Youth Week 2002
Activismâ€™s chAnging fAce The world has changed -and so have the approaches to activism
THIS MORNING I READ AN ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER ABOUT an activist. The entertainment and human-interest section contained a piece about this individual preparing for the Johannesburg summit taking place this month. The article highlighted this individual’s journey into the world of activism. I read about her family history, what high school she went to, the type of student she was, all the degrees she attained... interesting stuff... if you are fascinated by other people’s lives- not if you want to know more about the Johannesburg summit, Kyoto Protocol, or Agenda 21 - all mentioned briefly in the article. I suppose activists are interesting people. It seems that all of the mainstream media’s coverage of activists and their work is served to the public with more emphasis on the activist rather than his or her passion or work. It also seems that the words “activist” and “protestor” have become interchangeable. The image of the young anti-globalization protestor, decked out in hooded sweatshirt and bandana is everywhere. It is cool to be an activist today. Going to cities around the world (if you can afford it) and being surrounded by others that share your passion. Check out those rave-like parties at night, bonfires, the singing, dancing, music, rhythmic drumming, and hell, even getting sprayed by police water cannons. Undoubtedly there is a romanticism associated with the life of an protestor - the excitement, energy, the media’s eye... hey, go to a protest, and who knows, you could be on television ... Flipping through the channels on TV one day, I came across something that momentarily both stunned and excited me. An in-your-face logo splashed across the screen proclaiming “Activist TV.” A television series about activists? About people doing things to make a difference in their communities and bettering the world? An insight into the passions and struggles of ordinary people acting on their conscience and convictions? Had TVO broken from the mainstream, giving maligned activists a favourable showcase to educate away from the photogenic front lines facing riot police and their batons? Not quite. This was a documentary following a group of university students as they embarked on a school assignment to promote awareness about a cause. Hmm. They organized a campaign and staged a media stunt on the school grounds. I suppose this is activism - I could not tell just how passionate these students were about their particular cause (something about infectious bacteria, I believe). This was definitely not the image of menacing anarchists hurling rocks through Starbucks that the media loves so much. Wow. Is it so cool to be an 2
This revolution is being T
activist that it’s become an assignment for a university course...? It must be. The big corporations say so. While their windows were being smashed downtown, the bigwigs were busy conjuring up their latest large-scale marketing campaign. One of the GAP’s campaigns featured mannequins decked out in activist gear, complete with bandanas over the faces. The windows were artistically spray-painted ... just like at a demo. Yes, now you can get your stylin’ activist outfit from the GAP. Need shoes? There was no way that Nike would miss out on this hot trend. They launched a campaign complete with hired “activists” standing on corners handing out flyers protesting the unfair advantage Nike shoes give wearers in competition. Those shoes could be ordered from the fictional activist group’s website. Activists are everywhere: News documentaries, their own TV show, newspapers and magazines. Some activists are becoming celebrities, and not just in activist circles. The increase of young people in activism may be due in large part to all this attention. But is the passion there? The desire to change things? The realization that so much unglamorous work must go on before and after the demonstration on the international stage? That organizing, educating, following-up, networking, and campaigning are such essential elements of activism, which are so inspiring, yet ignored by the producers and editors that give the public the “Battle of Seattle” and Activist TV. While all the media attention given to the lives of activists/protestors may be drawing more young people towards activism, the glaring failure to adequately cover the issues that these figures are fighting for (or against) or the hard work that goes on behind the scenes is possibly misleading the motives for becoming an “activist.” The ranks of activists have changed, and it seems that the media has had much to do with it. Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
F notes FORUM notes ORUM
Thanks for reading FORUM magazine. This page is reserved for notes about the projects and happenings involving Youth Action Network. If you would like to get involved, please contact us. Submissions can be sent directly to the office at (please note new address) 176 John Street, Suite 307, Toronto Ontario, M5T 1X5 e-mail us at email@example.com; visit our website at www.youthactionnetwork.org fax us at (416) 368-8354; phone us at (416) 368-2277 or toll-free at 1-800-718-LINK Welcome Aboard Youth Action Network would like to introduce our two new staff members. Michelle Dagnino is YANâ€™s program coordinator and is organizing the Ruckus! conference this year. For information about the conference and how to register, turn to page 37. Brian Sharpe, our projects co-ordinator, organized a successful International Youth Week 2002. Check out pages 26-32 for some of the highlights of the week.
Youth Action Network Board of Directors Youth Action Network invites anyone interested in making an impact to apply to become a member of the YAN board of directors. Contact us for more information about the positions and for nomination forms.
Annual General Meeting The Youth Action Network Annual General Meeting will be held in early September. The AGM is open to anyone interested in the happenings at YAN. If you are interested in attending, please contact the office. New Board members are elected at the AGM.
Youth Action Manual This summer, an exciting project was initiated as part of the revitalization of the Resource Action Centre. The Youth Action Manual is a compilation of resources that are essential for youth to take action. The Manual will be available online. In the meantime, check out a sample of what you will find in the Youth Action Manual on page 21. For more information about the project, contact Beenash Jafri.
Youth Action Network Merit Award YAN has established a merit award for youth demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to their communities at large. The award is open to youth across Canada. Please turn to page 7 for more information.
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Next Issue The next issue of Forum will feature a special section on mainstream media. These outlets have exposed the wider public to alternative media in special features or investigative reports -- lets turn the tables and take a look at the huge machines that so heavily influence public opinion. Submit articles, rants, poetry, or artwork to Youth Action Forum at the above address/email/fax. Contact us if you want to bounce ideas off our editors.
Bilingual Forum Youth Action Forum constantly seeks to ensure that we are fulfilling our mandate of being a medium through which young people from all over Canada can express their views, concerns, and opinions. Because of financial considerations, a decision was made in the past to discontinue the use of French translators. We are now making an effort to return to a fully bilingual publication. This will be a gradual process, beginning with this issue in which one article has been translated. Youth Action Forum depends on volunteers to be published, and we need you to participate. We need volunteers to translate material as well as Francophone writers in order to obtain our goal of bilingualism.
Volunteer! Youth Action Forum is run fully by young volunteers. We need people to write, edit, create artwork, design layout, translate articles, develop a website, and raise funds! Contact our office for more information about YAN (or visit the website) and the opportunities for volunteering with Forum or other YAN projects! Also, take a look at pages 6 & 7.
Ruckus! 2002 Ruckus! is a one-day forum addressing the lack of role models for youth of colour. Check out page 37 for more detailed information and a sign-up form. 3
Y OUTH A CTION
Youth Week 2002
Editors-in-Chief Wei-Jia Zhou, Tia Dafnos
That’s a wrap! Check out the many events organized by and for young people that happened during Youth Week 2002.
Editing Crew Wei-Jia Zhou, Vinca Chow, Adrienne Lee, Aleha Aziz, Clara Chow, Andrea Tsang, Andrew Ng, James Kwok, Jenny Yeung
-26 to 32-
Art Vinca Chow, Adrienne Lee, Stephanie Siu Cover Art Adrienne Lee Design Tia Dafnos, Adrienne Lee, Vinca Chow
Anti-postering bylaw Emily Gordon 33-34
Translation Darien Abbey, Aleha Aziz, Dwain Richardson Contributors Adam, Jordan Bell, K.C. Burden, Bree Cheang, Alison Chick, Helen Choi, Vinca Chow, Michelle Dagnino, Emily Gordon, Tyson Hay, James Kwok, Beenash Jafri, Anthony James, Adrienne Lee, Jae-Yeon Lim, Andrew Ng, Brian Sharpe, Stephanie Siu, Devon Ostrom, Liam Thurston Submission guidelines Share your articles, artwork, photographs, poetry, and letters. All original art and photographs will be returned. Articles should be accompanied by art or photographs, as well as some very brief information about the author. Send your submissions to “FORUM Submissions” at YOUTH ACTION N ETWORK.
The tongue and then the ears Jae-Yeon Lim 35-36
Getting a fair wage Jordan Bell 36
Ruckus! 2002 37
Art vs. Ads Devon Ostrom & Liam Thurston
Map: free trade? 39
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Youth Action Network Board of Directors Chair Tia Dafnos Finance Director Karen Lau Fundraising Director Clara Chow Volunteer Coordinator Andrea Tsang Secretary, Forum Liaison Wei-Jia Zhou Communications Director James Kwok Outreach Director Janet Kwok Equity Director Farrah Byckalo-Khan Regional Directors Angely Pacis, Erika Fenner Program Coordinator Michelle Dagnino Projects Coordinator Brian Sharpe Special Thanks Don & Mary Lucy McGregor (Delta Bingo) YOUTH ACTION NETWORK is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing to youth the resources and information they need to take action on issues important to them. Views and opinions expressed in YOUTH ACTION FORUM are not necessarily those of its editors nor of the Board of Directors of Y OUTH ACTION NETWORK . Every effort will be made to preserve the content and style of all submissions to FORUM. However, the editors reserve the right to edit articles for clarity or length. Youth Action Network 176 John Street, Suite 307, Toronto Ontario, Canada M5T 1X5 telephone 416.368.2277 fax 416.368.8354 firstname.lastname@example.org charitable registration 136303195RR0002 ISSN 1188-6870
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
a FORUM special section
Activismâ€™s attraction Alison Chick 9-10
Commodification of protest Bree Cheang 11
Lacking experience Tyson Hay english 12-13 francais 14-15
Changing face of activism James Kwok 16-17
Liberation or terrorism? Anthony James 18-20
Activist skills Resource Action Centre 21
So I went to this protest... Brian Sharpe 22-23 -24-
Protesting: whatâ€™s the use? CounterPoint 24-25 5
youth action network Ever wondered how you could make a difference? Had a plan to improve your community or country? Volunteering or activism is for you if you want to: o o o o o o o
meet new people have fun gain useful skills Y A get an advantage in the job market realize a goal inspire more dreams help others
FORUM OUTH CTION
YOUTH ACTION NETWORK can help you realize the dream.
Do something. YOUTH ACTION NETWORK (YAN) was established by a group of enthusiastic young people in 1989. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to motivating and empowering youth to take action on social justice and environmental issues. As a fully independent youth-run organization, YAN is committed esourcethat ction entre play an integral role in their communities. to ensuring young people
Youth Action Connec-
YAN acts as a catalyst by stimulating youth to become socially aware. To this end, the organization operates four projects: Youth Action FORUM, Youth Week, the Resource Action Centre and Youth Action Connection.
your next move
YOUTH ACTION NETWORK 176 John Street, Suite 307 Toronto, ON M5T 1X5
Phone: 416.368.2277 Fax: 416.368.8354 Email: email@example.com
could change the world
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Youth Action Connection Keep you eyes peeled in the coming months. Youth Action Network is working on building it’s network and getting you connected to exciting and useful events, actions, projects, and organizations all across the country. Our web page www.youthactionnetwork.org will feature a section for YAC which will be your first stop on the way to connecting with other youth working on the issues you care about. We will have listserves from across the country that you can sign up for to keep you updated on what’s going on. We’ll also be creating our own listserv for YAC which will feature national events and information for Youth Action Network. Send us an email at general@Youthactionnetwork.org if you want to join. We also encourage youth to start up their own YAC newsletters or listserves in their area. Get in touch with us for more information on how to do this. Get connected with Youth Action Connection!
Youth Action Network Merit Award Youth Action Network (YAN) has established a fund to award young people who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to their communities at large. This is a merit award and may be used for any purpose deemed suitable by the recipient. The applicant’s financial need will be given due consideration, but will not be the primary criteria for selection. Youth Action Network’s Merit Award Program is administered by a committee of experienced YAN volunteers and staff. Applications will be considered according to a list of published criteria, and one to two awards will be presented in mid-Fall of each year. Deadline for applications is August 31. Please contact us for an application and more detailed criteria. Amount of award: $500 CAD Deadline for applications: August 31 QUESTIONS? If you have questions about the Merit Award Program or would like an Application Form, please contact Michelle Dagnino by email at firstname.lastname@example.org (with “Award Program” in the subject field), or by phone at 416-368-2277.
Resource ActionCentre is your first stop for action. The RAC is an extensive resource library which aims to promote constructive, informed action by providing information that represents and helps Canada’s diverse youth to achieve their goals. Look out for the Youth Action Manual...coming soon.
