ARTS & CULTURE (20-22)
Grassy Narrows Victory 2 Kitchenuhmaykoosib Protects Watershed 3 Honduras Coup 4
Back-to-Work Legislation 5 Get Involved @ York 6-7 York Exchange Blogs 8-10 Around Campus Map 12-13
Living Among US 14 Bodies at War 15 Gimme Shelter 16 Indecent Exposure 17
Review: Mountains That Take Wing 20 Art of Provocation 21 Poetry 22
Fall Issue 1, 2011
Your Alternative News Magazine at York
Volume 4, Issue 1
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
o begin the school year, we here at YU Free Press are calling on the discrepancies of the institution; from systemic sexisms, to queer and transphobias, to institutionalized economic racisms, and all the things in-between that are rarely given word, breath, or speech.
The Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG)–York is ushering in the new school year with DisOrientation, an annual weeklong event comprising workshops, film screenings, panels, and other various events that introduce students to York’s political culture. In honour of DisOrientation, this issue of the YU Free Press lists student groups and various early on-campus events, as well as a campus map compiled by Nathan Nun and Simon Granovsky-Larsen. This map is not one that you know. This map tells a different story of York than the one you have become so comfortable with, so used to. This map shows you places where students at York University have experienced assault, murder, and violence; where student rallies and protests on campus were shut down or subjected to police intervention and eventual brutality; where offices of the powerful elite
are located, if you so wish to actively use this knowledge; and where veggie lovers and our non-meat eating friends might eat. We have also included locations of resources on campus such as the CDS, OPIRG, and CLASP, which are centers to serve you and your needs as students and individuals on this campus. Within the pages that lay ahead, you will find news from areas in the world not as far as we have imagined. In our Features Section, Canova Kutuk contextualizes the back-to-work legislation that most Nathan Nun recently ended the city’s postal strike. In ‘Socialism: involved in the York International Program (YIIP) Satan’s Social System’ Nathan Nun Internship forces those who unreflectively furthered their academic research criticize socialism to ask and activist interests at placements themselves, “You really have no around the world, and consider fucking clue what socialism is, do their experiences abroad in diaries you?” Over the summer, students printed here.
Our Comments Section includes ‘Gimme Shelter,’ in which Raisa Bhuiyan offers insight into the issue of homelessness in Toronto in tandem with the invisibility that queer-identified individuals experience. This past spring on York campus a police officer recommended to women that they prevent sexual assault by not dressing like “sluts.” Heba H. Al Fara, Jenelle Regnier-Davies, and Amy Saunders in their respective articles ‘The Women Fight Back,’ ‘Indecent Exposure: What are we Hiding?’, and ‘Bodies at War’ address SlutWalk – an international phenomenon in reaction to this event – and more generally the culture of victim blaming.
Independent Forestry Audit Finds many “Non-Conformances” Jon Thompson
Aimed at Abitibi-Consolidated Company of Canada, as well as the Kenora and Red Lake Districts of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the KBM Consultants report for the 964,000 hectare forest produced 21 recommendations condemning “non-conformances to a law and/or policy,” including tree cover and reforestation, as well as inaccurate and inadequate efforts in both planning and execution. “Combined, these factors have led to a steady erosion of a coniferdominated forest condition to one with significantly more mixed woods at reduced stocking,” the audit reads. “Forest sustainability, as assessed through the Independent Forest Audit Process and Protocol will not be achieved unless corrective measures are immediately taken.” Grassy Narrows’ deputy chief Randy Fobister said he wasn’t surprised by the revelations in the
report. He said the “not sufficient studies” on the land were evident to the naked eye for those driving on the back roads and that the report is proof the company and government cut corners in planning, cutting,
While three First Nations communities (Whitefish Bay, Wabauskang, and Wabaseemoong) have participated in the 2009-2012 plan for the Whiskey Jack, Grassy
nation” basis, according to both Fobister and the Minister of Natural Resources, Linda Jeffrey. “For myself, I’m satisfied with the way (the audit) was done and where we are now,” Fobister said. “We’re working towards real planning.”
“If you look towards our peaceful blockade, I think this justifies it,” he said. “All we’re doing is protecting the land. The trees can’t protect themselves so the people who were on the land first, that’s our job. It justifies it to us.”
and planting. “If you look towards our peaceful blockade, I think this justifies it,” he said. “All we’re doing is protecting the land. The trees can’t protect themselves so the people who were on the land first, that’s our job. It justifies it to us.” The audit team points out “fundamental differences” in the viewpoints of the ministry and the First Nation. It expresses the differences “cannot be resolved without the Province setting aside many of the requirements to manage the Whiskey Jack Forest” under existing legislation, further adding its belief that the “forest management planning process did not anticipate, nor was it designed to resolve the type of dispute currently being experienced.”
Narrows rejected invitations to the Contingency Plan Planning Team. The First Nation is negotiating with the ministry on a “nation-to-
In this issue, the team at YU Free Press is not only engaging you to read and become educated about things outside your boundaries of understanding and comfortability; we are also asking you to do something. That is, we are asking you to disorient your ways of thinking and understanding, to disengage with false ideals and false freedoms, and to disavow a position of passivity. We must destroy to create, demolish to build, and disorient to freely choose our own orientations. The YU Free Press would like to welcome new members to the Collective, including Tina Barton, Amy Saunders, and Amil Shivji. They will be joining returning Editors to continue the project of offering alternative media to York students. Thank you for picking up our first issue, and we look forward to the year ahead.
In the Arts and Culture Section of this issue, Michelle Kent’s poetry asks us to re-evaluate our understanding of language with
Grassy Narrows Claims Victory: The leadership of Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows) feels warranted in its decade-long opposition to logging in its traditional territory following the release of a forest audit citing “significant issues with management” of the Whiskey Jack Forest.
her beautiful manipulation of words, touching upon feelings within each of us in ways we have yet to experience. In the world of film, Amee Lê reports on a Q&A with filmmaker and provocateur Lars von Trier; while Hadiyya Mwapachu reviews Mountains That Take Wing: Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama – A Conversation on Life, Struggles & Liberation, a film which reflects upon women’s participation in activist movements, and how their involvement is so often overlooked.
Jeffrey was touring a sawmill near Wabauskang in the eastern Whiskey Jack on Tuesday when the audit was released. While she pointed out the government worked hard with AbitibiBowater before the company surrendered the forest license to the crown in 2009,
the management responsibility now lies with the ministry. While she claimed new forest practices have been undertaken since the transfer, she committed to taking the recommendations “very seriously,” in the interest of economic development, jobs, and sustainability. “Whenever you get an audit, it’s kind of like a report card. There are times you like the results and sometimes you don’t. I’m always looking for an ‘A’ when I get a report card. When some people manage the forest, they don’t necessarily do it the way I want them to do it. It’s my job to get everyone together.” Her ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Grassy Narrows earlier this year and negotiations will resume on Jul. 27.
COVER IMAGE Artist: Nathan Nun Title: Signs for the Times
Rainforest Action Network (Flickr) Huge banner at Queens Park to save Grassy Narrows.
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
News in Brief Evan Johnston
Protests, Sit-ins against Keystone XL Pipeline People from all across Turtle Island gathered in Washington, DC as part of a two-week series of protests outside the White House against the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to US oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 1,000 activists have been arrested between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3 in one of the largest-ever environmental civil disobedience actions in the US. Acclaimed author and environmentalist Bill McKibben noted on Democracy Now! that the proposed pipeline “goes through some of the most sensitive and beautiful and important agricultural land in [the US]. It crosses the Ogalalla Aquifer, a source of water for 20 million people, one of the great pools of fresh water on the planet.” On Aug. 26, however, the US State Department released its final environmental impact statement in which they claim the pipeline will have “no significant impacts.” A final verdict on the pipeline has yet to be reached but is expected to be announced by the end of 2011. AFL-CIO Distancing Democratic Party
On Aug. 25, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) president Richard Trumka indicated that the AFL-CIO will be distancing themselves from the Democratic Party in the lead-up to 2012 elections. The ALF-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, has traditionally been a significant donor to Democratic Party candidates. According to Trumka, “You’re going to see us give less money to build structures for others, and more of our money will be
used to build our own structure.” However, Trumka indicated on Sept. 6 that the ALFCIO leadership will likely be endorsing Barack Obama for President nonetheless. European Elite Call for Higher Taxes Following comments made by American billionaire Warren Buffet in early August that he and other members of his class have “been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress,” members of the European ruling class have also begun to speak out in favour of higher taxes for themselves. In France, 16 top executives and other wealthy individuals have signed a petition that calls on the French elite to make an “exceptional contribution” in order to help pull the economy out of crisis. In Italy, Ferrari chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has described it as “scandalous” to attack the middle class in a recession rather than the elite. Most recently, a group of wealthy Germans calling themselves Vermögende für eine Vermögensabgabe (The Wealthy for a Capital Levy) have pushed for a 5% wealth tax for a two-year period, which they claim will raise £88.5 billion. Execution Date Set for Troy Davis The execution of death row inmate Troy Davis has been scheduled for Sept. 21 by the Georgia superior court, despite the uncertainty surrounding his case. Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a white Georgia police officer in 1991, but since then the evidence supporting a guilty verdict has gradually fallen apart. In particular, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Amnesty International USA has
called on the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant him clemency, emphasizing that there is far too much doubt surrounding his case for them to proceed with execution. An international day of solidarity for Troy Davis is being held on Sept. 16. Canadian Fighter Jets Bomb Libya Canadian fighter jets have played a disproportionate role in the NATO-lead bombing campaign in Libya, according to an anonymous NATO source. The National Post reported that “As one of three nations carrying out the bulk of the sometimescontroversial air war, Canada with its aging CF-18 fighters has made a contribution clearly disproportionate to the compact size of its air force.” In fact, the NATO source describes Canada’s contribution as “punch[ing] well above its weight.” The bombing of Libya, which began on Mar. 19 by NATO forces, has claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians, although the exact death toll remains uncertain. Hundreds Gather to Protest Ford’s Cuts On Sept. 10, hundreds of people gathered at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto for a ‘Mass Meeting to Stop Ford’s Cuts.’ Organized by the Toronto Stop The Cuts Network – an alliance of Toronto communities, student, and labour groups – the meeting served to introduce the Toronto Declaration, a document which states that the City of Toronto’s “$774 million dollar budget deficit is an exaggeration and a manufactured crisis that is being used as an excuse to cut services, hike user fees, privatize public services, and lay off workers.” The demands made in the Declaration, which aim to strengthen public services and protect the city’s most vulnerable groups, were generated from surveys done by the Stop the Cuts Network in Toronto’s poorest neighbourhoods. City Hall intends to vote on the proposed cuts on Sept. 26 and 27.
