OPIRG zine 2016

Page 1

Démêler la pensée c oloniale

g the Untanglin ind colonial m

Volume 2, édition 1

OPIRG’S Zine Editorial collective:

Golbon Moltaji, Racha Al Abdullah, Mengyuan Shi , María Laura Basualdo, & Marcelo Saavedra-Vargas

OPIRG staff:

Fida Abou-Nassif (Organizational Development and Financial Coordinator); María Basualdo (Research Coordinator); Ronda Brock (Action Groups Coor­di­na­tor); Padraic O’Brien (Campus Relations Coordinator); and Jacob (Mowega) Wawatie & Marcelo Saavedra-Vargas (Circle of Elders)


Golbon Moltaji (Cover and countercover)

Visit our website: www.opirg-gripo.ca Find us in Facebook: Opirg-Gripo Ottawa Find us in Twitter: @opirggripo Contents Drawing after the Blanket Exercise...................................... 1 Presentation of OPIRG’s 2016 Zine....................................... 2 The talking Tree........................................................ 4 Personal Reflections of the Living and Coexisting Well

Project.......... 9

What is statelessness, why it matters and three things you can do to support stateless persons........................................... 14 People and Lives behind the Issues..................................... 19 Milhaven............................................................... 26 Brief History of the Chaudière Falls................................... 30 Supervised injections sites............................................ 33 Black lives matter..................................................... 36 Turtle Island.......................................................... 41


During the blanket exercise, I empathized with the reality of the first nations in regards to decolonization. In relation to some other minority groups such as the black community, I realized that I shared a lot of the same pains as the first nations. Furthermore, I learned about some of the sensitive subjects regarding the intrusion of the colonizers on unceded and unsurrendered land, I felt hurt, confused, disgusted and a bit enraged. It’s safe to say that I was very emotional. Having an elder lead the blanket exercise made me attached to the subject because this individual was able to share their personal experiences. This person helped me change my views and helped me understand and draw strength from the pain. This person told me it was not about blaming the colonizers but to forgive them and fight for decolonization. This drawing is an abstract representation of my emotions. It represents what is left of this land and the importance to preserve it.



R to y ESTO r FUT NC

Be a GO OD A

PRESENTATION OF OPIRG’S 2016 ZINE This is our second number of a Zine that is intended to deal with the colonial mind-frame and ways we pursue to dismantle it.



The mindset that the colonial archiU RE tecture has espoused expresses the G multi-modal character of the capitalist system of production and reproduction. Coloniality is a layered construction that uses co-optation as one of its main stratagems of becoming the mainstream mode in which people attempt to accomplish things. This is achieved at small scale (like preparing your meals) as well as MSV a grander scale (like attempting to deconstruct colonialism by using the only tools the system allows you to have or use – or at least that’ what we are conditioned to believe. For instance, a progressive government trying to deal with the colonial State by using the tools that colonialism have you believe are the only ones you might have). The stakes of not dealing with coloniality in the proper way are huge and have repercussions over the long run; that is, they reach the viability of our future generations. Not being able to deal with it also has important repercussions in our cosmic responsibilities of being (good) humans, good ancestors. Not being up to what it takes to getting rid of coloniality is completely being submerged in the meanders of forgetfulness and denial. Yet, this is a matter of choosing. You can choose to be who you are supposed to be or you can choose to be taken over by hope and enthusiastically giving up any agency the Creator had put on your path. If you choose to rather do something about it (about coloniality), then you are lovingly aligned with the way of the warrior, the rainbow warrior. This caliber of warrior does not engage


in a struggle because s/he is expecting to win (or be defeated). This outcome is inconsequential in all regards. The proper warrior engages in a struggle because it is the only thing that she has left to do; it is the cosmic burden of her responsibility, it is the sacred compromise she has with her children (up to the 13th skin).

On Anishinaabe territory, this sacred engagement has to be internalized following the seven teachings implied by becoming the territory. By eating, breathing, existing on the land you are slowly becoming it. This is the main reason why we must follow these teachings, which namely, are: Nbwaakaawin (Wisdom), Zaagidwin (Love), Mnaadendimowin (Respect), Aakwade’ewin (Bravery), Gwekwaadiziwin (Honesty), Dbaadendiziwin (Humility), & Debwewin (Truth or Truthfullness). Although a life can be properly deployed on the land by paying attention to these teachings, the core of them are two fundamental teachings: Zaagidwin (Love) and Mnaadendimowin (Respect); especially when understood in their transitive sense. You ought to love as a result of you being loved. You show respect for all manifestations of life in this universe because everything else is respecting your passage throug this journey. The third crucial component of the teachings is Debwewin because it can be understood as been the synthesis of leading a life described by the direction Niizhwaaswi Kchitwaa Kinomaadiwinan —7 Grandfathers’ Teachings— are imprinting in one`s journey. Please refer to our Volume 1, Edition 1 of our Zine: https://issuu.com/marcelosaavedra-vargas/docs/zine-web-21. One of OPIRG’s research project is accomplishing the awakening of uOttawa students by acknowledging the bridges that unite our elders and our young people, as shown by a student’s reflection on her participation in this project (refer to “Personal Reflections of the Living and Coexisting Well Project” on page 9). OPIRG’s participation in organizing, promoting and intervening in the First Summit on Statelessness in Canada is a cutting edge project. According to national and international statistics, there are not stateless persons living within the state boundaries of colonial Canada.




