Towards a Peoples' Social Forum

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Leftist? Feminist? Activist? Anarchist? Organizer? Social Democrat? Environmentalist? Decolonizer? Anti-racist? Union member? Revolutionary? Farmer? Teacher? Tradesperson? Advocate? Rabble rouser? Student? Artist? Parent? Kid? Person? Interested?

Come out to the People's Social Forum Kingston Mobilization Meeting!

The People’s Social Forum is a four-day conference, running August 21st to 24th, of leftist communities and organizations from across Canada, uniting towards a common goal of actively challenging the Canadian right.

The Kingston mobilization meeting aims to bring together the leftist communities of our city with the goal of developing a local expansion committee which can plan and strategize Kingston’s involvement in the Peoples' Social Forum. We seek to bring Kingston’s issues to the forefront at the conference and we want your input at the mobilization meeting. It will be held on Thursday, May 29th at Unitarian Place, 206 Concession Street.

Childcare & snacks will be available!!


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The People's Social Forum as seen from Quebec


The idea has roots.

The idea of holding a social forum in Canada is in fact ten years old. In Porto Alegre during the second World Social Forum (2002), the infatigable Judy Rebick and her friend Monique Simard (who was at that time the chair of Alternatives) initiated the discussion with more or less three hundred Québécois and Canadians who attended the Forum.


By definition, a Social Forum is not a substitute for strong and creative social movements. It is not there to "draw the line," not even to establish strategies. It is basically a 'space,' an 'occasion,' a moment of creativity where experiences and explorations are exposed and discussed. It is 'intellectual' in the noble sense of the word, far from the often sterile academia, and far from the arrogant I-know-it-all-ism of certain traditions of the left. In other words, a Forum reflects the strength, the will, the hope, as well as the limitations, the constraints and the dead angles of the popular movements.

In Brazil and other South American countries, the Forum appeared in the moment of a vast popular ascent. Masses and masses of people were struggling, to the point of debunking governments – such as what took place in Argentina, Bolivia and elsewhere. There was a process of convergences between trade union, community organizations, the indigenous, women. Parts of the organized left were intelligent enough to join this convergence not as the enlightened 'vanguard,' but as tool and a vehicle for transformation. Later, the concept was 'exported' to other parts of the world. However, the Forum was not a 'magical formula.' In certain places, Forums ended up in becoming 'events,' or 'big conferences,' sometimes useful, but not to the point of making a difference. Again, the fact that popular movements are able to take the initiative, advance or even 'win' in the battle of ideas, cannot be imposed from some hierarchy.


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The Peoples’ Social Forum


Did someone say strategy?

For one labour movement veteran who attended the World Social Forum in Tunisia, talk about building “something better” is tempered by “systemic” patterns on the left that have in the past hobbled attempts to talk strategy. It becomes difficult to establish “where we’re going and how we get there,” argues Dave Bleakney of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

He says previous social forums have left audiences “deflated,” with panel after panel offering a litany of “complaints for the converted” on a patchwork of issues.

Bleakney applauds the energy and passion being poured into the August event, as well as the support from the labour movement, a group that he says took “a long time to come around” to the idea. He sits on the forum’s steering committee but emphasizes that he speaks only for himself.

“It’s magnificent that so many people come together, want change, and are struggling to make that change,” he says. “But I feel a deep dissatisfaction after each [forum] – a kind of let down.”

The left, he says, is good at analyzing the negative impacts of capitalism, corporations, and government policy. But Bleakney says actual strategy is “our Achilles heel, something we don’t do well. It’s easy to find a villain, but that absolves us and lets us off the hook.

“If we want a successful social forum, we’re going to have to break the systems we’ve imposed on ourselves and stop looking to blame someone else.”

The forum’s coordinator, Roger Rashi, agrees that the goal of the event needs to be bigger than stopping a policy or electing a new government. He wants to see a tangible path forward emerge from the forum. At the same time, he insists the current Conservative administration is a unique catalyst for social mobilization.

“Having Stephen Harper in power in Ottawa makes a huge difference,” he says. “His ability to isolate movements and crush them has been so [effective] that we all realized we cannot go up, one by one, against Stephen Harper and win. That’s what drives today’s forum.”...

