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A Grassroots Approach to a Canada-Québec-Indigenous Peoples’ Social Forum
Building Social Movements as Instruments of Transformation
Anger and discontent against the ruling Conservative government is on the rise all across Canada. Human rights groups, women’s organizations, cultural associations, environment groups, labour, indigenous peoples, students, generally civil society organizations feel threatened and angered by the government’s policies and actions.
Protests for social and environmental justice are erupting all over the country. Casseroles have been organized on the streets of many cities in support of the student movement in Quebec. The youth across Canada are joining hands with those from Quebec in challenging neo-liberal austerity policies.
Indigenous communities are also fighting against the government to preserve their culture and defend their lands from predatory mining and oil corporations. There are many campaigns, gatherings and protests planned for the months to come.
Yet our movements continue to be fragmented and ghettoized. We must work together and create a space for all these voices of dissent and strategize together our progressive agenda to help build links and solidarity across movements and issues....
These are the organizations that have already joined the discussions: Alternatives; Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ); Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal; Chantier de l’économie sociale; Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid(CAIA),Toronto; Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union; Common Frontiers; Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN); Conseil Central Montréal métropolitain (CCMM-CSN); Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes; Council of Canadians; Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ); Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ); Fédération nationale des enseignants et enseignantes du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN); Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain; Indigenous Environmental Network; Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement; Institut du nouveau monde; Public Service Alliance of Canada; Quebec Native Women (FAQ-QNW); Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network; Occupy Toronto; Toronto Bolivia Solidarity; Toronto Stop the Cuts
Launching the Social Forum January 26 and 27th 2013
You are cordially invite you to attend the General Assembly launching the Peoples’ Social Forum. That General assembly will take place in Ottawa on January 26th and 27th 2013 at the PSAC National Office building on 233 Gilmour St., Ottawa.
The purpose of the assembly is to officially lunch the social forum and set-up the structure of the forum and hold the initial discussions on the themes, process, date and place of the Peoples Social Forum.
The conference is free and open to all interested parties. We expect to have 50-60 organizations/individuals present from across Canada including a strong representation from Indigenous groups, indie media, labour and youth.
When Do We Mobilize? When the Canadian Government is No Longer Working for Canada
Stephen Harper’s latest deals have caused a stirring across Canada from grassroots organizations and citizens opposed to the outsourcing of Canada’s resources and the government’s insistent catering to multinational corporations. In particular, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) threatens to give multinational corporations unprecedented control over the Canadian government through investor-state arbitration. Harper’s eagerness to appease oil-hungry China and allow foreign buy-outs of homegrown resources not only destabilizes Canada’s own resource growth, but could also crucially damage the lives of First Nations indigenous communities and the prosperity of Canada’s environment and coast. The discontent against these rulings is mounting as human rights groups, environmental groups, indigenous peoples, students, labour unions, and civil society organizations respond to Harper’s neoliberal policies. Organizations are mobilizing and binding together under a proposed horizontal method of debate and discussion, currently conceptualized as a ‘grassroots approach to a Canada-Quebec-Indigenous Peoples’ Social Forum’....
Saturday January 26th 2013
10am: The political context in Canada: different initiatives proposing a common fight against the right and neoliberalism
10:30am: What is a social forum and how does it function? How can it promote collaboration between social movements from Canada, Quebec and Indigenous Peoples? Role and function of the Social Movement Assembly in a Social Forum.
12pm lunch break
1:30pm The Canada-Quebec-Indigenous Peoples' Social Forum
- what are some of the main issues
- what regional and cross-Canada processes to lead up to a SF
- Timing: what criteria in order to decide when a Forum is held
- Venue: what criteria in order to decide upon a venue
- What kind of Forum: decentralized, centralized in one location ?
- Key structures to set-up: secretariat, program cttee, communications cttee, logistics and finance cttee, etc..
4:30pm End of first session
6:00 pm Reception: place to be advised
Sunday January 27th 2013
9:30am: Social Movements assembly: coalition and common action proposals ( Port Elgin proposal)
1:30 pm Setting up the basic structures of the SF: secretariat, program cttee, communications cttee, logistics and finance, etc..