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Protects Watershed, sets Consultation Protocol through Referendum Land and Environment Unit Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) voted overwhelmingly in favour of protecting our entire watershed from all industry activity, and approving KI Consultation Protocol that sets out how KI consent will be given prior to any decision being made affecting our KI’s lands and resources.
whose water flow into those lakes, rivers, and wetlands, to be completely protected through our continued care under KI’s authority, laws and protocols…No industrial uses, or other uses which disrupt, poison, or otherwise harm our relationship to these lands and waters will be permitted.”
KI citizens voted in the community custombased referendum with over 96% of ballots cast in favour of the KI Watershed and the KI Consultation Protocol, according to first count results. The two documents will now be brought into force by KI Chief and Council through a Band Council Resolution along with a spiritual ceremony and blessings of the results. The documents will become part of KI’s Indigenous laws, and KI calls on outside governments and corporations to recognize and respect them. “The KI Watershed Declaration and the KI Consultation Protocol will give us a new mandate to foster dialogue with governments and corporations and as well as open up new opportunities in the areas of economic development, environmental sustainability, and off-reserve issues,” said Chief Donny Morris.
Activities affecting KI’s lands and resources must only proceed with KI’s free, prior, and informed consent. The Consultation Protocol sets out how KI consent will be given freely, where KI is fully informed of the consequences, prior to any decision-making made, and according to KI’s own laws and decision-making processes. Six KI leaders including Chief Morris were jailed in 2008 for preventing Platinex from exploring on our Homeland – activities we feared could contaminate the Big Trout Lake. After massive public outcry, an appeals court released the jailed KI leaders, and in 2009 the province bought out Platinex claims and promised never to develop them without our KI support.
The KI Watershed Declaration applies to a vast 13,025 square kilometer area of lakes, rivers, forest, and wetlands in KI Homeland including 661 square kilometer Big Trout Lake. It states: “We declare all water that flows into and out of Big Trout Lake, and all lands
Contact: John Cutfeet, KI Spokesperson (807) 5372054 or (807) 738-0935 For more information go to: http://www.kitchenuhmaykoosib.com/ landsandenvironment/
The YU Free Press is a free alternative monthly newspaper at York University. Our principal objectives are to challenge the mainstream corporate media model and provide a fundamental space for critical analysis at York University and wider community.
ADDRESS Student Centre 439 York University, 4700 Keele St. Toronto, Canada email firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE http://www.yufreepress.org EDITORIAL COLLECTIVE Victoria Barnett Tina Barton Simon Granovsky-Larsen Ashley Grover Evan Johnston Canova Kutuk Amee Lê Nathan Nun Jenelle Regnier-Davies Jennifer Rinaldi Amy Saunders Amil Shivji Sarah Tariq
COPY EDITORS Tina Barton Stefan Lazov Jamie M.A. Smith
CONTRIBUTORS Heba Al Fara, Lynsey Allen, Raisa Bhuiyan, Tiffany Boswell, Simon Granovsky-Larsen, Tim Groves, Evan Johnston, Michelle Kent, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Canova Kutuk, Amee Lê, Theresa McGee, Hadiyya Mwapachu, Nathan Nun, Jenny Peto, Jenelle Regnier-Davies, Amy Saunders, Tyler Shipley, Jon Thompson
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Rainforest Action Network (flickr) John Cutfeet, spokesperson and councilor from Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation speaks at Queen's Park in front of the Ontario Provincial legislative building in Toronto.
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FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Stephen Harper Strengthens Canada’s Ties with Violent Regime in Honduras Tyler Shipley In Nov. 2009, I stood among thousands of unarmed Hondurans – teachers, students, civil servants – demanding an end to a military coup that had transformed a relatively peaceful country into a brutal police state. As I leaned toward a line of soldiers to take a photo, I felt the butt of a machine gun against my rib cage and understood, in a visceral and embodied way, just how serious the situation had become.
unabated; in fact, just three weeks ago, Amnesty International Canada issued an urgent call for support for some 114 families targeted by intense police violence in northern Honduras. But on Aug. 12, 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Honduras to congratulate its leaders on a successful return to democracy and respect for human rights.
The soldiers guarded the Brazilian embassy, where democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya was being held captive by the military regime. At the time, around 40 people had been killed in direct state violence, while hundreds more had been terrorized in their homes or in the streets, attacked with batons and bullets, raped and tortured in prisons. Anyone who tried to speak out against the coup was targeted for violence or intimidated by threats.
It may seem like a contradiction, but this is the new Canada. Not only has the Harper government been the strongest supporter of the military regime since the Jun. 2009 coup, we have also successfully negotiated new trade agreements with it and recently announced that we would be sending 150 Canadian soldiers to conduct joint military exercises with the same military that carried out the coup and has overseen some 200 politically motivated assassinations in just over two years.
The coup regime is still in power today and the repression continues
The horrific stories start to blur together. Beloved teacher Jose
Manuel Flores, shot to death at the school where he taught with his students – a response to his activism in the National Teachers’ Federation. Carlos H. Reyes, former presidential candidate, bludgeoned in the head by police. Enrique Gudiel, a critical journalist from Danli, discovering his 17year-old daughter hanged to her
Canadian Minister of State Peter Kent held meetings with Lobo and worked tirelessly to bring Honduras back into the international community, even sending a Canadian diplomat to sit on a ‘Truth Commission’ in 2010
“… if supporting a miserable gang of thugs like the one ruling Honduras seems unCanadian, it may be time to look a bit closer in the mirror, and re-examine some of our assumptions about Canada’s behaviour in the world.” death. Honduran human rights organizations have meticulously documented the crimes of the military regime and time and time again have begged the international community to take heed, isolate the regime, and force them to step down and allow civilian rule once more. But Canada has taken the lead in willfully ignoring these groups. In 2009, the leaders of the coup held fraudulent ‘elections’ in an attempt to legitimize their rule. Every reputable international observation group in the world refused to participate in the sham. Nonetheless, independent conservative US and Canadian groups came to Honduras and declared the elections ‘free and fair,’ all the while refusing to speak with delegations from Honduran civil society who wanted to present evidence on the widespread repression. I confronted one such observer, Edward Fox, about his refusal to pay attention to the human rights organizations and he replied, “I’ve spoken to the US ambassador, and he’s here all the time.” Indeed. The United States has a long history of meddling in this country; it was nicknamed the USS Honduras in the 1980s, and from its bases in Honduras, the United States launched some of its most brutal and violent wars in Central America. As Honduras has slid back into the chaotic violence characteristic of the 1980s, many Hondurans have suggested that Canada is taking on the role the US used to play; as one woman put it, we are “more gringo than the gringos.”
Top: Honduras became a virtual police state in 2009 and the repressive apparatus has only gotten stronger since then. Bottom: Bertha Oliva, director of a human rights organization in Honduras, collects information on the assassinated and “disappeared” who now number in the hundreds.
reconciliation’ while the violence continued unabated.
Kidnapping an elected president and putting an entire nation in lockdown fits the definition of ‘coup d’etat’ to a T. But Canada’s statements have carefully softened the severity of the violence, euphemistically calling it a ‘political crisis’ and routinely ‘calling on all sides’ of the dispute to exercise restraint, as if this were a matter of two equally powerful parties struggling for control. We ‘congratulated’ Honduras on its fraudulent elections (of which up to 70% of Hondurans boycotted in defiance) and regularly praised victorious coup president Pepe Lobo on his ‘steps toward
which looked, frankly, farcical to Hondurans who continued to be targeted by police and military on a daily basis. A shameful record, indeed. But if supporting a miserable gang of thugs like the one ruling Honduras seems un-Canadian, it may be time to look a bit closer in the mirror, and re-examine some of our assumptions about Canada’s behaviour in the world. Our decade-long occupation of Afghanistan has left over 10,000 civilian casualties, utter social and political ruin, widespread allegations of torture, and no improvement in the much-maligned conditions for women whom we claimed to represent. Our decision to send the Canadian
military to overthrow the democratically elected president of Haiti in 2004 ushered in an era of political instability and disarray that drove the country into ever-deeper poverty and dislocation, making it tragically and immeasurably more vulnerable to the devastating earthquake in 2010. Our quiet participation in the quagmire in Iraq ought to be a skeleton in the closet, but it is ignored perhaps because we are now actively dropping bombs on Libya, though it doesn’t appear to be doing much good for ordinary Libyans. As Stephen Harper prepares to heap praise on the leader of a brutal and illegal government in Honduras this Friday, we might ask who in Canada is benefiting from our relationship with this regime. Certainly the Canadian mining and garment giants, from Goldcorp to Gildan, which exploit Hondurans’ weakness under such a repressive state apparatus. But surely not those of us who may have been born in Canada but consider ourselves global citizens. For those of us who believe democracy, security, and human freedom and dignity are more than just euphemisms, it must be time to take responsibility for the Canadian governments’ actions and to insist that they change. Tyler Shipley is a writer and researcher who teaches at York University in Toronto.