RAC’s toll free number is accessible across Canada. Call or e-mail us with your request and we will call you back and fax or mail you the information you require. A project of Youth Action Network Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Art by Adrienne Lee
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Activism’s attraction Technology, volunteerism, organizations and a cool image are drawing more youth towards activism Alison Chick
to 24 is astonishing, at 83.3% increase in participation as compared to 1987. The hours that youth are volunteering is also increasing, from 28.9 hours in 1987 to 41.0, an increase of 41.9%. A survey was also conducted on the sectors for which Canadians volunteered in. Environment, health care and cultural organizations have all seen reasonable growth in participation. However, participation growth in non-mainstream organizations has exploded, increasing by 1700%. On a daily basis, new groups are formed and new need is discovered. Times are changing, and so are our attitudes.
GREATLY EVOLVED IN THE
last decade and these changes have directly and indirectly affected activism in the world. Factors that have led to this progress include an explosive growth in new technology that has created new solutions and new problems. Business and economic sectors have experienced great change due to globalization. Many psychologists have noted shifts in social structures, ranging change in what is considered to be a ‘typical’ family, rising secularism and great diversity in race and sexual orientation. Topics that were once considered taboo have evolved into mainstream conversation. Statistics Canada also notes that there has been significant change “in structure and functioning of institutions, especially government and other public institutions”1. All of these factors have directly and indirectly affected activism in the world.
Technology has digitalized the world and created new methods of solving problems. Statistics are compelling - 1 billion people lack access to potable water, an estimated 100 million landmines are scattered worldwide, the United Nations recognizes 39 million refugees, and almost 2 billion people live without electricity but these statistics fail to effectively convey the magnitude of the problem, countless individuals suffering unnecessarily,
Art by Adrienne Lee
Technology has digitalized the world and created new methods of solving problems.
It should be no surprise that over 7.5 billion Canadian volunteers contribYouth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
ute over 66 hours of their time to devote to activism, according to Statistics Canada. Nor that activism is a growing trend. Over the course of a decade, there has been a 17.6% increase in volunteers in Canada. Growth among youth aged 15
men, women and children without food, water, security, sanitation, or medical care. An innovative organization infusing technology to solve these problems is “Engineers Without Borders”. Engineers Without Borders (EWB) was initiated by students who really wanted to make a difference in the quality of life around the world. Engineers, scientists and students were a wealth of knowledge and volunteer power that could help, and up until a decade ago, were not the focus of activism. Today, EWB is a global organization, working with many other non-governmental organizations to bring sustainable technology to developing countries. From installing a well, water purification systems, affordable housing, portable generators and websites to allow small merchants in developing nations to sell their wares, EWB is combining wonderful new technology and applying it to the less fortunate around the world. EWB has also coordinated research, professionals, academia and students on a crusade to bring technological solutions around the world.
It would be an understatement to say that activism is cool, it is downright astounding. The Internet has also increased modes of communication around the world. As a result, youth are more aware of their surroundings and ways in which they can help. As a high schooler observed, “A year ago, I didn’t know of so many of the problems which affect my world, and I didn’t know how to help. Now, I have found causes that I can be passionate about, and organizations that I can join to really be involved in the solution.” Many others share the sentiment. As our world because borderless, Canadians can access information about the plight of developing nations, news in the world and also databases of vol-
unteer opportunities. People are not only learning of what can be improved in the world, but also how they can apply their skills to a solution. Growing activism is no wonder with this trend. Finally, society is eager to learn about global conditions and finding it an easy task to accomplish. Information is accessible to all youths, and in return, youth are learning to empower themselves. Volunteering is no longer something that is boring, in fact, when youth are paired with organizations that spark their interest and roles that promote growth, activism is downright fun and life altering! Among the exemplary organizations that increase communications, the Web-based Journal for Young Scientists (JoYS), advocates the popularization of science among youth.
trait that makes a person interesting. As one student noted, there is even positive peer pressure to become involved in the world. Everyone is still trying to be an individual in this world and to stand out as someone unique. For the ambitious youth, a great method of accomplishing individuality is to find a passion in the world and devote time to volunteering. Activism garners great respect as well. People who are our age, making a difference in the world, challenging the standards and putting optimism to work are admirable. Youth are becoming more ambitious than ever and gravitate towards their peers who share the same optimism about the world. Volunteering
JoYS’ Global Alliance Program, is dedicated to increasing collaboration amongst young scientists from 30 countries around the world. Inadvertently, it is also helping aspiri n g researchers to use their hopes, dreams and talent to become an activist in the world. Being able to do what we love, means that youth will be willing to do more of it. It would be an understatement to say that activism is cool, it is downright astounding. Polling several youth, there was a general consensus that being a volunteer and standing for a cause is a
h a s evolved to become a fun way of meeting people, sharing ideas and pursue common goals. As the world recognizes the power of youths, volunteer roles with greater responsibility have also become available. Some positions allow for travelling to foreign countries, initiating projects and organizations themselves. These tasks are nothing short of amazing. Charitable organizations have helped to fill holes that the government has left in our social fabric. With society becoming more aware, youths have begun to empower themselves, initiating new organizations when the need calls. Youth Action Network (YAN) is a Canada-wide for youth by youth charitable organization that promotes civic encontinued on page 23 Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Corporations capitalizing on activism trends Bree Cheang
The commodification of protest…. F …FLIPPING CHANNELS I SEE A TECHNO MUSIC VIDEO BLENDING A ROMANTIC riot story with images of recent protests and advertising for a mythical revolutionary cola tm. The two heroes of the story use a mixture of sex appeal and rioting to battle the police. In the end both sides are united by drinking cola tm. Images of real life protestors breaking windows and smashing cola machines intertwine with the story. A final shot of a protestor breaking a tv airing the cola story and then zooming out to him appearing on another tv and so on, raises some questions about the commodification of dissent, while glorifying one aspect of activism. Not only are there overwhelming reasons driving us to protest, but demonstrations have become cool! It’s hip to be an anarchist whether you know what that means or not. But what does that mean to other activists who put a lot of their energy and time into changing the world? Will people only come to a demonstration or will they see the need to become community activists and do work which can be very important but not so exciting? What happens when protesting isn’t cool anymore? What about people who see activism as only the 3-minute media clip of police roughing it up? …then I flip the channels and see people running through the streets. Police in riot gear are chasing them and firing large rubber bullets. The camera zooms out and an athlete is playing tennis by hitting all the rubber bullets and tear gas back over a net. The camera shows his shoes and then a Nike swoosh appears. Around the same time I found a swatch ad in a magazine that advertises a watch on a surfer who is standing in front of a water cannon police are using to disperse protestors. As I write this Presto, a shoe company owned by Nike, has opened up downtown hip music clubs with a graffiti campaign to promote it. The companies that are being targeted by protestors for their terrible labour practices and support of free trade, are using the image of the protestors to sell their products. In many ways this effect has a way of trivialising the protests that people are a part of. As if being an activist is a choice anyone makes the same as being a downhill skier, a fisherman, or card player. As if going to a protest were the same as seeing a concert and was something that someone else organised. How appealing does it become for someone to get really involved in protesting Nike’s labour practices when you see yourself displayed as the background of a joke selling their product? Some food for thought. Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Lacking experience A key ingredient is missing from today’s anti-globalization protest movement Tyson Hay
ACTIVISM , AS FAR AS IT CONCERNS protests at meetings of international organizations (such as the World Trade Organization in Seattle and the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City), is currently without a broad base of public support. Moreover, it will lack this support as long as it keeps using the same strategies it has been using recently - that is, a combination of harsh verbal rants by intellectuals and peaceful demonstrations, which often climax in battles with riot police. All these tactics are aimed, generally, at disrupting the respective meeting, or at least providing some opposition to the theories of ‘globalization’ put forth by many of the world’s most powerful politicians and businesspeople. The demonstrators and intellectuals intend to turn the spotlight away from the current conference and its’ policies, and on to the protestors and their policies’ - because although there are many different factions in the ‘anti-globalization’ movement, they all have a general goal. There seems to be a three-fold plan to complete this mission. First, to demonstrate, rant, and battle - to draw media coverage. Second, to use this media coverage to espouse the movement’s ideas, show the faulty sections of the globalization plan, and eventually win public support. Third, to use this public senti12 THE
Art by Adrienne Lee
ment to stop, slow, or at least change the direction of globalization. But, despite the completion of the first part of the plan, the protest movement remains stalled in second gear. As we explore the reasons for this, perhaps we should look at successful, popular
public figures throughout history and their common traits, since it’s likely that these traits are also the ones that the protestors can use to turn public opinion in their favour. In the 20th century, there are a few names that stand out; Churchill, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Trudeau, among others. These men shared many common characteristics, but we can probably isolate four main distinguishing traits: Intelligence, passion, the desire to make the world better, and experience. I believe that the protest movement has three out of four. Intelligence, certainly, is evident in the well-constructed arguments put forth by the movement’s leaders. Passion is certainly not lacking, what with protestors willing to risk being gassed, beaten, and hauled away to prison in order to accomplish their goals. The desire to make the world a better place certainly seems apparent in the movement, especially in comparison with its’ archenemies, global corporations, whose major goal is, always has been, and always will be greed. But experience? Experience is not so apparent on the part of the movement. Churchill was a traveller, soldier, journalist, adventurer, and politician for decades before he became Prime Minister. Roosevelt learned to cope with a debilitating illness that left him confined to a wheelchair. Kennedy’s PT boat was blown up during the Second World War. Trudeau, fluent in three languages, was thrown in jail twice for being thought a spy during a solo trip around the world in the uncertain late 1940s. In what areas are the protestors experienced in? The average protestors are quite adept at organizing demonstrations, destroying fences, and provoking police. The leaders of the movement have
... as a movement, the protestors are experienced only in protesting. ject. But above all, as a movement, the protestors are experienced only in protesting. As I watch the street fighting on the news and listen to the rhetoric, I can’t help but think of the Third World children with which the movement is supposedly so con-
cerned. How many of those Quebec fence- wreckers had actually been to Bolivia and Haiti and the other poor countries for which they wept? How many of the Seattle brawlers had seen six-person families living in single room shacks? And even more importantly, what have they done to help? I
How many of the Seattle brawlers had seen six-person families living in single room shacks? And even more importantly, what have they done to help? a lot of experience in making speeches, debating philosophical and political theories regarding globalization, and quoting studies and essays on the sub-
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
suppose that if I were a starving child in AIDS-ridden Central Africa, knowing that thousands of middle-class Western students were being gassed and beaten
with truncheons on my behalf might not be so inspiring, or helping. I imagine that I’d be much happier and certainly much better off if those protestors were doing something a little less theoretical, newsworthy, and ‘cool’, but a little closer to home. Things like helping with food and medicine distribution, or teaching, or just pitching in and helping to build roads, wells, and homes in the poor regions of the world. OF COURSE, I CAN’T BE sure how everyone feels on this issue. It seems to me that a lot of people - the people that the protest movement needs on its’ side - are wary of globalization, but can’t bring themselves to side with a bunch of angry intellectuals and anarchist street fighters. Maybe it will take something different to get these kinds of people off of the fence. Maybe the new apprenticeship for protestors should be increased from the current diet of Chomsky and secondhand accounts of Third World problems to something a little more real, a little more personal. And maybe, if some of these concerned individuals in the movement went to Bangladesh and Colombia and Zaire and put their considerable energies towards helping, teaching, building, and perhaps most importantly, learning, they could improve real human lives in a real human way. The countries they visited, the people they helped, they themselves, and the world as a whole would be much richer for it. And then, if they come back and still want to protest, they can do so in a knowledgeable, experienced manner, which will eventually attract the support necessary to fulfill their desire to make our world a better place. Tyson Mc-Neil Hay, 19, is a firstyear student at the University of British Columbia.