In this Summit it was demonstrated that there are stateless people in the country. Even more the intervention presented by OPIRG not only showed this reality but move beyond the static analysis of data and challenged the formation of oppressing and extraction-oriented colonial national states, producing a genocide never seen before in human history (the rates of extinction of original inhabitants on Turtle Island and the Abya-Yala was 97.5% on Turtle Island, 94% in the Anawak, and 96% in the Abya-Yala). [Refer to “What is statelessness, why it matters and three things you can do to support stateless persons” on page 14 and “People and Lives behind the Issues” on page 19]. Jails are interfaces of the colonial state with people that by some sort of behaviour have the bad fortune of ending up forced to surrender their freedom and become penitentiary punishment. Should jails exist to deal with people or they rather worsen situations of misconduct? Is a jail term a necessity for a society or an absurd expression of violence of the ever-violent colonial state? (Read the article “Milhaven” on page 26). Our cover represents our young generations ready to face the challenges posed by one of the pillars of coloniality: the unmeasurable greed of corporations ready to convert to profane merchandises everything. Corporations are willing to even destroy sacred ancestral places, anywhere. In this case, on sacred unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory. The Chaudière Falls offer a breath-taking spectacle of Mother Earth. Indigenous people have been gathering at this point for hundred of years coming from West, East and South. The vortex the falls create as the waters dance with the winds remind us the bowl of a great peace pipe creating blessed mist that elevates to our Creator as if we were collectively praying. In the same manner, all of us will unite to defend the land. “All land is sacred,” told me my jachajila1 Albert Dumont. To become an effective defender of the land, specifically the Chaudière Falls, learn the history of the Chaudière Falls, please refer to “Brief History of the Chaudière Falls” on page 30. 1

Older and wiser brother in Aymara.


There is a shift in perception underway: in a very crucial way this quantum leap in awareness is part and parcel of the necesssary process of decolonization to successfullly build a prudent society with durable social relations that will mimick the respectful relations we must restore with our Ultimate Mother: Mother Earth or Pachamama. To attest to these enlightened young minds, we are including some of the pieces of art these sistersébrothers produce; for instance refer to “LIFE IS A JOURNEY FOR OUR SPIRITS” on page <OV> and “The talking Tree” on page 4 Another important piece in this shift in awareness, and pirvotal to deal with dismantling colonial states that have imposed everywhere “with the cross and the sword” is to remember our cosmic commitment with all nations human and non-human. Birds still remember their purpose of being alive is being ... birds. The same goes with most of non-human nations. The humble ant still has imprinted all over its tiny body the original instructions of being an ant. Clouds behave like clouds because they are what they are, they have not forgotten. Humans, especially humans that have been tainted by Western civilization, a culture of forgetfulness, made us believe that we everyting is functional to us humans. A core piece in erecting the edifice of exploitation, oppression, discrimination, extraction of Mother’s blessings, extermination of our Indigenous ancestors and a thousand more evils has been the very alien notion of RIGHTS that was brought by the European invader and imposed on all lands without ever consulting with Original inhabitants, human and non-human. It is our greatest challenge to dismantle that edifice guidance of our Indigenous Elders and the keen vision younger generations, piece by piece. All efforts must intention of dealing with getting rid of the colonial ty, all efforts are necessary and important.

with the of our have the mentali-

For instance, offering Supervised injection sites to a portion of our population that have had to resort to drugs by injection is carried out by mobilizing our collective responsibilities with these sisters and brothers. Find a proper explanation of “Supervised injections sites” on page 33.


When Europeans invaded the Abya-Yala, the Anahuac, and Turtle Island, erronously denominating these territories after an Italian cartographer that claimed to have navigated in the Eastern shores of the Abya-Yala (nowadays Brazil). The European invader also refer to these lands as New World, despite the fact that mature cultures had been lving and coexisting with many other nations for thousand of years. When the original inhabitants of these territories were brought to quasi extinction, imperialist powers realized immense profits by the slave trade with our African sisters and brothers. This devastation provoked by the invaders was so overwhelming that the human soul almost ceased to exist. “Songs we would never hear! Histoires we would never know! Art we would never see! Because the European had the capacity to destroy and didnèt have the moral restraont not to,” wrote Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga, an African-US professor of Africana Studies. The word Maafa (or African Holocaust) is a Kiswahili (or Swahili) word that denotes disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy. The term today collectively refers to over 500 years of suffering of African and Indigenous peoples by means of European caused Slavery, imperialism, colonialism, apartheid, rape, oppression, invasions, exploitation and capitalism. 520 years after the first blood and gold thirsty Europeans set foot on our territories, Trayvon Martin (an unarmed black teenager) was shot dead by George Zimmerman. The long list of destruction suffered by our peoples and our lands is beyond being captured by cold numbers and statistics. It is the disposition of the colonial State and the colonial mindframe that has to be dismantled piece by piece because nowadays the very existence of our children, from all nations, is at stake. Be informed about our current, yet old, unresolved issues. “Black lives matter” on page 36, and circulate this Zine amongst the people you care for. Then contribute to it. Do a piece of art and share it, write a poem, describe your surroundings, including your inner self; and share, this has been an original instruction since we became human beings. We welcome your pieces.