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Features Back-to-Work Legislation and Post-Strike: What do Students mean to York University? once the 2005 agreement expired. The Union’s main demands were an increase in graduate funding and an increase to job security for contract faculty members so they don’t have to constantly worry about losing their jobs. The union also asked for an improvement to health benefits and childcare among other things. Contract faculty does most of the work at York University. The ILO report concludes that the Ontario government was unjustified in forcing union members back to work. More importantly however, it is a critical document considering our government’s pattern of legislating union members back to work, even if the strike flows from a non-essential service.
Canova Kutuk So you think you know York University? The 2008-2009 school year is probably still engraved in the minds of many York students, faculty, and staff. For me, it was my first year at York University and until November everything seemed perfectly fine; my classes were running smoothly, my professors and TAs were awesome, and for the first two months of that academic year York University seemed to promise us first-years a smooth ride. So when a strike broke out on Nov. 6, 2008 and lasted over 11 weeks, it was a slap in the face for my apolitical and apathetic firstyear self. While Orientation Week created a harmonious and peaceful campus in my mind, the strike shattered that thin structure of lies. York University is still trying to pick up those shattered pieces and reconstruct an illusion.
ILO says the termination of the strike was unjustified Very recently, I stumbled across a committee report released by the International Labour Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour disputes and international labour standards. The report was released in Jun. 2011. On Jun. 16, 2009 the Canadian Union of Public Employees filed a complaint against the Government of Canada regarding the forceful termination of a legal strike via back-to-work legislation. Approximately eight months prior to the complaint, CUPE 3903, the local union representing about 3,400 contract faculty, teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and research assistants at York University announced to strike following the employer’s (York University’s) insistence on binding arbitration and refusal to bargain
Back-to-work legislation: a very handy tool for government/ business/York University… Although CUPE 3903 member services are essential to York University’s day to day operations, they do not legally constitute an essential service. So why is it they were legislated back to work? Back-to-work legislation, supposed to be used as a last resort and meant for essential services (services that prevent danger to life, health/ safety, and disruption of courts), is now being used as an option to end any major labour unrest that threatens economic stability. Who broadened the definition of essential to encompass monetary concerns? In about ten years (Sept. 1998–Jan. 2009), the government of Ontario used the back-to-work legislation four times in the education sector alone. In all cases the strikes were perfectly legal. Since 1950, the federal government has used the back-to-work legislation well over 30 times! In most cases it was used to end strikes by railway workers, grain handlers, port workers, and postal workers. In 2007 it was used to end a strike by drivers, trainmen, and yardmen at the Canadian N a t i o n a l R a i l w a y Company. And very recently it was used against Canada
Post and Air Canada workers. Meanwhile, governments continue to legislate more and more industries that are economically important as essential (i.e. TTC services were legally designated as essential at Rob Ford’s request because Toronto lost an estimated $50 million/day in the case of a strike). What exactly is the point of striking if employers refuse to bargain or bargain in bad faith and wait for government to intervene? (Employers have every economic and political edge over workers to be able to wait the strike out and wreak economic havoc). Karen Walker, Chairperson for CUPE 3903 says, “The back-towork legislation forced on our members is part of a pattern in Ontario, and is something we’re organizing against in our current round of bargaining. Our case was the fourth time in ten years the provincial government has used such back-handed measures on education sector workers. The rights of every worker in Ontario and across Canada - like CUPW and CAW right now – are harmed when these unjustifiable moves are taken by governments.”
York ever serious about reaching a negotiated settlement? Its time and effort spent gathering support and lobbying during the strike had a big share in creating the hostile poststrike campus environment.
At the time, I remember the general response both in the media and in my classes, once they resumed. I listened to many voices in class, most of them vehemently pressing the same ideas: Why were our TAs so greedy? They had no right to harm students with their neediness
My Introduction to Microeconomics and Introduction to Macroeconomics courses each had well over 600 students and only one professor, and no tutorials! I remember there being a shortage of seats for the first two to three weeks of class! Isn’t it more educational (and more interesting) for first-year Economics majors to be able to further engage with their professors and get a deeper understanding of the subject through spending less time reading PowerPoint slides straight out of the textbook and more time discussing how textbooks present those ideas and how applicable textbooks are to real-life situations? This is just a personal example, but it is relevant to many first-year introductory students and courses.
“What exactly is the point of striking if employers refuse to bargain or bargain in bad faith and wait for government to intervene?”
An alternate construction of our university For some odd reason, while students were placing their good faith in the university to end the 85-day disruption, York University agreed to meet the union only twice in the first two months of the strike despite CUPE repeatedly asking to meet. Why?! Perhaps calling this event a ‘lockout’ instead of a ‘strike’ is more appropriate; what union members went on was a strike, but what the university turned it in to was a lockout. York finally presented a final offer in January and refused all
CUPE 3903 strikers in Nov. 2008.
possibility of further collective negotiations. Meanwhile, for 11 weeks, all classes were cancelled and over 45,000 students almost lost an academic year. The strike was unjustifiably terminated by the provincial government and both parties were subjected to binding arbitration (just like York requested in the beginning…).
for more money. Their demands for more graduate funding, increased job security, better health benefits, and childcare were stupid because the university offered them an awesome contract etc. Union members quickly became the scapegoats for all the misery caused by the strike. Executives from the York Federation of Students (YFS), the undergraduate students’ union, were nearly impeached(!) by a small number of emotionally charged and politically motivated students all because they expressed solidarity with strikers. So what exactly was York University doing all that time it spent not negotiating? York University was spending a lot of effort and our money on getting widespread public support and lobbying the government to adopt back-to-work legislation. On Oct. 5, 2010 the NDP revealed that York University spent close to $500,000 of public money on hiring private lobbyists. Of this amount, $217,135 was spent hiring Counsel of Public Affairs (CPA) to assist with labour relations during the strike. Isn’t that very greedy? Was
So let me paint a different picture of our school for those of you who wish for an alternate orientation. We go to a school that exploits contract labour, bargains in bad faith, and treats education like a business by cutting costs wherever possible, even if it is detrimental to our education. Clearly, education is not the primary goal here. It’s well past the time we should be asking why educators who do most of the work at York earn petty salaries, have debatable job security and benefits, and why our student/ professor ratios and class sizes are embarrassing. As students, what do we mean to York University? Canova Kutuk is a fourth year student studying Economics and English at York University.
Get Involved! in Toronto, broadcasting 24/7. Our mandate is to provide alternative programming, such as music not generally heard on commercial stations. CHRY is here to foster a strong community-led movement for more critical, accountable, and representative media. CHRY 105.5 FM is an anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic organization. Canadian Union of Employees (CUPE)
Who is CUPE 3903? The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3903 represents approximately 3,400 contract faculty, teaching assistants (TAs), graduate assistants (GAs), music tutors, writing instructors, and research assistants (RAs) at York University. York University depends heavily on our members to absorb the effects of increased student enrolment; and indeed we do more than half of the teaching at York. The union plays a crucial role in addressing the problems of work exploitation and job insecurity that too often plague many precarious academic workers. Beyond this, however, CUPE 3903 is committed to a social justice unionism, and works closely with other unions and allies on and off campus in the fight to improve working conditions for all workers, and in defense of people who are exploited and marginalized in our society and the world by capitalism and the intersecting forms of oppression that constitute it – racism, sexism, ageism, heterocentrism, and ableism. As a union we are committed to struggles against those forces that threaten people’s basic political and economic rights at home and abroad. As such we have historically taken a strong stand in solidarity with those struggling for freedom and self-determination around the world. Bargaining: Because our contracts – which govern our wages and conditions of work – expired in Aug. 2011, CUPE 3903 is now in negotiations with York University’s administration. This means that we are in a position to renew and revise our collective agreements. While negotiations have only just begun, we hope to use this opportunity to continue in our efforts to make York a university that provides good, secure jobs for its workers and that better serves the needs of students as well as the larger neighborhood in which York is located. In this vein we are hoping to build relationships with undergraduate students and other members of the community at York to create a university that is more responsive to the needs of its students and workers, and which provides education for empowerment and research that contributes to the construction of a more egalitarian world.
Centre for Women & Trans People (CWTP) The Centre for Women & Trans
People (CWTP or ‘The Centre’) is a student-funded, collectively run, volunteer-driven organization at York University. We are a progressive, pro-choice, anti-racist, queer-positive, trans-positive, feminist organization committed to: Breaking the social isolation that women and trans people face on campus through programming, socials, and networking events
Students play an important role in programming, and we also provide access to members of the community at large.
Individual and collective empowerment through esteem building, education, and decolonization
Providing services such as crisis intervention, peer counseling, advocacy, and referrals from a feminist, antioppressive framework
CHRY also provides training to volunteers on essential radio production including: technical production, interviewing for news and music, scripting for radio, voicing and microphone technique, audio recording and editing, story development, on-air engineering and hosting, and more.