Mais l’expérience? Tyson Hay Translation: Darien Abbey
L’ ACTIVISME , JUSQU ’À CE QUI concerne les protestes aux réunions des organisations internationaux (comme l’Oragnisation Mondiale du Commerce à Seattle et le Sommet des Amériques en Ville de Quebec), est aujourd’hui sans une base suffisament large de support publique. En plus, elle va en manquer tandis qu’elle continue d’utiliser les mêmes straégies qu’elle a employé recemment - c’est à dire, une combinaison d’invectives sévères et verboses par des intellectuels et des démonstrations paisibles qui, climaxent
de plusieurs des plus puissantes politiques et commerçantes du monde. Les intellectuels et démonstrateurs veulent détourner l’attention du publique du conférence courant et ses politiques, à leurs démonstrateurs et leurs - parceque bien qu’il y a plusieurs groupes différents dans le mouvement contre le, ils partagent un but générale. Il semble avoir un plan en trois étapes pour accomplir cet mission. Première étape protester, fulminer et combattre - tout pour attirer les médias. Deuxième étape supporter les idées du mouvement,
Mais après tout, comme mouvement, les démonstrateurs ne savent que protester.
souvent en battailes avec la police. Toutes ces tactiques sont disposées, généralement, interrompre le réunion visé ou bien au moins donner un peu d’opposition aux théories du venant 14
démontrer les parties erronées du plan du globalisation et en utilisant les médias, ils pourront projeter tout celà au publique pour gagner leur support. Troisième étape - utiliser le sentiment du publique
pour arrêter, ralentir ou au moins changer le direction du globalisation. Mais, même si la première étape du plan est complétée, le mouvement semble être coincé à la deuxième. En explorant les raisons pour celà, peut-être devraiton regarder les personnages populaires qui ont eu de la succès à travers l’histoire et leurs traits communs, puisque c’est probable que ces traits pourront aider aux démonstrateurs à tourner l’opinion publique en leur faveur. Au 20ième siècle, il y a quelques noms qui ressortent; Churchill, Roosevelt, Kennedy, et Trudeau, parmi d’autres. Ces hommes ont partagé plusieurs caractéristiques, mais on pourrait isoler quatre traits importants: L’intelligence, la passion, l’expérience, et le désir d’améliorer le monde. Je crois que le mouvement des démonstrations en a trois sur quatre. L’intelligence, certainement, est évident dans les arguments bien construits et structurés fournis par les dirigéants du mouvement. La passion ne manque certainement pas, avec les démonstrateurs qui sont volontiers de risquer de se faire battre, gazés et jetés en prison pour accomplir leurs buts. Le désir d’améliorer le monde semble certainement être apparent dans le mouvement, especiallement en comparaison avec ses ennemis, les corporations globales, qui ont et en auront toujours un but de cupidité. Mais l’expérience? L’expérience n’est pas tellement apparent dans le mouvement. Churchill était un voyageur, soldat, journaliste, adventurier, et homme politique pour des décennies avant qu’il devint Premier Ministre. Roosevelt a du Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
apprendre à vivre avec une maladie déblilitante qui l’a laissé confiné dans une fauteil roulante. Le bateau PT de Kennedy a été détruit pendant le Deuxième Guerre Mondiale. Trudeau, qui maitrisait trois langues a été emmené en prison deux fois parce-qu’on croyait qu’il était un espion pendant un voyage solo autour du monde dans les années
pays pauvres pour qui ils ont pleuré? Combien des combattantsde Seattle ont vu les familles à six membres vivant dans des huttes à une chambre? Plus important que ça, quesqu’ils ont fait pour aider? Je suppose que si j’étais un enfant affamé au milieu de l’Afrique Centrale qu’est envahi par le SIDA, sachant que des milles d’étudiants
combattants anarchistes. Peut-être il faudra quelque chose de différent pour attirer ce type de gens. Peut-être l’apprentisage de démonstrateurs devrait être augmenté du diète courante de Chomsky et des comptes rendus d’autres personnes sur les problèmes du Tierce Monde à quelque chose un peu plus réel,
Combien des combattantsde Seattle ont vu les familles à six membres vivant dans des huttes à une chambre? Plus important que ça, quesqu’ils ont fait pour aider? incertaines des 1940s tardes. En quels domaines les démonstrateurs ont de l’expérience? Les démonstrateurs normales sont compétents lorsqu’ils doivent organiser les protestes, détruire des pallisades et provoquer la police. Les dirigéants du mouvement ont beaucoup d’expérience lorsqu’il s’agit de faire des discours, d’avoir des débats sur des théories philosophiques et politiques concernant la globalisation, et de citer des dissertations et des études. Mais après tout, comme mouvement, les démonstrateurs ne savent que protester. En regardant les battailes sur les nouvelles et en écoutant le rhétorique, je ne peux que penser des enfants du Tierce Monde avec qui le mouvement est supposément si concerné. Combien des destructeurs de palissades en Quebec ont visité la Bolivie et le Haiti et les autres
Américains de classe moyen étaient en train d’être gazés et battus avec des matraques pour moi ne serait pas très inspirant ou aidant. J’imagine que je serai beaucoup plus content et certainement plus en sécurité si ces démonstrateurs étaient en train de faire quelque chose un peu moins théâtral, attirant pour les médias et mais un peu plus prôche de la maison. Des choses comme aidant avec le distribution de la nourriture et les médicaments, enseignant ou just aidant à construire des routes, des puits et des maisons dans les régions pauvres du monde. Bien sur, je ne peux pas être sur comment le reste du monde ressent sur ce sujet. Il me semble que beaucoup des gens - les gens que le mouvement en a besoin pour les supporter - sont conscients de la globalisation, mais ne veulent pas s’allier avec une groupe d’intellectuels furieuses et des
Y OUTH ACTION
Reach active, socially-minded young people and organizations across Canada by publicizing your organization, event, or services in FORUM!
Please contact us for more information: canada phone fax email
1-800-718-LINK 416-368-2277 416-358-8354 email@example.com
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
un peu plus personel. Et peut-être, si quelques uns de ces individus concernés dans le mouvement iraient à Bangledesh et la Colombie et le Zaire et appliqueraient leurs énergies considérables pour aider, enseigner, construire, et, peut-être le plus important de toutes, apprendre, ils pourront améliorer des vies humaines dans une manière humaine. Les pays qu’ils ont visités, les gens qu’ils ont aidés, eux eux-mêmes et le monde en seraient enrichis. Et puis, s’ils reviennent et veulent démonstrer toujours, ils pourront le faire dans une manière expériencé et savante qu’attirera eventuellement le support nécéssaire pour achever leur désir d’améliorer le monde.
full page 600 half page 300 1/4 page 200 2 pg spread 1000
550 500 450 275 250 225 175 150 125 900 800 700
FORUM is published three times a year. Please contact us for advertisment closing dates.
changing face The changing of activism A timeline of activist movements from the past to today’s anti-globalization phemomenon James Kwok
WHAT ABOUT THE EVOLUTION OF activism? We hear about protests in the news and even on the streets. In terms of concept, activism has remained much the same. However, the style of governance, management, and ideology in a given society changes. In turn, the means by which activism aims to advance the opinions and objectives of its campaigners must inevitably change as well. The activists themselves will be drawn from different cultural or social groups. Not only does large-scale activism have an effect in our local communities, but is starting to have relevance in a global sense. Activism at its most basic level is essentially to inform, encourage, and to
bring about some sort of change. By extension, activism in some form or another has been present throughout history. As a matter of fact, it is a very natural response to government establishments in most countries around the world today. While this article is not in any way meant to spurn the governments of any country, activism is an almost inevitable aspect of a country’s decision process. During the time of the Roman Republic for example, a Greek statesman named Polybius defined the three most important aspects of Rome’s government as the senate, the consuls, and the people. He argued that despite the relative powers of the senate and the consuls, it was the common people who provided control to government policies. Should the people not approve of given policies set
forth by the government, they would unite in their respective assemblies in an attempt to right a particular injustice. Put into a contemporary context, activism fundamentally is, and has been, an inexorable part of the governance of our society. The feminist movement in the 19th and 20th century, or Women’s Suffrage, was primarily used as a means to assert the rightful role of women as equals among men in society. Figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Susan B. Anthony, and a slew of other feminist activists spearheaded these movements. Their goals were accomplished in part by the impassioned rhetoric of suffragists throughout Western society, as well as
Art by Vinca Chow
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
... most will find in activists [today] a passion for not just speaking out for one movement, but being strong advocates of many. marches, protests and demonstrations. The endgame of this first wave of feminism gave women the right to vote, as well as a voice in the governance of their country. Similarly, Martin Luther King Jr., more than sixty years after this initial wave of 20th century activism, had a series of Marches. During these marches, he would travel from area to area advocating the equality of African Americans, Caucasians, and other minorities in the United States. His famous “I Have a Dream” speech was given during his March on Washington. His work, spanning almost 20 years, helped pave the way for The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which barred racial segregation in the United States. Gradually however, activism is being transformed once again. Primarily with the issue of anti-globalization, central illustrious figures like Dr. King and Ms. Anthony are almost non-existent. Quite simply, the style of campaigning has undergone a metamorphosis. No longer is there a single man or woman who is identified with a certain movement or campaign. Some protesters in the WTO demonstrations even wore masks, wishing for anonymity. However, most
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
people realize that many of the protesters at Seattle were also at summits in Genoa and Quebec City. These summithoppers are the new breed of activists and are well equipped: they are armed with walkie-talkies to co-ordinate their protest, as well as gortex jackets to shield themselves from riot police water hoses. The occasional protestor will even wear a gas mask of some sort. To an onlooker, they seem like professionals. There are even instructors and courses that show youth and adults of any age how to successfully manage a protest. These groups refer to themselves collectively as “The New New Left”. This term describes dissimilar radical groups that, while having agendas unique to their movement, harbour a common dislike for globalization. However not all activism comes from demonstrations or protests. Literature and media are also providing an opportunity for activists to voice their opinions. With advancements in communication, the voices of activists and their movements are becoming more and more pronounced. With global resources teaching people how to become increasingly active, it is harder for the people to be ig-
nored. It seems as if almost all of us have come across, or at least heard of, protesters or activists with some shred of experience: an anecdote about what happened in Seattle, or perhaps even stories about police riot methods. However, most will find in activists a passion for not just speaking out for one movement, but being strong advocates of many. What Snehal Shingavi told the Harvard Current in an interview captures this sentiment: “There is a sense that this one will be a more long-term fight. Vietnam was a one-shot thing where people just wanted to end the war. But here, globalization isn’t just any one thing. It’s a set of all kinds of problems.” Nations and their respective affairs are becoming more and more intertwined. The issues of one country, or one nation, can and will affect that of another. I hesitate to use the cliché of a “global village”, but I am quickly finding out how difficult it is to ignore the fact that we are potentially in such a state. In this sense, it is important that people are represented properly. True, while governments do profess to act in the best interests of the people, the system is not foolproof. And according to Polybius, activists must fulfill their role as the people of the metaphorical Republic.
Liberation or terrorism: Who decides?
GOVERNMENTS AND CORPORATE MEDIA IN THE WESTERN WORLD OFTEN PORTRAY ACTIVISM TODAY AS A HALF-CRAZED, selfindulgent, ill-informed, idealistic rant, that destroys the peace and hinders society’s (economic) progress. This official line is primarily presented to us in news clips that focus on the most sensational aspects of a given protest, speech, strike or uprising, instead of exploring the issues giving rise to the discontent; the why, not just the what. Such analysis would run the risk of encouraging more discontent and hindering further “progress”. In fact, the mere “stalling” to analyse would hinder “progress”, within an economic framework where time is money and money is apparently everything. Before submitting ourselves meekly to this official line the next time we are encouraged to feel “disrupted” by some form of activism, we would do well to consider a few activists that have shown the way to crucial social change in recent times. Each was condemned as a terrorist by their respective governments. However, the greater struggle was against the support (active or passive) of these governments by their constituents, successfully manipulated for too many years to accept the judgments and (often false) information of the authorities. (Please note that the following passages are written in the words of the author, drawing from their respective autobiographies and various speeches and interviews.)