3:30pm End of second session
A grassroots approach to a Canada-Québec-Indigenous Peoples’ Social Forum
We are proposing a grassroots horizontal approach to organizing a People’s Social Forum across Canada as a means of stimulating debate, discussion and further our sense of community and collective action. The process of the social forum seeks to reach out to a plurality of social movements, groups and progressive institutions across Canada, Québec and Indigenous communities. The short term goal being to build on existing struggles by building a united and cohesive front against the Conservative agenda of austerity and privatization but long-term to help transform the current political, economic and social paradigm, by employing creative resistance while proposing alternatives solutions
So far several organizations and individuals have come together to form Expansion Commissions in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Discussions are going on to form similar commissions in Vancouver, Calgary, St. John’s, etc. The Expansion Commissions will focus on involving as many other organizations and individuals in the process.
There is a proposal that these Commissions call for a General Assembly later this fall or in early winter to launch the Peoples’ Social Forum. This general assembly will take the decisions on the name, final dates and places as well as the process leading to the forum, and its final format.
A three part organization? I part consists of 600 aboriginal nations and the second of nine provinces and three territories all of which can be lumped together as a single unit and the equal to those two is the stand alone nation of Quebec. So will the Assembly have reps from 613 identities or three?
Any of you taking part in this process? I certainly will be at some point, though I'm not attending this upcoming meeting:
I can't seem to get that link to switch into English, but you should be able to do so by clicking on "English" at the top of the page, and perhaps it will show up in English if that is your default computer language.
This will provide an indication of where the forum is at this point in terms of structure and function. Many things remain to be decided, including whether there will be a central forum (and where?) or a more decentralized process, which would obviously be easier for the participants, but not provide as much "pan-Canadian" interraction as a centralized forum would.
Hope this helps answer such questions if they are meant seriously and not as an anti-Québécois snipe.
There is also a lot of open info (in English and in French - would be nice to see some indigenous languages, eh?) at the Facebook page.
..i see this particular forum like an upside down pyramid with the pointy end as the beginning. my interest lies in the general assemblies where the decisions are made. to me, this is the heart of the notion of a forum along side the coming together of people in this way after all these years of being idle in this way.
..i haven't heard any word about the forum here in van. no announcements no invitations no gatherings..that i'm aware of. has anyone else heard something?
eta: Organize together to defeat the corporate agenda: The Port Elgin Coalition Proposal
● Regional coalitions based on assemblies, including provincial assemblies alongside Indigenous assemblies, would link up in a pan-Canadian Coordinating Assembly. The regional coalitions would build representative structures inclusive to racialized, immigrant, and other communities. The pan-Canadian Coordinating Assembly would identify common campaign issues and projects and map out strategies of action. The coordinating assembly should be multi-national, with Québec, Canada and Indigenous Peoples represented as distinct but equal components. Relations between them would be guided by protocols in the spirit of the original wampums, agreements of coexistence, respect, and distinctness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous nations.
"The coordinating assembly should be multi-national, with Québec, Canada and Indigenous Peoples represented as distinct but equal components. "
At every turn some Quebec nationalists can't resist pushing their agenda no matter what the issue. 600 FN's=1 component, 12 provinces and territories= 1 component. One province with 25% of the population=1 component. Why is that being proposed even before any assemblies have met. Nice to see that someone is driving their agenda fast and furious.
I believe that top down is not democracy. As a Canadian federalists I must disagree with the idea that Canada and Quebec have a nation to nation deal. In fact Quebec is on component of the federation and have mostly the same deal as all other components. If Quebec has a deal then BC also has a deal with Canada. At the heart of any constitutional change in Canada is how many components any new federation would have. I think that only two is not a wining number in most parts of Canada since Ontario with its resulting majority of the "Canada" population would just get to play with Quebec and the people in the outlying regions would become second class citizens.
I agree we need to do change differently which is why I think that agendas from the past should be not assumed to be part of the new paradigm. If we are going to a new format for change then it should emphasis unity and inclusiveness.
..my position on this. and it's not very old i admit and for this project. is that que has a deal with can as does the 1st people. i wait to see the process unfold to decide for sure how it works. i have concerns with the top listening to what the bottom is saying or it's intent is saying. this doesn't change what i believe is a new way of making decisions and has the potential for spreading every which way.