Live up to your responsibilities and stop hoping that things will get better. You cannot ask nicely to the predators to stop the raping of our Ultimate Mother, PachaMama. They won’t. Just take a look at all the opportunities they had so far to bring about a change for your children or the children of your children. Our current generations, and the ones to come, have never had worse prospects and it comes down to your responsibility to do something about it. We live, as some social scientists put it, the anthropocene. That is the geological epoch characterized by a very important impact human activity is causing on our planet’s geology and ecosystems. It might be a telling descriptor of the vast disequilibria humans have caused in hte planet, but it is not all Humanity that is wreaking havoc in huamn social tissues and our environment. For instance, let’s compare the two countries I am a citizen of: Bolivia (a so-called Third World country) and Canada (a so-called Developed country)2. Bolivia’s ecological footprint per capita is 2.57 gha (global hectares) very low yet its biocapacity is quite large 18.84 gha. Canada’s ecological footprint per capita i 7.01 gha while its biocapacity per capita is 14.92. In other words a Canadian newborn will require almost 3 times more than a Bolivian newborn. The Bolivian newborn will have the capacity to generate an on-going supply of renewable resources and to absorb its spillover wastes, 1.2 more times than the Canadian newborn. In net terms, and only taken this small token as very telling, we can argue that unsustainability occurs when the the ecological footprint exceeds its biocapacity. Get involved! Share! Be responsible! Write to us to: zine@opirg-gripo.ca.

2. According to a very biased way of looking at how countries “develop” and measured using the GNP, that does not take into account what supports humans production and reproduction, women’s work.



By Alana Johnson I’m going to share with you my personal reflections on what I’ve learned from this project and this class. I don’t know if any of you have felt this, but there are moments in my life that, because of the beauty of those seconds, I remember vividly. Things I hear, or things I see, I remember these moments because of the raw, real feeling in my gut that I had when I was there. These are moments of beauty that just seem so true, so real and perfect. And I’ve felt that feeling again while taking part in the Living and Coexisting Well project. And I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. There is beauty in truth and that’s important so I have to share with you how I feel about it and I will. The Living and Coexisting Well project is the exploration of how different indigenous communities have different words to describe the importance of living in harmony with people, plants, animals, and everything all around. The project gave me the opportunity of listening to the stories and teachings shared by different indigenous elders, along with facilitators of Systems and Structures, Anti-Oppression and Decolonization workshops. We were also encouraged to watch documentaries, found on this website, for more introspection. One of the most interesting things that the project got me to think about was individualism and independence, and how these support a lot of what our society upholds. But individualism is not necessarily the right thing and independence is kind of just an illusion. Let me explain. Through a capitalist, colonial lens, with the value of individualism, I am responsible for myself, and not necessarily others. Pay-


ing attention to myself makes it easy to ignore what’s around me and how greatly I am actually dependent on air to breathe, water to drink, everyone around me to keep doing what they are doing so I can do what I am doing. Without that feeling of acknowledgement or responsibility to other people, animals, plants, and everything all around, I don’t make the time to get to respect theseconnections. In a beautiful ceremony, Grandmother Ninom, of the Guarani Nation in the Amazon basin, taught our project’s participants about the importance of the circle. How whatever you put in the circle, good or bad, you go around and come back to face that. We need to be aware of what we allow in our circle and what we put in our circles. This imagery and the truth of this, to me is beautiful. And this story is just a small example of the things I’ve learned that just make complete sense. The things that I’m realizing more and more that don’t make sense are the colonial and capitalist systems and structures that govern so much of my life and how I very much indirectly and directly take part in this. Colonialism and capitalism doesn’t require us to pay attention to beauty. We don’t feel the need to pay attention to the connection of things around us. And that is dangerous for us as individuals and for everyone and everything, everywhere. I see great parallels to and importance of Taiaiake Alfred’s suggested pathway of the power of the hunter, of being on the land, of the value and the connection between you, your community and the land and everything in it. There is harmony in that. The pathway that I find myself going towards, that is, working 40 hours a week in a cubicle staring at a computer, does not seem beautiful or harmonious. So I need to find an alternative pathway. And, as Taiaiake Alfred said, “you can’t just all of a sudden shed your colonial preference.” There are moments in my life that are so vividly accessible to my memory that anytime I revisit them I get a raw, real feeling, a lively sensation in my gut. One of the occasions I felt that way was during the Living and Coexisting Well project. The Living and Coexisting Well project is the exploration of how different indigenous communities have different words to


describe the importance of living in harmony with people, plants, animals, and everything all around. The project gave me the opportunity to listen to the stories and teachings shared by different indigenous elders, along with facilitators of Systems and Structures, Anti-Oppression and Decolonization workshops. We also watched documentaries which allowed for more introspection. During this workshop I learnt to rethink the concepts of individualism and independence. What if individualism is not necessarily such a great thing as our society upholds? What if Independent seemed more like an illusion? Through a capitalist, colonial lens, individualism translates into I responsibility for oneself, and not necessarily others. It is likely that paying too much attention to myself makes it easy to ignore what’s around me; disregard how greatly I am actually dependent on the air I breathe, the water I drink and everyone around me whose actions reciprocally affects mine. Without acknowledgement or responsibility to other beings, I miss out to pay respect to connections I have with them. In a beautiful ceremony, Grandmother Ninom, of the Guarani Nation in the Amazon basin, taught the project participants about the importance of the notion of the circle. From the indigenous perspective circle defines the “what goes around comes around” rule; whatever you put in the circle [of life], good or bad, you will face eventually. We need to be aware of our input in our circles. Another impressing presentation was Taiaiake Alfred’s pathway of the power of the hunter. He spoke to us about the importance of being a harmonious relationship to the land, as well the value and the connection between us, our communities, the land and everything on it. The beauty embedded in these example brought me to the realization that how foreign the colonial and capitalist systems and structures that govern a significant portion of my life are. Ultimately, colonialism and capitalism which do not require us to pay attention to beauty nor they require use to pay attention to how connected everything is. My reflections on Living and Coexisting Well project surprisingly came as artistic expressions. I don’t consider myself to be