Acting as a resource base for understanding and organizing on issues around gender violence and social justice
Creating working relationships between students and the University administration, where students are directly involved in developing policies and programs that make the campus safer for everyone
Developing a culture of resistance and celebration through event organizing and by supporting initiatives by local artists
We offer a comfortable lounge with couches and chairs, a free phone, computer and internet access, a fridge, a microwave, and good company! Whether you want to debrief with someone about your day, or are looking for a place to chill/eat your lunch/catch up on your reading/get involved in our work – don’t be shy, drop by and check us out in room 322 in the Student Centre! Visit our website www.yorku.ca/ywc or find us on Facebook by searching ‘Centre for Women and Trans People–York University.’
CHRY CHRY is the community-based campus station at York University
Congo. We have started an e-mail campaign to MPs and have also written an article which was published in YU FREE PRESS. We worked with H2oCongo at their 4th Annual How Much Do You Know About DR Congo? Conference held at York. Oct. 16-22 is FOTC’s 4th Annual Congo Week. CRG plans to organize the first Congo Week ever to be held on York campus to break the silence about the Congo crisis. We can be contacted via Facebook ‘Congo Research Group @ York University’ or e-mail us at congoresearchgroup@ googlegroups.com
Our goal is to prioritize and promote the voices/sounds of local events and groups who challenge and carefully examine the intersecting forms of oppression among our communities and dominant structures of society.
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For more info, visit www.chry. fm. To get involved, contact Volunteer Coordinator Randy Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by the station in room 413 in the Student Centre to sign up for an orientation!
Congo Research Group (CRG) The Congo Research Group (CRG) began in Nov. 2010 with the support of Friends of the Congo (FOTC). CRG is dedicated to exposing and holding accountable some of the forces fueling the conflict in DR Congo: imperialism, foreign occupation, and racism. The conflict is known as the greatest humanitarian crisis and the deadliest since World War II. Canada plays a major role in this crisis that is killing 40,000+ people of the Congo monthly. In 2002, a UN report found that the activities of 10 Canadian mining companies contributed to the perpetuation of the conflict. Almost 80% of the world’s capital market in mining comes from the Toronto Stock Exchange. FOTC explains that “the source of Congo’s challenge has been the attempt by the West to weaken this wealthy and strategically important country through wars, invasions, assassinations, and propping up of dictators.” CRG has organized screenings on and off campus of educational films such as Lumumba, Cultures of Resistance, and Crisis in the
Feminist Action Previously known as WSUSC (Womens Studies Undergraduate Student Collective), Feminist Action is about bringing an activist spirit back to our campus! We’re interested in anti-oppression politics and doing rather than just saying. Our activism is based on a radical, queer, grassroots lens though we do recognize the multiple interpretations of feminism and celebrate and support this diversity. This grassroots approach allows us to dismantle structures of power from the bottom up, while being as fluid as possible. Our aim is to work outside of societal systems in order to question what we consider ‘normal.’ It is through this activism that we hope to blur traditional identity categories and structures of power in our fight for equity. Historically, Feminist Action has existed in collaboration with the Women’s Studies Department at York University for approximately six years. Each year the club had a unique team of coordinators who all brought an amazing flavour of activism to York. Our aim during the 2009/10 school year was to build a strong foundation that would support the activist goals of feminists from all perspectives. In that year, our ambition was to provide a young feminist voice both on and off campus while supporting the third wave of feminism (arguably the fourth?) within Canada. During the 2010/11 school year, we aimed to strengthen our activist ties by creating and putting on events geared to make our political activism as accessible as possible. During that year, our intent was to really put forward the message that feminism could be found anywhere, from the streets and alleyways of our city to the nooks and crannies of our own homes. Over those two years, the forms of activities that Feminist Action has created include a radical, guerillastyle feminist parade, a symposium
geared towards dismantling popular aversions surrounding ‘the f-word,’ a bi-weekly discussion forum series covering topics like ‘the sex-gender system in video games,’ ‘contemporary masculinity ideals’ – a pro-sexuality bake sale offering baked goods in the likeness of human breasts and penises, an anti-street harassment postering campaign, and the launch of York’s first ever feminist arts and cultural magazine (Incendies). For this upcoming year, we hope to continue the efforts set in motion during the 2010/11 year by actively working to reignite a passion for a fast, raw, guerilla flavor of activism at York. All are welcome to join in! Students, non-students, those in the WMST/SXST majors, and anyone with a natural interest in or inclination toward feminism. To get involved send us an email at undergrad.ws.collective@ gmail.com with your thoughts and questions! You can also check out our blog at http://feminist-action. blogspot.com to catch what we’re up to, visit our website at www. yorku.ca/feminist, or follow our Twitter @FeministActiOn. Find us on Facebook by searching ‘Feminist Action @ YU.’ Or even drop by our office located in room 206 T inside the Women’s Studies Department at Founder’s College during our soon-to-be-posted office hours to stop for a chat or check out our new resource enlightenment library!
First Nations Solidarity Working Group (FNSWG, CUPE 3903) The FNSWG is a Toronto-based group of individuals who are committed to the decolonization of Turtle Island. We work with the understanding that struggles of all people are bound up together. We believe that all anti-oppressive struggles on Turtle Island are tied to the land on which we stand, and to Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and self-determination. The FNSWG therefore seeks to build likely and unlikely alliances across various movements. The FNSWG was formed by and continues to be a working group of CUPE local 3903, with both union and community members. The group was formed by nonIndigenous organizers in 2007, but is intended as an organizing space for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous/settler organizers committed to building anti-racist and decolonizing movements. Actions, Projects and Campaigns include: •
Supporting struggles for selfautonomy, self-determination, and sovereignty within and outside Toronto.
Building alliances between movements including: antiracist, pro-Palestinian, union, anti-poverty, anti-Capitalist, feminist/women/gender/queer liberation, environmental, faith-based, anti-extraction industry, and Indigenous sovereignty movements.
Bringing awareness and responding to the growing alliances between antiNative and Zionist/pro-Israeli Apartheid groups.
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Working to address racisms within Indigenous solidarity activism, particularly building alliances between antiracist movements, people/ communities of colour, and Indigenous solidarity movements. Facilitating workshops for people of colour to explore their roles as allies in Indigenous solidarity movements in a white settler state. Building solidarity support for Six Nations struggles and land claims, including work to initiate and maintain a broad based Six Nations Solidarity Network. Organizing anti-colonial/antiracist rallies and responses to anti-Native rallies, universitybased scholarship, and other activities. Organizing speaker series, workshops, events, and speaking tours on anti-Native activities and Six Nations sovereignty struggles.
Members publishing academic, media, and online articles about these various issues and actions.
Building Indigenous solidarity within CUPE, other unions, and labour movements.
In September and early October we are holding several new members meetings and events. Please email us at email@example.com for more information, or check out our upcoming events at http:///fnswg. wordpress.com
Students Against Apartheid (SAIA)
non-violent resistance to the discrimination and suffering that Palestinians live with because of the legal system of Apartheid that is in place. SAIA is a part of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS). BDS is an effective, non-violent, grassroots strategy to put popular pressure on states to change their actions, when international condemnation has failed to do so. SAIA works to raise awareness about Palestine and Israeli Apartheid as well as the need to sever economic ties between our campus and Israel until it complies with international law. SAIA launched its divestment campaign with U of T this past March. We are holding our universities accountable for their complicity in Israeli Apartheid by its investments in companies that provide the weapons and technology needed for Apartheid to continue. York was one of the first universities to divest from South African Apartheid; a few years after this historic decision was made Apartheid in South Africa unravel. At York we can make this historic victory happen again and be one of the first universities to end Apartheid in Israel. If you would like to know more about SAIA, come out to our event Sept. 29 during Disorientation. It will be an opportunity to learn about the divestment campaign and to meet members of SAIA. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Website: toronto.saia.ca
The massive wall that cuts through the Occupied Palestinian Territories is only one of many examples that illustrate how Israel is an apartheid state. The wall operates to limit the mobility of Palestinians. This means that getting to work, school, and hospitals and receiving aid becomes extremely difficult if not impossible for Palestinians. Reports of women having their babies at the side of the road because they are denied access to medical care are all too common. The few who are able to find work do not have job stability because they can never guarantee they will be allowed passed the numerous checkpoints that divide Israelis from Palestinians. Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) are apart of the growing
For More Info Please Visit” http:// sftcanada.wordpress.com/about/ Contact: email@example.com
STOP York Animal Research (SYAR) Please join STOP York Animal Research (SYAR)! We seek the abolition of animal experimentation for educational purposes and for biomedical/ scientific research. Our mandate is to raise awareness about the cruelty involved in animal research, and to inform students of what is happening to animals (including rats, mice, primates, and others) in labs across our campus. We also seek to educate students about the many existing alternatives to animal experimentation, and to inform them of their right to opt out of assignments involving animal research, due to conscientious objection. We are affiliated with STOP U of T Animal Research and STOP UBC Animal Research and are endorsed and supported by Lawyers for Animal Welfare and InterNICHE (an international organization made up of scientists and educators seeking humane alternatives to vivisection). SYAR is a pacifist organization which opposes all violence (physical and verbal) against all sentient beings, human and nonhuman.
