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campus • community • CULTURE FEBRUARY/MARCH 2014
vol. 6, no. 5
Pushing temporal limits since 2009
Action against inaction
Teach-in highlights need for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women Sam Heaton Forgoing the freezing temperatures for a packed house at the SAW Gallery, Families of Sisters in Spirit (FSIS) commemorated its 4th Annual Day of Justice with a teach-in on Feb. 13. The event preceded vigils, demonstrations, and marches across Canada to remember and demand justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women. Started in Vancouver 23 years ago, Feb. 14 Women’s Memorial Marches and other events took place in over 75 cities in Canada and the United States this year. A recent PhD thesis by Maryanne Pearce at the University of Ottawa identified 824 missing or murdered Indigenous women in Canada in the last several decades. Estimates by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and other groups have resulted in both higher and lower numbers.
A report on the NWAC’s Sisters In Spirit database found that 67 per cent of “all known cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada” involve deaths by homicide or negligence, and 20 per cent involve missing women or girls, while details of the remaining cases remain unknown. Diverse organizations have levelled criticism at the Harper government for
“We’ve been asking for help from the government for years… I don’t think we should be marching for another 25 years. How many generations are we going to have fighting and marching for our missing and murdered women?” Tolley asked.
Bridget Tolley, Colleen Cardinal, and Kristen Gilchrist of Families of Sisters in Spirit
failing to hold an inquiry on the matter. Pearce points out that Indigenous women “have been disproportionately affected in all of these cases and have high rates of violent victimization,” and adds that “the current socioeconomic situation faced by Aboriginal women contributes to this.” Bridget Tolley of FSIS spoke at the event about her own family history and the struggle waged by families and their allies for justice. “We’ve been asking for
help from the government for years… I don’t think we should be marching for another 25 years. How many generations are we going to have fighting and marching for our missing and murdered women?” Tolley asked. In 2010, the Harper government eliminated funding for the Sisters in Spirit program, which conducted research and advocacy on cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. A source told APTN at the time that the govern-
PHOTO: Sam Heaton
ment ordered NWAC to disavow the Sisters in Spirit program and that no public funds could be used for any research on missing and murdered women. Remarking on the Feb. 14 marchers’ demands that governments investigate and take action to halt the epidemic, Tolley said, “We want action now. Not next week. Not the week after. We wanted it yesterday. We want justice.” Continued on page 3
Are we thinking enough about “enough”?
Provincial government’s proposed minimum wage increase is the bare minimum Adam Kostrich Last month, Ontario’s Liberal government announced its plan to increase the minimum wage, following the recommendations of a provincial advisory panel. The current minimum wage of $10.25 per hour was instituted in March 2010, and has remained unchanged to date. This year’s June 1 increase to $11 per hour would be a 7.3 per cent increase, matching the rate of inflation over the last four years. In line with the panel’s recommendations, future adjustments to the minimum wage will be tied to inflation and the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Few Ontarians, I think, would say that the government’s decision is a step in the wrong direction. Even supporters of the decision, however, consider it a short step, taken in a slow gait: their aim is to see Ontarians be guaranteed a living wage. A Living What? If you earned a living wage, you’d have enough to support your basic human needs. These needs are not merely biological: a living wage is calculated to ensure a humane quality of life and access to all we need in our complex social environment. We can’t cook our computers or drink the Internet, but it’d be difficult to, say, find a job without
them, no? The province’s poverty line stands at $23,000 per year. Working 52 weeks a year at the current minimum wage, 37.5 hours per week, would garner you $19,987.50 per year. The coming increase would raise minimum wage earners’ annual income to $21,450, To meet the poverty line, a worker would have to earn an hourly wage of $11.80, working full-time.
over nine per cent of the province’s workforce — nearly half a million Ontarians — earn the minimum wage. Another million Ontarians earn between the minimum wage and $14.25 per hour. The implications of these statistics are rather staggering when we consider who works for minimum wages in Ontario. 40 per cent of minimum wage earners are over 25, as are 60 per cent
Assuring Ontarians a living wage should be only one facet of a much larger, more comprehensive attempt to lift them out of poverty.
But a living wage is a higher standard. According to policy scholar Bob White, a living wage is “the minimum hourly wage necessary for each of two workers in a family of four to meet basic needs and to participate in the civic/social life of their community.” It ensures a comfortable, healthy, and humane quality of life. For this reason, many policy researchers think that the proper living wage should be around $14.25 hourly — an annual income of $27,787.50 per worker. According to the Toronto-based Wellesley Institute,
of those workers who earn between minimum and a living wage. The number of low-income workers over 25 is twice as high as it was a decade ago. What’s more, women, racialized workers, and recent immigrants are overrepresented in this income bracket. In 2011, 13.2 per cent of racialized workers and 19.1 per cent of recent immigrant workers worked for minimum wage. A majority of these minimum wage earners — anywhere from 10 to 50 per cent more, depending on your demographic measuring stick —
are women. Guaranteeing a living wage, therefore, would go a long way towards the financial disadvantages faced by women and racialized workers. Inflation & the CPI It should be clear, then, that a properly calculated living wage is, unlike a minimum wage, based on local costs of living and constantly evolving. Take a few major Canadian cities, for example. According to B.C.’s Living Wage for Families Campaign, a living wage for two parents in a family of four in Metro Vancouver would amount to $19.62 per hour. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the same family living in Toronto in 2008 would need to make an hourly wage of $16.60 to make ends meet, and $18.69 per hour in the Halton region (which includes Brampton and Oakville). “But,” critics might say, “the calculation of a living wage depends on a ‘good quality of life,’ and this is relative — surely some of these poor peoples’ lives would be bettered if they spent more frugally and focused on essential, rather than luxury goods.” This line of thinking, however, is largely groundless, because the CPI, which is used to track inflation, operates on what is called a “market basket” or com-
modity bundle — a fixed list of items whose prices are used to track inflation. Many of the items used for the CPI — cars, for example — are luxuries which are not on the horizon of many low-income consumers. If we tied the CPI to essential goods — food, clothing, shelter, and energy — we would get a more accurate sense of how far a dollar goes for someone earning less than a living wage. Calculated this way, the rate of inflation would not be 1.2 per cent, as the province claims, but 1.7 per cent. This is in part because some essential goods are not anchored to a reasonable standard, like the rate of inflation. The price of energy, for example, increases at four times the province’s rate of inflation. Rent increases, fixed at 3.1% per annum, far outstrip inflation. Moving forward The current debates about minimum and living wages in Ontario is part of a much larger, richer, longerrunning debate. Over 140 municipal laws and bylaws have been enacted in the United States to set a municipal living wage since 1994. Recently, U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to raise the hourly minimum wage for federal workers from $7.25 to $10.10. Continued on page 3
FEATURE Black History PAGE 4 Strike Vote Carleton Page 6 Double Standard Palestine Page 7 Les SansCulottes Page 10 Black History to Black Futurism PagE 11 Gatekeeping Canada Page 12 Blue Dots and THE FNEA Page 13 Federal Budget Scrutiny Page 14 Sexy Film Fest Page 15 Love & Hate
Lev • el• ler noun
I’m a Leveller!
1 Historical: During the English Civil War (c. 1649), one who favoured the abolition of all rank and privilege. Originally an insult, but later embraced by radical anti-Royalists. 2 One who tells the truth, as in “I’m going to level with you.” 3 An instrument that knocks down things that are standing up or digs up things that are buried or hidden. The Leveller is a publication covering campus and off-campus news, current events, and culture in Ottawa and elsewhere. It is intended to provide readers with a lively portrait of their university and community and of the events that give it meaning. It is also intended to be a forum for provocative editorializing and lively debate on issues of concern to students, staff, and faculty as well as Ottawa residents. The Leveller leans left, meaning that it challenges power and privilege and sides with people over private property. It is also democratic, meaning that it favours open discussion over silencing and secrecy. Within these very general boundaries, The Leveller is primarily interested in being interesting, in saying something worth saying and worth reading about. It doesn’t mind getting a few things wrong if it gets that part right. The Leveller has a very small staff, and is mainly the work of a small group of volunteers. To become a more permanent enterprise and a more truly democratic and representative paper, it will require more volunteers to write, edit, and produce it, to take pictures, and to dig up stories. The Leveller needs you. It needs you to read it, talk about it, discuss it with your friends, agree with it, disagree with it, write a letter, write a story (or send in a story idea), join in the producing of it, or just denounce it. Ultimately it needs you—or someone like you—to edit it, to guide it towards maturity, to give it financial security and someplace warm and safe to live. The Leveller is an ambitious little rag. It wants to be simultaneously irreverent and important, to demand responsibility from others while it shakes it off itself, to be a fun-house mirror we can laugh at ourselves in and a map we can use to find ourselves and our city. It wants to be your coolest, most in-the-know friend and your social conscience at the same time. It has its work cut out for it. The Leveller is published every month or so. It is free. The Leveller and its editors have no phone or office, but can be contacted with letters of love or hate at
The Levellers Editorial Board Crystel Hajjar Francella Fiallos Adam Kostrich Alana Roscoe Leslie Muñoz Sam Heaton Guest Editor
Adam Ashby Gibbard
Guillaume Beaulieu-Blais Jen Duford
Copy Editors Adrienne Vicente Kristen Bonnell Proofreader
Contributors Kristen Bonnell A’tenguewinu Gabriel Castilloux Emma Ferguson Sharrae Lyon Jennifer Meya Ajay Parasram Kandace Price Adrienne Vicente Photography Luna Allison & Illustration Frederick Blichert Sam Heaton Deidre Kahwinetha Diome Josée Madéia Operations Manager
Governing Board Rohini Bhalla Ajay Parasram Daniel Tubb
Corrections 6, No. 4:
The Leveller reported that CUPE 4600, CUASA and CUPE 2424 almost went on strike in 2011. In reality, the three unions almost went on strike in 2010.
The Leveller also reported that Indigenous women comprise around two per cent of the population. This is inaccurate. Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of the population.
In the same article, the Leveller reported that Ashley Smith, who was in actuality aged 19, was 25.