..if this is unacceptable it will be rejected. at this forum or later. the grassroots are engaded and this is a needed tool. since people started getting together about the forum idle no more was born. the stop the pipelines movement began in earnast. not sure if it came before or during the que student strike. all perfectly capable of speaking for themselves.
The new location is the University of Ottawa, 120 University, Faculty of Social Sciences building, Room FSS- 2005.
I have flagged your anti-Québécois racism as offensive.
Thanks, e paulo. Fortunately I have lots of comrades and friends in English Canada who have overcome such bigotry as to deny the Québécois people the right to self-determination or the existence of our nationhood.
Not all nations are sovereign states: Scotland, Wales, Euskadi, Catalonia... just to mention some of the most well-known ones.
Oh, we have our own bigots here who, like their counterparts in the RoC, would deny the national rights of First Peoples. We've been spending a lot of time in solidarity with INM these days...
..inm, que students awesome allies to have. i'm a work in progress even at my age so thank you lagatta.
I didn't read it that way, kropotkin. I read it as each nation (that is, every First Nation, Canada, and Quebec) being considered distinct nations and relating to each other as such at this event.
As for who will be the "reps" - my understanding of how social forums work is that they aren't like delegated conventions, so there are no official "reps". They're open to all, very decentralized, usually planned by a coalition of many groups and organizations, and they open up space for activists from various organizations and social movements to hold sessions on whatever activism they are involved with, and there are times and space set aside for large plenaries as well.
The idea being that whomever comes, shares their activism with other activists from other groups. They tend to be very organic - when I say that they're "planned" by a coalition of groups, what I mean is that the space is planned, and then activists sign up to fill that space with their own thing.
Here's a really good description of how social forums are generally organized.
e-paulo, thanks for posting about this. radiorahim and I were considering coming out to this, but unfortunately, we have a couple of scheduling conflicts we can't avoid. I look forward to seeing report-backs on this here and elsewhere.
You are right about that. Unfortunately I didn't get to the World Social Forum - if only I were fluent in Portuguese! but I have interpreted at the European Social Forum and attended smaller regional ones.
Indeed, there are no representatives, and in general, the Social Forum is not a decisional body, though of course there are actions (usually symbolic protests or celebrations) based on consensus. It is a great fair in the best sense of that term!
I was at the European Social Forum in Paris, and there was an outdoor show of solidarity by Basque artists with the people or Iraq - and the Basque artists were from both the "Spanish" and "French" sides of the Basque nation. Sort of like Mohawks, eh?
Social Fora are also based on diversity, so I don't see why there should be a problem with recognizing the very specific Pacific Rim diversity of BC. Oh yes, in practice there always are big honchos (Monbiot, etc) who are "more equal than the other equals" but Social Fora are not any different from other gatherings in that respect. And the honchos do get the odd dressing down.
We may be able to get a spokesperson for the social forum to come on babble for a Q & A. Is that something babblers would be interested in?
Thanks for starting this thread epaulo13, btw!
..my pleasure michelle and catchfire
..yes to a spokesperson!
Red Squares, Red Feathers People’s Social Forum Brings National Movements Together
After a year of marching with the carré rouge pinned to coats, lapels and backpacks, activists are now donning Idle No More’s red feather—joining a slew of movements attempting to work together to overcome shared struggles.
Dave Bleakney, a national union representative for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers was invited to Port Elgin by activist and “rogue page” Brigette DePape, who infamously protested against Stephen Harper during the 2011 Throne Speech. Bleakney will be attending the assembly along with the CUPW National President Denis Lemelin.
He said the CUPW will use the opportunity to learn from other movements.
Bleakney said that participating in a Social Forum will be in some ways “a return to the roots of the labour movement,” which he describes as having been, “ignited by being a social force on the ground, not by making pleas to power—but actually claiming power.”
The CUPW has a history of working with First Peoples activists, having also forged links with the Algonquins of Barrière Lake.