Many cringe when they hear the word apartheid. Why do you have to call it that? Sounds harsh and unnecessary. The term apartheid is defined as a form of racial segregation that grants privileges to some people at the expense of others. South Africa is the example most know of, because it comes from an Afrikaans word that means separation. The term is now defined by the United Nations as any form of racial segregation. This would include the current situation in Israel.
operations have resulted in the displacement of Tibetan nomads and destruction of their land. This raises concerns about the politically motivated plan designed to further consolidate control over Tibet through economic rather than military means. We look forward to creating more dialogue and awareness about the situation in Tibet on campus because as students we have a voice to speak and the capacity to act on the injustice we see in the world. Free Tibet!
Students for a Free Tibet @ York Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world. Through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action, we campaign for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom. Our role is to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement for social justice. The SFT @ York chapter has been active on the Keele campus since 2009 by bringing awareness about the worsening conditions in Tibet through international campaigns. We have been focusing on economic, political, environmental, and social effects of China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. This year SFT@York will be focusing on the ‘Stop Mining in Tibet’ divestment campaign. Students for a Free Tibet is calling on Canadian companies to cease operations and exploration in Tibet until the Tibetan people can freely determine the use of their own resources – particularly non-renewable resources. Mining
Please join us in speaking out against animal torture at York! For more information contact SYAR founder, Zipporah Weisberg, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7 periodicals. We also regularly hold social events such as movie nights, potlucks, educational workshops, and our ever-popular Queer Nights at The Underground. The Positive Space environment that TBLGAY offers is a place where human rights are respected and where lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirited, intersex, queer, questioning, and allies of all races, genders, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, abilities, and body types are welcome and supported. So please swing by our office in the Student Centre on the 4th floor, room 449A, and get involved! It’s a great place to meet new people and make friends, or to take on some volunteer work and help with the various campaigns to fight homophobia and the various forms of oppression interlinked with it.
in association with TBLGAY, The Centre for Human Rights, and the Centre for Counseling and Disability Services, plans to erect a Queer Support and Outreach Group, aiming to connect students far and wide from all disciplines and walks of life. In tandem with their work, USSA is also in the process of beginning their very own grassroots zine, headed by Noel Solorzano and Michelle Kent. To get involved email ussa.yorku@ gmail.com or follow on Twitter at ‘ussayorku,’ Tumblr at ussaatyork. tumblr.com, or Facebook at ‘Undergraduate Sexuality Studies Association.’
Whatever your interests or needs, TBLGAY is working to make it happen for you! Visit our website http://tblgay.yfs. ca/ or check out ‘TBLGAY’ on Facebook for more information on how to get involved!
York United Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA) The York United Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA) is a nonprofit, student-run, Pan-Africanist community service group. The Alliance aims to support the immediate needs and interests of Black students and community members, positioning itself as an advocate and organizer for social and political empowerment and growth. Undergraduate Sexuality Studies Association (USSA) Founded only two years ago by Daniel Faranda (now of the Centre for Human Rights), York’s only student collective for the Sexuality Studies program, the Undergraduate Sexuality Studies Association has seen its growth increase tenfold in the past year. As a group dedicated to providing positive spaces all over campus for individuals to express, acknowledge, and experience their sexualities (or lack thereof), USSA prides itself on its diverse and unique team.
With an annual symposium and art event, as well as porn and discussion circle events held sporadically throughout the year, USSA has proven itself a progressive and dynamic group – always ready to push boundaries and react to events of our social world. With a mandate rooted in fighting for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer and questioning, two-spirited, and pansexual individuals, USSA also aims to raise awareness around issues of inclusion and access for the LGBT+ community at York and abroad.
TBLGAY stands for Trans, Bi, Lesbian, Gay, Allies at York. We offer resources and support for the LGBTQ, queer and trans-friendly community in and around the York University campus. These resources include pamphlets and brochures from on and off campus. The TBLGAY library includes a collection of over 300 books and
Now under the presidency of Amy Saunders – a fourth year Sexuality Studies student, USSA also seeks social and political justice for all, from walking through the streets of Toronto in No One is Illegal’s ‘Status For All’ march to spreading word of Alvaro’s threat of deportation and getting that petition signed! This year, USSA,
The Alliance was formed in 1996 by members of the African Students’ Association, the Caribbean Students’ Association, and Black Writers’ Caucus, with the aim to unite and empower Black students at York University. Furthermore, the Alliance purposes itself to the revolutionary tenants of PanAfricanism, which recognizes the cultural and intellectual dislocation of African peoples, in efforts to unite and liberate ourselves by exercising our own agency. Within the Alliance, self-identification, self-reliance, and the unification of our brothers and sisters enable us to stand as communities and united nations for an autonomous political, economic, and social world order. The Alliance emphasizes the working relationship between raising our collective consciousness as people, and how to view and function ourselves, as agents of both historical and contemporary change. Our mission embodies a mandate that seeks to provide Afro-centric programs and services that engage and empower both Black students and community members at large. We are driven by our motto which states, ‘United By Any Means Necessary.’ In essence, YUBSA will continue to encourage, promote, and not wavier in achieving equal rights, unity, and justice, not just within the Black community but with respect to all communities.
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DisOrientation: Finding a Path in the World Today T
he York International Internship Program (YIIP) is an opportunity for York undergraduate and graduate students to work with an international host for three months of the year. Internship placements are arranged through a wide variety of government and non-government organizations, both in Canada and abroad. Through the program, students are offered a range of experiences from field internships, to research and/or administrative placements. In May of this year, 52 students from York University set out on their journey to explore the four corners of the world. As part of their assignment, each student was required to write a blog to capture their most memorable moments and exalting experiences. The following are only a few of some of the most captivating expressions created by York Interns, as they find their path in the world today...
Diaries of the York International Interns Turning Point Jenelle Regnier-Davies in Costa Rica Jenelle Regnier-Davies is a fourth year Environmental Studies student of York University. In the last three months, she has explored scientific research of residential aviary species in Costa Rica, as well as aided in the development of a pilot project for environmental education. Here are a few words about her experiences gained from her internship with the Costa Rican Bird Observatories. In the last couple of weeks, I have faced a turning point in my experience here in Costa Rica. It all began with planning a bird-banding workshop with my supervisor Pablo Elizondo (AKA Chespi). Here, I was able to utilize my experience in planning, logistics, and food shopping. I started to feel less ‘out of my element,’ and a bit more confident that I would be able to walk away knowing I did a good job. Since this is my first job in a new direction and a new career path, I have taken a few blows to the ego. My crash course in ornithology and living in a country of a different language has been challenging, to say the least.
classrooms, where three grades are taught at once. In the classroom I observed, there were 16 students, who were grades four through six. Now I am not saying I had preconceived notions of what these students would be like, or what their level of understanding would be. But I could tell that, by the look of the town, funding was surely an issue for the school. My mistake was assuming that this would have an effect on the quality of education the students were receiving. From listening to the students, and briefly talking with them, I realized they had been receiving a better education than I had received in Canada at their age. Children of ten years of age were able to name bird species by their scientific name, and discuss issues like alternative energy, or the pros and cons of our ability to clone. I was amazed, and proud of them for having a more rounded understanding of science than I, an (almost) 30-year-old woman. I left the school completely inspired, and amazed. My world had truly been altered. I felt right for having refused to accept the dominant idea of ‘development’ that we are constantly forcefed in North America. I saw evidence that money, and money, and more money isn’t the only thing that is needed for a nation to function. That kids can grow up bright and strong without making everything in sight ‘marketable.’
“The turning point for me has been seeing the most beautiful side of this country that goes beyond the mountains, volcanoes, and silky white beaches.”