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Les Sans-Culottes Auteure
2 The Leveller vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014
news INACTION Continued from TOP - page 1
Laura Spence and Nicole Whiteduck also spoke publicly for the first time about their disappearance from Kitigan Zibi in fall 2013. Spence and Whiteduck described their harrowing days spent lost in the wilderness of western Quebec after the truck they were driving broke down. Spence and Whiteduck were missing for five days, eventually finding refuge in an isolated cabin until they ENOUGH Continued from BOTTOM - page 1
said made the experience even more difficult. Shannon Alexander and Maisy Odjick disappeared from the same area more than five years ago. Colleen Cardinal spoke and screened a film about her experience in the “60s Scoop,” the spate of children forcibly removed from First Nations communities in the 1960’s and given to non-First Nations foster parents. According to the film Don’t Need Saving: Aboriginal
Women and Access to Justice, which was also screened at the event, there are more Indigenous children in foster care today than ever before. Don’t Need Saving points out a reality underlying the continuing problem of violence against Indigenous women: “Wary of the system, many Aboriginal women fleeing violence have nowhere to turn. Too often, going to authorities results in the loss of their children.”
mendous burden off their shoulders: in many cases, over half of their income is devoted to keeping a roof over their head. But the real issue here is not necessarily what people are earning. If more money is in circulation, its value depreciates, and we find ourselves close to square one. Assuring Ontarians a living wage should be only one facet of a much larger, more comprehensive attempt to lift them out of poverty. Perhaps we should change the fixed items on
the CPI in order to more realistically represent how far dollars go when there aren’t many in our pockets. Perhaps we should be tying increased charges for energy and rent to inflation. Perhaps our government should guarantee a certain level of income, topping whatever you or I make up to, say, $30,000 per year. Imagine what sort of vibrant, creative culture might develop in a society where no one was in desperate need! Imagine what our lives would be like if we were all freer to value human, rather than monetary, exchanges. Perhaps, in other words, we should attack the sick-
ness that infects our political discourse, not its symptoms. By elevating the political dignity of a minimum wage, we talk about wage relations in largely corporate terms, reducing public discussion to questions of how little it is socially acceptable to pay workers instead of what human beings need to live healthy, fulfilling lives. We need to steer this conversation away from our pockets and towards a well thoughtout, compassionate alternative. Just because some of us receive minimum wages does not mean that they should command minimum respect.
Letters to the editors Dear Editors, I was over at UQO [Université du Québec en Outaouais] recently and picked up a copy of the Leveller to see what was going on – I often look through student papers when on campuses to get a flavour of student life and thinking. I commend you for stating directly that your stance is left-leaning, but suggest that you apply a little critical thinking in your coverage. Two examples: 1) the postal home delivery story – the post office’s job is not to employ postal workers but to provide postal delivery; 2) recognize generally that in stories involving unions their mandate is to serve the interests of their members. Their claims to speak for the interests of society have to be examined critically. Copying their press releases and jumping immediately on their bandwagon or that of other interest groups is not really journalism. I say this as a former New Democrat sympathiser, and having been a CAW [Canadian Auto Workers] member in my youth with my dad, and living through the failure of (well intentioned) Bob Rae’s policies in Ontario in the 1990s. Another eye opener for me was the way that Margaret Thatcher turned around Britain from being the “sick man of Europe” to a country having a vigorous private sector economy. The last eye-opener (well, by now my eyes were open) was living in Québec. It has applied the well intentioned “modèle québécois d’économie solidaire et sociale,” resulting in a bloated public sector, confused health and education bureaucracies soaking up money and giving poor service (while front-line teachers, doctors and nurses work hard), and unions with a stranglehold on most public and private sector enterprise, using their government-sponsored retirement funds (such as the Fonds de solidarité) as play money –“un gang de croches,” as we say. My last bit has been something of a rant, but it conveys my scepticism regarding well intentioned social activists calling for government sponsored intervention. Since most people are motivated strongly by self-interest (including social activists), it is better to let this play out and harness this energy in a competitive capitalist system than in bureaucratic empires.
Hi. I was stoked to see the piece on NOII [No One is Illegal] relaunch. Thanks. But yea, some other stuff irks me. The “I’m a Leveller” photo is inappropriate insofar as it appropriates Mi’kmaq lived experiences and struggles. Disrespectful, glib, and entitled. And the title, “The plot Deepans” is pretty cringeworthy too. Kristen Gilchrist Dear Editors, A study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published earlier this year shows that Canada’s 100 best-paid CEOs breezed through year 2012 with earnings near 271 times higher than the average Canadian worker $7.96 million compared to $46,634. I think there is no word to fully express my feelings towards this. Some words, though, easily come to my mind to express the reasons behind such discrepancies - words that we would need to name and repeat if we wish to put an end to such an abuse. They are “selfishness,” “contempt,” “cynicism,” “corruption,” “abuse” and “patronage.” And if we want to push deeper, they are political parties’ financing, lobbying, propaganda, media concentration, diversion of democracy and lack of democracy. I am sure Canadians do not only think this is unfair. An increasing number of them must also realize that only an equal sharing of powers - which would mean a real democracy would lead us towards an equal wealth sharing. Bruno Marquis Gatineau Dear Editors, I’ve always thought horoscopes were bullshit, but your horoscope section takes it to a whole new level. It’s supposed to be a joke right? Right? Please tell me I’m right. Sincerely, A confused first time reader
Bob Hannah Gatineau
Send us your letters.
Gr ow .
Locally, members of the Ottawa chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) have been pushing to raise the minimum wage to $14 per hour since at least 2011. ACORN is comprised of mostly lowincome earners, because they are either immigrants or on some manner of disability pension. Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage, ACORN members say, would lift a tre-
found their way to a service worker on Oct. 24. Tolley, who is Spence’s mother, has worked with the families of missing and murdered women for several years. At the teach-in, she described the terror of having her own daughter go missing. Though Spence and Whiteduck were found in the woods miles from their community, police received multiple reports of sightings in Vanier and Gatineau, something Tolley
vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014 The Leveller 3
Your Move, Carleton!
Strong strike votes put ball in senior management’s court Sam Heaton Students arriving for their classes on Feb. 5 were met with a lively information picket by two campus unions at the Bronson entrance of campus to raise awareness about workers’ bargaining on campus. The picket was organized by Carleton’s teaching assistants (TAs), contract instructors (CIs), campus safety employees, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 4600, and the Ontario Public Service Employee’s Union (OPSEU) local 404, respectively. While only CUPE 4600 and OPSEU 404 are cur-
rently in negotiations with Carleton senior management, they were joined in their picket by professors organized as the Carleton University Academic Staff Association (CUASA), support staff members of CUPE 2424, Hospitality and Service Trades Union local 261 representing Carleton Dining Services workers, members of CUPE 1281 and Unifor. Student groups such as the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the Ontario Public Interest Research Group-Carleton also joined the action. Since the picket, members of both unions voted overwhelmingly to support taking strike action if neces-
sary. Campus Safety workers voted 97.4 per cent in favour, while Carleton TAs and CIs voted 82.5 and 87.5 per cent in favour respectively. CUPE 4600 has filed a “No Board” request with the Ministry of Labour, and anticipates a legal strike or lockout position to come into effect at 12:01 AM on Monday, Mar. 10. This means the ball is now in senior management’s court. The upper echelon of power at Carleton must decide whether to accede to the just demands of workers at Carleton to improve teaching and learning conditions and provide adequate funding to campus safety. The alternative is for se-
Workers and students stage an information picket on Feb. 5
PHOTO: Sam Heaton
“Carleton President Roseann Runte, who earns over $300,000 annually, wrote in a Jun. 2013 editorial for the Globe and Mail that classes should have higher enrolment, and be taught by ‘less wellpaid individuals.’”
nior management to plunge the campus into a strike no one wants. Campus safety workers have pointed out that staffing levels have remained virtually unchanged since the 1980s, while Carleton’s community has exploded in size. They are demanding adequate coverage, and an end to compensation far below the provincial average. Carleton’s CIs say they make 8 per cent less than the provincial average, and are seeking to bring their compensation in line with the norm. They say senior management treats them like out-
siders, and are seeking a role in university governance. One goal is to be able to equally access campus health facilities and increase job security beyond their current four month contracts. Carleton’s TAs say they are fighting to protect their wages from being eaten away by tuition increases. Safety workers’ overwhelming strike vote shows that Carleton’s infringement of their freedom of expression only backfired. Management had attempted on Jan. 21 to ban the wearing of symbols of support for the union among OPSEU 404 members. CUPE 4600 members’ demands for respect, a say in campus governance, and to defend their rights have demonstrated that their teaching conditions are students’ learning conditions. Carleton president Roseann Runte, who earns over $300,000 annually, wrote in a Jun. 2013 editorial for the Globe and Mail that classes should have higher enrolment, and be taught by “less well-paid individuals.” With senior management’s neoliberal vision for the university looming overhead, the challenge for students is to not allow themselves to be diverted into begrudging the workers and fellow students who TA.
Most students benefit from properly funded public education. Those who make Carleton work - including CUPE 4600 and OPSEU 404 members - are at the forefront of defending public education by defending their own conditions. When Carleton was brought to the brink of a three-union strike in 2010, the Carleton University Students’ Association, the GSA, and the Carleton Academic Student Government stood together as one in support of our campus workers. Uniting around the defence of public education and in support of TAs, CIs and Campus Safety workers would be an important contribution of students towards avoiding a strike. By passing motions, keeping each other informed, organizing events and actions, and engaging in discussion amongst themselves, students can apply pressure to the administration to meet the demands of fellow students and workers organized in their unions. If Carleton senior management is unable to spread confusion as to whose side is standing up for public education, t is less likely that they will be able to force the campus into a strike, or resolve one to the detriment of workers and students.
Participez a l'Assemblée générale annuelle du Attend the Annual General Meeting of Le salon 0, 90 U ersité, 2 Nous esp14 érons queniv vous joind5remzars en soirée! à nous. Lounge 140 at 90 University , March 25th! We hope yo u will join us.
plus d’info au find out more at
Le Groupe de recherche d’intérêt public de l’Ontario (GRIPO) à l’université d’Ottawa a pour mission de rassembler et de construire une communauté dévouée à la justice sociale, économique et environnementale, GRIPO Ottawa s’intéresse aux contributions des étudiants et de la communauté universitaire qui visent le changement social. Nous sommes financés par les étudiant. Es ce qui signifie que le GRIPO vous appartient. À vous de vous engager, de proposer un groupe d’action, d’emprunter des ressources, de lancer un projet de recherche, de fabriquer des macarons, de faires des copies, des affiches.. et on passe. le GRIPO se veut un espace et un regroupement accueillant tant pour les nouveaux membres que pour les anciens. Un lieu pour travailler sur des campagnes, d’oeuvrer en tant que membre du Conseil d’administration, en tant que bénévole ou en tant qu’individu. Depuis notre fondation, nous avons traité d’enjeux d’intérêt public (droits de scolarité, environnement, justice sociale, guerre et occupation, sexisme, racisme, souveraineté autochtone, etc.) par l’entremise d’événements tels les soirées cinéma, les conférences, les forums et les débats publics, les journées d’échange communautaire, les cafés équitables et les kiosques d’information. Nous avons aussi appuyé le travail de dizaines de groupes d’action sur ces problématiques et bien d’autres à travers les années. En tant qu'organisme, notre raison d'être est de soutenir les initiatives et les projets étudiants en contribuant des ressources financières et autres. Tou.te.s les étudiantEs peuvent soumettre des propositions au GRIPO. 4 The Leveller vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014
The mandate of OPIRG (the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at the University of Ottawa) is to bring together and build upon a broad-based community dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice. OPIRG is concerned with the contribution that students, the university and the community can make towards social change. We are student funded which means that OPIRG is yours. Yours to engage with, to start a group through, to borrow resources from, to pitch a research project to, to make buttons, copies, banners with... and the list goes on. OPIRG as a space and as a group is meant to welcome friends new and old, to work on campaigns, to work as a board member, as a volunteer, or as an individual. Since our foundation, we have addressed issues of public concern such as tuition fees, environmental justice, social justice, war and occupation, sexism, racism, Indigenous sovereignty, and more through events like movie nights, guest speakers, forums, debates, clothing swaps, fair trade cafés, and information tables. We have supported the work of dozens of action groups on these and other issues throughout the years. As an organization, we exist to support student initiatives and projects by contributing financial and non-financial resources to their development. Any student or student group is welcome to submit proposals to OPIRG.