I was vilified as a terrorist, H , studied and begun to work, I realised conspiring to violently that I was a prisoner in my own land. My people, the indigenous of South Africa, majority of the population, were suffering as slaves, imoverthrow an elected poverished and brutalised by an oppressive system of government. I became politically active and joined the African National Congovernment. NELSON MANDELA
AVING LEFT MY VILLAGE
gress (ANC). When the party was subsequently banned, I founded a guerrilla army with ANC colleagues to take up an armed struggle as the only remaining means of combating the violence of the oppressive government. It is the oppressor who dictates the nature of the struggle. We used bombs and other armed means and, while we tried to avoid it, many innocent people died as a result. I was vilified as a terrorist, conspiring to violently overthrow an elected government. As such, I was imprisoned for life. While I was in prison, the armed struggle continued, culminating in the weakening of the government’s position. As a result, in 1990, I was released from prison in the midst of negotiations with the minority white government. This process culminated, in 1994, with my election as President of South Africa. In the year 2001, I was awarded honorary citizenship of Canada and was further acclaimed by political leaders the world over as a shining example of tolerance and humanity. I still believe that violence is a valid form of resistance, however undesirable, if the circumstances call for it. 18
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
CEFERINO DE PAZ GONZALEZ AT THE AGE OF 10, I witnessed the brutal torture and subsequent death of my father at the hands of the Guatemalan army. This was in 1954, the year the United States attacked Guatemala in order to depose the freely-elected Socialist President of the time. For the next 6 years, I witnessed the violent oppression of my people, the indigenous of Guatemala, majority of the population, at the hands of the US-sponsored military dictatorship. The killing was to become more random and widespread as the war became an attempt at genocide on the part of the military. I had no choice but to take up arms and join the guerrilla, later becoming a commander within its forces. By 1996, after 36 years of resistance against oppression, the guerrilla signed Peace Accords with the government, subsequently realising the first free elections since the US-sponsored coup in 1954. In the year 2000, I was elected Mayor of Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, a 90% indigenous rural Guatemalan municipality, as leader of the now-legitimised political party of the
guerrilla, the Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG). Despite the similar nature and time-frame of our struggle I, unlike Nelson Mandela, am not portrayed as an international symbol for peace and racial harmony, nor have I been awarded honorary citizenship of another country. In fact, I am almost certainly still regarded by certain sectors of society as a terrorist from a terrorist organisation. This is despite the fact that the Guatemalan military is reported to be responsible for upwards of 90% of the massacres that occurred during the war, as well as ongoing assassinations, kidnappings and death threats. Further, the government against which I was fighting all these years was never elected by the people. Today, the elected federal government is the same political party responsible for the majority of atrocities during the war, illustrating how power structures
I am almost certainly still regarded by certain sectors of society as a terrorist... do not change with the mere signing of Peace Accords and holding of elections. Part of this power structure is the ongoing complicity of US and other governments (now more economic than military) with Guatemala’s central militarised government. It is business as usual for them, while for my people and I, the struggle has changed, but not ended.
... I was assassinated, and since then have been systematically discredited by the government...
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
NOT LONG AFTER MR MANDELA WAS IMPRISONED for life in South Africa, and Don Ceferino joined the armed struggle as barely a child in Guatemala, I founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) in the United States. In my eyes, the US was a worse colonial exploiter than the white minority government in South Africa, or the ladino minority government in Guatemala, because it preached itself as the cornerstone of freedom and democracy, yet was directly responsible for the situation in Guatemala, and maintained its own system of apartheid at home - whites only bars, restaurants, schools and so on. This hypocrisy led me to inspire in my people a self-belief, to cease looking to hypocritical authorities for their liberation, and to begin looking to themselves. As such, the thousands of pages of FBI files about me obtained after my death refer to the need to “prevent the rise of a ‘messiah’ who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement”. In 1965, within a year of forming the OAAU, I was assassinated, and since then have been systematically discredited by the government and its security agencies as a militant hate-monger. My direct manner of speaking made it relatively easy for me to be discredited in such a way, to those who did not understand the reasons for my opinions and vision for the future. 19
MOHANDAS GANDHI BY THE TIME MALCOLM X WAS assassinated, I had been dead for 17 years, also assassinated at the hands of a gunman. I began my struggle for the freedom of the people of India against British colonial oppression in South Africa towards the end of the 19th century. I later returned to my homeland to strive for the independence of India as a nation from the same colonial oppressor. At the time I was assassinated in 1948, the year following India’s independence, the US, Great Britain, and its allies had recently won the Second World War. The “good guys” had beaten the “bad guys”. Yet, throughout this period, the British government were responsible for the brutal oppression of my people, including massacres of innocent civilians. Meanwhile, the US government was about to inflict the same upon the indigenous Maya of Guatemala, and were maintaining their own system of apartheid at home.
I was always firmly dedicated to truth and non-violence, lest we became just as our oppressors. So I led my people towards unarmed resistance; noncooperation with authorities such that they would be ultimately forced to leave a situation they could not possibly govern. For my efforts, despite the fact I never deviated from the principal of non-violence, I was imprisoned many times, for periods of years, for conspiring to incite the people towards the violent overthrow of the British government. Today, similarly to Nelson Mandela, I am revered almost universally as a symbol of peace and tolerance. I am
I was imprisoned many times, for periods of years ... honored with monuments across the globe, from almost every city in India to Washington DC.
WHO MAKES OUR DECISIONS? IN THE CASE OF EACH OF THESE ACTIVISTS, the outright or partial liberation of their people was achieved. Ultimately, who was the villain in each case? Who gave rise to the violence? Who contributed to the context from which it was born? And who is to judge the methods of those oppressed for whom few options remain? The source of oppression is the birthplace of violence, hatred, and desperation. Today, the same questions are asked of us. How are the heroes and villains chosen for us by our governments and corporate media? Will we, at the time of its passing, be part of the complicity of mainstream society that creates in its ignorance the mandate of the powerful oppressors? Only to then, years later in retrospect, revere those we previously condemned or ignored? In both cases, following “dictated” public opinion on the basis of the information of government authorities? In a democracy, when we encounter activism, the task is not to strive to clear the streets and revert to “normal” as soon as possible. Rather, it is to look for the “why” of the action being taken. What message has the next liberation hero we will potentially revere in a few decades, while today she or he struggles amidst those who try to silence or misrepresent her or him? Simply trusting authority has and continues to consistently cost us as a society, socially, environmentally, and economically. Our democracy, freedom, and, ultimately, humanity, depends upon the question why. Ask it, encourage others to ask it, and then ask it some more. __________________________________________________________________________ Anthony James is a freelance writer specialising in issues of economic, social and environmental justice relating to globalisation and international development. The author may be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org ___________________________________________________________________________ 20
Fray Bartolome Library Appeal -- support the building of a library and other projects in Guatemala A Montreal-based non-governmental organization, Alternatives, is operating as a fund administrator for these projects. It can issue tax receipts for donations from the Canadian public. The fund will be used to establish a library, as well as developing popular education workshops, and the creation of a media centre with youth. For more information about the project, contact Anthony James at email@example.com. To make a donation, contact Alternatives 3720 Parc Ave #300 Monteral, Quebec Canada H2X 2J1 www.alternatives.ca Donations should be directed to the Fray Bartolome Library Appeal.
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
GET A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YOU MIGHT BE SEEING IN YAN’S UPCOMING YOUTH ACTION MANUAL...
FROM THE YOUTH ACTION MANUAL: Taking Group Action!! So...you’re tired of trying to fit into the school clubs and teams that don’t interest you a heck of a lot. So...why not kick-start your own group and take some action on issues that are important to YOU? Here are some helpful hints on getting started: 1. Organize a school or community meeting to get other people interested and involved. Pick a place: it could be your house, at school, a public library, or a community centre. Make sure it is wheelchair accessible, in a welllit area, close to public transit (if you have public transit in your area). 2. Set a time when most people can probably come e.g. after school, after work, lunchtime or a weekend. 3. Get the word out! Send a notice over email lists and to your friends, put up posters, make an announcement over the P.A., phone up people.
You will probably act as facilitator for this first meeting. That doesn’t mean you’ll be ordering people around, but you will be making sure that everyone sticks to the agenda & doesn’t go off topic, and that you stick to a time limit. You should also make sure that people in dominant roles -e.g. white males - don’t dominate the whole discussion, so that people in marginalized positions -e.g. women of colour feel safe and are able to speak.
4. Set an agenda. Make a list of items you need to discuss and take action on. If possible, make copies of the agenda and/or post it up somewhere in the meeting room. It might look something like this: AGENDA 1. check in: Welcome everyone and let them know what you have planned for the evening. Pass around a sign-in sheet to get names, phone numbers & emails. If people don’t know each other, go around the room and ask people to introduce themselves & why they’re here. If they know each other already, this can be a time to share what ideas they have to bring to the meeting & what they want to discuss. Ask someone to be a ‘minutetaker’ and make notes about everything being said. 2. Set some group rules that everyone should try to follow. Examples: Do not interrupt people when speaking; Make sure people from marginalized backgrounds have time to speak. 3. Brainstorm some ideas for a project the group could take on. Some examples: video, film screening, guest speaker, food drive, etc. It’s good to have a project so that you have a clear goal to work towards. 4. Make an action plan! Make a list of everything that needs to get done, and when it has to be done by. Have different people responsible for different tasks. Decide what you want to have done for the next meeting. 5. Set a time & place for your next meeting. 6. Check out: Go around the room again & ask people if they had anything else to say, any questions or comments. Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Youth Action Network is revitalizing its resource centre by putting together a youth action manual and website with EVERYTHING youth need to start up their own projects, events and activities, from facilitation skills and fundraising to antioppression and popular education. YAN is committed to ensuring that the resource has an antioppression focus so that it is accessible and relevant to: youth of colour, First Nations youth, young women, queer youth, immigrant/refugee youth, youth with ESL/FSL, youth with disabilities, low-income youth, young parents/single parents, youth from marginalized faiths and rural youth. If you have resources you want to include in the manual, or for more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 1-800-718-LINK, or mail to: Youth Action Network, 176 John St. Suite 307, Toronto ON M5T 1X5. 21
WWhy protest? So you went to this big protest...why? Brian Sharpe
Why do we go to protests?