“We were invited into their community to observe the traditional electoral process, and were quite moved by that,” said Bleakney, referencing the Nation’s participatory approach to democracy.
“I think we’re being more and more influenced by indigenous traditions, and I really hope that they pollinate the labour movement to become something other than what we are.”
This is exciting!
A peoples' forum ... without the hierarchy of 'elected' 'representatives'.
Direct democracy ...at least for those who can afford to go ...
What about interactive live streaming so all ... most ... some more ... can participate too? :D
Maybe premature but I can see it happening ... soon.
I assume open to all?
That has always been the major contradiction for social fora. In terms of people with little money and little free time, it definitely remains at best "representative" - someone delegated by a trade union, community association, activist movement. Unless you are from a nearby place in, say, Brazil (a lot of people from many Brazilian cities, and even from Argentina and Uruguay, got to Porto Allegre in (rather dodgy) mini-vans.
To take a West Coast example, some people from Québec made it to Seattle, but were pretty much all delegated by trade unions, by Alternatives, by major women's groups etc. In that case, people from Vancouver definitely had better access (as long as they could cross the US border, which more than a few veteran activists can't).
There is an interactive streaming and other component to all the Social Fora, but it still isn't the same as being there and meeting yer comrades from other places and interventions.
arielc, yes, it is open to all. I don't know if anyone has ever been excluded for harassment, right-wing provocation, gross sexism or racism etc.
Last time I looked Quebec was one of ten provinces and that at least 50% of the people who live in Quebec want to keep it that way.
Define nation. You jumped down my keyboard for stating that a Premier is normally a provincial leader in Canada by quoting varying definitions of what PM or Premier mean in various places to show that even the normal usage in Canada can be played with.
However if I disagree with your version of the term nation I am a racist.
Definition of NATION1 a (1) : nationality 5a (2) : a politically organized nationality (3) : a non-Jewish nationality <why do the nations conspire — Psalms 2:1 (Revised Standard Version)> b : a community of people composed of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government c : a territorial division containing a body of people of one or more nationalities and usually characterized by relatively large size and independent status
I see BC as a community of people of one or more nationalities and possessing a more or less defined territory and government. You may say it is not a nation but that is your bias not mine. I just hate it when other people try to define my nation. I don't deem to tell you that Quebec is not a nation I merely point out it is not the only nation.
Leaving Canada aside, the idea that all 600 FN's are accorded the same status as Quebec is political and not inclusive. The forum didn't need that in its preamble and it only serves to aggrandize one settler group to the detriment of the 600 FN's they equal. In my view it is merely one settler group using this issue to advance their dispute with the whole of the Canadian settler group. I don't see that as necessary or productive.
If this is meant to be a peoples forum then let the people who take part self identify and take part as individuals in solidarity.
rabble.ca is supporting Common Causes/Causes Communes, an assembly of social movements dedicated to defending democracy, the environment and human rights. More info in this thread.
Sounds great, Catchfire, but how can there be "a spokesperson" for a social forum? ;)
But yes, I'd love to hear from somone who is involved in the planning and/or logistics!
Perhaps it would be better to say an organizer? But these include people speaking to the media, and promoting the process among potential participants.
..here's a facebook link. anyone have any links to this weekend?
What – as a diverse movement – must we do/accomplish in 2013?
Members of the International Organisation for a Participatory Society (London and Southampton chapter), Anti-capitalist Initiative, Peoples Assemblies Network, Occupy London activists and The Friern Barnet Library occupation called for
The People's Social Forum is formally born today!!
Tahrir and the undying spirit of revolt
If there is one lesson we have to learn from the endless struggle of the Egyptians, it is this: don’t rely on anyone to make your revolution for you.
Indefatigable. That’s probably the word that best describes Egypt’s revolutionaries, two years since the start of their revolt. Fearless and heroic are some others that instantly come to mind. Firmly committed to their cause. Fully conscious of the immense obstacles. Fiercely determined to succeed. There are many things we savages in the West can learn from our brothers and sisters in Egypt. The most important, perhaps, is never to give up in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. People died for this revolution. It will not be hijacked by those who piss on their legacy....
That is great - I would have loved to have gone, but I had a big job to get done here.