An Important Message from the more than 2500 Teaching Assistants & Contract Instructors at Carleton University:
our working conditions are your learning conditions CUPE 4600, the union representing TAs and CIs at Carleton, is ďŹ ghting for fair working conditions and accessible education for all. Find out more at 4600.CUPE.CA. www.leveller.ca
vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014 The Leveller 5
Activists Refuse to “Be Quiet”
Speakers Expose Carleton Double Standard on Palestine
Students must unite against oppression on campus and in our communities.
Human Rights Professor Bill Skidmore Speaks on Feb. 4
Sam Heaton Student and faculty activists for Palestinian human rights have long felt unfairly targeted by Carleton University senior management. From the banning of an Israeli Apartheid Week poster in 2009 to treating proPalestine activism as a security issue, Carleton’s behaviour amounts to what two groups call attempts to stifle critical discussion about Israel/Palestine on campus. On Feb. 4, Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) Carleton and Faculty for Palestine (F4P) Carleton presented publicly for the first time evidence of Carleton senior management and pro-Israel campaigners interfering in academic and extracurricular debate on Palestinian human rights. Speaking to a standingroom only audience in Dunton Tower, MA student Dax D’Orazio of SAIA and human rights professor Bill Skidmore of F4P recounted their experiences in the classroom and organizing events on Palestine. D’Orazio explained how the pro-Israel Hillel Ottawa targeted SAIA’s first event, called “Israeli Crimes, Canadian Complicity.” Correspondence obtained by freedom of information requests show that the group complained to Carleton senior management that due to “incendiary language” the event could “get out of control.” Without citing any specific concerns, Hillel demanded increased protection for the safety of students at the event, and argued that by holding the event Carleton was “entering uncharted waters.” In response, Carleton senior management issued a campus-wide e-mail about the event, increased the security and police presence, and repeatedly clarified that it did not sponsor or endorse the event. D’Orazio found this overreaction negatively impacted campus discourse. Despite what he called agreement by mainstream human rights organizations on the facts of Israeli rights abuses, many professors simply would not discuss the topic in class out of fear. “On the substantive issues of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” he said, “there is in fact little controversy… The controversy is simply manufactured in an attempt to obfuscate and frustrate the attempts to discuss Palestinian human rights on campus.” The event, he said, de-
tailed the creation of a campus narrative whereby Palestinian human rights activists are represented as being aggressive, borderline antiSemites who contribute to a poisoned, confrontational environment. Carleton senior management then takes up this narrative without question, including what D’Orazio calls “the core conflation, that criticism of Israel inevitably leads to Jewish and pro-Israel students feeling attacked, unwelcome, intimidated, etc.” The 2009 banning of an Israeli Apartheid Week poster at Carleton came after pro-Israel groups took out full-page ads in the National Post declaring the week an “anti-Semitic hate-fest.”
“We have a situation at Carleton where professors who speak about the violation of Palestinian human rights run the risk of being victimized by false accusation. D’Orazio also detailed repeated instances of vandalism, harassment and assault against SAIA materials and members, which he said were not considered serious by Carleton senior management. Skidmore, on the other hand, provided evidence for what he called “a small part” of the intimidation efforts against himself and others at Carleton who discuss Palestinian human rights. According to Skidmore, there is a double standard on Israeli-Palestinian issues in the classroom. After a Palestinian woman was invited to speak during one of his lectures, Skidmore was confronted by a student afterwards who complained that students had “actually believed” what the speaker said. At the same time, Hillel was able to arrange a direct meeting between the student and the university Provost. Internal correspondence revealed that an “alternative evaluation” of Skidmore by the student
6 The Leveller vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014
PHOTO: Sam Heaton
was discussed at the meeting, something that would violate Skidmore’s collective agreement as a professor. In another case, a Hillel member told the Carleton Provost, the university’s chief academic advisor, that biased information was being provided in Skidmore’s class, that Skidmore had “publicly criticized” the student’s comments, and had “at no time spoke up to make the space safe for all opinions to be presented.” Skidmore contradicted the claim and noted that he recorded the lecture in question. Of the thousands of students he has taught over the years, Skidmore said no one spoke more openly or frequently than the student who made the complaint. “I made sure he got to respond to every comment made by the guest speaker or other students. In effect, I moved him to the front of the speaker’s list almost every time.” Eventually, fellow students became upset with the student due to his repeated questioning of the speaker, who Skidmore says was a Palestinian “with direct experience of the issues being addressed.” At that point, Skidmore says he did intervene to “emphatically” remind the class to listen respectfully to one another, including those whose views they disagreed with. Despite this, affiliates of the Ottawa Israeli Awareness Committee, a pro-Israel group, have casually equated Skidmore’s lectures to antiSemitic attacks, and alleged that those who write proIsrael papers receive lower grades than others. “We have a situation at Carleton where professors who speak about the violation of Palestinian human rights run the risk of being victimized by false accusations,” said Skidmore. D’Orazio also noted that he is enrolled in a graduate level class taught by the former Canadian Ambassador to Israel. “I would consider him to be biased, if you want to use that term,” he said, “but it never crossed my mind that I could possibly get a lower mark because I wrote a critical paper contrary to his personal views. “I actually would love to have a professor that I completely disagree with,” said D’orazio. “I think that having a professor that disagrees with me politically can be more fruitful… you should be challenged, you should feel uncomfortable – it’s part of university.”
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The Canadian Federation of Students is your provincial and national students’ union uniting more than 300,000 students in Ontario and 600,000 students across Canada. www.leveller.ca
Nos semences, notre souveraineté Josée Madéia Avec ce début de printemps qui bourgeonne, les visiteurs commencent à affluer au centre de ressource du GRIPO à la recherche de livres sur le jardinage et sur les plants les mieux adaptés à notre région. Avec la prolifération des festivals des semences, des jardins communautaires et des marchés des agriculteurs, l’accès aux semences du patrimoine et aux variétés anciennes devient un enjeu qui préoccupe non seulement les agriculteurs, mais aussi les citadins. De fait, le concept de « souveraineté alimentaire » est devenu une expression courante chez les adeptes du mouvement en faveur de la consommation d’aliments locaux. Développé par le mouvement paysan international La Via Campesina, avant le Sommet mondial de l’alimentation en 1996, ce concept désigne « le droit des populations, de leurs États ou Unions à définir leur politique agricole et alimentaire, sans dumping vis-à-vis des pays tiers ». Il inclut « la priorité donnée à la production agricole locale pour nourrir la population, l’accès des paysan(ne) s et des sans-terre à la terre, à l’eau, aux semences, au crédit. D’où la nécessité de réformes agraires et de la lutte contre les organismes génétiquement modifiés pour le libre accès aux semences. » Le projet de loi C-18, intitulé Loi sur la croissance dans le secteur agricole, est la plus récente tentative fédérale risquant de porter atteinte à cette capacité de définir nous-mêmes nos politiques agricoles. Présenté au Parlement le 9 décembre dernier, ce projet de loi vise à modifier plusieurs lois. Les retombées seront multiples et en grande partie indéterminées et incertaines. L’enjeu est double : la mainmise des multinationales agro-industrielles sur les semences d’une part et, d’autre part, la reconnaissance du droit des agriculteurs de sélectionner, conserver, utiliser, échanger, stocker et vendre leurs semences. Harmoniser pour mieux contrôler
Le projet de loi cherche avant tout à harmoniser la Loi sur la protection des obtentions végétales (LPOV) du Canada avec l’Union Internationale pour la protection des obtentions végétales (UPOV) de 1991. L’UPOV cherche à « protéger » les obtentions végétales en les brevetant ou, encore, à protéger juridiquement les droits de propriété intellectuelle des obtenteurs sur « leurs » variétés. Plusieurs voix critiques se font entendre contre cette politique, le Syndicat national des agriculteurs en tête : « Il est dit aux paysans et au public que l’UPOV 91 permettra aux agriculteurs canadiens d’avoir accès à des variétés améliorées et in-
novantes. Nous rejetons cet argument. Nous sommes contre ce type de réglementation, parce qu’il modifie fondamentalement le lien qui nous relie, nous, paysans et paysannes, à nos semences. » Un des effets de cette harmonisation sera une importante modification de la redevance – somme d’argent que l’agriculteur doit verser à la firme semencière, à titre de rente, pour l’usage de ses semences. La redevance pourra être exigée non seulement sur la semence comme telle, mais sur le produit des récoltes. Un tel changement précarisera davantage le sort de l’agriculteur et enrichira les semenciers multinationaux tels Monsanto, Cargill, Syngenta et compagnie. Des modifications sont également apportées aux certificats d’obtention. En enregistrant une variété et en recevant un certificat d’obtention, l’entreprise (l’obtenteur) contrôle l’usage de cette variété et perçoit des redevances. Le projet de loi C-18 prolonge la période de validité d’un tel certificat d’obtention. Il faudra 20 ans, si le projet de loi est adopté, pour que la variété enregistrée soit transférée au domaine public.
Les Sans-culottes étaient les révolutionnaires radicaux pendant la Révolution française (vers 1789). Leur nom émanait des pantalons qu’ils portaient au lieu de la culotte courte et des bas, portés par les nobles et les bourgeois.
Nous acceptons actuellement des articles en français pour la prochaine édition du Leveller. Envoyez vos articles à editors.the. firstname.lastname@example.org, et aidez-nous à diversifier notre contenu! PHOTO: Josée Madéia
duction et d’alimentation. Hanny Van Geel, paysanne hollandaise qui milite avec La Via Campesina, affirme que « seule la préservation de la biodiversité garantie par le renouvellement constant des semences paysannes peut offrir aux consommateurs une nourriture saine et de qualité ». Et Unai Aranguren, paysan basque, rappelle « qu’il ne peut pas y avoir de souveraineté
alimentaire sans semences paysannes ». Le Syndicat national des agriculteurs, qui travaille de concert avec La Via Campesina ici au Canada, tente présentement de mobiliser non seulement les agriculteurs mais tous les citoyens avec leur campagne « Sauvons nos semences ! » Pour plus d’information sur la campagne et pour vous impliquer, visitez leur site web www.nfu.ca
Si vous avez de l’expérience dans la révision de textes en français, contactez-nous!
restrictions et le produit des récoltes
En ce qui a trait à la sauvegarde des semences, le projet de loi C-18 permet au gouvernement de restreindre et d’imposer des restrictions sur la façon dont les agriculteurs peuvent utiliser le produit des récoltes. À l’heure actuelle, les agriculteurs peuvent conserver leurs semences à leur guise, qu’il s’agisse de variétés protégées par un certificat d’obtention ou non, en autant qu’elles ne fassent pas l’objet d’un brevet. Sous l’UPOV, les agriculteurs qui veulent récupérer les semences d’une variété protégée doivent obtenir l’autorisation de l’obtenteur de la variété en question, qui lui a tout à gagner de ne pas la donner. De plus, si on reconnait aux agriculteurs le droit de conserver et de conditionner les semences, on ne leur reconnaît pas celui de les entreposer ou de les stocker. Ainsi, une compagnie semencière pourrait poursuivre un agriculteur en justice pour avoir entreposé des semences en vue de les semer le printemps suivant ou les années subséquentes, une pratique adoptée par les agriculteurs depuis belle lurette pour se protéger contre les mauvaises récoltes. Pourquoi ces changements devraient-ils préoccuper les citadins? Parce que « si vous contrôler l’alimentation, vous contrôlez la population ». Point à la ligne.