SO YOU WENT TO THIS BIG PROTEST; MAYBE YOU ’VE GONE TO A FEW OF THEM. Maybe you helped to organize one in your area. Maybe you were really excited about it, and met a lot of people who thought the same way you did, or felt like you were using your voice to change something. Maybe it was a frightening experience; the cops may have been very violent, or maybe some of the protestors were a bit too militant for you. Maybe you felt really empowered and wanted to do it again. Maybe you felt excluded or that you didn’t belong. Maybe it was boring, physically draining, you didn’t see the point, or felt like it didn’t make a difference. Or maybe you only saw it on TV and wanted to know more. Recently, there have been a number of large-scale demonstrations, including an anti-WTO protest in Seattle, the FTAA in Quebec, and the G8 in Genoa, Italy. The media attention and hype these campaigns created sparked great interest among many who may not have thought of themselves as activists before, but now wanted to act and could see the effects of capitalism and globalization and wanted to participate. But it’s important to remember that protest and resistance is not just a recent North American phenomenon but has and continues to exist for centuries by people all over the world. If you’ve been thinking and talking about these protests similar to those thoughts above take a look these and talk to your friends about it. If you have ideas or opinions, please write back to us. What is the purpose of the porations enough anxiety to increase ing once a year or the G8 leaders get todemonstration? their caution regarding their operations? gether, much of what they are working Many of these larger demonstra- What networks and groups were built? on has already been decided. These astions have a number of goals, the most In most cases, demonstrations semblies are held mostly for symbolic common of which include: bring about some good. Some better purposes (photo shoots, handshaking, ·The prevention of big business/gov- questions may be: Were the costs worth expensive food) and some final agreeernment leaders from meeting the gains? Did we expand the movement ments and persuasion. Preventing the ·Exposure in the media to raise aware- for social and environmental change, and WTO from meeting once, while it may ness get new people involved? Ask yourself cause some delays, does not mean that When evaluating a demonstration, these questions when you are or you health care or education will not be prithe public often judges its success (or hear people discussing demonstrations. vatized. It is important that we take this failure) based on the above criteria, but time to challenge their right to make these determining whether a demonstration is decisions against our will. Results come Summits are symbolic. a success or not is not a yes or no anmuch farther down the road, with a lot swer, there is much, much more! When the WTO has its large meet- more work. Direct actions taken to actuHow many people attended the ally stop the summit from happening demonstration? Were there new particican have varying levels of being sympants? How much organization and rebolic, but often aim to stop the probsources were involved? Were there lems much more directly (hence the good opportunities for activists to meet name). with one another, to share ideas and exchange contacts? Did the demonstraA part of herstory tion drain resources from the community of organizers or did it bring people Think of yourself on the day of together and teach them new skills? Did the demonstration and what you acthe demonstration cause the big corcomplished. How did your life change 22
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
in the weeks leading up to the big event, and the weeks following? What was your part in the social movement for the past year? For the past decade? Century? 500 years? Don’t let this be overwhelming, but think about how you are only one person and that you play only a really small part in all this history. Think about the people who fought bitterly to get a minimum wage, an end to slavery, or to liberate their land. The world is full of people struggling together for a just existence. Then think about how important it is that you are involved in these struggles, and how every action you take will inspire others to do the same and collectively move forward. Looking at a protest as a small part of history can give you a good perspective on it. Organization as a form of outreach. Leading up to the protest there is a lot of work that gets done in preparation. A big part of this is the outreach, and in some ways this is one of the biggest gains of protesting these large events. Teaching people about the ill effects of the FTAA or how the G8’s aide program for Africa is all about control by corporations, happens for months leading up to a big demo. This is where the organizers do all their real work. It is also where activists have a chance to teach each other and get more involved with local community activists. Leading up to the Quebec protests, many groups developed in small towns throughout eastern Canada. Doing outreach to these areas not only got people to organize and come to the demo but they learned skills and began organizing in their own areas. Remember who you are and where you stand. With so much attention focused on these large-scale demonstrations, it has become increasingly clear that many of the activists involved tend to belong to the white middle class. A number of men often end up dominating leadership positions. While the reasons people protest are often for issues such as standing in solidarity with indigenous people in Latin America or fighting against the use of Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
sweatshops in third world countries, the ability to move across continents to these large protests is overwhelmingly a privilege that must be addressed. Every activist, especially if you’re white, should spend time thinking about how privilege plays out in the protests we go to. Who’s issues get addressed? Who gets the credit? Who feels comfortable attending and being in control? A good place to start is an amazing resource done by young people called Colours of Resistance, at www.tao.ca/~colours. What do you do before going to the protest? What do you do after? Going to a big demonstration is a great opportunity for you to learn skills and meet new people. There are many amazing activists who come together to share ideas and skills. Make use of these experiences and learn all that you can. Getting involved in the organizing is a great way to learn and practice. Being involved in activism means working on issues and campaigns on a long-term basis. Our world needs a lot of work to fix it up, not just the week of the summit protest. When you are planning to go to a big demonstration, think about what work you can be involved in your own neighborhood. What will you do afterwards? Are you part of a group that educates people about sexuality? Or do you try and protect the environment in your area? Coming to the demonstration is a good place to find others with similar ideas and make contacts. If you weren’t involved in any activism before you went to the demonstration think about how you would like to continue working to make this a ‘better world’. You can get in touch with groups like the Youth Action Network and we can help you get connected with other organizations with similar interests to yours. Or maybe we can help you start up your own group. Give us a call if you’re itching to get active. For more thoughts and discussion on protesting at these big summits check out the website www.tao.ca/~ridefree/ summithop .
continued from page 11 gagement and youth participation in civil society and within the state, operating with an anti-oppressive framework. YAN takes on various projects throughout the year including International Youth Week, Ruckus!, an anti-racist action conference for high-school aged students of colour, the ECHO conference of environmental forum and provides financial and organizational support for individual project that activists from across Canada present. For more information, check out www.youthactionnetwork.org. There is also the World Youth Centre, a concept that is a cultural legacy of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid. It will be a place by youth for youth and will tackle such problems as poverty, racism, violence and inequality - problems that have evaded solution. WYC is intended to gather and apply the knowledge and experience, of a diverse group of young people, to common global concerns in order to effect significant positive change through innovative and original community projects. With so many youth initiated programs and great ideas, it is no surprise that non-traditional organizations are exploding with interest. Activism has evolved greatly, often due to changing demands on society and growing maturity among youths. It can be said without a doubt, that youth of today are more informed and eager to make a difference in the world. They are ambitious, with high hopes for a better place tomorrow. Society is learning more about the different roles that are available to volunteer, and now know that their skills and interests can be applied to improve conditions faced by humanity. New technologies have been introduced to the world, and humans have now come to a point when they understand how it can be used for good. With the growing trend in activism through increased participants devoting more hours to a passionate cause, the dream of making a world a better place becomes closer to reality.
Protesting: Does it
PROTESTING HAS BECOME A FORM OF MODERN ART IN WESTERN society. Privileged young people seem to take it upon themselves to become martyrs for the developing world and the downtrodden everywhere. Though the intentions of said concerned citizens are most noble, I am forced to question the rationality of their modus operandi. Reasonably, how can putting oneself in the centre of a torrent of rubber ammunition and riot police have any real bearing on decisions made inside a hall two security perimeters and multiple brick walls away? I disagree with the increase in rashness with which police have approached “peaceful” protests, though when I see or read about protesters clashing with riot police, then complaining about their supposed ‘mistreatment’, it is not only a stunning display of hypocrisy, but, to put it flatly, is plain irritating. Assuming there is reason enough for protest, then is putting oneself in danger marching in a crowd really going to accomplish anything significant? One’s political views are often best expressed in ways that cannot even possibly be perceived as confrontational. Think of how much more persuasive these concerned people would be if they flooded newspapers with letters to the editor and made concerted efforts to win the populace over with reason and rationality. I laud their commitment to their beliefs and the courage they display when you take a stand for what they believe to be just and right, but I have to question the feasibility of ever getting the majority of voters on the protesters’ side, and even if they were to do so, what possibly could come from such a shift? Say every Canadian, that’s 100%, thought exactly as these protesters did, and a government with those same beliefs came to power, winning all 301 seats in the house of commons (I refuse to call this party the NDP, as it is hardly a leap of reasoning that that confused entity will never form the Canadian government) . Logically, can we really think it possible that such a government would have the wherewithal to end corporate injustices in the developing world? What would we do? Banish Nike shoes from our midst? Eat only Canadian wheat? Buy only cars COMPLETELY assembled in
Canada with completely Canadian parts? Such a situation would not only bankrupt the country, but would make some goods so hard to come by, that some Canadians would be left without the means to own a car, buy food, or wear shoes. Like it or not, we are all selfishly benefiting from globalization and the exploitation-cum-rape of the developing world. It’s all well and good to criticize major multi-national corporations for their selfish greed, but really, is making a fool of oneself while the world is watching really going to win over a majority of Canadians? Will the average citizen, working his job in a factory somewhere, really be swayed by brash displays of ethical bravado? Will companies who exploit cheap labour suddenly find themselves on the brink of bankruptcy? I highly doubt it. Speaking about cheap labour, what would be the result if those millions of jobs in the third world were terminated in a sudden corporate move to the morally sound? The millions of people making pennies a day would be making nothing, and the consumers buying their products would be stuck with massive price inflation and a rapid decrease in real buying power of just about every world currency. Is this what protesters march for? Do they put themselves at risk to try to defeat an ‘evil’ system that provides work, any work, to some of the world’s poorest people? I congratulate these individuals for their courage and morality, but I have to question their beliefs. I consider myself to be liberal-mined enough to philosophically oppose the actions of the G8, but as an INFORMED liberal, I can’t help but see the fundamental differences between the altruistic ideals of a world without globalization and the real world, and to understand that the dream world for which some march will never exist in all it’s sugar-coated, candy-flavoured glory. The world in which we live is not an easy place to have values, but for those who have the determination and the strength of character to not only have a strong moral fibre but to be proud of it, perhaps it is best to take a moment to consider the fundamental redundancies of modern protest, and to remember that the pen is mightier than the sword.
... is making a fool of oneself while the world is watching really going to win over a majority of Canadians?
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
have a purpose?
FORGIVE MY IGNORANT INTRUSION INTO THE WORLD OF ANTIprotesting wisdom, but perhaps, I just haven’t seen the light. No, wait. Perhaps it is because I’m swimming in self-righteousness and ever willing to put on a show and save the world with my own two hands. Gag me. I’m not a fan of sarcasm, especially in writing, but I think this one really begs a good dose of it. Although I do agree that some of modern protest has lost its purpose to the summit-hoppers and lack of good follow-up work, I must express that to make a generalization about all modern protest, is simply ignorant. Either that, or someone is feeling a little guilty for sitting on a comfy couch while thousands of her/his peers are freezing and losing their voices on the streets fighting against the bureaucratic world that constantly presses against the liberty that everyone should possess. Shall I expand? Dare I expand? In my humble, and perhaps naïve opinion, the victory in protest is not being able to change the decisions being made behind those infamous, indifferent brick walls. It is not a failure that social movements have not been able to end corporate injustice overnight. It isn’t feasible by any means, no matter how dedicated the people are, and no matter how hard they try. The victory lies in the protest itself. They victory lies the maintaining of the movement. Perhaps making a fool of ourselves in protest won’t magically win over the minds and morals of the so-called leaders of the world, but perhaps, in protest, we’re sending an important message. Perhaps we’re telling the people and governments and the corporations that we’re not going to stand quietly by and watch them turn the world into a disgusting mesh of injustice, discrimination and private greed. And maybe, just maybe, we’re keeping the very important social movements alive while we’re alive, while we’re still here on this planet that we call our own, because that’s all
we can do. And maybe our protesting, and local activism efforts in general won’t make a difference to someone miles away who is struggling for her freedom, but perhaps local efforts will lead to a joint movement that will stimulate change and awareness all over the world. In this crazy, mixed up world in which we live, there is no doubt that social movements have changed. And I agree that sometimes these changes can lead to impressions of untidiness, pointless ranting and raving and discouraged faces. But, if there is a point in existing at all, we should give credit to all the different kinds of movements, the different kinds of action, that exist within our communities. So, protesting is not for you? Big deal! Writing petitions, attempting to flood the media, education your friends that’s all activism. But let’s not put down a type of activism just because it’s not our style. Why, that would be close-minded and discriminating, the exact sentiments against which we are trying to fight. Again, forgive my invasiveness into the world of neatly poised pens and big fluffy words. I’m just a person, wishing to acknowledge that the world we live in does not make sense, and the only way we can fight against the injustice that surrounds so many lives is to keep the existing momentum, energy alive, so that in the future, the fight won’t be so hard.
... to make a generalization about all modern protest, is simply ignorant.
Either that, or someone is feeling a little guilty for sitting on a comfy couch...
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
COUNTER POINT makes a return to FORUM. In this section, two writers take opposite sides, and try to convince our readers of their point of view on the chosen topic. Pieces can be written in a rant-style format. If you have an idea for a COUNTER POINT topic, and would like to submit your point of view, contact us. We also welcome your responses to either or both of the viewpoints featured in this issue.
l a n o i t a n r e t n I
Youth Week 2002 Youth are not the leaders of the future! We’re leading the struggle for a just and sustainable planet today! Across the globe, young people are busting out and making a difference. We’re not sitting around waiting for a future moment when we will be allowed or able to change the world. We know what we want, we’ve got the power, and we’re moving forward with positive ideas and action to make our visions come true! OK…sounds exciting, but gimme the details… •
International Youth Week happens every year in May. This year was the 6 th-12th. Youth Action Network initiated the project 9 years ago and it went international in 2000. It’s grassroots and diverse. Everyone interprets and organizes the week differently in their own areas. YAN only coordinates and publicizes the events. You do the organizing! Many towns or countries have their own youth week committees.
That’s what International Youth Week is all about. In many ways it’s a celebration of all the amazing work youth are doing for our communities and environment. Youth week events always include fun parties and activities such as concerts, skateparks, movie nights, and potlachs. But there’s so much more… It’s also a week where we get the attention of the world to show them what we can do. Collective actions are often taken at this time to raise our voice on a common issue. The weeks profile makes it a perfect time to hold a public debate, or to perform and show off your talents and ideas. Youth week is also the time to network and plan things together. Many events during youth week this year were conferences aimed at bringing youth together to discuss issues and decide on a plan of action together. YAN organizes youth week so that people can see the different groups out there and get involved with them. Most importantly youth week is meant to inspire youth to take action! Not just during the week but throughout the whole year. Many people find youth week an excellent time to launch their projects and campaigns. Youth week is just the beginning!
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
La semai n e internati onale
de jeunesse 2002
Les jeunes ne sont pas les dirigeants de l’avenir!
