Inheriting Resistance: Interview with Mordecai Briemberg

No One Is Illegal-Vancouver Coast Salish Territories presents an interview with Mordecai Briemberg as part of “Inheriting Resistance: A Community History Project”. For more information:

Born in 1938, Mordecai grew up in the Edmonton eastside. He was educated at the universities of Alberta, Oxford and Berkeley. In the U.K. he became active in the anti-nuclear movement and was involved in the Aldermaston March and the Committee of 100, led by Bertrand Russell. In Berkeley he was active in the student “Free Speech Movement” and in organizing opposition to the US war against the peoples of Vietnam and Indochina. Coming to Vancouver in 1966 to teach at Simon Fraser University, he was one of the founders of the “Committee to aid American war Objectors” and worked in the local movement opposing the US war. At SFU he contributed to the radical and democratic restructuring of the department of Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology (PSA). This student-faculty endeavour also established links with off-campus movements for social justice: against unemployment, poverty, for native rights, and workers rights. The provincial government and university administration conducted a political purge of PSA and Mordecai and seven other PSA faculty were fired. SFU was censored by professional organizations for several years after the purge, because of its violations of academic freedom. Mordecai chose to remain in Vancouver, and was active with Canadian trade unions, defending political prisoners and other activists in Quebec, and in solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle against Israeli colonization. He worked for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and the Peoples Republic of China. He was part of a cross-Canada effort to establish a new revolutionary political organization, “In Stuggle/En Lutte”. For the last four decades he has been involved in anti-colonial and anti-war movements. He helped create the Western Voice weekly newspaper, produced in the DTES, a democratic voice for workers, feminists, prisoners, and others denied justice and dignity. With a similar approach he has been active in Vancouver Cooperative Radio, for nearly 30 years on the “Redeye” program. Blacklisted in BC from teaching in his academic discipline, he taught ESL at Douglas College for 25 years before retiring. Musically challenged — but admiring others’ musical skills — he has found pleasure playing scales on the accordion.