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Pour cultiver notre autonomie En cette année internationale de l’agriculture familiale, des paysans de partout se mobilisent pour réclamer leur droit aux semences et à l’auto-détermination en matière de pro-
PHOTO: Josée Madéia
vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014 The Leveller 7
Acknowledging Black History Month in the Classroom A deeper understanding of Black identity BY Jennifer Meya
When Carter G. Woodson devised a plan for dedicating a week to focus on the significance of Black History, Jim Crow laws, school segregation, and bold-faced white supremacy were not just issues relating to the past, but very much part of the daily lived injustices of Black Americans. Since then, the month of February has been used as an occasion to encourage Blacks to reflect and embrace their history, their triumphs, and how far Blacks have come. But is it sufficient to condense an entire history into one month when the historic struggle of Black people is ongoing? The month of February has been used as an occasion to encourage Blacks to reflect and embrace their history, their triumphs and how far Blacks have come. But is it sufficient to condense an entire history into one month when the historic struggle of Black people is ongoing?
irrelevant to Black youth growing up in Canada? Repetition breeds boredom. If curricula in Canada stick to the same portrayal of the same historical events, the possibilities of moving forward as a stilldeveloping nation become far-fetched. The separation between Black history and Canadian history should not exist because it further complicates Canadian history in general. It generates a complex battle in the schism between Blacks and non-Blacks, wherein ‘Black History’ is only recognized once a year and white history overpowers and is known as the standard rule of law - the dominant narrative in Canadian and American histories. Constraining a significant part of history to a month, once a year does not allow students to absorb all that needs to be learned. It sets up boundaries about what is worth reflecting on and what stories are marginalized.
Black History Month has been a time to reflect and appreciate those who came before us. But if a week can turn into a month, why hasn’t the content this month celebrates been expanded into the rest of the year? Although the 60s are long gone and slavery has been abolished for over a century, there are still hidden stories that have not been heard, such as that of Black Canadian slavery, and of African-Canadians who contributed to the development of Canada today.
To celebrate Black history goes beyond a one month tradition. It pushes us to become aware of our similarities and differences. This awareness involves a transpersonal experience - one that goes beyond the self and towards understanding other aspects of relating with each other. If we start to understand one another, we start to bridge the gap of the “us versus them” scheme. Since Black Canadian history and other histories have not been the subject in our lenses, it is assumed that whites are the founders of this land. Within these assumptions, that which is Eurocentric becomes the authoritative narrative, structuring reality for all.
How can African-Canadian students understand their own history, let alone identity, if the education system focuses on stories that are
Carrie M. Best Born March 4, 1904, New Glasgow Nova Scotia Died July 24, 2001 Journalist
Black History, All the Time By Adam Kostrich & Ajay Parasram Carrie Best founded The Clarion, which was the first Black newspaper in Nova Scotia. The Clarion was originally a single sheet community bulletin for New Glasgow’s Black population that Best spearheaded in 1946. Within a year of first publishing the 1-page bulletin, Best was publishing a broadsheet aimed at promoting better race relations in the community. Best covered stories of importance to the Black community and social justice, including the crucial but ill discussed case of Viola Desmond, a Halifax woman who was arrested for defiantly sitting in a New Glasgow theatre reserved for Whites only. Desmond’s action was in 1946, and she was dragged by two White men out of the Whites-only section of the theatre when she refused to re-locate to the Black area of the theatre. The Clarion published from 1946 - 1956, with a brief revival in 1977 as The Negro Citizen. Overlapping with The Clarion, Best started a radio show called “Quiet Corner” in 1952 and was on the air until 1964. She was a columnist for The Pictou Advocate 1968 - 1976. Best was inducted to the Order of Canada in 1974, and made an Officer in 1979. She was awarded the Order of Nova Scotia, posthumously, in 2002.
8 The Leveller vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014
Angela Davis Born Jan. 26, 1944, Birmingham Alabama Activist, scholar
Carter G. Woodson Born Dec. 19, 1875 Died April 3, 1950 Historian, journalist
In 1926, Carter G. Woodson, a pioneering African-American historian, activist and journalist, created Negro History Week with the intent of reclaiming the misrepresented, and at times willfully ignored history of Black America. The second week of February was chosen to honour the birthdays of the self-liberated slave turned abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery under the Thirteenth Amendment to the US constitution. By 1969, The Black United Students at Kent State University advocated to expand the week
Angela Davis grew up in a part of Birmingham that would later be described as “Dynamite Hill,” because those who disapproved of Black people moving into the area eventually began burning front doors and bombing the homes of Black Americans. While in High School, she found inspiration in the Communist Manifesto, and later travelled to Germany to study with the acclaimed critical theorist, Theodor Adorno at the Frankfurt School. Returning to the U.S., Davis joined the Communist Party USA as well as organized with the Black Panther Party in 1968. Her alliances with radical political organizations resulted in her firing from the University of California (Los Angeles) for “inflammatory language,” such as calling police officers “pigs.” She was famously arrested and tried with the possibility of being sent to the gas chambers. This catalyzed mass movements in support for her freedom, and she was eventually acquitted by an all-white jury. Davis is today a globally acclaimed thinker, activist, and organizer on issues pertaining to race, gender, class, and prison abolition.
The son of former slaves, Woodson is considered the father of Black history. He taught himself how to read and write and moved away from home at age 17 to attend school part-time while working in a coal mine. By 1903, he had earned a bachelor’s degree in literature. Five years later, he received a graduate degree from the University of Chicago, and in 1912 he received a PhD in history from Harvard University — the second Black man (after W.E.B Du Bois) to earn a doctorate there. Woodson felt that Black history was both under and misrepresented in the U.S. His work sought to revive the place of Blacks within American history. In 1915 he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which published The Journal of Negro History. That same year, he published The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, a history of education of Blacks by white slave owners. Over the course of his career, he published over 18 books, many of them landmark histories which argued for a revision of the way history is taught to Black Americans in schools. His most famous work, The Miseducation of the Negro (1933) argued that Blacks in America received a negative sense of personal identity from their exposure to their own history in public schools. Convinced that “if you control a man’s thinking, you control his actions,” Woodson’s life and work showed his dedication to eradicating racism through education and increased social integration. The academic association and journal he founded 99 years ago exist in great repute today.
“The separation between Black history and Canadian history should not exist because it further complicates Canadian history in general. It generates a complex battle in the schism between Blacks and non-Blacks, wherein ‘Black History’ is only recognized once a year and white history overpowers ” Where do young African-Canadian high school students or undergraduates stand in terms of their history and their futures? How can Black students gain the opportunity to understand their identities if racially and culturally appropriate content is never taught in schools? Philosopher Steve Biko believed that “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor was the mind of the oppressed.” The work of Black intellectuals is rarely celebrated. Other Blacks are erased from history and few are remembered for their feats. There are countless African Canadians who became prominent Canadian figures. Hon. Lincoln M. Alexander was the first Black person to become Member of Parliament. After obtaining a law degree from Toronto’s Osgoode Hall School of Law, he was appointed a Queen’s Counsel and became a partner at a prestigious Hamilton law firm. He then served in the House of Commons until 1980. In June of 2006 Alexander, was named the “Greatest Hamiltonian of all time.” A look at Black History also reveals struggle. Evidence shows that Harriet Tubman escorted slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. However, for some slaves, freedom was unattainable. The hanging of Angelique is a prime example of a hidden narrative that has been left largely undiscussed. Angelique was accused of setting fire to her owner’s home and damaging forty-six buildings. Since she was known as a rebellious slave, she was forced to die for a crime she
W.E.B. Du Bois Born Feb. 23, 1868 Died Aug. 27, 1963 Historian,sociologist, activist
may have never committed. It was her abnormal behavior in the eyes of the white “masters” that fabricated her fate. We lack the ability to empathize and sympathize with our Black colleagues when we refuse to embrace diversity within our nation and grasp an understanding of Black experiences. We overlook Black writers who have written revolutionary novels, articles and non-fiction narratives. These include writers such as Dionne Brand who based her writing on her feminist outlook. Brand’s focus was on the experiences of Black women and she received countless nominations for her work as a poet, filmmaker and a novelist. George Elliot Clarke was well-known as a poet and a playwright. He received the $150,000 Trudeau Fellow prize for his contribution to the discussions on multiculturalism. Black history needs to become a par t of Canadian history recognized in tex tbooks and curricula. We become more knowledgeable, and more adequate in our historical affirmation of the role of Black intellectuals, Black experiences and Black identity if we end the one month routine and envision Black history as Canadian history. As James Hal Cone once stated, “If integration means accepting the white man’s style, his values or his religion, the Black man must refuse. On the other hand, if integration means that each man meets the other on equal footing…then mutual meaningful dialogue is possible.” Dialogue breeds solidarity.
Frantz Fanon Born July 20, 1925 Died 6 December, 1961 Philosopher, psychiatrist, revolutionary Huey P. Newton Born Feb. 17, 1942, Monroe Louisiana Died Aug. 22, 1989. Political leader
to the full month of February, a measure that was adopted by the university the than history, is a rich and endless supply of possible histories. History, in all the following year and the US government to commemorate its bicentennial in 1976. ways in which it is meaningful, is a constant struggle of interpretation with crucial significance for the present and the future. Ideas stemming from West-European Within a liberal multicultural framework, it is too easy to compartmentalize “Enlightenment” thinkers such as G.W.F. Hegel have rendered non-Europeans as histories of marginalized people into “months,” and insodoing, society is led to “people without history.” In this portrait, the Leveller highlights the work of six believe that issues are successfully “dealt with.” This is a great and dangerous Black women and men who refused to accept the histories about them, and instead fiction because history is not a past, rather, a story about the past. The past, rather chose to make history. In 1895, Du Bois (pronounced “due boys”) received his PhD in history from Harvard University, becoming the first Black man to earn a doctorate there. Shortly after, he wrote the first sociological case study of a Black community in Philadelphia. He argued that Black Americans should embrace their African heritage, rather than assimilate into white society. His work and influence were instrumental in the eventual rejection of the “Atlanta Compromise” of 1895, in which Southern politicians, Black and white, agreed to create a segregated, hierarchical society in which Blacks were denied the right to vote and other civil liberties. Du Bois was pushed to activism after the 1899 lynching of Sam Hose, a Black worker from Atlanta who killed his employer in self-defense. In 1903, Du Bois published his most influential work, a collection of essays titled The Souls of Black Folk, which argued that Black and white Americans were equally brilliant, creative, and human. Du Bois also co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1910. Like Woodson, Du Bois argued vehemently for emphasis on the agency of Blacks in American and world history. In the aftermath of the First World War and the subsequent Paris Peace Conference, Du Bois helped organize a Pan-African Congress which implored the fledgling League of Nations to stipulate that Africa be governed by Africans and that the League work towards international racial equality. The League largely ignored these requests.