much of creative person however, I created a painting based on my experience participating. In this painting I remembered the peaceful healing sensation I felt during the workshop when I was missing my Opa very much. My Opa who was a teacher, an artist and a really, truly kind person passed away recently. The weekend after he passed away, I woke up early one morning and went to buy art supplies; A canvas, paint and brushes. As much as I wanted to make something for the Living and Coexisting Well project, it was also for my Opa. I’m certain He would have been proud of my participation in this project. And I wanted to make him proud with my artistic reflection. My painting shows a shining, bright leaf, radiating with light and life. To me, this represents my spirit turning over a new leaf. In my painting I draw on the notion of circle that I had learnt about from Grandmother Ninom. In this piece, there are many circles radiating outwards, for which I used many colours that represent my feelings and thoughts. I have been lucky in what I have learned over the past four months. The Living and Coexisting workshop made me question the pathway that I seem to be going towards, that is, working 40 hours a week in a cubicle staring at a computer which, unlike the introspections mentioned above, does not seem beautiful or harmonious. So I need to find an alternative; I want to live a life where I am appreciative of the good things and am not distracted by the things that our colonial and capitalist systems and structures offer. I want to continue learning and continue being aware of why things are the way they are and who benefits and who does not. I want to continue volunteering. I want to be an activist. I know that, for a while, I will need to balance these strong inner feelings and thoughts with a job that I will need to do to bring myself the means to do the things I want to do. It is likely that I will do this quietly, guiltily, blaming myself for being so hypocritical. I want to put myself on a more fulfilling path and I want that to come soon, although I’m not sure how what that will exactly look like. I expressed some of these concerns to Grandmother Ninom. She told me not to wor-


ry; as Taiaiake Alfred said, “you can’t just all of a sudden shed your colonial preference.”



According to Article 1 of the 1954 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, a stateless individual is “a person who is not considered a national by any State under the operation of its law”. Statelessness is a multifaceted and complex issue, implicating the intersection of nationality and international law, birth registration policy, conflict (international and civil), and in some rare circumstances personal choice. As a statelessness individual, a person has no citizenship and no recognition as citizen of a nation. Because the notion of citizenship is attached to the right to have rights (UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 2016), statelessness implies lack of rights recognized by a state—any state. Since citizenship is a primary mechanism through which fundamental rights are recognized and conferred, it is a powerful tool for the state to determine degrees of belonging and exclusion (Castles & Davidson, 2000). It is difficult to accurately determine the number of stateless individuals worldwide, precisely because of the lack of documentation that defines statelessness. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are an estimated 10 million stateless people globally. Statelessness can be a consequence of a variety of factors including state legislation, state succession, territory disputes, marriage law, or legal gaps in citizenship legislation. In certain circumstances, individuals born and raised in a country may have their citizenship revoked by the state, for example as a way to exercise power and control over marginalized groups. In the case of fragile states, a person may lose their citizenship when that country fails to fulfill their obligation towards individual’s rights. In some cases that involve constraining circumstances, statelessness could be a personal choice, as with Roma or Indigenous populations. In Canada, some First Nations parents didn’t register their children’s birth


registration due to the fear that they would be taken away by the state and placed in residential schools.

Why addressing statelessness is important? The issue of statelessness is becoming more important in our society for diverse reasons. First, as a result of growing inequalities under a fully matured neoliberalism, an increasing number of people are migrating regionally and globally, fleeing conflict and seeking better life conditions. The issue of stateless has particular attention to the way states formulate their immigration and citizenship policies. Because of increasing migration, states in the global North pay more and more attention to those seeking entry, however crafting their immigration polices not toward humanitarian ends, but economic purposes. Second, because citizenship policies are not divorced from the political and economic discourse and issues of the day—e.g., islamophobia and wearing the hijab in public spaces—citizenship often becomes a powerful battleground for determining who belongs to a state. Third, increasing border disputes between countries exposes how fragile a state sovereignty over a territory can be. The issue of statelessness goes beyond physical borders, because it impacts individuals, communities, and societies emotionally—that is, it relates to notions of nation building and when the interest of one group dominate nationalist discourses at the expense of other (minority) groups. Multiculturalism is part of Canada’s culture. Despite our country’s efforts to protect people without discriminating against them based on religion, ethnicity, or gender, outdated citizenship and immigration legislation pose risks for undocumented people. Stateless people are still marginalized in our society and suffer a lack of state support for basic needs, including health care, education, and other kinds of rights such as right to work and choice of employment. If countries are implementing new social or public programs to which citizens have rights, these programs may reflect in unequal access to human rights. For example, systemic discrimination on the basis of religion, ethnicity, and place of birth are still ongoing in many states, as a consequence human rights are being violated by the intro-


duction of new legislation. If you believe that all citizens have equal rights and obligations, statelessness matters to you. There is important leadership role you can take to move the discussion further.

How does statelessness affect people in your community? And what can you do? You may find that you, your friends and family members are directly or indirectly impacted by a state’s citizenship legislation. Individuals and civil society continue to play an important role in the process of social change. Here are some suggestions for how you can help stateless people: • Learning about the stories and struggles faced by stateless people in Canada and around the world can be a good start for you to recognize how advocacy can promote better outcomes for human rights policies. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched a global campaign to end statelessness by 2024. If you are on social media, you can participate joining the discussion at #UNHCRCanada. You can follow the UNHRC and the Canadian Centre on Statelessness’s on Facebook and participate in discussions about human rights and statelessness. • Engaging in panel discussions at your local university can be a good way to start a critical reflection on different views about statelessness. In February 2016, the University of Ottawa hosted the First Summit on Statelessness in Canada; it was a collaborative initiative between the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) and the Canadian Centre on Statelessness. The event brought together students, stateless people, community members, academics, professionals, and NGOs who are working on issues related to statelessness in Canada.