Notes from the Canada-Quebec-First Nations social forum
Progressive activists may not agree on much, but there is a broad consensus that capitalism and its attack on the earth and its people has to be stopped. To do this, we have do organize differently. Somehow.
In the wake of global social uprisings that have emerged over the past three years, old models relied upon by progressives are being re-imagined by new and old activists alike....
The Unist'ot'en Camp Spokespeople attended this rally today alongside hundreds of other grassroots Indigenous Peoples one day after a weekend meeting for the Peoples' Social Forum where we made history with many many many other powerful allies!! THE REVOLULTION IS GROWING!!
Idle No More Founders Jessica Gordon and Sheelah McLean at the People's Social Forum meeting in Ottawa on January 26th 2013. Both spoke and then Q n A.
That's disappointing. Total focus on party politics isn't what I expected of such a process.
So, lapsed babbler Corvin Russell will be joining us on Friday to chat about Common Causes and the People's Forum. More news to come!
..hope i can make it. welcome back corvin!
..nothing is ever simple. txs left turn. if you don't mind can you please talk about the bc subcommittee? who, what when where kind of thing. and if there's any plans for another meet.
etchange..i reread nora and take back what i thought i saw.
[quote=epaulo13]..nothing is ever simple. txs left turn. if you don't mind can you please talk about the bc subcommittee? who, what when where kind of thing. and if there's any plans for another meet.[/quote]
The last e-mail I received regarding the people's social forum was on January 7th. All the communication was happening through regular e-mails -- peoples individual e-mails being entered individually in the "to:" and "cc:" fields, not a formal e-mail list -- so I don't know if there havn't been any further e-mails intended for the whole sub-committee, or if my e-mail may have got dropped from the list. Which means I have no idea if and when there may be another meeting. I'll certainly keep you posted if I hear anything.
[quote=arielc]That's disappointing. Total focus on party politics isn't what I expected of such a process.[/quote]
There's nothing explicitly pro-ndp about the people's social forum process at the moment, but I do get the feeling that some of the folks involved in this are not being upfront about their intentions. I also fully expect that NDP aparatchicks will try to steer this process in a pro-NDP direction as it gets closer to fruition.
There are two precedents for my skepticism. The first is how the anti-Iraq War movement in the United States got steered into John Kerry's presidential campaign following the March 2004 day of action against the war. Note that John Kerry ran a pro-war campaign in which he claimed he could end the war sooner by fighting it better.
The second concerns the experience I had with the organizing for the Grand March For Housing that took place in Vancouver in April 2009. The march was the idea of the Citywide Housing Coalition (CHC). CHC is not a real coalition -- many of its members represent only themselves, and new members have to be approved, and they generally want people with a solid history of housing activism.
Anyways, in November 2008, the CHC started holding monthly public meetings -- meetings that anyone could attend -- supposedly to plan the Grand March For Housing. In February, with this group having had lengthy discussions about various aspects of the march, but having made no decisions, we were informed that this group was not a decision making body, and that all decisions would be made by a coordinating committee made up entirely of CHC members.
The other issue was that the Canadian Peace Alliance had called a day of action against the war in Afghanistan for the same date as the Grand March For Housing. The CHC refused, despite a concerted campaign from me, to either change the date of their march, or to put a speaker from Vancouver's Stopwar coalition on the rally portion of the event.
So please forgive me if I'm skeptical about our ability to prevent this process getting collapsed into the NDP's 2015 election campaign, or if I consider the possibility that Alternatives and other groups may try to restrict who gets to make certain decisions about this and/or try to restrict the politics of it.
..txs once again left turn. appreciate the heads up.
..i've just posted this video in the idle no more thread. this is what i believe is the reality of the struggle. the grassroots are setting the agenda for themselves. this is part of a global resistance that has been happening for some time now. this is the que students. this is the occupy. this is the zapatistas. the "leadership" needs to catch up or they will be left behind. from spain "no one represents us"
Stop work order put on Manitoba mine
..we could use the port elgin proposal as a way of supporting this struggle collectively. right now. today. i have confidence that it will come through. that the activists will find a way of making the assemblies posible.