Fanon is best known as a postcolonial Marxist intellectual, but his foundational insights into the psychological effects of colonization draw from his background in medicine. Born in Martinique, Fanon was taught by Negritude author Aimé Césaire in high school. During the Second World War, he fought to liberate French North Africa as a member of the French Free Army. He studied medicine after the war and received his medical degree in Lyon in 1951. The following year, he wrote Black Skin, White Masks, a study on the negative psychological status of colonized Blacks. Shortly after the book’s publication, Fanon began practicing medicine in Algeria, using psychotherapy to help his patients draw upon their ethnic and cultural identities as a means of overcoming the trauma and personal confusion they had felt growing up as colonized peoples. He joined the Algerian Revolution shortly after its outbreak in November 1954, and was expelled from Algeria in 1957 for his active participation as an organizer and war strategist. While travelling across North Africa in exile, Fanon was diagnosed with leukemia. While fighting the disease he dictated his final and most famous work, The Wretched of the Earth, which argues that colonized people are justified in violently asserting their independence because their humanity is not recognized and therefore they are not bound by conventions governing human behaviour. He died in late 1961 in United States, was laid in state in Tunisia, and was buried in Algeria.
Huey P. Newton taught himself how to read after leaving high school in 1959. Newton grew up in Oakland, Calif. in a school system that denigrated Blacks, but was still seen as an better environment for Black children than the American South at that time. Like many others in his generation, Newton was harassed by police as a young teenager. As a student at Merritt College in Oakland, Newton helped organize the first African American course adopted as part of the curriculum. Reading critical leftist and anti-colonial literature, Newton and his schoolmate Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party for Self Defence in 1966. Unlike other organizations at the time, the Black Panther Party advocated for Blacks to take up arms and defend themselves against white supremacy when necessary. The Party under Newton published their famous Ten Point Plan, which highlights social issues such as housing, poverty, education, police brutality, wars of aggression, healthcare, and solidarity among other things. Newton was arrested for killing a police officer who was shooting at him first, and was eventually released after two hung juries failed to convict him amidst popular “Free Huey” campaigns.
vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014 The Leveller 9
Black History to Black Futurism Trajecting our liberation Sharrae Lyon Black History Month has become a month that is used to share history and knowledge of past leaders, intellectuals, artists and shapers of Black life in the Diaspora and the continent. It is a month where we, as a diverse people, collectively celebrate the advancements we have made and track the key moments that have led us to where we are in the present times. This month is vital to our continual collective memory, which contributes to never forgetting the brutality and horrors we faced in various locations across the world and how we defiantly and creatively resist the powers who try to make us succumb to the belief that there are no possibilities of freedom and liberation. Of course, it is important that we do not fall into essentialized definitions of “Black” and “African.” For the purposes of this article, I am speaking of people of Afro-descent living in North America (particularly Canada), as our condition -- which is also complicated and complex -- is also very much different from Afro/ Black experiences in other regions of the world. Recently, I attended the opening ceremony of Black History Month in Montréal, where awards were presented to Black Montréalers who have done much service to the Black Montréal community. The laureates are brilliant individuals who are notable contributors to current alleviations of Black struggle. However, the ceremony opened with three white politicians, namely Mayor Denis Coderre, who is known for his implicit role in the overthrow of democratically-elected Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. White supremacy has infiltrated our own celebrations and commemorations of our peoples. Programming for Black History Month across Canada is be-
ing funded and sponsored by organizations and governments who are engaging in development or political ventures that are not only complicit in the continual suppression of our people in other countries, but are also creating policy that is patronizing our youth and streamlining them into prison systems. Furthermore, their money also distorts the control we have to truly shape our collective and individual narratives. For example, why is it that Afro-Canadian history remains largely untold? Author David Austin’s book, Fear of a Black Nation, illustrates that Montréal had become a hub for Black radical thinking and organizing during the 1960s and 70s. Africville and other communities, such as Amber Valley in Alberta, are topics that are largely unknown by white, people of colour and Black communities despite the deplorable conditions that Blacks had to endure during the 1880s. The misdirection of focusing on African-American experience appears not to be a happenstance, but quite strategically shaped to influence our ideas on the need for continual resistance. Black leaders have been frozen in the glass case called “history” and their significance to our current conditions are forgotten. A question arises: how much control do we have over Black History Month? The answer may, frighteningly, also lead us to pose the question, “How much control do we then have over our future?” Afrofuturism and Black sci-fi, I believe, is the future of our self-actualization. In actuality, it always has been. All Black visionaries in all aspects of culture, politics and lifestyle were Afro-futurists, science fiction visionaries who had the capacity to understand the current condition of Black peoples, but were also able to see alternative possibilities. Recently, there has been
10 The Leveller vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014
In fact, all the Black civil rights leaders, artists/ musicians, politicians, and other visionaries who preceded us were able to envision new and alternative futures. They understood that it did not make sense for them to continue living a story in which they were not the writers, but simply the subjects. much debate on how the film industry depicts Black people through one-dimensional slave narratives that are doused in extreme violence and trauma. Black people cannot just be people. We have to be welfare queens, suffer extreme amounts of abuse, enslaved, and/or depicted as criminals. Unlike our white counterparts, we aren’t able to just be, to enjoy portrayals of depth and complexity, with the capacity to experience various emotions and experiences. Our stories are flat and often used to ease the guilt of a white history and of white society for their inhuman and barbaric treatment of our peoples. I believe that committing ourselves to sci-fi and futurism can allow us to break out of the narratives and conditions of living that have been constructed for
us. We, as Black peoples, did not construct the ghettos, we did not construct the prisons, we did not create guns and drugs, we do not dictate the disregard of those murdered for their genders and sexuality, and we do not create the gatekeepers of industry and professions. Instead, we were placed in the midst of these creations. With this realization, we can then conceive that we can change our circumstances. In fact, all the Black civil rights leaders, artists/musicians, politicians, and other visionaries who preceded us were able to envision new and alternative futures. They understood that it did not make sense for them to continue living a story in which they were not the writers, but simply the subjects. They were able to recognize the components that made the current situation unbearable and then were able to envision new possibilities that, during their time, were inconceivable, impossible. But they committed themselves to their vision and believed with unwavering hope that they were right. The power of visualization is a tool that much spiritual and self-help literature discusses in terms of enabling achievement of a specific goal. With visualization, you are pushing your imagination into a future, and ultimately shifting your mental paradigm and thus impacting your actions towards filling that goal. That is science fiction. Black people, science fiction/futurism provides an answer. The people who took steps before us opened corridors that will allow us to continue to move forward into an Afro-future of greatness, and limitless possibilities. They mobilized themselves by the hundreds of millions, making it virtually impossible for countries to continue the methods of torture on an international stage. They were us, and we are them. We are the future, right here, right now.
For me, science fiction/ futurism is synonymous with envisioning possibility. In my writing, filmmaking and facilitation, I commit myself to doing work that imagines newness, that in effect goes beyond my mind into action towards making these thoughts a reality. This is essentially the goal of Afrofuturists. We pull from our past of ancient Golden Ages and catapult ourselves into the future. We have always been a part of pushing the frontiers of technology, science and cultural advancements. Ytasha L. Womack’s book, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture, provides an extensive look at how Afrofuturist thought has changed, and continues to metamorphose, through processes of transition and transformation. Providing a thorough introduction to Afrofuturist thought, Womack touches on the ideas around art, science and technology that
Afrofuturists (self-identified and not) have brought forth, each committing themselves to African peoples and unifying and finding alternatives to achieve peace and harmony. Afrofuturism allows those of us from African descent and of the Diaspora to truly break away from the mental shackles of our existence and what we see as possible for ourselves. If we are able to tap in that energy source, and that dark matter from which all things stem, there is no stopping us from landing on whatever planetary plane or astral projections we imagine in our minds. For many of us, our imagination is all that we have. Afrofuturism provides a context where we as peoples of African descent and our children can visualize our future selves, and work towards taking those steps of actualizing ourselves into the earthbound reality. Originally published on www.forharriet.com
Canada’s (overzealous?) gatekeeping Proposed bill will create more obstacles for citizenship applicants Adrienne Vicente The Conservative government recently made several substantial proposals to change the Citizenship Act. On Feb. 6, 2014, Citizen and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander introduced Bill C-24, the “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act,” for its first reading. The government trumpets the overhaul as a strong bill that cracks down on citizenship fraud and streamlines the review process. While this may better reflect the Conservative party’s value of Canadian citizenship, for applicants on the ground, the new expectations are much more difficult and require much more waiting time. For citizenship applicants, Bill C-24 will greatly increase the amount of time they need to remain in Canada as residents before they can apply for citizenship. New changes have been implemented that require a permanent resident to re-
The tests were initially completed by immigrants between the ages of 18 and 54, but the age range for these requirements has now widened to include immigrants aged 14 to 64. This will have an impact on permanent residents who were originally exempt of these provisions, namely seniors who may have greater difficulty studying a new language. Along with the above policy changes, Bill C-24 also increases the citizenship application fees from $100 to $300. This sets a new financial barrier to new immigrants. Canadians of colour and women may be disproportionately affected by this change because they are overrepresented amongst those living in poverty. For example, for a single mother refugee claimant with five kids, receiving just over $2,100 in social assistance, the change in application cost becomes an increasingly difficult hurdle to overcome. Compounded
main in Canada for four out of the last six years. Previously, it was expected that they be a resident for only three out of the last four years. Time spent in Canada as a non-permanent resident, such as refugee claimant, temporary foreign worker, or international student, will no longer count. While a permanent resident who has worked for years as a temporary foreign worker would get the same social benefits as Canadians, they could wait years more before being allowed to vote, despite their contributions to the Canadian economy. Further, if there was a family emergency abroad that required a permanent resident’s extended presence, they would be forced to decide between family and citizenship, a problem that would not have emerged under the old system. Additionally, the language and Canadian knowledge requirements for citizenship have considerably changed.
Ultimately, however, the long-lasting effects of Bill C-24 do exactly what the Conservative party intended: they place further emphasis on the “right” kind of immigrant coming to Canada by increasing duration of stay and language proficiency requirements from citizenship applicants.
on this is the fact that she cannot yet work in Canada while her claim is being assessed, as her work permit application takes at least three months to obtain. For all intents and purposes, refugee claimants in Canada are expected to wait in financial, legal, and citizenship limbo. Other things she will need to consider are the transportation and accommodation arrangements for when she attends her hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board. Since the closure of the Ottawa hearings office in 2013, refugee claimants must travel to Montréal. Meanwhile, she will likely have to live in a temporary shelter because the costs of housing do not allow her to afford even a two bedroom apartment for a family of six. The average monthly rent of a two bedroom apartment in private housing in Ottawa is $1,115 excluding hydro and heat. With reduced coverage through the Interim Federal Health Program, she needs to make sure her children stay healthy long enough
to avoid paying for certain kinds of medical bills. Under Bill C-24, the minister will now have the power to grant and revoke citizenship, whereas previously it was the final decision of the Governor in Council. This allows the minister to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens who were part of armed forces or an organized armed group engaged in armed conflict with Canada, and to deny citizenship to permanent residents who are convicted of terrorism, treason or spying. Also, while the current legislation prevents permanent residents with domestic criminal charges and convictions from obtaining citizenship, the proposed changes extend this provision to permanent residents with overseas criminal charges and convictions. While the provision may be seemingly reasonable in theory, in practice many individuals have been wrongfully charged and convicted, often under corrupt regimes, for the crimes listed above. These changes to the
immigration policy create a system that allows the minister to hold past criminal charges against an applicant, regardless of whether they are justified or not. Certainly, immigration reform has been greatly needed for quite some time, and the new changes under Bill C-24 address many of the concerns immigration professionals have voiced regarding processing expediency and large-scale residency fraud. Ultimately, however, the long-lasting effects of Bill C-24 do exactly what the Conservative party intended: they place further emphasis on the “right” kind of immigrant coming to Canada by increasing duration of stay and language proficiency requirements from citizenship applicants. For many immigrants from non-English or non-French speaking countries, who come to Canada to start a better life with the hopes of contributing to our economy and social milieu, the process of doing so has only become more difficult.