• Support research groups and local committees: collective mobilization and building awareness on social, economic, and environmental justice are simple steps that you can take to start mobilizing your community. The Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) provides activities and research for Ontario students to connect with informative resources on statelessness. If you are interested in learning more about their community research projects, please visit their webpage. To learn more about statelessness, please visit the following resources: Canadian Centre on Statelessness Canadian Council for Refugees United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - Canada


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - Statelessness

United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

References Castles, S., & Davidson, A. (2000). Citizenship and migration: Globalization and the politics of belonging. Psychology Press. UN Refugee Agency. (2016). Accessed on April 30, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.refworld.org/statelessness.html UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (2016). Accessed on April 30, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/.



Amima Aden Everyone belongs somewhere, whether it is to their family, doing something they love to do or simply being born in a nation that identifies their belonging. What if a person were to be excluded from any of these factors that many of us take for granted? If someone did not have many extravagances in life, were without a family, a job or a home, they would still have a nationality right? Everyone has a right to a nationality. It’s simple. Everyone belongs somewhere. You represent the nation you were born in. Unfortunately, in many cases, this is not true. Statelessness is a problem that has reached every region in the world, even Canada. Statelessness is about exclusion and it happens when a person does not belong to any nation in the world, even though they may be born in a region and spend their whole lives in that very same region. Ignored by their government and excused by their fellow citizens, stateless people are left to survive on their own, excluded from all benefits we as Canadians enjoy today. Health care, the ability to work, to obtain an education and exercise our rights are unheard-of opportunities to a stateless person. Statelessness cannot be understood without learning the stories behind to put a face to the trials that come without belonging to a state. Despite the lack of knowledge or awareness within Canada on the issue of statelessness, one man was stripped of his citizenship after believing he was a Canadian all his life. Deepan Budlakoti is a man born in the capital of Canada and has been living in the country ever since, yet he is stateless. Deepan was born from two parents of Indian nationality who came to Canada in order to work for the custodial staff of an Indian Diplomat. When Deepan’s mother fell pregnant, Deepan’s parents stopped working for the Embassy and gave birth to Deepan within the nation’s capital. The Budlakoti’s opted for a permanent residency for the whole family and soon applied for citizenship a few years later for the two parents, with the foreseen knowledge that Deepan was already a Canadian citizen. While Deep-

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an grew up, he had a few problems with his parents and a few run-ins with the law. Suddenly, Deepan was informed that he was not a Canadian Citizen under the pretense that his parents were employed by a foreign Diplomat at the time Deepan was born, making him excused from citizenship even though he was born in Canada. Deepan and his family continue to fight for his citi-

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zenship; although there is a loophole which deems him as a foreign national, he does not fall under this rule because his parents stopped working for the diplomat months before Deepan was born. Deepan remains stateless and is monitored constantly, whether behind bars or at home. Deepan has refrained from having any dreams for his future and considers himself stuck in a box. He does not have the freedom to travel, work, live alone or be treated as a human with fundamental rights.

His story resembles one that of a man who fought for his citizenship for 61 years but went without these fundamental rights for the majority of his life. Donovan McGlaughlin is a former stateless man who finally gained citizenship when he was in a situation of life or death. Donovan too was born in Canada, to a native father and American mother. He neither felt a sense of belonging to his native community nor his roots in America, being born in Canada. From birth, Donovan did not have any government documents to prove that he was a Canadian and often recounts the 61 years of being stateless to being worth less than a dog. Donovan speaks the truth.

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A dog has people to care for it, to feed it, to look after it, to provide a home for it, yet in Donovan’s case he had to backpack through Canada in order to survive. There is no point in settling down because there are no rights in whatever he does or wherever he goes. When Donovan finally gained citizenship after struggling through the legal process and a series of heart attacks, he finally felt like a human, one deserving of rights and one entitled to rights. In Canada, there are no people who are registered as stateless, yet the lives of people suffering through the injustice of State insecurity are many. Another stateless man that has gone

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through many tribulations due to the State is Qia Gunster, a current stateless person. Qia’s parents feared the State and the threat of children getting taken away due to low-income families’ inability to provide for the children, so his mother did not register him as an American. Qia was born in Arizona but when he was 2 years old he crossed the border and was put with a family to live with, as his mother could not provide for him. Growing up as a Canadian yet remaining stateless all his life, Qia continues to fight for his rights and understands that he does not have any promising opportunities of securing a good life until he gains citizenship. He has no health card, no passport, and no birth certificate. Unfortunately due to his circumstances, he cannot afford justice. Deprivation of a nationality should not create statelessness. He is an exception to human rights because of a situation he is born in, as are Deepan and Donovan. The story of these three men illustrate the people and lives behind the issues. One can understand that their problems started at the time of their birth, whether their caretakers feared the state or tried to join the state. One should not be exempted from enjoying their natural human rights because of a situation they were born into. By telling their stories, these brave men are trying to bring awareness to the issue of statelessness and are proving more than ever that human rights should belong to anyone and everyone, and that where they come from shouldn’t determine if they are deserving of human rights. The process of obtaining citizenship is beyond difficult; legal advisors find themselves confused and often ask themselves, how do you make something out of nothing? There are no current simplified and defined processes to obtain citizenship for stateless persons, because according to the government, there are no stateless people within Canada. The discretion and unaccountability on the subject of statelessness make the issue an ongoing one because it is the government’s responsibility to provide for their citizens. Since stateless people can’t rely on their government, they rely on a miracle, and that miracle is compassion. Compassion from fellow citizens and from legal aid will finally make these deserving citizens feel human, as they should feel.