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I saw the title and thought about going, but then I saw it was Ottawa not Vancouver.


Yes, I believe that there was originally an idea to have one easterly and one westerly. It is extremely hard for people from the West Coast or even the Prairies to get there - they have to have either the money for a flight or the time to take a slower transport mode.


The forum’s coordinator, Roger Rashi, agrees that the goal of the event needs to be bigger than stopping a policy or electing a new government. He wants to see a tangible path forward emerge from the forum.


Yes UI plan to attend the Social Forum...and would be curious to know if there are any specific events planned to deal with 'a tangible path forward'.

And if proposals can be presented.....iyraste

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iyraste1313 wrote:

The forum’s coordinator, Roger Rashi, agrees that the goal of the event needs to be bigger than stopping a policy or electing a new government. He wants to see a tangible path forward emerge from the forum.

Yes UI plan to attend the Social Forum...and would be curious to know if there are any specific events planned to deal with 'a tangible path forward'.

And if proposals can be presented.....iyraste

..from the last forum which created this forum: there was a stop harper proposal that passed. and the port elgin coalition proposal which is organizing ourselves via assemblies was postponed until this forum.

..the web site has a lot of info iyraste. i remember seeing a section about submitting proposals. and there are a number of cities/places that have been meeting for a while now. proposals are coming from these place. i know for sure that the van assembly will be bringing pipeline proposals amongst other stuff. not sure how how things will come from the floor.

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Getting to the Peoples Social Forum

It's not just the destination, it's the journey.  Join up with the "On-To-Ottawa" caravans as they sweep across this country from every direction, growing along the way.  They will make important stops designed to highlight ongoing campaigns, movements, struggles and solutions, and link our movements and communities together in solidarity. Do you have a car, truck, van, motorhome, or bus that you'd like to drive to the Peoples Social Forum caravan-style?  Let your local expansion committee know, and offer space in your ride to other fellow travellers!   Let's all do our part to ensure that everyone makes it to Ottawa for this historic gathering.....

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There are over 450 workshops already registered for the Forum, and we're expecting many thousands to converge on Ottawa for the largest civil society gathering in recent history.

For example, Lynn Gehl will be offering this teaching on the Treaty of Niagara:

"In this teaching I share my Treaty of Niagara Wampum Bundle. I discuss the Treaty of Niagara of 1764 which was the event that ratified the 1763 Royal Proclamation, Canada’s first constitution. I present and read new editions of the three wampum belts exchanged. I also share many other insights about wampum. This is a traditional teaching and done orally."

Treaty at Niagara Teaching at the Peoples Social Forum

August 22 University of Ottawa

in Ottawa, Ontario

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Peoples Social Forum


1.8K going

857 maybe

27.3K invited

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Peoples' Social Forum - August 21-24, 2014 trailer

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Travel together on to Ottawa!


We would like to know if you are planning on driving and if you will have space in your vehicle for other members of your community or communities along the way. We encourage people to travel by land and offer ride shares because it is the most ecologically friendly option. Ride sharing will also ensure that more people from your community are able to join us in Ottawa. By buddying up with others, you can split the costs of a journey. Fuel, tolls, ferry and parking too. Meet people with a common passion to building an alternative future committed to social and environmental justice. You may even find that your travel companions become friends for life.

If you have space in your vehicle, please let us know:
1. where you are travelling from
2. how many people you could take with you
3. your departure and return dates
4. your preferred method of contact

Please use our rideshare boards to find each other!

Please note that there is a disabilities caucus that is helping ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in the forum.

If you have any disabilities and are coming to the forum, please let us know that you're coming!

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Dr Monika Dutt, Chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, will be presenting a workshop at the Peoples Social Forum on the lawsuit that threatens to dismantle public health care in Canada. She will be providing detailed information on the Brian Day case, a BC based lawsuit that aims to introduce a US-style system of health care (i.e. system of health neglect) into Canada. She is the chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, an organization which has been granted intervener status in the case. This organization, along with two physicians, two patients, and the BC Health Coalition, have been granted intervener status and will be putting forward the pro-Medicare case. Don't miss this very important workshop on the fight to save public health care in Canada!