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Are you interested in getting involved with an organization that works on social, environmental, and economic justice? Do you want to gain experience working with others who are passionate about these issues? This might be the opportunity for you!
Les responsabilités des membres du d’administration du GRIPO sont les suivantes :
Responsibilities of OPIRG Board Members
• Être présente et participer aux réunions (3 heures/semaine); • Travailler sur un dossier tel que : assurer la liaison avec les employées, le développement de politiques, les ressources humaines, les relations communautaires, l’anti-oppression; • Assurer l'équité et la sécurité en matière d'emploi pour les employées; • Contribuer au GRIPO avec enthousiasme et avec une perspective critique afin de créer un environnement à la fois dynamique et sain pour chacune. www.leveller.ca
• Attend and participate in meetings (3 hours/week); • Work on different portfolios such as: board-staff liaison, policy work, human resources, community relations, board relations and anti-oppression; • Work to ensure the safe and equitable employment of staff members; • Contribute to OPIRG with enthusiasm and a critical perspective to create a dynamic and positive space for everyone.
vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014 The Leveller 11
Government-Mandated Indigenous Education Makes a Rebound “Blue dots” standing up against Canada’s dictate A’tenguewinu Gabriel Castilloux and Sam Heaton Remember the days of residential schools? The Indigenous people of this land do. It is impossible for them to forget the one hundred years in which Canada forced Indigenous peoples to enlist into an education system meant, at best, to assimilate them. We now see the error in Canada’s dictate as thousands of horrifying tales from Indigenous survivors have spread across the country. In 2008, Indigenous peoples were even given some kind of apology for what was endured in the schools. And yet here we are, a mere decade since the last mandated school closure
and the Government of Canada is yet once again attempting to impose its education on First Nations. On Feb. 7 Harper held an event on the territory of the Kanai Nation (Blood Tribe) in Alberta to unveil a second, “updated” FNEA, called the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, which supposedly addressed some criticisms of the original legislation. At the event Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged $1.25 billion over three years for Indigenous schools across Canada beginning in 2016 — an amount that he said would increase by 4.5 per cent each year. According to the government, $500 million would be allocated for new onreserve infrastructure over seven years starting in 2015,
12 The Leveller vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014
with $160 million for an implementation fund.
...here we are, a mere decade since the last mandated school closure and the Government of Canada is yet once again attempting to mandate education for First Nations.
An analysis by Judith Rae shows that proposed funding for infrastructure is about half of what is required annually, excluding necessary
new school construction. Rae says the funding provided by the new Act is not enough to keep pace with population growth, let alone provide equitable funding compared to education for non-First Nations children. Schools have the option to adopt the FNEA or not. However, many reserves are in desperate need of funds, and so some schools are forced to accept the FNEA and the government’s direct hand in their teaching. The Assembly of First Nations of Labrador and Quebec has asked federal courts to prevent the legislation going ahead without its consent. Attendees at the Feb. 7 event were separated between the uninvited and guests, and assigned a blue or a yellow dot to identify them, respectively.
CREDIT: Deidre Kahwinetha Diome
During the event Twila Singer, one of the “blue dots,” was forcibly removed, allegedly for tweeting. Since then, the blue dot has been widely adopted by First Nations people and their allies
as a symbol of resistance to the FNEA and other legislation imposed without the people having a say. The FNEA would require teachers on reserve to fulfill provincial requirements, external standards of education, and mandate that the school board be under direct governance by federally approved representatives. Communities such as Kahnawà:ke are wary of the updated legislation and on Jan. 28 held a large community march against the FNEA. Kahnawà:ke resident Heather White told KahnawakeTV “My dad is a survivor of a residential school, and it’s important that it doesn’t happen again.” The Iroquois Caucus, comprised of the elected leaders of Akwesáhsne, Kahnawà:ke, Kanesatake, Oneida of the Thames, Six Nations of the Grand River, Tyendinaga and Wahta, unanimously rejected the proposed FNEA on Feb. 6. Explaining the Iroquois Caucus’ opposition to the legislation and the manner in which it came about, Wahta Council Chief told KahnawakeTV “We believe in Indigenous education by and for Indigenous peoples.” Many schools on reserve, though grossly underfunded and lacking basic supplies, are teaching their children their native languages, culture and spirituality. Funding for these important aspects of affirming our right to be as Indigenous peoples can hardly be a priority in a curriculum dictated by the colonial government. The solution is not for the Canadian government to decide what First Nations need to learn and impose it upon them. The tragic consequences of this kind of violation of rights can already be seen in the history of the residential schools, not to mention genocide, attacks on sovereignty, treaties, and the environment. It is up to the Canadian government to listen to the First Nations about what they need and let them be the leaders of their education system. Only by doing so, along with heeding the demand for nation-to-nation relations, can the crimes of the colonial past and present be redressed, and genuine partnership fostered.
Federal Budget 2014 analysis roundup The Leveller reads the punditry so you don’t have to! Alana Roscoe With a name like “The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities,” the 2014 budget might be expected to significantly contribute to the creation of jobs and opportunities for Canadians. Instead, most pundits agree, the Harper government’s latest budget doesn’t do much except offer the Conservatives a chance to position themselves favourably just before the 2015 federal election. “Missing action,” “donothing,” and “plain vanilla” were descriptions offered by commentators from across the political spectrum, with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty himself admitting it may be considered “boring,” before adding that he takes this characterization “as a compliment.” In a National Post comment piece, even Conrad Black agreed with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau when they said “there is nothing for jobs,” and “the government has run out of ideas,” respectively. Commentators from organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Policy
Alternatives (CCPA) and labour groups argued the budget’s continuing austerity stifles relief from unemployment, economic growth, and critically needed investments. In fact, the CCPA’s senior economist, David Macdonald, says that the 2014 budget contains the “largest annual spending cuts to date,” with previous budgets’ cuts totalling $14 billion coming into effect. The Fraser Institute, on the other hand, recommends caution in relying on “ambitious” revenue projections contributing to 2015-16’s anticipated $6.4 billion surplus and calls for even more spending cuts. The institute published prebudget recommendations that included cuts to corporate welfare spending, “inefficient” Crown corporation subsidies, and government employee compensation. So what does the budget do to create jobs and opportunities? Funds are earmarked for a smattering of reforms and programs over the next few years, but it is youth internships and vocational training in the skilled trades that generated most discussion, particularly from progressives.
Noting that dismal job prospects are particularly grim for young workers, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)’s Angella MacEwen wrote that the new money for education and training initiatives is “a mere drop in the bucket,” and that the internships’ focus on workers in high-demand fields is a “shocking non-solution to a very real crisis.” CUPE Senior Economist Toby Sanger further commented that internships are often abused as a way to underpay youth for their labour and that they “will do little to reduce unemployment” for this group. Paul Wells did some investigation on “the Conservatives’ fascination with college education” for Maclean’s, questioning the budget’s focus on vocational training and trade apprenticeships. He pointed to research that connected voter support with educational attainment, claiming,”It’s among university graduates that the Liberal advantage is greatest,” while Conservatives have more support among college graduates. Wells suggested that Harper is therefore concentrating on pleasing the latter group in anticipation of next year’s election.
While it garnered relatively little attention from most commentators, the new spending program for on-reserve education was lauded by progressives and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomed the investment as a step “toward First Nations control of First Nations education based on our rights, jurisdiction and Treaties.” He went on to note that more improvements are needed in other areas. The Toronto Star reported that Chief Charles Weaselhead of Alberta’s Blood Tribe more cautiously stated that the band “in no way endorse[s] the proposed legislation in its present form,” but that they remain “open to continued dialogue.” Scientists, who have generally not fared well under the Harper regime thus far, may feel optimistic at the announcement of $1.5 billion slotted for post-secondary research. However, the Council of Canadians’ national water campaigner Emma Lui cautions that “it is not clear where that money will be funneled,” given the new fund’s explicit focus on “research areas that create long-
term economic advantages for Canada,” a stipulation that received little analysis from most news outlets. It is once again public servants who find themselves the subject of discussion by commentators of the federal budget. They are, as the CBC bluntly asserts, one of the “losers” of the 2014 budget, based on the continuing federal bureaucracy spending freeze and compensation reductions such as public servant retirees’ doubled share of health-care plan costs. Progressive organizations and labour unions decried not only the erosion of civil servants’ benefits, but civil services themselves. For example, the Public Service Alliance of Canada stated, “After cutting a number of essential services, the government is now putting forward half measures that do nothing to restore what were once highly successful programs.” More conservative writers, however, focused on labeling public servants as over-compensated and attacking their unions: Black commended the Harper government for the “reduced indulgence it has shown the rapacious public
service unions.” Overall, most budget 2014 analyses with any depth found something to criticize, with favourable comments (unsurprisingly) increasing as contributors’ political ideology veered right. However, no matter what political ideology they adhered to, most pundits’ cynicism was clear. By positioning themselves to announce a sizable surplus and significant tax cuts next year, the Conservatives are aiming for a budget in 2015 that will please people enough to cause collective amnesia of everything they’ve done to displease those same people over the past nine years. Political opportunism and not the best interests of Canadians - is the real motivation behind the 2014 budget. From the National Post’s Andrew Coyne (“...whether it does the right thing or the wrong thing it is always and everywhere because it serves the government’s political interests.”) to the CCPA’s Macdonald (“This budget, while it is being pitched as one of economic management, is really about electoral management.”), the Conservatives aren’t fooling anyone.
Match these words of wisdom to the public figure! *Note: each public figure may be used more than once for this puzzle!
a.) “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
1.) Carrie M. Best, Nova Scotian journalist, poet, activist
b.) “Everyone is crying out for peace - noone is crying out for justice. I don’t want no peace - I want equal rights, and justice.”
2.) Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party
c.) “Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.”
3.) Eddie Carvery, Africville resident
d.) “Culture is simultaneously the fruit of a people’s history and a determinant of history.”
4.) Audrey Lorde, poet
e.) “I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” f.) “Africville wasn’t a hallucination, it was a real society within this society. And what they did was a slow genocide. They poisoned us. They forced us out of our homes.” g.) “Black History lost, has been found: Strayed, has wandered back and Stolen, is being returned.”