Nous menons une lutte pour une planète juste et durable aujourd’hui! Aux quatre coins du monde, les jeunes se font la malle et font une différence. Nous n’attendons pas le moment dans l’avenir quand on sera permis ou capable de changer le monde. Nous savons ce que nous voulons, nous avons le pouvoir, et on avance avec des idées et actions positives pour réaliser nos visions! Ça c’est le but de la semaine internationale de jeunesse. Dans beaucoup de façons c’est une célébration de tout le travail excellent accompli par les jeunes pour nos communautés et notre environnement. Les événements de la semaine de jeunesse incluent toujours les activités amusantes telles que les concerts, les parcs du patinage, une nuit au cinéma, et les fêtes où l’on échange des cadeaux. Il y en a plus... C’est aussi une semaine où nous attirons l’attention mondiale pour les montrer ce que nous pouvons faire. À ce point, nous avons des actions collectives pour présenter nos avis basés sur une question commune. Le profil hebdomadaire est une occasion parfaite pour tenir un débat public, ou exécuter vos talents et idées. La semaine de jeunesse est aussi le temps de connecter avec eux et planifier ensemble. La plupart des événements pendant la semaine cette année étaient les conférences visées pour rassembler les jeunes à discuter les questions et décider d’un plan d’action ensemble. Le RAJ organise la semaine de jeunesse afin que les personnes puissent voir les groupes différents et participer. La chose la plus importante, c’est d’inspirer le jeunes d’agir non seulement pendant la semaine mais pendant l’année. La majorité des personnes croient que la semaine de jeunesse est une occasion excellente de mettre en action leurs projets et campagnes. Ce n’est que le début! Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
D’accord, c’est passionnant, mais donne-moi les détails... •
La semaine internationale de jeunesse est annuelle et a lieu au mois de mai. Elle s’est passée le 6 à 12 mai dernier. Ça fait une dizaine d’années que le RAJ a inauguré le projet. Il est devenu un événement international en 2000. C’est la base et divers. Chacun et chacune interprète et organise la semaine dans une façon différente, n’importe leur région. Le RAJ ne coordonne et ne rend public que les événements. Beaucoup des villes ou pays ont leurs propres comités basés sur la semaine de jeunesse.
Youth week inspires youth to take action throughout the whole year! This year many youth organizations and groups used the energy of the week to launch some of their new projects! Check out these groups to get involved in some of their ongoing initiatives.
Think, Act, Get Connected! Youth taking charge of the Media. Mediawatchyouth.ca and Catchthaflava.com used Catch da Flava’s Regent Park Focus community centre in Toronto to host a hot, hi-tech media event. For and by youth in the community! So what happened? The event started off with some food and entertainment and soon got into the launch of two new websites with the help of takingitgobal.com for technical support.
opened up with a projection of their site. It featured reports and discussion about the media, especially about how young women are represented in the media. While the launch was happening, youth were encouraged to participate from across the country in the online discussion forums, which by the way, they are still up and running so get connected!
Catchdaflava.com followed up with a website launch of their local newspaper which has just gone online. The paper is done entirely by youth from the regent park area in downtown Toronto and has many insightful articles and opinion columns. Check it out to see what’s up downtown in this part of the country. The event finished off with a live to air broadcast in a brand new radio studio built for catch da flava’s radio show on CKLN. A panel of five speakers from the youth organizations Catch Da Flava, MediaWatch youth, Youth Action Network, Venus zine, and the Afghanis Women’s Association spoke to a crowded house about youth making their own media and how the mainstream media represents us.
www.mediawatchyouth.ca www.catchdaflava.com Catch the Flava Radio, on CKLN
k r o w t e N m edo During Youth Week, anti-racist youth groups e r F o t l l a C
forming a coalition called Call to Freedom came together at the Youth Week Party to launch the network.... The Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR), Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), Ontario Young People’s Alliance (OYPA), Chinese Canadian National Council (CCNC) and Youth Action Network (YAN) share a common mandate and have come together to promote anti racism so that interested youth, youth groups and organizations can be provided with a voice and space to create effective change.
For more information, contact: UARR (416) 703-6607 OYPA (416) 703-5488 CASSA (416) 979-8611 YAN (416) 368-2277 CCNC (416) 596-0833
Youth Action Day a success! Helen Choi Student Council Executive, Central Technical School I am a recent graduate of Central Technical School and I must say it is the greatest high school in the world! The school is not like any other schools that I have been to. Having been an at-risk-youth all my life I have been fortunate enough to have been able to connect with so many wonderful teachers, caring principals and organizations. This year, I got the opportunity of a life time to speak on the radio for the Ontario Public Interest Research Group on behalf of Central Tech on the current state of education. Through this I met an organizer for International Youth Week. He helped and greatly inspired me to start a youth rally at my school. I love Central Tech and it saddened me to see that the lack of funding and resources were damaging the quality of our education. Not to mention the escalating issues of graffiti vandalism, cut-backs, and at-risk youths. I have been there, I have seen it and lived through it and it sucks! Through the support and encouragement in one week I became the project coordinator a huge media youth rally involving 12 different organization such as; Toronto Youth Cabinet, Verve magazine, Yonge Street Mission, Youth Action Network, and ….CITY TV! It was a success beyond my hopes. I was able to speak out to the youths at my school and speak passionately about issues of ageism, discrimination against class and raising awareness of at-
th u o y k wee ots psh a n s
risk youths and connecting them with these organizations who are able to help them out if they are not happy at home or at school. I was surprised to find out that the day before the event that there was going to be an 80% chance of a thunder storm. But, our strong determination and will power did not let us lose hope because on the day of the event it was bright with great filled with sunshine. I was thrilled to see that I was given the chance of a life time to broadcast the event LIVE as the feature journalist of the day for CITY PULSE at noon. Not to mention having been able to write this and share it all with you here at forum. I hope that my message of hope, determination and most importantly youth-empowerment will be able to inspire you to do what I have done at my school. Good luck in your future endeavours and International Youth Week was a blast! Way to Go! Oh wait-there’s more, the event was so successful that it managed to inspire and create a chain reaction effect. How? Well, the week after the event the students and teachers at our school, even before the month of exams. We created a positivegraffiti-art campaign, made a music CD and held a media launch, a teacher’s rock festival, various anti-racism workshops, a triathlon challenge, a prom at SKYDOME and many, many more! I know this sounds pretty amazing but miracles do exist and through international youth week Central Technical School probably will capture you in awe. I know I am.
Resources to the Rescue... Culturelink’s program which deals with newcomer youth released a number of newly created resources which included a Cross Cultural Conflict management Manual, How to Form an Anti-Violence Youth Group - Handbook, and A Newcomers Story - a book created by Newcomer Youth. The launch party was a great success and the Cross Cultural conflict management has been turned into a train the trainer course which Culturelink is offering to local youth. For more info Contact: Claire Naranjo, CultureLink NYC Youth Worker, 416-588-6288, email@example.com
Youth Assisting Youth... Serve Canada
Healthy Lifestyles Fair
In Midland, Ontario, the YAY youth group decided to have an opening launch of their new column in the local newspaper. Having the launch happen during Youth Week provided that extra hook for the media to pick it up and make it into a bigger story. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Ontario Young Peoples Alliance
Keeping it R.E.A.L. Launch
Youth Week is a week for Simultaneous Action... Around the world young people choose youth week to initiate actions to get attention for issues they work on.
istan...ed a project to provideuvebansiilec k a P , e r o h a L In ject as “J FHR start ed this pro called YA rding
roup “acco and term a youth g wrote that prisoners ost 900P)”. They to juvenile E lm P n a (J r tio a m e ca y u ra d g ry e ro e P v e n n tio ajority ta Educa try. The m of Pakis Prisoners f the coun n survey o were o s ils o ri h ja p w e r a th mothers ing up in to last ye g ir n e ri th b er of h b re it a m w ren to jails th a t a n u 1000 child ren came m e s . R e m e m b e r rs are e ild st h g c n u e s ny yo of the o u s c ri these ma this ratio d fo r v a ri ils. Despite ey done, normally s e n te n c e ja e th in th a day in e s d rn e n o e b im n sp cr r childre ecided to the mino d r fo IR al Youth n n H F tio so A a ri Y also in p ith Intern e total.” w th f ce o n ational a % re rd 0 c 2 n in acco some re re d is 15% to a ild h ch d om. n se a the em hotmail.c prison with ate lunch with th n, yafhr@ tio a y rm e fo h in Week. T For more for them. activities
From Accra, Ghana.... From: members, staff and board of direc tors of Youth Action Network Club of Ghana To: members, staff and board of direc tors of Youth Action Network: Dear friends, We have the greated pleasure to write to you this letter. We are all doing well here and we hope you are doing well as we are. We were very grateful in celebrating Youth Week 2002 here in Ghana, every thing went on well. We undertake this programmes: Clean-up activity, talk show, HIV and AIDS is Real awareness show for junior secondary school students, a socc er match between two youth clubs, public speech on youth week celebration. We invited 25 youth club organisations to take part in the activities.
young pe worksho o p le c a m e to g e th e r ps du peace a , musical fun, and a la ri n g th e w e e nd disa rmamen k fo r rge dem t. onstrati on for
k-w youth collective may day action Having lived and attended demos for the most part in Toronto, my first demo in Kitchener was a very deferent experience. There were reports from the KW Youth Collective that police in KW regularly used intimidation and targeted violence. For this particular demo, the police had tried to intimidate the May Day conference organisers into not holding the meeting, as well as articulating that they “have permission to use live ammunition”. During the day the conference location (an autonomous youth space called The Spot), was watched by police. Later when the demonstration began at city hall, the police made their presence known but did not indicate that the demo would be threatened. We ate generously and danced to music, occupying the public space as rightfully ours. After some speeches, the march left city hall and winded around downtown Kitchener, taking up at least one lane of traffic, but mostly two the whole way. Music was playing during the march and we stopped at various “Urban Evolution” spots along the way(areas the city was in the process of gentrifying). The cops merely blocked traffic for us and watched the march. When it got close to 11pm, the police threatened that the march would have to stop. The crowd marched on and only minutes later as we turned a corner, one and possibly two people were jumped and arrested by a group of enforcers that included local private security
(bouncers who were over a block away from their club) and KW police. People were beaten with police billy clubs and the fists of both groups of enforcers. When asked what they were doing here, the private security responded “helping the cops”. The police were asked if the private security were working with them and they responded no at first, but when presented with the bouncer’s reply of “helping the cops” one of the cops commented that it was a good thing the bouncers were assisting. Another demonstrator, completely unprovoked, was assaulted by a bouncer (shoved in the shoulders with a fairly high amount of force). Police saw the assault as they were standing 2 feet away, yet denied it taking place by forcing people to leave and return to the sidewalk and stating “no body was hit here.” When pressed further the cops said “well, he was getting in the guy’s face”. The cops involved in this altercation were badges 886 and 375. The march was forced off the streets and the crowd regrouped at city hall deciding what to do. There were a few angry people who wanted to take the streets again, risking arrest, but most people either dispersed or went back to The Spot to calm down and be in a safer space. As we left city hall, one of the lead organisers, Julian was rounded up and arrested. At The Spot, there were fears that the space would be searched and that more people would be taken. Some talked about the possibility of jail solidarity. The group I was with needed to be back in Guelph that night, and with many tired and one sick member, we left after making sure that there was nothing else we could do. The night was the kick-off for a year-long campaign to oppose Urban Evolution and push for Urban Revolution.
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
Youth Networking and Sharing Ideas.... Throughout the year many of us are putting a lot of effort into the causes we care about, and sometimes it seems like we need some inspiration, need to learn more about the issue or project and how to work on it, or we just want to meet more people and have others help us out. Often during youth week, many youth come together and put on conferences and networking events to share their skills and knowledge. Here’s a list of a few events that took place this past youth week.
Grassy Narrows Environmental Youth Gathering... First Nations youth came together in northern Ontario for a gathering to learn about pollution in their area and it’s effect on the health of the people and the local environment. Environmental damage and pollution has overwhelmingly affected first nations communities throughout Canada but this has been given little attention in the past. It is important for youth to see this as a priority for action. Grassy Narrows people have been especially hit hard with diseases caused by the industrial mercury poisoning of the land. The gathering lasted three days followed by a two-day pow wow and big feast to honour ‘mothers earths day’. This was followed up by ‘Emily’s Walk of Hope’ which was a long walk to raise awareness about serious health issues in her community caused by pollution. For more information on this event contact Judy Da Silva at email@example.com or 1 807 925-9914.
