Gil Scott Heron to Elvis Costello, progressive musicians – and even those not necessarily known for their politics (the Pixies, Annie Lennox, Massive Attack) – have responded to the call by cancelling and/or not booking shows in Israel. Perhaps Neil Young has been informed – even by the people with whom he just concluded a tour – that there were those calling for him to show his principles, and perhaps his attitude is that it would be hypocritical for him to play Toronto and then not play Tel Aviv. Yet there has not been a call from indigenous communities in Canada for a cultural boycott of Toronto. There is, however, a standing call for a cultural boycott of Israel.
Neil Young has sang that he is “proud to be a union man”, a member of the American Federation of Musicians. He should realize, then, that the Palestinian labour movement has explicitly called for a cultural boycott. Mr. Young – I know that it may be annoying that you are being addressed after the fashion of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s denunciation of you, but if the shoe fits… But please, “how can you run when you know?”
We all hope you do the right thing, Mr. Young.
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.