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MILHAVEN By Joey Clavette

Over the past summer I made friends with my social movements’ professor. She’s an avid prison abolitionist meaning that she believes prisons ought to be abolished altogether. This past February I wrote an article in The Leveller titled Punishment at What Cost? in which I alluded to this idea that prisons actually do more harm than good. In the context of an interview about the spiking rates of imprisonment in Canada coupled with a declining crime rate, I asked a local NGO worker and PhD student, Laura McKendy, whether punitive justice is worthwhile and she replied that, “harsh conditions of confinement, along with virtually no programming, literally increases recidivism…If you just want to hurt people then you can embrace punishment but if you actually want a safe society, it only makes things worse.” Prison is punishment. In a sense, imprisonment is an act of violence. If I were to abduct someone and lock them in my house, that would be kidnapping. Now, obviously prison has a different end. It finds justification through an assumed capacity to suppress possible societal dangers. However, this does not detract from the fact that forcibly confining someone is an act of violence, an act of ‘socially acceptable’ and federally enforced revenge. We ought to look for viable alternatives which better foster societal safety. With that said let me talk about the trip I took to Millhaven Penitentiary on February 10th to visit a group of lifers. In Canada a life sentence is 10 -25 years. I took this trip with my professor and three other individuals as part of OPIRG’s Millhaven Lifer’s Liaison Group. I got up tired, skipped two classes and a midterm. I hopped in my prof’s car at uOttawa. The car is full of folks experienced and learned in the prison system and criminology. I’m sitting there, a third year philosophy kid, going largely because he cares, partly because he can’t say no to crazy opportunities. We ate mini muffins, took from the veggie platter and drank


those funny little ginger-ale cans while making small talk for about two hours. The car made a couple jumps and bumps, the snow came down, but ultimately we arrived safely to meet the lifers. We were in the middle of nowhere when we arrived. We climbed with anticipation up a long driveway and the prison rose slowly over the horizon. The first thing that struck me was the fences, two of them, parallel, about 10 feet apart and about 15-20 feet high with aggressive barbed wire on top. Rifle towers sat at intervals around the several utilitarian buildings wrapped in barbed wire fencing. You know you’re no longer in civilian-land. We had to pass through a security checkpoint. A guard with neck tattoos operated the metal detector. I later asked my colleagues if he may have been a former prisoner and I was treated to resounding laughter. “They would never have that. Ever.” We had to pass through a security checkpoint, which felt like an airlock into another world. The first gate opens. You stand there with some strange men in suits. The door behind us closes. The door ahead of us opens. We walk on. Entering the main building, there’s an obligatory picture of some old white guy in a suit next to a Canadian flag. I see prisoners for the first time but I mistake them for custodians. If you want to know what a prison looks like on the inside, just imagine your highschool but dirtier. It isn’t uncommon for the same architects to work on prisons, schools and hospitals. Next came the grueling volunteer training. We’re shown what seems to be an ancient artefact—the very first PowerPoint presentation ever made! It’s repetitive, tedious propaganda. We’re told the prisoners are manipulative, we can’t help them at all and we can’t talk about anything that happens in here. Why are we here then? The prison’s volunteer coordinator, lacking certain sophistication stumbles over some big words making it hard not to laugh. We were to meet our lifers in the chapel. All of us would eventually be locked in the room together—just the volunteers and the lifers. We were reassured that there were guards behind

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the glass at the top of the room, equipped with rifles and some unspecified gas. We were safe! The book shelves were decked out with a funny mix of Christian literature and biker books. But the really striking thing was the mural on the wall. The wall was made of large bricks like you see in high-school, and the painting’s composition was just like a high-school wall’s. The mural featured a huge lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains covered in evergreens. It was the inspiring image they have been locked away from and can’t hope to see for God knows how long. The first man entered. Being alone with the four of us volunteers he was fidgety and a little awkward. I was too. He cracked some jokes to break the ice and told us he was surprised that we actually showed up. More men crowded in, 11 in total. They were allowed to wear their own clothes and as a result most were wearing snapbacks, sports shirts and baggy jeans. When I looked in their faces I saw poverty, they looked like my family who live in projects. I see the faces of the exploited, impoverished construction workers whom I used to work alongside. I see people. They were much more intelligent than I had unfairly stereotyped them to be. They were open and friendly. One was appealing his case, and could certainly pass the bar. Another was keeping up with my prof’s prison theory which I could hardly understand. There were even folks seeking university degrees from the inside. One very pragmatic gentleman was ardently seeking the administration forms that explained how he could move out of maximum security. It was general consensus that the documents are very hard to come by, either by staff negligence or intentional withholding. They told stories of abuse. One man had spent two-and-a-half years of his life in solitary. All of them had stories of solitary. All of the inmates had been in solitary confinement at one time or another. They said the guards provoked them, especially around the time when they’re up for a review to move to lower-security confinement. One man illustrated this point, saying that when the men left the showers, a guard had accosted him, asking if they “sucked each other’s”…

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They told me the mental health unit, which the prison volunteer coordinator had pointed out, was where most of the solitary units were. That was maddening.

The prison shuts down visits from April to September. This year they had not resumed the break until February and despite this extended break the staff still plans to end visitations in April of this year. Many of them haven’t seen their wives, children or families in months due to visitation cancellations and lock-downs. They’re locked up in there; nobody is looking in just as they can’t look out. I know a lot of people think these men deserve this. In all likelihood lives were taken and I am not making excuses for that. But while corporal punishment and lashing are barbaric and ineffective so is imprisonment. We don’t look at the goal of the justice system. Do we really want it to be about revenge? Doing to others as they did to us? Where is the moral justification in that? The current programs in prisons are not reintegrating people. It’s not stopping crime. It’s not alleviating poverty, necessity and mental illness. The most recent Corrections Canadian statistics say 139,337 adults are incarcerated on any given day. On average 76%, or approximately 105,896 people, were imprisoned for non-violent charges . Mental health screenings in 2009 found that the number of inmates with mental illness at any given moment is as high as 38%, (52,948 people). It costs $110,000 a year to keep just one inmate in the federal penitentiary system. Women cost almost double. Yet the cost of maintaining an offender in the community is 70% less. Imagine if those savings were put toward mental health services, alleviating poverty and programs which prevent crime. Imagine if we dismantled the drug war which only contributes to organized and violent crime. We seriously need to reconsider prisons as an effective way to keep a healthy and safe society rather than maintaining the status quo and consoling ourselves that just deserts have been served while human beings rot.