5.) Peter Tosh, musician 6.) Shirley Chisholm, politician
I’m7.) a Malcolm X, activist Leveller! 8.) Harriet Tubman, Underground Railroad conductor
h.) “If you’re not ready to die for it, put ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.” i.) “What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.”
9.) Amilcar Cabral, political leader/writer
j.) “You don’t fight racism with racism, the best way to fight racism is with solidarity.”
10.) Angela Davis, activist/scholar
a.) Audrey Lorde; b.) Peter Tosh ; c.) Shirley Chisholm ; d.) Amilcar Cabral ; e.) Harriet Tubman ; f.) Eddie Carvery ; g.)Carrie M. Best ; h.) Malcolm X ; i.) Angela Davis; j.) Bobby Seale
vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014 The Leveller 13
Painted Lips and harmful myths “Sexy” film festival a missed opportunity for inclusiveness and sex positivity Kristen Bonnell On Feb. 14, the Mayfair Theatre offered up an alternative to the conventional Valentine’s Day date by hosting the 5th annual Painted Lips and Lolly Licks: The Sexy Film Festival. This year’s festival featured 22 erotic short films ranging from two to 15 minutes in length. Judged remotely by Ottawa-born porn star Mandy Morbid, the festival featured seven Canadian films, 12 from the United States, and one each from Spain, Australia, and the Czech Republic. While each film explored erotic themes, their tones were varied and distinct, from silly to explicit. The selections grew raunchier as the night progressed. The evening’s host expressed gratitude for the number of submissions received, and encouraged those present in the audience to consider contributing to
next year’s event. In a brief overview of the content that would be screened, he addressed the lack of gay male content up front, attributing its absence to a lack of submissions rather than any homophobia on the part of festival organizers. It was explained that the event was to be LGBTQ+ inclusive, and viewers could look forward to lots of “lesbian” content. This was due, he said, to a burgeoning lesbian indie porn scene, the growth of which he wrongfully credited in part to the low risk of venereal disease transmission during sex between women. That lesbian content? Two films. In one, three nude women kissed and licked candy syrup from each others’ bodies while suggestively sucking on lollipops. The other film that could be plausibly argued to feature lesbian sex portrayed Catwoman nonconsensually restraining and
While indie in the literal sense, many of the films screened during Painted Lips and Lolly Licks failed to incorporate the sex positivity that can be found in the growing independent porn scene.
penetrating Batgirl. Where was the lesbian indie porn mentioned at the start of the evening? Labelling woman-onwoman porn targeted towards a largely heterosexual male audience as “lesbian” is appropriative and contributes to the dehumanization and erasure of queer bodies. This mislabeling of porn feeds into the idea that female sexuality exists solely for male consumption. A growing number of small production companies are attempting to create porn that reflects queer realities by actively incorporating sex positivity into their mandates. While this growth was not represented during the festival, their work has increased the visibility of diversity in bodies, gender presentations, and orientations in the pornographic industry. The large majority of the films featured white, heterosexual characters who appear to identify with the
genders they were assigned at birth. And while the lack of homosexual male content was pointed out up front, the lack of visible racial diversity was never addressed. Some blame can be placed on the lack of submissions, to be sure, but one must also question the way spaces identifying as inclusive alienate already marginalized communities. Many of the films propagated harmful understandings of heterosexuality. Two films depicted men purchasing their female sex partners. One, entitled Candy, showed the male protagonist discarding his girlfriend into a trash can in favour of a newly purchased companion. Over the course of the film, the ideal woman is depicted as one without her own agency and preferences, who acts in compliance to all desires expressed by her sex partner. This reinforces problematic myths that
place women as withholding and men as pursuing sex, erasing the negotiations that establish boundaries, understanding, and consent in relationships. While indie in the literal sense, many of the films screened during Painted Lips and Lolly Licks failed to incorporate the sex positivity that can be found in the growing independent porn scene. Rather, the festival seemed to reflect the problematic understandings of race, heterosexual relationships and LGBTQ+ bodies found in mainstream porn. Still, the festival does represent a sex positivity of sorts by providing a space for people to explore porn and sexuality in a public forum. Perhaps with stronger call outs to marginalized communities, next year’s event may incorporate the inclusivity that is increasingly demanded of spaces that identify as sex positive.
groups that the Beehive Design Collective collaborated with in this graphic. On the Beehive’s website different people and groups are acknowledged, however if the goal is to celebrate resistance and help grassroots movements, then these groups should have had a more central focus. On their website the Collective states that they work with Local Revitalization Projects without saying what these projects are. One of the challenges
faced by the Beehive Design Collective is that to maintain the very commendable practice of ensuring nonownership of a collaborative graphic, their accountability to those who the graphic is purportedly for has been watered down. It behooves the group to reconsider their ideology, and assess whether the benefits of anonymity outweigh the costs of insufficiently representing the groups they stand in solidarity with on the ground.
Reviewing Mesoamérica Resiste Emma Ferguson The Beehive Design Collective showcased their most recent installment on corporate-driven globalization to Gallery 101. On Feb. 12, prints of the Mesoamérica Resiste graphic were featured along with a video about the group’s history and work. The Collective is an activist group that pushes the lines of politics and art. The group is anti-copyright and challenges the idea of creative ownership by keeping the identities of its members anonymous. Multiple members presented the group’s material, going by the simple handle of “Bee.” The Beehive Design Collective’s mandate is to “crosspollinate the grassroots” with dense graphic campaigns on various topics, including Free Trade, biotechnology, biojustice, and the G8. The group is an influential force within activist communities. Their mandate is beautifully represented in a central image in Mesoamérica Resiste. Named “the Junta,” the image shows numerous different animals that wouldn’t normally congregate gathered together to
pursue a common goal of resistance. Mesoamérica Resiste was nine years in design, consultation and execution. The poster was initially a response to the exploitative economic strategy of the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) of 2001. The PPP affected Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, southern Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. The stated goal of the PPP was to expand the energy sector, transportation, telecommunications, and tourism as well as facilitating increased trade. The plan was criticized by the Bees for its focus on free trade and foreign corporate investment at the cost of Indigenous land rights and environmental degradation. The PPP morphed into the Mesoamerica Project in 2009 in an attempt to deflect criticism, but the major tenets of the project remained unchanged. The poster itself has two images: the first folds out into the second. The outside image documents the corporate-driven globalization of the Mesoamerica Project. Oppressive practices by international organizations,
governments, and private corporate industry are intricately detailed. The layout of this outer image resembles a conquistador map and so makes explicit the connection between European colonization and the exploitation that continues today. The interior of the graphic details the strength and resiliency of local movements. More than 400 species of animals and 100 species of plants found within the region affected by the Mesoamerica Project were hand-drawn in fine detail to represent the people of the region. Images of grassroots struggles wind around the Ceiba tree - the “tree of life” by Guatemalan tradition. Political movements are celebrated in this part of the graphic, including action in Atenco, Mexico where efforts to build an airport were defeated in the face of police brutality. Movements with strong female leadership are also depicted in the art as they struggle against the different faces of militarization. The roots of the Ceiba tree show how this resistance is grounded in traditional scenes of culture.
While the anonymity of the Collective’s design pushes the boundaries of intellectual property, it also leaves open to question the degree to which Indigenous leadership factors into the design. The bees described a process wherein the Beehive Design Collective gathered images and stories for over five months in Mesoamerica with people on the front lines of resistance. The Collective members then designed images to reflect these stories and brought them back to the communities that were consulted. As an example, an image of a library to represent knowledge was changed to reflect the oral tradition of knowledge sharing. The question nonetheless remains: is this sufficient representation? The Beehive Design Collective has long been a leader in activist communities, and as such they need to balance that with increased reflection on privilege. The Bees I talked to acknowledged white skin privilege, and privilege of North American citizenship, but did not suggest solutions. I would have liked to see more of the grassroots
PHOTO: Frederick Blichert
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A Different Kind of Valentine’s Experiencing Love & Hate
HorOscopes XL Petite PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20)
Pisces, I have a sinking suspicion that you should avoid Waller Street...I couldn’t resist.
From left to right - Nova, Mikael, Lucila, Dee, Tarah, Elaine & Anoshia.
Kandace Price and Leslie Muñoz A storytelling event entitled Love & Hate, was hosted at Venus Envy Ottawa on Feb. 14 as a youth-led alternative to traditional Valentine’s Day celebrations. The evening focused on exploring the lives and realities of girls of colour and girls who are newcomers to Canada living in Ottawa. “These events are important because they bring people together in community and help to remind us all that we are not alone,” said Lucila Al Mar, one of the evening’s performers. The event was attended by around 40 people and was hosted by Insight Theatre, a youth educational theatre program, run by Planned Parenthood Ottawa and the Girls Action Foundation, a national program to help young women build their skills and confidence. “This was most definitely a community-wide effort,” said Luna Allison, event organizer and director of Insight Theatre. “It was focused on youth and anti-oppression and using performance as a way of helping youth to empower themselves.” The night opened with Allison reading a statement from the Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN) entitled “Not Forgetting the Legacy and Hon-
oring through Action.” This was done in recognition of the Feb. 14 annual Day of Action and Memorial March aimed at remembering and honoring missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual (LGBTTQQIA), and gender non-conforming people as well as their families.
“Our experiences are erased and invalidated. This event provided a beautiful space for us to speak, relate, share and assert our intense strength.”
When the youth took to the stage, the talent of Ottawa’s young community leaders was instantly captivating. Each performance was intimate, and many touched on personally experienced instances of oppression and privilege in Canada.
PHOTO: Luna Allison
“POCs [people of colour] aren’t given space to speak,” said Elaine Boileau who shared poetry about ancestry, identity, love, loss and lust. “Our experiences are erased and invalidated. This event provided a beautiful space for us to speak, relate, share and assert our intense strength.” Other common themes of the night included displacement and disconnection from one’s homelands, as well as the struggles of resisting the Canadian assimilation process and its racism, religious bias, language barriers, ties to poverty and gender discrimination. Many of the stories were also rooted in the complexities of living as a racialized settler on colonized land. The callout to performers for the show was open to anyone who identified with the pronoun “she, ” and the event was presented in a multi-language format so that artists could present in whatever manner they were most comfortable. “I think it is very important to have events like these which are safe spaces for everyone to express themselves,” said Anoshia Quadri, a 19 year old Pakistani Canadian who spoke of gendered stereotypes and assimilation. “Ottawa has a great art community and I hope more events like these are organized so everyone can come out and really listen to what people have to say.”
ARIES (March 21-April 19) This is a time of inward reflection for you, Aries, when you need to re-evaluate your expectations for those who are near and dear to you. Remember that relationships are dynamic and they must change with time. Your pet aardvark can’t be expected to edit your papers as she did in her youth. The mind deteriorates with age; accept it and treasure the time you have left. TAURUS (April 20-May 20) Taurus, in these difficult economic times, I think that you should follow the resourceful example of suspended senator Patrick Brazeau. When he got booted from the Senate, he didn’t take it sitting down! He promptly got himself fired from Frank magazine for “narcissistic ramblings” in his 1.5 columns, according to the editor. He’s a real trailblazer, as that second half of an article must have been impressively creative to result in a preemptive canning before even finishing it. Anyway, if you need help with your resume, you can find him at Barefax. GEMINI (May 21-June 20)
So I heard your grumbling about the boozelessness of the pubs for the gold medal game last Sunday, Gemini, but had you consulted me, I’d have assured you it was going to be a 3-0 slaughter. This has nothing to do with astrology; my contact at the PMO confirmed that tar sands money was used to convince the Swedes to throw the match.