Rainbow Youth Conference.... Queer youth in the Guelph, Ontario region put on a weekend conference this year during Youth Week. The gathering took place in a scenic camp half an hour away in the countryside where participants came together to ... “LEARN about social, environmental, and queer issues through workshops and social activities. SHARE experiences, knowledge, fears, successes and plans for the future. CREATE an accessible and safe environment that is free of judgment and encourages sharing and respect. BUILD a network of queer youth to promote solidarity and achieve common goals.” Workshops over the weekend included Doing anti-homophobia work form an anti-racist perspective, Reusable menstrual pad making, Discussion on high school experiences, and Health and Activism. The weekend also included lots of fun activities such as theatre, dancing, and yoga. For more info on how firstname.lastname@example.org
Stop the War! Anti-War conference in Montreal... While not explicitly for youth, the Anti-War conference hosted by students at Concordia University in Montreal was a very exciting event to attend for many during Youth Week. This was a great example of youth who know that they can have a large impact on the world and are organizing themselves to do it. After the events of Sept 11th and escalating war by the US in Afghanistan and local region, the students at Concordia University voted to use their funds to put on this large conference and invited people to speak on “*Imperialism, Globalization, and the Military Industrial Complex; *The War at Home: Attacks on Indigenous Nations; Anti-Immigration Measures; the Loss of Civil Liberties; and the Attacks against People of Colour, Arabs, and Muslims; *Gender and Militarism *and Organizing Against the War” The 4 day conference was packed with speakers and workshops and also included scheduled times for people to have their own networking meetings and share information on how they are struggling to stop the war. For more information email@example.com
ECHO bounces back once again.... This year the youths at ECHO put on another wicked camp for young people across Ontario wanting to learn more about the environment and how to organize to protect it. During the camp, participants get anti-oppression training, learn how to live lightly, cook themselves vegan meals, .... The pictures can speak for themselves ...
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
It wouldn’t be Youth Week without a Party! ...and of course it’s a time to congratulate ourselves during the week for all the hard work we’ve been doing over the past year on a daily basis. Many youth week organizers choose to have their event be a celebration and a good time for all. This year many of the project launches were parties in themselves with good food, music, and entertainment. Battle of the bands, street hockey tournaments, and skateboarding competitions, graffiti exhibitions are all part of the week.... Check out some of these pictures.
Youth Week Is Spreading!!!! In these pages we’ve focused mostly on activities and projects organized by grassroots groups. But there is so much more happening. Many communities see a real value in organizing youth week activities and have come together to coordinate youth weeks for their area. Here’s a listing of some of the Youth Week organizing committees and their contact info. Many of these coordinators help organize over 50 events during the week. Youth Week in Australia British Columbia Youth Week Abbotsford Youth Week Burnaby Youth Week Calgary Youth Week Markham Youth Week Mississauga Youth Week Vancouver Youth Week Victoria Youth Week
www.youthweek.com www.bcyouthweek.com www.abbyyouth.com www.geocities.com/burnabyyouthweek www.childfriendly.ab.ca/youthweek www.city.markham.on.ca/markhamyouth www.city.mississauga.on.ca/youthweek www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/parks/youthweek www.youth.city.victoria.bc.ca
It’s never too early to start start. To become a regional coordinator of Youth Week contact us: 176 John Street, Suite 307, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA M5T 1X5 tel/tél: (416) 368-2277 / 1-800-718-LINK (in Canada) fax/télécopieur: (416) 368-8354 firstname.lastname@example.org
... and stay tuned to youthweek.org 32
Successful events were also held in these areas: Phillipines Youth Week Cambridge Youth Week Hamilton Youth Week Sarnia-Lambton Youth Week Peru Youth Week Accra, Ghana Youth Week
s to I n t e all thes rnat e i o n a sites c a l Yo u t h n be fou Wee n k w d on th ebs ite: e
ww w.y out hw eek .org
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
AN ATTEMPT TO CLEAN UP OUR
the city’s planning and transportation committee has proposed an anti-postering bylaw to the city council. They have tried this before but have been unsuccessful due to a violation in The Charter of Rights & Freedoms. If implemented, the bylaw would forbid postering on 98% of the city’s 160,000 poles. Some stipulations of the by-law include: 1.Identical posters must be at least 100 meters apart
The bylaw would make advertising and communication virtually impossible to everyone who can’t afford billboards.
roots organizations, and everyday people for advertising concerts, community events, garage sales, and babysitting services. Public space belongs to the people, not the government. Take a hypothetical situation: suppose an indie band is having a concert. They post 500 posters all over the city, using only wheat paste (proven to be environmentally-friendly) while posting on public space only. Without the bylaw, they would have no problem posting any number of posters, of any size and con-
Anti-postering bylaw embezzles free speech Emily Gordon
2. Only clear tape or staplesno glue or wheat paste- may be used as adhesives. 3. Only posters in special plastic collars installed on 2,000 of the poles will be allowed, each collar holding eight posters. 4. Posters can be no larger than a letter-sized sheet of paper, and must bear the date posted. 5. Owners must also display their name and phone number on every poster and are responsible for removing posters after a maximum of 30 days. Refusal to do so could result in fines of a minimum of $60 (no maximum) per poster. If approved, the bylaw would not take effect until next year: the city does not have the required $120,000 in this year’s budget to fund the enforcement of the bylaw. Is the government interfering with free speech? Postering is used as an inexpensive means of communication by musicians, artists, grass-
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
tent, anywhere they choose. If the new bylaw is approved, the band would be legally responsible for finding free space in a plastic “collar” somewhere in the city, which would be virtually impossible due to the high demand for space. They would have to clearly display their names and phone numbers on every poster, allowing any crazed fan, person who hates the band or freak on the street access to their private information. They could no longer use their wheat paste. Instead, the band would have to use clear tape or staples (staples being dangerous, tape being ineffective, and both having the potential to litter the streets) for their posters. Who’s ever heard of taping or stapling to plastic anyway? This only increases the probability that at least a few of the posters will fall down, making a mess and defeating the purpose of the bylaw in the first place. What if they forget to take the
video-billboards around the highway that blind drivers with their lights? Those are the only “posters” that the city should be concerned about. Is it right to limit advertising to commercial companies that can afford billboards? Do we want to see mile-high Gap billboards all over our downtown core, instead of ads for community events? The bylaw would allow only these companies to influence us through advertising. Do we want to allow the media to turn our city into a brand-name clad, materialistic society? On April 16, 2002, a group of activists gathered at city hall to protest the bylaw. Among the supporters were Billy Bratt, a British folk musician who wore an “I Love Posters” sign, and Avi Lewis, former host of CBC’s Counterspin. The Toronto Public Space Committee—the group who organized the postering bylaw campaign—has already been endorsed by several organizations: Artists Against Racism, The Green Party of Ontario, Rocket Riders Transit Unit Group, Three Gut Records, The Toronto Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and many others. It’s rare for such a wide spectrum of organizations to openly support such a specific cause. One would be led to believe that this issue appears so insignificant: it’s only posters, who cares, right? But posters are much more then pieces of paper stuck to a pole. They are messages, as illustrated by the list of endorsers. These messages are used by people of all races, religions, and walks of life, and they all have something to say. It seems as if the decision as to whether the open use of posters should be quite obvious. However, it’s not so simple for our city’s government. The messages of these people are much more important than any trash. By attempting to pass this bylaw, the city is saying that our messages are no more important than the garbage that litters our streets, and they’ve even said as much. They may see our messages as trash, but they must be noticing the coming-together of all these organizations. This new kind of activism is rare. On May 23, 2002, it was announced that, in an 18 to 16 vote, Councillors voted in favour of having a public forum to discuss how the bylaw will affect these organizations. Maybe then we can convince them that our posters have some value and are part of what binds our city together as a whole.
Is it right to limit advertising to commercial companies that can afford billboards? posters down? Suppose they put dates more than 30 days in the future on the posters, so they can save time and posters, with the intention of keeping them up to advertise future shows? With a minimum fine of $60 per poster, the band could face a total fine of at least $30,000, an absolutely ridiculous expense. The city has made an obvious impact on our independent sector. The bylaw would make advertising and communication virtually impossible to everyone who can’t afford billboards. If they are trying to make a seemingly pristine city by attempting to reduce litter, they will definitely fail: it’s not the amount of litter that defines a city, it’s the people. Real cities are anything but pristine... they’re dirty and smelly with posters several layers thick plastering every pole in sight. And that’s the way it should be. I could never imagine Toronto any other way. Posters add character and are a sign of a healthy democracy. They show we have a community deeper than our curb appeal. If tourists come to our city, do you think posters would really bother them as much as our stuffy, polluted air? If the city wants to help our environment, they should start with the pollution situation. Or, perhaps they should concentrate on helping the homeless sleeping on the streets. What about the
Emily Gordon is 15 and is a student at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto.
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
The tongue and then
One girl’s journey toward learning the English language
IT SEEMS LIKE YESTERDAY WHEN I STOOD SHIVERING OUTSIDE the Pearson’s Airport, clutching a Barbie trunk full of all my belongings in one hand and a Korean-English dictionary in the other. I arrived to this city called Toronto, full of hopes and anxiety and along with them, a frozen tongue and stuffed ears. I still remember feeling a deep unavoidable anguish as well as some “English-o-phobia” which caused me to refrain from picking up the phone when it rang. When I saw people in the hallway and when they approached me to talk, even to say hello, my tongue felt glued to the top of my mouth, partially paralyzed by my lack of skill in speaking English language. I was hesitant to speak to people in English, and when I did manage to utter some syllables from my uncompromising mouth, it was not out of my own will but out of absolute need. The first few months after my arrival were the times I lived like Robinson Crusoe, stranded on an island, surrounded by human contact, yet, deaf and mute. I was afraid of making mistakes, afraid that I would make a big fool out of myself. My first class in Canada remains to be my first grand, embarrassing part in my history. The first class, the first of everything for the Sixth graders, was an introductory step for everyone. All students in the class were partnered up and were told to speak to one another about the summer and themselves. After a given amount of time, we were told to present our partners to the class. This was supposed to be the most basic task our teacher could possibly have assigned, but it was the hardest thing for me. My partner, poor soul, was a good-looking and a very patient boy named Brad. He talked at great length about his learning yachting during the summer break. I managed only to get the word “yacht” out of his great discourse. While he was enthusiastically talking about his summer, I did the best I could to be an active listener - a constant chorus of “yes” and a vigorous bobbing of my head like crazy (he would have thought I was either having a seizure or doing an intensive neck exercise). When it became my turn to speak to the class about this person, I could only remember the words “Brad” and “yacht”. I said, “This boy’s name is good. He is bread. Like what we eat. He likes yacht.” The poor boy buried his reddening face Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
with his arms on the desk while everyone got a good laugh out of my introduction. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the moment when people laughed “at” me (maybe I was laughing along “with” them). Call me a disillusioned optimist if you must, but I liked the fact that people laughed because I felt that I did a good job of “entertaining” them (without intending to do so). In fact, my first embarrassing moment was the spark for me to make more mistakes and eventually learn to speak English fluently. My teacher wrote “Bread” and “Brad” on the board and pointing to each word, after pronouncing it a few times, said that the two were distinct words. At that time, I did not understand the difference between “Bread” and “Brad” because they sounded the same to my untrained ears. Now that I do see and hear the difference, I look back at the two words while I try to suppress an uncontrollable fit of chuckling. My life in South Korea did not prepare me for the language barrier in English. I had to start everything from scratch, 35
watching the Sesame Street (from where I obtained a major crush on the Cookie Monster), learning the Alphabet, reading children’s books day and night in order to immerse myself in the world of the English language. The process I was undergoing was a major installation of an English ear and mouth where Korean ones used to be. I became adapted to speaking, writing and listening in English. This whole new acquisition of “peripherals” could not have been possible without the help of my classmates, teachers, and the learning-friendly atmosphere they created for me as well as the support from my par-
“This boy’s name is good. He is bread. Like what we eat.” ents who lavished their attention and concern on me (and who went through the same language difficulty with me). So now that I have crawled past the danger sign in the language barrier, what do I do? English is still as foreign to me as wearing a corset is to a modern day woman. Perhaps I am at a half-way point of acquiring the English language; I still need to fix up numerous glitches I make, such as constantly forgetting to put “the” or “a” in front of a noun (In Korean, we don’t
use articles). Though I am not quite there yet, I am already feeling good about this journey. And I guess having some rosy, fond memories from words is a sign that this has been worthwhile after all. If you are in the beginning stage of a journey like mine, welcome aboard! It certainly is difficult to adjust to the new language and environment for the first couple weeks of your stay, but you will shine through the barriers gracefully. One of the most fruitful rewards you will achieve will be another switch in your head, which you will turn on/off to converse in English or in another language(s). Before then, I think the most important thing to keep in mind is to abandon the fear of making mistakes. Speaking the language will be new to your tongue and hearing it will be fuzzy to your ears. One day, when you wake up and encounter the same language again, your mouth and tongue will coordinate wonderfully, as if you’ve always known English as your first language. So have fun with your installation kit, which is your innate nature to learn new things, and plunge into the unknown! Meanwhile, do remember to indulge your hard-working tongue with some tasty treats (do try Canadian cuisine), pamper your valuable ears with music of your taste, and feel good about your progress, at whatever stage period.