The Unist'ot'en Land Defenders join a rally in Ottawa at the Parliament Buildings. They joined everyone in giving notice to all of the elected officials that they are trespassing on the Original Peoples' Lands.
The People's Social Forum: Coming in 2014
You know an event will be special when a planning meeting, almost two years in advance, bursts the seams of its venue. Such was the case this weekend in Ottawa, as activists from across Canada converged to prepare for the People's Social Forum, Canada's version of the World Social Forum.
We have confirmation from Corvin - he'll be here at 2pm EST tomorrow, Friday February 1. We'll open a separate thread for the discussion tomorrow.
People of Colour Caucus at Social Forum Gathering, Jan 2013
We are thankful for being on the unceded Algonquin territory that this launch is taking place on, and for the inspiration that Idle No More and Indigenous communities provide us.
We honour all the Original peoples of Turtle Land and we honour the diverse lands of theOriginal peoples of Turtle Island on which we individually reside. We recognize the legacy ofall Indigenous teachings across this continent and the world. We are committed to working insolidarity as allies with the Indigenous caucus and with the Original peoples of Turtle Island -in words and in actions - again colonization. We are committed to supporting the needs of yournations.
We are happy that some of the struggles and dreams that unite communities of color and allpeoples who are present here today were included in the discussions yesterday. We do, however, wish to ask for reflection in this process, by means of sharing our collectivethoughts, feelings and questions.
1. The invisibility of the struggles that are particular to communities of colour was feltstrongly in this space. This includes but is not limited to struggles against police brutalityand imprisonment, immigration laws that render peoples of colour as non-people,education and media systems that continue to be racist and colonial, poverty and manyother relationships of exploitation and exclusion.
2. This invisibility is also explicit in the naming of the proposed social forum as theCanada-Quebec-Indigenous Peoples Social Forum. Many peoples of colour do notidentify with nationalist blocs of Canada and Quebec. In fact, many are actively andlegally excluded, for example temporary migrant workers and non-status people. It isimportant to note that 1 in 20 people in Canada are not Canadian.
We assert that the Social Forum must be accountable to communities of colour, buildmeaningful relationships, and that movements and groups representing communities ofcolour struggles not be co-opted or tokenized. We need to be part of active leadership anddecision-making roles of the social forum at all levels.
We are available to be part of the processes that make sure that all these concerns are animportant part of developing the elements that will make the social forum an inclusive andparticipatory space, not only for communities of colour, but for all peoples that experiencediverse forms of oppression.
We ask that the social forum be grounded in both unity and the meaningful and practicalconsiderations of the particularities of struggles as evidenced by the common, different andcomplex oppressions that we all face. [/quote]
Peoples’ Social Forum
The proposal adopted at the general assembly is to convene the forum in the summer of 2014. It will be a centralized forum with a decentralized process that will include local, regional or provincial forums and caravans. The location is yet to be determined - consideration will be given to sites that are in the central or western part of Canada. There was a strong general sentiment that the emphasis of the forum should be to promote action and solidarity and have less of a focus on dialogue. An Interim Steering Committee was established with proposed working groups. Several people still need to secure authorization from their organizations or communities to participate. Three caucuses were also created: People of Color and Spanish speakers merged into one caucus, Native Peoples, and Quebec. Each of these caucuses developed written recommendations with proposals and principles for working together. These will be made available online. Other working groups are proposed including youth, women and others. The general assembly is aware that there are discussions in the US about a potential third US Social Forum in 2014 as well. They want to assure that there is communication with the NPC so that the forums do not overlap and that the two processes can coordinate. Two participants had taken part in the USSF Peoples Movement Assembly process. Heather Milton Lightning, former organizer for the USSF Indigenous Advisory Committee was also present.
Some Reflections on Social Forum
On the 26th and 27th of January an unprecedented launch of People’s Social Forum was held in Ottawa. In its brochure it is introduced as “A grassroots approach to a Canada-Québec-Indigenous People’s Social Forum”. In the following you will find some reflections on what a Social Forum is or can be. They are neither inclusive nor fully developed, or genuine. Such as they are, however, I hope, they would shed some light on the issue and entice some hope for its further development.