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Learning from political prisoners and awakening resistance in Canada

On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh interviews Helen and Bill.  (They have requested that their last names not be identified). Helen is a long-time anti-authoritarian organizer and a member of the collective that produces the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar. Bill is a migrant justice organizer with the group Solidarity Across Borders. Both are based in Montreal. They talk about the 2018 Certain Days calendar's theme of "Awakening Resistance" and about what a range of movements in Canada can learn from movements in the US from movement elders and political prisoners in the era of Donald Trump.

The collective that produces the Certain Days calendar is comprised of three long-time political prisoners held in New York State – Herman Bell, Robert Seth Hayes, and David Gilbert – and people on the outside in New York, Ontario, and Quebec. Since 2002, they have produced a wall calendar that each year featureing gorgeous original artwork and articles on a range of topics related to struggles for social justice. They envision the calendar as, among other things, a tool that can help carry knowledge, radical conversation, and solidarity across lines that often divide our movements, including prison walls, national borders, generations, and issue-based silos.

Proceeds from the calendar go to the Adameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, an organization that supports political prisoners in Palestine; Release Aging People in Prison, which is based in New York State; and often a third organization that changes from year to year. They also encourage groups involved in a wide range of struggles to use the calendar for their own fundraising by buying at the bulk rate, selling the calendars, and keeping the difference to support their own work.

Each year, the calendar is organized around a theme. The 2018 calendar, which is available now online and from many independent bookstores, infoshops, and radical social spaces across the continent, has taken up the theme of "Awakening Resistance." As Helen points out, it's a theme that could fit in any year, but that seems particularly apt as the Trump regime deepens its hold on the state apparatus in the US and the far right is further emboldened in the streets on both sides of the border.

Image: Modified from an image that is used with permission of the Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar Collective.

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Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada, giving you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show check out its website here. You can also follow them on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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