Getting a fair minimum wage T Jordan Bell
kept up our economy. For instance, inflation since 1976 translates into $8.08 today, which means young workers are getting ripped off by $1.68 each hour, and $1.23 for other workers. Corporations have made certain that their profits keep up with the times, and the government has similarly ensured that their salaries are a good 30% above inflation; but a person working for minimum wage has had their wages fall behind for more than a decade. It is because of this that the NDP is pushing a bill to increase the minimum wage to $7.50 an hour for everyone, which would be similar to the United States’ minimum wage at $5.15 (US) an hour. This is about fairness; it shouldn’t be that the least privileged people lose out on an economy that has helped almost everyone else prosper. The most effective way to help stabilize Canada’s economy is to give workers more money to spend in their communities, which is exactly what raising the minimum wage will do. This ideology brings back Henry Ford’s piece of wisdom that workers need to be paid enough to buy what they make. The NDP is doing it’s best to get people who don’t care to participate in democracy by fighting for something no other party bothers to mention, and in all, it’s a good plan.
THE PREMIER OF BRITISH COLUMBIA ANNOUNCED A FEW weeks ago that there would be a new training wage of six dollars an hour. The current minimum wage in BC is eight dollars, which is the highest in the country, and was fixed at that rate by the old NDP government. BC workers are leading a campaign, called “Six Bucks Sucks,” against this wage cut. Six bucks does suck, and the minimum wage in Ontario is just as unfair. Right now it is $6.40 for young workers and $6.85 for adults. It is difficult to live on such a meagre wage, let alone raise a family or have an education. What right-wing politicians like Gordon Campbell in British Columbia and Mike Harris in Ontario fail to understand is that people who work for minimum wage spend the money they get. The economic benefit of putting a dollar in the hands of a minimum wage worker is much greater than having it go to a wealthy person in the form of tax incentives. Most workers spend their money in Canada, and do not put it outside of our economy. Thus, raising wages is healthy for our economy and the dollar as it puts money back into our system. Art by Vinca In addition, minimum wage has not 36
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
@ ` ?B ! RUCKUS!
...youth of colour lack real role models that share their cultural histories, particularly within the social and environmental justice community...
For as much as we claim to be a multi-cultural country (but not a melting pot!), young people of colour in our country often lack strong role models. In an effort to address this, YAN will be sponsoring a one-day forum called Ruckus! Ruckus will bring together Ontario high-school aged youths of colour, to discuss the current issues relevant to them - issues of representation in the media, civic engagement, targeted policing, ableism and sexism. Young people share common concerns across race lines, however; “minorities” also face problems that are uniquely related to the colour of their skin. Rather than push these issues aside, or unite under the umbrella of multiculturalism we have to take a critical view of what young people face today.
An important aspect of this project comes from the realization that youth of colour lack real role models that share their cultural histories, particularly within the social and environmental justice community. The social justice movement continues to posit itself as being representative of an entire generation of disenfranchised young people, but this same movement often excludes or is not sensitive to differences that arise due to different ethnicities. Although Ruckus! is only a small step in addressing these issues, it is an important step. What grows out of Ruckus! will be up to the participants, but it’s best achievement would be to continue as a grassroots project over the years to come, run by people like you. We hope you will join us and become a part of this vision. Ruckus! will take place on September 21, 2002 in downtown Toronto. The day will begin at 9:30 and end at 5:30. Workshop topics include: Critical Multiculturalism, Civic Journalism, Creating Linkages, Anti-Racist Media Education, Building a Movement and others. Lunch will be provided and public transportation expenses reimbursed if coming from outside the Greater Toronto Area (within Ontario). If you are interested in participating please fill out the form below and return it to: Youth Action Network 176 John Street, Suite 307 Toronto, ON M5T 1X5 RE: Ruckus! For further information please contact us at 416-368-2277 or at email@example.com
snip it out
fill it out!!!
form can also be faxed back: RE: Ruckus! (416) 368-8354
Address: _____________________________________________________________________ City/Town: ___________________________________ Phone number: ______________________________________ E-mail: ___________________________________________ Are you a person of colour (y/n)? ______________________________________ Do you have any special needs that need to be accommodated? _____________________________________________________ Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
“Economics are determining what is a valid form of public expression, it seems corporations have as much access to public space as they want, while independent expression is repressed.” Dave Meslin, Toronto Public Space Committee
Art vs. Ads D
Liam Thurston & Devon Ostrom
DURING THE COURSE OF A DAY, YOU ARE BOMBARDED BY MORE than 600 independent pieces of visual communication. Most of this clutter falls prey to the in-one-eye, out-the-other syndrome, but how is it effecting you subconsciously and should there be a price to pay? While graffiti is shunned and criminalized, billboards are well funded and coveted venues of visual marketing that often go unquestioned and under criticized. Why should their messages, fueled by the generation of monetary profit and materialistic\ emotionally exploitative brain washing, reach a wider audience? Seen as the illegitimate child of the beautiful graffiti murals Toronto is world renowned for, tagging has been a way that people make the city belong to them, rather than vice versa; to see a piece of themselves in a sea of oversized, glossy pin ups and eye sore advertising. Vandalism and hate crime are one thing, but blaming graffiti for social corrosion? If anything the latter actions are symptoms of social and civic decay in the macro organism that is the city. Perhaps, if more were done to improve the feel of the city for the humans that live in it rather than appeasing the interests of big business, we would see a
Graffiti battle billboards in our cities lot less vandalism. Enter The Visual Pollution Initiative. This is a new tactic initiated by Toronto’s T.H.E.M, flagship of the Foundation for the Advancement of Young Urban Artists. In the battle against rampant consumerism and redundant visual noise, the Visual Pollution Initiative would see the City of Toronto collect funds from the businesses responsible for advertising on billboards, and use these funds to counteract visual pollution by increasing funding to public art initiatives such as murals and green projects. The Visual Pollution Fee would be collected through existing collection structures, thereby minimizing the cost of implementation. The specific details of the Visual Pollution Initiative would be decided through consultation with Toronto’s citizens and public planning committees. Issues to be solved include the treatment of well-meaning non-profit billboards, the response of the advertising industry and the effect of such a tax on the consumer economy. “We are not saying that [commercial] billboards cannot exist- that would be wrong, or that vandalism is okay, a compromise must be reached.” Devon Ostrom, cofounder of T.H.E.M.
T.H.E.M. - the flagship division of the Foundation for the Advancement of Young Urban Artists - is composed of 20 emerging visual artists from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa “The vision of the Graffiti Eradication and Pittsburgh. They conprogram is for urban beautification, graffiti tinue the Visual Pollution Tax initiative by asking for sub-culture erosion, stakeholder a show of public support collaboration, reduction in crime, fear and and input for this experiment in democracy by disorder, increased property values, clicking the petition button employment opportunities and tourism.” on their website at www.them-art.com.
Toronto Police Service Graffiti Eradication Program
See the back cover
http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/graffiti/index.htm for more information about
the Visual Pollution Initiative. Art by Liam Thurston
Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
“Free” trade U.S. 30% steel import tariff over 3 years, 27% tax on Canadian softwood lumber and increased subsidies for local wheat, cotton, peanuts, and corn producers by 80%. The agricultural subsidies will cost $180 billion over the next ten years, but even more in criticism in the international arena.
JAMAICA After opening up its borders to foreign imports, the local dairy industry was destroyed by the dumping of milk powder, subsidized by over 100% by American and European governments. Many farmers were forced to jettison thousands of litres of milk into the streets.
MEXICO 3 million Mexican corn farmers have resorted to extreme measures including expanding farms to ecologically-sensitive land to compete with the onslaught of heavily subsidized industriallygrown corn from the U.S. Many traditional farmers, tending smaller farms, have been forced to move into cities.
BRAZIL The Minister of Agriculture in Brazil denounced the recent announcement of American agricultural subsidies in Congress and declared in response, “In that case, Brazil is not interested in discussing free trade” as a part of the FTAA. The U.S. has proposed the exemption of “sensitive” products such as orange juice, sugar, and textiles from the FTAA.
BURKINA FASO The World Bank released a report which calculated the consequences of the agricultural subsidies passed in Congress last May. The report concluded that the number of people in Burkina Faso living in poverty would be halved if the price of cotton was not distorted by American subsidies.
MOZAMBIQUE Thanks to the dumping of subsidized EU beet sugar, priced at half the cost it takes to cultivate, Mozambique’s sugar beet industry-one of the most efficient in the world-is still suffering after decades of war and floods. To make matters worse, the EU taxes any “processed” imports, so Mozambique is trapped selling raw sugar, unable to reap thousands of jobs in refining.
Andrew Ng Youth Action FORUM . SUMMER 2002
VIETNAM The European Union, which heavily subsidizes its own fishing fleets to harvest seas in developing countries, raised the tariff on frozen prawns, a luxury fish, from 4.5 to 10.9%. The protectionist measure will devastate many impoverished prawns farmers. Furthermore, the country was barred from labeling a fish that closely resembles catfish as “catfish” in the U.S. after pressure from American catfish farmers.
PAKISTAN The Bush administration increased the Pakistani textile quota marginally, rewarding the country for cooperation in the U.S. coalition against terrorism. Not enough say Pakistani officials, who seek a lifting of the quota. Textiles comprise twothirds of Pakistani exports, $1.5 billion of which head to American markets.
Sources...Julian Borger. “What protectionism fails to protect.” The Guardian May 15, 2002 ...“Real Lives.” Oxfam campaign: Make Trade Fair. http://www.maketradefair.com/...Isabela Abdala. “Fast-track’ may result in Brazil’s withdrawal from the FTAA.” The Brazilian December 12, 2001...George Hagan, “Bush plays free-trade game,” USA Today, May 2, 2002.
â€œWe are at least 50% a product of our environment. More has to be done to ensure that the ridiculously degrading/exploitative portrayal of women and men, as well as the direction toward excessive consumption, is well balanced with green spaces and public art which is kind to the eye and soul.â€? Devon Ostrom Co-Founder of T.H.E.M During the course of a day, you are bombarded by more than 600 independent pieces of visual communication. Most of this clutter falls prey to the in-one-eye, out-the-other syndrome, but how is it affecting you subconsciously and should there be a price to pay?
Art by Liam Thurston
T.H.E.M. - the flagship division of the Foundation for the Advancement of Young Urban Artists - is composed of 20 emerging visual artists from Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Pittsburgh. They continue the Visual Pollution Initiative by asking for a show of public support and input by clicking the VPI Petition button on their website at: www.them-art.com.
YOUTH ACTION FORUM 176 John Street, Suite 307 Toronto, ON M5T 1X5 Canada
The Visual Pollution Initiative is the latest tactic initiated by T.H.E.M in the battle against rampant consumerism and redundant visual noise. The project would see the City of Toronto collect funds from the businesses responsible for advertising on billboards, and use these funds to counteract visual pollution by increasing funding to public art and green projects. The Visual Pollution Fee would be collected via the existing process of billboard registration, thereby minimizing the cost of implementation.
Foundation for the Advancement of Young Urban Artists
The Visual Pollution Initiative