The bird-banding workshop took place in the highland region of Madre Selva, a place I had previously banded, and have since fallen in love with. The attendees of the workshop were the students my co-worker and I have been working with at The National Institute of Biodiversity. They are a variety of wonderful Costa Rican people: some studying Biology; some studying Natural Resource Management; and some simply getting certification for jobs they already have. During the week of this workshop, I was also given the heads up that I would begin working on the project I was hired to do, which was to help in the development of an educational program for middle school students to learn about birds and conservation. The first stage in this program required me to spend a day in the elementary school of focus and to observe how classes are taught, and how the school functions as a whole. Luckily, I was able to steal one of the bird-banding students (who is proficient in both English and Spanish), to aid me in understanding the language. Without her, I know I would have been lost – thanks Sara! The school is located in the small town of La Trinidad de Dota (Google it…I dare you!). This town consists solely of a school, a church, and a store. The school only has two
Okay, I know I may have lost some of you along the way, so I will do my best to explain. One of the most exciting things I learned about the school system here in Costa Rica is that there is a nutrition program that ensures that all students get a healthy meal while they are at school. There is no Coke, nor band name juices. There are no contracts with fast food companies, and only unprocessed whole foods are offered. The government subsidizes university tuition, and for the remaining amount required of students – approximately $125.00 US – there is also a number of grants and scholarships that anyone can get. It was also really exciting to see that there are no contracts with fast food companies on campus, and the food is made fresh, on site…and affordable. Breakfast costs about $1.25, and lunch around $2.00. I have realized that education and health are the cornerstones of the nation. They have given their children a well-rounded foundation, without selling out to Coke for brand new gym equipment (they play outside!). In Costa Rica, there is a 95% literacy rate across the board (which is more that I can say for some areas of Canada...ummm Canadian Government, reserves are part of our country too!). So, this is all beyond the point of my story. I am writing
to you, dear readers, about the turning point for me here in Costa Rica. Up until now, I have been not quite a tourist, and even less a resident. I have been floating from one bunk bed to another, not yet really knowing any Costa Rican people, or speaking the language…until now. My week in the highlands gave me a chance to spend time with more Costa Ricans. I made friends with several of the students, as well as a new co-worker from Nicaragua. They have welcomed me into their lives and their homes so easily, despite our obvious limitations in communication.. More recently, I also had the great pleasure of spending the weekend with one of my new friends. She invited me into her family home where she grew up and spent her childhood. This experience has been overwhelmingly heart-warming. I sat at a dinner table with her entire family, and shared a home cooked meal. On the Sunday, I spent the day with them in a national park, and sipped wine near a waterfall. I really couldn’t believe the hospitality shared with a perfect stranger. To be in the family home of a friend, I have realized, is something I have yet to do even with some of my closest friends in my home country. The turning point for me has been seeing the most beautiful side of this country that goes beyond the mountains, volcanoes, and silky white beaches. The most beautiful part of this country is the people and their honest warmth, their hospitality, their openness to friendship. It is the love and respect they express for their families and neighbors. Thank you Costa Rica, for giving me this experience
Something that touched my heart Theresa McGee in El Salvador Theresa McGee spent her summer months in support of the Melida Anaya Montes Language School at the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS) in San Salvador, El Salvador. Back home in Toronto, she spends much her time studying at York, and being involved in community building projects such as the Community Arts Practice, as well as social justice groups The Movement Defense Committee, and The Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at York University. This cycle of English classes at CIS is quickly drawing to a close, and I feel compelled to reflect on the experience. I did not come to El Salvador with a deep desire to teach English. In fact, it was the aspect of the internship that least interested and most intimidated me. I did not think this was where my skills lay. I was drawn to this experience instead by the talk of building volunteer capacity to facilitate language classes using a popular education methodology. The inherent contradiction of coming to Latin America to teach popular education had not escaped me, but I was also looking to deepen my own understanding of what the literature on popular education calls a ‘revolutionary praxis of hope:’ a participatory, reflective educational practice, to both learn about social justice issues and help volunteer English teachers integrate them into the work of language teaching. I entered this experience without a great deal of confidence in my own ability to teach. To add to my hesitation, I was informed early on in my training that there had recently been a significant shift in the demographic of students who come to the CIS to learn English. What was once a place for ex-combatants and labour leaders, people involved in the struggle against economic and social injustice, to come
Left: Costa Rica students excited to talk to a “Gringa” Right: Hiking in Turrialba, Costa Rica
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8 to learn English for the purposes of international solidaritybuilding, now attracts dozens of young people who wish to improve their English in order to gain employment in call centres or banks. Suffice to say that the culture of the student body is no longer the radical, progressive one that it once was. My expectations and the reality I encountered were incongruous. El Salvador is a country that I look to for inspiration. It has an amazing social history. And yet, 20 years after the end of the armed conflict, my somewhat romanticized notion of the social movement here does not quite fit the current lay of the land. Conditions have, in many cases, worsened. Over half of the population is living in poverty, many of those experiencing levels of deprivation that can only be described as extreme. “We beat Haiti,” I overheard one activist say to another recently. They were speaking to the fact that El Salvador, once second to the referenced island nation, has now been listed as the most environmentally precarious country in the Americas. This means that when a natural disaster occurs here, as they often do, El Salvador will have the least resources with which to respond. All of these indicators suggest that the conditions that led to the outbreak of war here in 1980 are actually worse now than they were three decades ago.
conditions that exist in their schools and communities.” My colleague observed recently that our students’ struggles to survive austerity and increasing levels of violent crime could be considered the most visible manifestation of contemporary popular struggle in this country. The face of the class struggle may have changed, but that doesn’t mean it is not present. In El Salvador today, there is no shortage of social and political themes raging beneath the surface of everyday life. Dialogue is one of the most important tools in popular education. It requires patience, humility, and a real belief that there is something that one can learn from the other person. Only through dialogue, through entering into what Freire calls “humanizing relationships,” can educators draw from the insights of all involved in the learning process. Oscar Romero, martyr and spiritual leader of the Salvadoran people, said in 1977, “Dialogue is characterized by poverty: becoming poor to seek with another the truth, the solution.” What he meant was not economic poverty but spiritual poverty. Romero’s concept comes from the same root as what Jean Vanier speaks about when he says, “If we are to grow in love, the prisons of our egoism must be unlocked. This implies suffering, constant effort and repeated choices.” This place of poverty, of unlocked prisons of the ego, may sound ephemeral but my students showed me this orientation daily. As a response to my students’ openness, this place of poverty also began to root my approach to teaching.
“Dialogue is one of the most important tools in popular education. It requires patience, humility, and a real belief that there is something that one can learn from the other person”
Paulo Freire, the architect of popular education, speaks about the need to break the ‘culture of silence.’ He cites the goal of education as being the radical transformation of society. The transformation he describes is essentially a spiritual process with material consequences: it involves “transformation of social consciousness on one hand and the reconstruction of social structures on the other” (Darder, 2002). Cooperation, justice, and concern for the common good are all, fundamentally, essential aspects of love. For practitioners of popular education methodologies, apathy is not considered to be a natural condition for human beings. There is a belief that we can unearth new life in one another by tapping into the themes that are raging beneath the surface, themes that are usually kept silent. Antonia Darder says “Educators need to understand the impact of capitalism around the world and link it to the local
The results were fascinating. The conversations we had in class each week, as we discussed themes such as historical memory and the role of truth commissions, violence against women, mining and resistance, labour organizing, and migration, showed that each person at the table had something profound to contribute. The transformative process at work amazed me. It was a collective effort. Every single participant engaged and brought their own perspective to the process. “I’m learning so much,” one of our students, remarked last night. “You really moved my mind.” This process has moved my mind, as well as my heart. Teaching took a huge amount of work and preparation (the experience has only deepened my respect for the work that teachers do, often without recognition), and it has become the main facet of my internship. The act of teaching brought me new appreciation, new insights, and it really transformed me. What I found when I came here was not what I had expected; I found that I had something to give. In a small but very real way, I broke free from my own alienation and powerlessness. The cyclical process of action and reflection, which working within a popular education methodology demands, has truly been a process of “becoming more fully human,” as Freire says. It has also made a profound impression on my heart. Teachers can break down debilitating alienation and isolation and begin to find the freedom to embrace all aspects of their humanity more fully and openly – the pain, the suffering, the fear, the disappointments, the uncertainties, the pleasures, the joy, and the dreams – and by so doing, to discover the political power generated by our collective humanity. -Antonia Darder, Reinventing Paulo Freire: A Pedagogy of Love.
Reflections on my Internship in St. Kitts Tiffany Boswell Originally from small town Chilliwack, BC, Tiffany is a fourth year student at York University majoring in Social Work. For the last three months, Tiffany has been working in Basseterre, St. Kitts as an intern at the Basic Needs Trust Fund, a poverty alleviation organization. With less than one week remaining, I can hardly believe what I, and the Project Manager of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), Osbert DeSuza, have accomplished in just three short months.
Theresa McGee Top: El Salvador in the Summer. Bottom: Students of El Salvador
First, let me say a few things about Mr. DeSuza, aka ‘Suza’ as I call him. This man works hard to provide for the people of St. Kitts. In all the years he’s been at BNTF, he has transformed the outlook and approach to poverty reduction on the island. Originally BNTF was responsible for infrastructural repairs and renovations, which in Canada would encompass the responsibilities that most municipal and provincial governments cover. However, in St. Kitts, because the national debt is so high, the government is not capable of adequately providing assistance, and as a result, relies on BNTF (which is sponsored by both the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)). According to
Top: Work in St. Kitts. Bottom: Students in St. Kitts
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), St. Kitts currently has the highest gross national debt in the Caribbean, and the second highest in the world at EC $3 billion. Since DeSuza has been involved, the organization has expanded to more proactive approaches to poverty reduction. Through the use of skills training workshops, and by opening contract bidding for infrastructural sub-projects to local contractors, local construction workers are able to access regular employment. In the last four years, much of the work has been a tandem effort between DeSuza and former Community Liaison Officer (CLO), but since December of this year when this person was promoted to Director of Social and Community Development, DeSuza has literally run the organization alone. This is where I come into the picture. Although technically, my role is to work under Suza, it truly felt as though we were a team. At times, the job has given me an immense amount of responsibility. Trust me, I cannot say that I’m ready to be the next CLO just yet, however, it has left me feeling significant, and much more capable than I would’ve initially given myself credit for. People see DeSuza as a little rough
“There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who are trained, and those who are educated. Which one are you?”
around the edges, and most times people don’t give him the credit he deserves. But he does a hell of a lot. I cannot say enough about what I have learned from this man and the hospitality he and his family have shown me, but I can say that it humbles me. Anyway, here’s a look at some of the work I got myself into this summer. What a trip! Bronte Welsh Primary School Renovations One of the BNTF sub-projects is geared toward renovations needed for one of the primary schools, Bronte Welsh Primary. I was responsible for leading several of the community meetings that are necessary to have a sub-project approved by the bank. In such meetings I try to get a sense from community members what the issues are that they are facing in their community; have a discussion about the needs they wish to see addressed; and prioritize those needs based on the input they give me. My role is mostly to facilitate the conversation and to ask the necessary questions, and most importantly to listen to what they’re telling me, or what they’re not telling me. Most villages that are facing poverty have people with strengths and skills who need to be recognized and utilized for the betterment of both the individual and the community at large. One thing I’ve come to value is recognizing that solutions don’t always have to be standardized formal ways of approaching problems. Sometimes your most valuable resources are sitting right in front of you, but because we are often socialized to value traditional education, intelligent individuals go overlooked. One thing Suza said to me on my very first day at BNTF that stuck a chord with me, was that “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who are trained, and those who are educated. Which one are you?” A little intense for the first day, I thought, but I’ll never forget it. The point is, just
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Honoring the Life of Wendy Babcock Theresa McGee
n Aug. 9, Osgoode Hall law student Wendy Babcock passed away in her student residence at York University. She was a woman who was used to being in the media spotlight: the recipient of Toronto’s inaugural Public Health Champion award had been featured in countless news articles on both local and national levels, and it is plain to see why. Her life story is nothing less than phenomenal. She was brought up in the care of the state, and was ‘aged-out’ of the Children’s Aid Society and made homeless at age 15. Her work in the sex trade propelled her to become a leading advocate for the rights of sex workers. In 2008, she was admitted to one of the country’s most prestigious law schools having only formally completed a grade seven education. Wendy’s life has too often been exploited for sensational headlines like the one the Toronto Star published on the day after her death (‘Prostitute turned Osgoode law student found dead’). Like many women who have worked in the sex trade, Wendy is still being classified as somehow less than human. Not enough has been written about who Wendy was as a person.