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The history of the Chaudière Falls appears to be an ambiguous one. This article brings forward a brief introduction to the Indigenous perspective, hoping it will help creating a more comprehensive understanding of the relevant issues.

Prior to European explorers and settlers attempting to take over the space, this site was used by a number of Indigenous societies, including Algonquin people. The Chaudière Falls were of significance for these communities; not only they conducted negotiations, networking and travelling, they also used the site for portage and trade. Fur trade, for instance, was among the most prevalent trading that took place at the Chaudière Falls. But more importantly, First Nation communities considered the Falls as an important sacred site. European explorers first came into contact with Indigenous societies residing on the site in 1613 following the arrival of Samuel de Champlain. Over time the number of European explorers


who became settlers increased. Consequently, the fur trade expanded beyond North American Indigenous communities. Algonquin populations continued their own practices on the site and incorporated Europeans in trade. The expansion of trade between European settlers and Indigenous communities, however, did not remain harmonious. Unfortunately, the significant growth in the number of settlers in North America, eventually led into conflicting cultural interactions between Europeans and First Nations. In the case of Chaudière Falls European settlement led into urban developments around the area. As a sacred site, this was an affront to existing Indigenous provisions. Logging, the main growing industry in New France was expanded to the Chaudière Falls in year 1800. Philemon Wright who arrived in the area in 1800 alongside his son, initiated one of the first timber and lumber industries in the area. Simultaneously they started building the city of Hull. Another industrial development that took place in the area around the same time was the development of paper mills. Dame-less Hydroelectric generating stations also created near Chaudière Falls: the existing two are now owned by Hydro Ottawa. These all required destruction of the [sacred] land. Therefore the fashion in which the above-mentioned developments were carried out appeared to be against the First Nations’ perspective. The consequent transformation of the Chaudière Falls and surrounding into an industrial area resulted in two things: more and more settlers were attracted to the area and, First Nation communities were forced further and further away from their sacred land. First nations’ effort for claiming their land were often unsuccessful; they had to navigate the European legal system which essentially dated back to pre-settlement era and was designed to serve Europeans. European legal system did not recognize and had not incorporated First Nations. Currently, the geographic area of the Chaudière Falls is reduced to Lot 40. On top of that, in order to create a condominium and electric generating windmills, Windmill electric company in collaboration with Zibi Development plan to ravish this land even more. The particular case of Chaudière Falls has

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become more complex due to out of ordinary and mainly business-oriented intervention of the City of Ottawa in supporting these companies. It is noteworthy that under the current Canadian constitution, First Nations are situated lateral to the federal government, and the provincial governments have a general responsibility for Indigenous peoples living off-reserve (Indian Act, 1876). Nonetheless Government officials have acknowledged the Indian Act’s limitations as a framework for relations with First Nations who themselves see the legislation as inherently paternalistic. Notwithstanding, it appears that the absence of federal attention to the issues of First Nations especially in the past decade, has allowed such unparallel decision making to happen. The Chaudière Falls remain to represent First Nations’ historical struggle for preserving the sacredness of their land on unceded Algonquin land, the National Capital of Canada.

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By Liam There seems to be a growing recognition for issues such as HIV/AIDS and drug overdoses within the health sector. However, there appears to be a space for acquiring non-conventional health services to address these pressing issues. One suggested non-conventional service is installation of supervised injection sites. Political and community actors in several Canadian cities, including Ottawa, are undertaking steps to open supervised injection sites. Vancouver for example already has two such sites. The Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites in Ottawa (CSCS) - an Ottawa based advocacy group pushing for a supervised injection site within the city - describes supervised injection sites as “public health facilities that offer a safe, hygienic place where people can use their own drugs under medical supervision”. The idea is that people can bring in drugs and use them in a safe space in which they have access to sterile equipment and medical care in the case of an overdose. The benefits of supervised injection sites are manifold. Some of these benefits relate to drug users themselves. CSCS Ottawa’s Chris Dalton highlights that supervised injection sites can provide drug users with access to numerous health services while they are injecting, reducing overdose deaths. These services include “basic wound care, medical supervision… [and] opioid agonists”. Dalton also points out that supervised injection sites can provide drug users with access to addictions treatment, potentially helping them to reduce or eliminate their consumption of drugs. Other benefits relate to the society; the access to care provided through supervised injection sites can reduce the rates of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. Dalton highlights that services offered at Insite, one of Vancouver’s supervised injection sites, contributed to decreased rates of HIV/AIDS, reducing both the risk of contracting the disease and financial burdens on the health care system linked to its treat-

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ment. Additionally, supervised injection sites can reduce the use of

drugs in public places and the issues that can result from such use. Dalton indicates that Insite “was effective in reducing drug paraphernalia around the area”, decreasing the likelihood of members of the public finding used needles. Another societal benefit of supervised injection sites is increasing equity in access to health services. Michele Heath, Manager of Urban Health Services at Toronto’s South Riverdale Community Health Centre, points out that “access to supervised