CANCER (June 21-July 22) Cancer, I like bubbles as much as the next astrologer, but bubbling oppression isn’t my cup of fizz. Don’t you think it’s excessive that Jason Kenney tweets in favour of foreign occupation via SodaStream and Peter Kent uses parliamentary time to endorse Israeli products? If Kenney endorses it, that should be reason enough to stay away from it! LEO (July 23-Aug. 22)
Leo, you have been acting more like a Jade Rabbit in the lunar night these days, rather than the roaring lion you once were. It’s time to recharge your batteries and finally conquer that task that’s been nagging at you these past few weeks. I believe in your vision to launch the first all-paper fleet of shortdistance snail airlines, even if no one else does. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) I know the as[s]trological truths that I pronounce can be downright spooky at times, Virgo, and I don’t mean to scare you. But I’ll let you in on a little secret about my uncanny insights… I’ve secretly been bleeding the juice of my predecessor, Medium Large, making myself the unparallelled champion of the stars! By the turn of the next volume of the Leveller, my dexterous takeover shall be complete. And Medium Large hasn’t a clue!
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
Congratulations Libra, you are the lucky recipient of this month’s Haikuroscope! Facebook and Whatsapp Are things that bring me warning not to trust markets SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
O Dear Scorpio, Sweden has a better government than Canada does. fin. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) There’s nothing quite as nice as a game of chess in front of a roaring fireplace, stiff glass of peaty single maltness in hand, as you study carefully the move of your opponent. But Saggi, for the love of god, you really ruin the ambience of the game when you say, “Horsie to pawn E5.” CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
Dear Capricorn, I’ve consulted the stars, and much to my surprise, they don’t much care for you. I mean, really, all they told me was that they found you a bit glib, you know what I mean? Not much you can do with that information, so good luck! AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Cider grows on trees says the poster before me Bottoms up, my friend!
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vol 6, no 5, February/March 2014 The Leveller 15
Listings tues Feb 25 ÉCOSPA: DIY spa product making. UCU 301, UOttawa. 5:30pm. DISCUSSION: Les femmes noires et l’Academy/Black Women and the Academy. FTX 302, UOttawa. 6pm. FILM: Heart of Sky Heart of Earth. Octopus Books & Cinema Politica, 251 Bank St, 2nd Fl 6:30pm.
SEMINAR: Diverging Perceptions of Palestinian Youth for the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Guigues Rm 105, St. Paul University. 12pm. FOOD: Garden Spot Serving, Library Tunnels, Carleton. 12pm. DISCUSSION: Femmes noires discutent les cheveux/Black Women Talk Hair. LMX 390, UOttawa. 6pm.
MUSIC: Punk Rock Tuesday. Luneta Café. 8pm. Every Tuesday.
BOOK LAUNCH: The Tears In Their Laughter. Octopus Books, 251 Bank St, 2nd Floor. 7pm.
WED Feb 26
PANEL & SOCIAL: Public Education for the Public Good. Cafe Nostaligica, UOttawa. 7pm.
WORKSHOP: Research in Simple Language. GSA, 6th flr UniCentre, Carleton. 12pm. ROUND TABLE: Feeling Safe in Public Space: Women’s & Girls’ Eyes on the Neighbourhood. Octopus Books, 251 Bank St, 12pm. TALK: Austerity, the Attack on Public Employees, and the Corporatization of Education. Gorden Lafer. DMS 12012, UOttawa. 7pm. PRESENTATION: Co-creating Local, Sustainable Food. Jack Purcell Community Centre 201. 7pm. DISCUSSION: Deepan speaks in Ottawa. Jack Purcell Community Centre 101, 7pm. SING: Just Voices weekly environmental choir rehearsals. Bronson Centre 222. 7pm. Every Wed.
fri Feb 28 DAY OF ACTION: Migrant Dignity Not Migrant Death. CONFERENCE: Living Research II - Collective Memory. FSS 4007, UOttawa. 9am. GAMES: 1st Annual Winter Bike Games! Bike Coop Velo (200 Lees - Campus Lees UOttawa). 12pm. STUDENTS TALK: Anxiety and Depression. Six sessions until April 4. UCU 220, UOttawa. 4pm. FILM: Carré rouge sur fond noir. Grad House 307, UOttawa. 5:30pm. FILM: Take Back Your Power. DMS 1160, UOttawa. 6:30pm.
DEMO: Creating T-shirt Yarn. McKellar Park Field House, 539 Wavell Ave. 7:30pm.
POETRY: Poetry Slam featuring Ifrah Hussein. The Pit, Architecture Bldg, Carleton. 7pm.
Thurs Feb 27
sat march 1
FOOD: Farmer’s Market. UCU Councourse, UOttawa. 9am4pm. Also March 13 & 27.
MARKET: Ottawa Geek Market - Winter Edition. Nepean Sportsplex. All day Sat-Sun.
LIRE: Le Salon du livre de l’Outaouais. Palais des congrès de Gatineau. Toute la semaine.
ART, CRAFTS & STORYTELLING: The Winter Village Storytelling Festival & Meshkwadoon. Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, 299 Montreal Rd. All day Sat-Sun.
SONG: St. Cecilia Singers’ “Alleluia”. St Luke’s Church. 8pm. EXCHANGE: Seedy Saturday - Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre, Britannia Beach. 10am-3pm. SHARING: A Winter Village Meshkwadoon ~ Indigenous Arts, Crafts & Storytelling. Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, 299 Montreal Rd. 10am-5pm. WORKSHOP: First Nations Education Act (FNEA). Room 202, Jack Purcell Community Centre. 3pm.
sun march 2 MUSIC: Earth*tones Drum and Dance Circle. Every Sun. http:// earth-tones.ca/en/events
tues march 4 OPIRG CARLETON ROOTS RADIO: CKCU 93.1 FM. 12pm. Every 2nd Tuesday. www.ckcufm.com. PANEL: Access to Reproductive Health Services. FSS 4004, UOttawa. 5:30pm. TALK: We Win Every Day, an evening with Chris Crass. Dalhousie Community Centre. 6:30pm. CONVERSATION: with novelist Eden Robinson. 25One Community, 251 Bank St. 7pm. TALK: Saving Nazareth: What the struggle by Israeli Arabs for equality reveals about the State of Israel. Jonathan Cook. First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Ave. 7:30pm.
BOOK LAUNCH: Defending Battered Women on Trial, Lessons from the Transcripts. Octopus Books, 251 Bank St. 7pm.
fri march 7 FILM: Young Lakota - Indigenous Reproductive Justice. CBY C03, UOttawa. 6pm. FILM: The Trotsky. Cinema Academica. DMS 1160, UOttawa. 6:30pm.
sat march 8 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY ART: Inspiring Change - An Exhibition in Celebration of International Women’s Day. Until March 30. Wall Space Gallery. SHOW: I’m not a Feminist, but... Femmy Awards and Improv Show. National Archives. 6pm.
MON march 17 HEARINGS: Federal Tribunal on First Nations child welfare services. Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, 11th Fl, 160 Elgin St. March 17-21; Apr 2-4; Apr 30-May 2. DISCUSSION: Notre vécu: les femmes queers se prononcent/ Our Lived experiences: Queer Women Talk. SMD 330, UOttawa. 6pm.
tues march 18 OPIRG CARLETON ROOTS RADIO: CKCU 93.1 FM. 12pm. Every 2nd Tuesday. www.ckcufm.com. PUBLIC MEETING: Save the South March Highlands. Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association (2nd Fl). 5:30pm.
mon march 3
wed march 5
OPIRG-CARLETON BURSARY APPLICATION DEADLINE
WORKSHOP: AIDS Committee of Ottawa. UCU 215, UOttawa. 4pm.
POETRY: The Power of Words Slam. St. Andrew’s Church. 6:30pm.
SEW: Stitch n’ Bitch. WRC, UOttawa. 5:30pm.
mon march 10
DISCUSSION: Les féministes musulmanes/Muslim Women Feminisms. LMX 390T, UOttawa. 7pm.
OPIRG-CARLETON INFO FAIR: Carleton Atrium. 10am-4pm.
FRI march 21
DISCUSSION: Abolitionism and the Criminal Justice System. MRT 21, UOttawa. 1pm. ROUND TABLE: Stopping abuses against religious minorities in Indonesia. Octopus Books, 251 Bank St, 2nd Floor. 1pm. RADIO: Under Where? CHUO 89.1 FM. Every Monday. 4pm. COOKING: Carribean Food. Sandy Hill Community Health Centre. 6pm. LECTURE: My White Accent: The Frontlines of Language Revitalization. 5050 Minto Centre, Carleton. 7pm. DISCUSSION: Pregnancy & Mothercraft. MRT 252, UOttawa. 7pm. PRESENTATION: Carleton’s READ Initiative (Research, Education, Accessibility and Design. Riverside United Church. 7:30m.
FESTIVAL: Migrant Women Rebuilding Communities. Band Aid Ottawa. Irene’s Pub. 7pm. PANEL: Beyond the Walls - Community-based Punishments. SITE A0150, UOttawa. 7pm. PUNK: Mr. Chi Pig (of SNFU, acoustic), Chris Walter book reading, Thomas White. Luneta Café & Bistro. 8pm.
thurs march 6 FORUM: 3 Minute Thesis & Graduate Research display. River Bldg (Atrium and Room 2220) Carleton. 10am-4pm. TALL TALES: Story Swap. PSAC Bldg, 233 Gilmour St. 5:30pm. SEMINAR: Motherload - Transnational Perspectives on Maternity, Law, and Medicine, DMS 12110. 5:30pm.
tues march 11
WED march 19
OPEN MIC: Umi Cafe. 8pm.
TALK: Ritual Abuse and Healing: Abuse, Trauma and Building Movements For Collective Liberation. 91A Fourth Ave. 6pm.
MON march 24
THURS march 13
JUST FOOD: connections between food policy and food, environment and health. DominionChalmers United Church. 7pm.
DISCUSSION: Social, Financial, and Other Costs of Immigration Detention in Canada and Abroad: An Argument for Reform. FSS 5028. UOttawa. 3pm.
fri march 14
FAIRE LA CUISINE: Étudiante en nutrition. Sandy Hill Community Health Centre. 6pm.
tues march 25 AGM: OPIRG-Ottawa. Lounge 140, 90 University, UOttawa.
MEET-UP: Green Drinks Ottawa. Fox & Feather Pub. 2pm.
FILM: WAR - Women, Art, Revolution. Wall Space Gallery. 7:30pm.
FILM: Sept 11 - The New Pearl Harbour. Cinema Academica. DMS 1160, UOttawa 6:30pm.
fri march 28 PROGRESS SUMMIT: Broadbent Institute. Delta Centre. Fri-Sun.