Counterpoint: Let’s fix medicare, instead of destroying it

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Heather Milton-Lightening on the Peoples' Social Forum! Heather was a core organizer of both US Social Forums, is a Ruckus trainer and is an organizer with the Indigenous Tar Sands campaign at the Polaris Institute.
She spoke at OttawaU last week about how the USSF had helped formed relationships that enabled mobilizations with native and settler people like we now see against the KXL pipeline.

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I'm very pleased to announce that Jethro Tulin will be at the Peoples Social Forum (Forum social des peuples) on Friday August 22 at 10:30am, to discuss his decade long struggle for justice with Canadian mining companies in his community. He is a movement tactician, human rights advocate, and a former labour organizer.

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Mike Palecek of CUPW

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Canadian Dimension

We are incredibly excited to co-host this event! See you there!

Join Leo Panitch, Clayton Thomas Muller, Judy Rebick, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, Linda McQuaig, Maude Barlow and many others!

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..from the psf facebook page.

Happy summer!

There’s no summer lull for – we’ll be at the People’s Social Forum. Will you? Let us know if you’re involved, running a workshop or just checking out the Forum. We would love to feature a write up about your panel, your post-workshop thoughts or your commentary on the Forum.

We’ll be kicking off the PSF with a celebration of activism and independent media on Thursday August 21, with a good old fashioned 5à7 at 25One Community (251 Bank Street). Join along with our special guests and progressive media contributors for refreshments and engaging discussion. (Stay tuned for more details!)

Let us know if you’re interested in writing about your experience at the Forum. We’ll be in touch!

Meghan Murphy
Evening editor,


I was just wondering if any babblers are at the Forum. I couldn't go (work here) and have several friends there. I'm following Viola Thomas, a veteran Indigenous activist, on the live feed.

Here is another interview with Ms Thomas, earlier this year, on the same topics she addressed at the Forum:


– we’ll be at the People’s Social Forum. Will you? Let us know if you’re involved, running a workshop or just checking out the Forum. We would love to feature a write up about your panel, your post-workshop thoughts or your commentary on the Forum.


personal notes...

perhaps the most heatening experience was to witness the powerful presence of Indigenous peoples throughout the country except for the west, to hear the candid descriptions of their reality, their struggles, thir eloquence.

My congratulations to the coordination to make this all happen!

Second, to witness the high energy and idealism especially from the youth of Quebec!

Perhaps the most disappointing was the lack of presence of a force from BC, given the powerful struggles shaping up vs. the pipelines, the mining and for Indigenous territorial autonomy.

Perhaps a sign of the serious deterioration of any organized resistance movements in the cities?

I suggest a most significant failure, the total lack of energy and clarity re Canada`s growing and brutal imperialist militarism globally and especially vs. the populist forces for autonomy in SE Ukraine, in alliance with the neonazi `Right Sector`.

The statements coming from the anti militarism anti imperialist Assembly were pathetic!

I suggest that a key dynamic of the Forum was the force promoting `Stop Harperism`vs. the quest for anticapitalist alternatives.

The failure was the lack of focus and clarity on what such alternatives may look like. E.g. the workshop on alternatives to èxtractivism`was a poor attempt!

The greatest failure however was the withdrawal of any debate on some form of structural follow up.

Does this mean that despite Canada`s scary role in world affairs, as a key player, as an oil and mining state, an imperialist and militarist power, that we may have no significant presence in the upcoming World Forum in Tunis?


Isn't cost a factor for BC, and in particular Vancouver, "urban activists"? And also for Indigenous people from the West?

By definition, those groups include a lot of people with limited or downright low incomes, and flights out of remote Native communities are very pricy.

Many of the activists from Québec could not have afforded the time and money to travel to the West Coast either. I know many people from Vancouver who attended Seattle, but only a few from here, and they were from unions or NGOs.


One of my pleasures at the Forum was the opportunity to meet so many people from Yellowknife, from Nunavit. Surely these are on the front line in the corporate State collaboration in the destruction of the territory of Canada and the Indigenous Peoples.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture is info coming out of the social forum.


..and here are the reports that came out of the assemblies. i've just received this so haven't went through them but once i do i will post my comments.