My nearly 30 years of experience as a social activist in Saskatchewan immediately attracted me to the NPI 10 years ago: I had despaired for years over the deep and irrational divide between NDP party politics and the active social movements which characterized Saskatchewan political culture. The two should have been working together -- at least informally -- yet they existed as two solitudes. The NDP establishment detested social movements (and distrusted the labour movement) as naive and uncontrollable troublemakers because when the NDP was in power they persisted in criticizing the NDP government and making things uncomfortable for the ministers. Roy Romanow once told me he thought social movements were "totally useless."
On a warm spring day in May of 2012, some 300 people, mostly women, gathered in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, to hold the First Feminist General Assembly.
At the time, a mere two and a half years ago, the Assembly movement was relatively new to North America, so this was truly an historic moment. It was also significant because that year May 17th was the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and the date marked the 181st anniversary of the first Women’s Anti-Slavery Convention in 1831.
The ‘Occupy’ movement feels like it happened ages ago, but its resonance remains, at least for this young racialized activist, who is willing to admit that it was the most radical experience of participatory democracy that he has ever engaged with.
This however says more about the past, present and ongoing nature of my experiences in a society built on exclusion, genocide and racial exploitation than it does with the democratic nature of the spontaneous and collective movement known as Occupy Toronto.