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injection sites and the services that people get connected to through them benefits not only the service users, but also the community at large”. The benefits of the increased access to health services for drug users and use of such services by drug users that would result from supervised injection sites would thus be enjoyed by Ottawa’s population. Despite all the suggested benefits, the process for opening a supervised injection site is far from simple, requiring the involvement of numerous actors. Two separate applications-one to the provincial government for funding and one to the federal government for an exemption from criminal law-must be approved. Heath highlights that in addition to submitting these applications, organizations hoping to open a supervised injection site must undertake wide-ranging consultation. “[You] want to make sure people understand what’s going on, the benefits, why it’s important to [open a site]”, Heath points out. Heath underscores the need to consult with key community members such as the police, residents, local politicians, businesses, and the users of the facility where the site will be installed. Heath also highlights the need to consult with drug users, highlighting the importance of not simply “tokenizing people from the drug using community”, but actively listening to their concerns. At the moment in Ottawa, the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre is undergoing consultations this month regarding the opening of a supervised injection site within the centre. Although several hurdles still need to be overcome before such a site becomes a reality in Ottawa, there are many people actively working to make this happen, and the city’s medical officer of health recently came out in favour of supervised injection sites. Active advocacy is needed to ensure that this important issue remains a priority in the city, and to advance a larger conversation about non-conventional methods of health care.

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BLACK LIVES MATTER By Jason Escobedo Fox

Black Lives Matter, or BLM for short, is a movement of empowerment for people of African-American ethnicity, which began after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 (About Black Lives Matter). The unarmed teenager lost his life after being shot in the chest by George Zimmerman, an individual from the same community, who was later acquitted of this murder, and whose trial sparked a controversy all-around North America (Trayvon Martin Bibliography). This conflict prompted the founding of #BlackLivesMatter in an effort to fight anti-Black racism, which is all too present in our society. This injustice against young Trayvon is “[r]ooted in the experiences of Black people […] who actively resist […] de-humanization” (About Black Lives Matter), and advocates for a political and ideological change in this world, where Black people are systematically targeted and oppressed.

Black Lives Matter aims to improve the lives of all Black people and to bring justice and equality to all of them. Their activism targets


Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers on those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re) build the Black liberation movement (About Black Lives Matter)

This liberation movement, then, aims to celebrate the Black community, and to end state control over Black people, their surveillance and their poverty. It also works to end their persistent criminalization by police and the courts. It is important to note that #BlackLivesMatter

does not believe that Black lives are more important than others, or that other ethnicities are not oppressed and criminalized. Rather, this movement aims specifically to help and support the Black community, but also stands in solidarity with all other groups of oppressed folk (Garza, A). Importantly, for example, the Toronto chapter operates and is in solidarity with Black Women and Trans People. RJ Pate, one of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter Ottawa (BLM-O), confirms in a communica-

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tion with us that “Black Lives Matter Toronto is driven by Black Women and Non-binary folks, and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole realizes and fights in a context of understanding that we must fight with Black Women and Black Trans Folks at the forefront of this movement [because] they are the ones most oppressed [by] this system.�

Ever since the founding of BLM, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has spread across different media, which quickly garnered popularity for the movement and much support from countless communities. BLM has focused, in the recent past, on organising protests, marches and rallies around and against the deaths of Blacks, and the abuse, profiling and police brutality that target Black communities as a result of a discriminatory and systemically racist justice system. This movement, which began in the United-States, quickly spread and has now reached Canada, with a large support group in the Toronto area (Find Chapters Black Lives Matter).

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BLM Toronto has recently started using a lot of direct action to combat the oppression of, and racism against, the Black community. For instance, protestors succeeded in the closing of Allen Road in July of 2015, after police murdered two Black men, Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby (Miller, A., & Russell, A., 2015). Furthermore, BLM activists protested against police brutality by shutting down several Toronto streets during the “Take Back the Night� event in September of 2015 (Donato, A. 2015). These are just two examples of rallies, among many others. Countless protests and events are organised almost monthly, and can be followed on their Facebook page (Black Lives Matter Toronto). There is also a BLM chapter in Ottawa, with an affiliate Action Group active on the University of Ottawa Campus. Importantly, Black Lives Matter Ottawa is currently in the process of rebranding. Despite its youth, Black Lives Matter is a live, earnest movement, whose members are presently in the early stages of activism and protest. We at the OPRIG action group, along with the co-founders of BLM-O, urge everybody to participate in its events, with the hope that activist commitment and protest will end discrimination against Black people.

References About Black Lives Matter. Blacklivesmatter. Retrieved 10 April 2016, from http://blacklivesmatter.com/about/ Black Lives Matter Toronto. (2016). Facebook. Retrieved 9 April 2016, from https://www.facebook.com/blacklivesmatterTO/ Donato, A. (2015). Black Lives Matter Takes Back The Night And Shuts Down Downtown Toronto. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 April 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/09/28/black-lives-matter-toronto_n_8209932.html Find Chapters Black Lives Matter. Blacklivesmatter. Retrieved 9 April 2016, from http://blacklivesmatter.com/find-chapters/ Garza, A. A HerStory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. Blacklivesmatter. Retrieved 9 April 2016, from http://blacklivesmatter.com/ herstory/ Miller, A., & Russell, A. (2015). Black Lives Matter protesters shut down section of Allen Expressway. Global News. Retrieved 10 April 2016, from http://globalnews.ca/news/2134082/hundreds-protest-

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Trayvon Martin Bibliography. (2016). Bio.. Retrieved 10 April 2016, from http://www.biography.com/people/trayvon-martin-21283721



Co nt a c t u s : zine@opirg-gripo.ca


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