who was beaten to death in Moss Park by three army reservists in 2005. Wendy considered Paul a friend. As an outreach worker with Street Health in the Dundas and Sherbourne corridor, she defiantly blurred the lines between the professional and the personal. Her interactions with her clients, men and women surviving on the streets of Toronto, demonstrated her authentic love and respect for them. Wendy never tired of activism. Her incisive wit was one of the ways
Wendy was incredibly strong. She was also human. She was a mother who had lost her only son: he was taken from her custody as an infant when Wendy was homeless. She never stopped fighting to get him back, to be a part of his life, and to make sure he knew that she loved him. Her feelings of loss only fueled her drive to challenge and change child welfare laws in Ontario. She had an incredible wealth of knowledge and a compelling analysis of public policy in this area, and I have no doubt that as a lawyer, she would have gone on to spur dramatic changes in this system.
“Even her personal suffering was not strong enough to dampen her passion for societal change, which she not only saw as possible, but close on the horizon”
I met Wendy six years ago when she was organizing a memorial for Paul Croutch, a homeless man
she tackled the issues that were important to her. “You can’t spell moral without oral,” she would quip in response to anyone who passed judgment on her chosen field of work. Her ability to insert humour into tense political discussions did not stand in for a lack of intelligence or a gift for argumentation. “I refuse to keep my past in sex work a secret,” she wrote, “and (most importantly) I refuse to be ashamed that I did it.” Wendy could cite the specifics of legislation and research findings with ease, but her most potent weapon was her shameless revelation of personal connection to the issues, which made her a tour de force in the fight for progressive social change.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 9 because you have a formal education doesn’t mean you can stop being critical in your work. When working with people and communities, it’s best to look first for their strengths, and not just the obvious problems that lay before you. Violet Petty Primary School Renovations Similar to Bronte Welsh, Violet Petty was another school that needed repairs. This school goes without electricity, is missing a couple doors is in need of a fence. As I walked through the school, I was surprised to see a jar with coins in it from children who brought money to school to help raise funds for some of the minor repairs. Apparently there’s no money in the Ministry of Education’s budget for assistance. ENO (Environment Online) Tree Planting Day ENO is a global virtual school and network for sustainable development. It has been running since 2000 and has reached thousands of schools in 150 countries. Tree Planting Day was actually carried out in May when I first arrived in SK. Every sub-project that is completed by BNTF has to take into account specific environmental as well as gender, economic, social, and sustainability standards, which must be reflected in written reports. One of my tasks at BNTF is to write up these documents from the community meetings, which then get sent to the CDB for approval before we can actually begin the sub-project. Included in these reports are a Community Needs Assessment, a Community Profile, and a Sub-project Profile outlining the rationale for the project in question. Just like any other social service agency, you can never seem to escape the endless paper work! Caribbean Development Bank: www.caribank.org ENO (Environment Online) Tree Planting Day: www. enotreeday.net
Wendy and I spent a lot of time together this past year, her companionship serving as a source of liveliness amid the austere surroundings of York’s Keele campus. She struggled with an intense period of hopelessness and pain this spring, battling an intractable depression and several deep personal losses. It was heartbreaking to watch her fight the huge undertow of sadness that constantly pulled at her. There was little I could do to reach out to her, to give her something to hold on to, an assurance of her beauty and lovability and light. And yet, Wendy was a joy to be with through it all. She managed to find ways to make us both laugh. Even her personal suffering was not strong enough to dampen her passion for societal
FALL ISSUE 1 2011 change, which she not only saw as possible, but close on the horizon. Wendy and I often talked about going into practice together, which would have been a huge honour had it come to fruition. As we waited in a locked emergency ward in early May, knocking at the doors of the system in hope of finding her some assistance, she helped me tackle LSAT questions, diagramming possible orders of red and green fire trucks on a crumpled envelope. In her own remarkably selfless way, she lit up at the chance to give me encouragement and guidance. She was an incredible woman, and an utterly irreplaceable friend. Wendy, you did extraordinary things with extraordinary love. Your intelligence, your spark, your profound compassion for people were all out of this world, a world that never returned to you the gifts that you unhesitatingly gave to others. You have left behind a legacy that has yet to be fully
Mcmilky79 realized: your work will continue through the fragments of strength, courage, and light that you have left in the hearts of the people you touched.
and continued his work until his death, nearly three decades of dedication to defending the rights of many.
Lynsey Allen in Democratic Republic of Congo Lynsey Allen has spent her summer working with the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, advocating for the rights of women and children. Through her participation in Education and Empowerment initiatives, she aspires to strengthen development at the grassroots level, while also targeting the modes of legitimacy, transparency and accountability of governance and policy-making. Through her experiences in Uganda and writing her blog, Lynsey shares her inspirational perspectives on human rights and activism. On Jun. 2, 2010 the body of Mr. Floribert Chebeya Bahizire was found in his abandoned car on the outskirts of Kinshasa, DR Congo. His last known whereabouts, while alive, was at the Office of then Chief of Police Mr. John Numbi who had called for a meeting with Mr. Chebeya on Jun. 1.
The DRC could be regarded in some ways as ‘hell on earth.’ The illegitimate dictatorships that have ruined the country have wreaked havoc on the population, virtually since independence. Figures of as many as 6.5 million people have been murdered, and millions more have been displaced in the last few decades alone. Entire generations have grown up
“Others around the world continue to fight to protect and defend fundamental human rights. I urge you to join the struggle”
knowing nothing but the chaos and destruction of civil war. Mr. Chebeya stood strong against the perpetrators of vial injustice, and he lost his life for the cause. Others around the world continue to fight to protect and defend fundamental human rights. I urge you to join the struggle.
Although Mr. Numbi was suspended following a Military Inquiry, he was never formally charged. In fact, he testified as a ‘witness’ during the trial at which time he denied any such meeting had even taken place. Impunity reigns for those in high levels of power. Instead, lower ranking officers, although likely responsible on some level, such as on the commands of another, have been charged and convicted.
In the words of Mr. Gabriel Mugaruka, Human Rights Defender from the Congo, “We believe that one day Human Rights Defenders will work freely in DRC and around the globe.” Until then, be safe, be prepared, but never give up. Be the voice to the voiceless.
Mr. Chebeya was the Executive Director of Voix des Sans Voix (Voice for the Voiceless) and a honourable member and founder of the Movement for Democracy. He was a prominent opposition force against the terror of the Mobutu regime
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. – Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In honour of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire 1963-2010
Floribert Chebeya of the Democratic Republic of Congo
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11 most promising forms is one of liberation and social justice. The perception that socialism is about authoritarian rule and bureaucratic state ownership, that it is antiindividual and undemocratic, flies in the face of what most socialists believe and advocate. The practice of socialism is rooted in the human capacity to liberate ourselves from historical hierarchies, structures that perpetuate misery and deprivation, and to create structures that provide for the needs and wants of all. Truly, the devil’s work.
So what if Obama and Buffet were socialist henchmen of the red beast? They would likely see a deficit in democratic control over significant areas of everyday life, especially in workplaces and communities – they would support participatory structures of democracy and democratic ownership rather than ones that are merely representative and beholden to corporate power interests. They would point out the obscenity of poverty and privation mitigate its instability and crises – for Soviet Union type societies in a world that is abundant and to keep the system from imploding or possess an authoritarian core. wasteful – a richness that the from the inside and exploding from The history of the Soviet Union working poor have by and large without by the marginalized. It may is far more complex than that, and created through their own labour very well be that those who accuse the history of socialism has been (a serious problem not only in the distribution of wealth, but in the socialism the loudest are also not so largely forgotten outside of it. distribution and quality of work keen on how capitalism itself works. The difference here is not between Chomsky summarizes libertarian itself). They would critique the creeping ‘socialism’ and capitalism, socialist attitudes when he suggests deficit of life in everyday life, the but between capitalisms, whether that America and the Soviet manipulation of real wants and capitalism will maintain stability Union “called it socialism but for needs, the obstacles to creative work and hegemony by using the soft opposite reasons. The West called and cooperation, and meaningful power of state intervention (social it socialism in order to defame and humane relations with others spending, progressive taxation, socialism by associating it with in a world in which others have and regulation: a ‘new’ new deal) miserable tyranny. The Soviet become means for accumulation or tough austerity measures and the Union called it socialism in order or survival. They would look for coercive apparatus to maintain its to benefit from the moral appeal the coexistence of difference and power and profitability. that true socialism had among the rescuing of otherness. They large parts of the general world would look at the impossibility and irrationality of continuous Even this difference accumulation (as it is is no gulf, and ruling currently understood) classes are ultimately in a finite world whose united in the concern capacity to sustain life is about maintaining being threatened. They capitalist relations and would see want, violence, profits, whether they dehumanization, and mobilize populist rage oppression not merely against social spending as isolated shortcomings or call for it, whether or evils, but connected to they attempt reforms or our way of life, our ways push for austerity. The of thinking and acting, of rule has turned to the possessing, producing, latter. We need only look and consuming. at various austerity and Overcoming these privatization programs intrinsic crises would of major labour parties require a lot more than (and the current Obama pulling various bootstraps administration) to see and changing taxation that the lie of calling it policies. It would require socialism is in the throat qualitative changes in the as deep as the lungs. social order as a whole – Indeed, when Buffet a difficult task when so calls to stop coddling much of our political and the rich – as some of economic thinking is fast the richest Europeans frozen to the concepts have done – he is not and institutions of promoting socialism capitalism, indeed as if and class warfare, but these structures of society ensuring that the poor and consciousness were and middle class not not only necessary, but realize that a centuries’ The devil often tries to tempt people with nice eternal. long war is still being sounding things like ending exploitation and waged, with one side promoting disarmament and democractic Perhaps it is this that not even knowing it is control of time and resources. Thank Goodness makes the specter of under attack. And what conservatives are there to save our souls from socialism so frightful: the hell would break loose if such moral and political degeneracy. power of transformation, they did know. the implication that But the distortion of the spirit of population. But this is about as a politics that wants to change socialism does not only come from remote from socialism as you the world is ‘utopian,’ and that contemporary free market zealots. can imagine…the core notion of changing politics this way would Vague historical understanding socialism is that working people mean a task of engineering against and McCarthy-infused ideological have to be in charge of production nature that would require violence presumptions are ubiquitous, and communities have to be in and authoritarianism. Let us not further obscuring a meaningful control of their own lives.” Such forget that we are living in a world discussion of alternatives. The a spirit is certainly frightening to so transformed. Capitalism itself, and its continuing transformations, common misunderstandings are corporate and state power. is not merely the product of not helped by those societies who call themselves socialist (or are Socialism itself is no monolith. smiley-faced contract making; labeled as such) or the assumptions It takes many forms and has this transformation of patterns that all socialisms have an affinity many theories, but the spirit of its of life and work required harsh
Satan’s Social System Nathan Nun
ocialism seems to be on the lips of a lot of talking heads lately, but the specter that they fear-monger on about is hardly the uncanny spirit of a mass democratic movement of equality and justice. The ghost they see? Probably the illusion of capital-oppressed brains. Such an evocation of socialism might be a good thing were it critically understood rather than used as a pejorative catch-all for all kinds of social and economic ills or defamed in the meaningless ‘liberal-Islamo-fascist-socialist’ conflation (remarkably similar to fascism’s own ‘liberal-humanistBolshevik-Jewish’ sandwich of evil). Particularly as it comes from conservatives and the right, the ideological use of the word socialism would be laughably absurd if it did not represent the dire straights of political discourse about alternatives, and were the distortions, presumptions, and misunderstandings of socialism as the viable alternative to their social, economic, and environmental crises not so widespread. ‘Is Obama a socialist?’ ‘Is Warren Buffet a socialist?’ Such questions – really accusations – reveal much more about the accuser than they elicit meaningful discourse. Underlying this contemporary use are vague presumptions about what socialism means. Even a cursory understanding of most socialist theory and practice would reveal the presumptions to involve a fallacious, ideological commitment to a neo-liberal understanding of the world in which anything that challenges market fundamentalism, or challenges any concentration of private wealth and power (no matter how destructive or undemocratic), even coming from ‘the side of capital,’ becomes an enemy – and we all know, of course, the best enemy of economic and political freedom is socialism, right? While Jon Stewart may share many common misperceptions of socialism himself, his recent reply is the apt one: “You really have no fucking clue what socialism is, do you?” Indeed, political orthodoxy on the new conservative right distains – selectively, as obvious with its corporate welfare – the management of capitalism by the state through welfare and regulations that help people, defaming it as socialism. Historically, these are responses to capitalism’s failures to respond to human need and to
discipline, coercive instruments, and violence. The transformation of the countryside to the ‘satanic mills’ of early industrialism were hardly considered natural. Why would transformation in a liberated society require anything like this? In defending capitalism, people often contend that humans are greedy, selfish, and coldly (economically) rational. In daily life we call such humans assholes; but when thinking about the big picture of our social and political character we take them as our models? Sparing the details, the entire histories of pre-capitalist civilization suggests that our ways of thinking and doing are not so fixed, and that our perception of our very nature is skewed. Our human ‘nature’ and human motivation are far more complex than this – we can be these things, but we are also caring, empathic, sensual, and creative. Social change should work to create a society whose institutions and relations reflect and foster the best things in and between us, rather than the worst. An alternative to capitalism is hardly against our nature or self-interest, except in the most narrowly-minded sense, and given the destruction and self-destruction of capitalism waged on bodies, societies, and the earth, alternatives seem neither impractical nor naïve. Indeed, the least reasonable decision of all is to stay the course. Socialism as an alternative is not utopian in another sense; it does not entail creating a heaven on earth where any of our wildest dreams and material desires would be obtained, but creating the best of possible worlds which can address our problems and shortcomings with greater justice, equity, and freedom. Further still, our alternatives require more than ever a renunciation of the excesses of power, production, and consumption that, imposed by malign interests and accepted as necessity, perpetuate toil, aggressiveness, and misery while despoiling the planet. The greatest obstacle, and paradox, is how to experience the relinquishment of these excesses as liberation and not as sacrifice. It is true that the spirits that we see may be devils, and devils have the power to assume pleasing shapes. The task of thinking remains to see through to the real spirit, to crash through both pleasant illusions and distorting obfuscations. When we think about our world, do we consider it the best of possible worlds? What kind of communities and workplaces are possible, and what kind do we want to organize and be a part of? What truths are revealed by an empathic reflection or experience of suffering? What is revealed by empirical research on the source of material privation and dehumanization? I suggest that understanding the alternatives that the friendly spirit of theory and practice offer is what is really required by a society dealing with a confluence of crises, of political backwardness, economic stagnation, anti-intellectualism, and the destruction of nature. Where’s your devil now? Nathan Nun is a graduate student in Social and Political Thought at York University
Around Campus 1. Vari Hall The site of countless student rallies. In January 2006, Toronto Police violently broke up a protest in Vari Hall, dragging students to nearby rooms and beating them to the point of hospitalization. The students were protesting ties between the York Board of Governors and the Iraq war. 2. Ross Building During the 2008-2009 CUPE 3903 strike, undergraduate and graduate students occupied the floor space in front of President Shukri’s office, holding a sleep-in in support of fair negotiations for 25 days and 23 nights. 3. Senate Chambers 9th floor, North Ross Building The epicentre of academic and corporate power on campus, where the Senate and the Board of Governors meet. 4. Student Centre Most of York’s student associations and clubs have their offices here. Among others are the York Federation of Students (YFS), Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), the York chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), and your own YU Free Press. 5. Sound and Moving Image Library (SMIL) Free DVD and CD borrowing in the heart of York campus! This world-class collection has tens of thousands of titles in film (documentary, fiction, experimental, art-house, etc) and music (classical, jazz, world, etc) that you can use on library machines or take home with you.
6. Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) Accolade East Rotating exhibits and events at York’s contemporary art gallery, committed to enhancing York’s cultural landscape. 7. Counselling and Disability Services N110 Bennett Centre for Student Services The CDS provides a range of free support and services for students with learning, mental health, physical, sensory, and medical disabilities. 8. Community and Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) CLASP at Osgoode Hall Law School provides free legal assistance, and even representation, to York students. 9. Petrie Observatory Petrie Building – 140 Campus Walk Free access to some of the best telescopes in Canada, plus planetarium presentations. 10. Orange Snail 104 Stong College Home cooking with lots of veggie options. 11. Michelangelo’s Basement, Atkinson Building Homemade Italian food, hearty breakfasts, and real Italian coffee.
18 19 14
12. Grad Lounge (w Las Nubes mention) Ground floor, South Ross Fair trade coffee, tasty food, and good beer…and not only for grad students—all are welcome! Fair trade coffee is also available at Las Nubes kiosks around campus. 13. Indian Flavour York Lanes Lots of delicious veggie options, including naan wraps to go. 14. Maloca Community Garden Murray Ross Parkway west of Keele St. York community members can dig in and help out in this organic community garden founded in 1999.
15. Tait McKenzie Centre York students have free access to recreational facilities, including swimming pool, fitness centre, and squash courts. 16. CUPE 3903 104 East Office Building Offices of the union representing teaching assistants, graduate assistants, and contract faculty at York. 17. Police kill Junior Manon Near Steeles Ave and Founders Rd. Toronto Police officers beat 18-year-old Junior Alexander Manon to death on York University property on May 5, 2010. Police claim that Junior had been fleeing from them and suffered a heart attack while running, but witnesses described seven officers mercilessly kicking the young Black man and punching him in the face while he lay on the ground.
18. Qian Liu murdered 27 Aldwinkle Heights, The Village Qian Liu, a 23-year-old international student from Beijing was murdered in her apartment in The Village in April 2011. Police charged a 29-year-old former York student who was believed to be an acquaintance of Qian Liu. 19. Sexual assault, 2010 500 Murray Ross Parkway A 20-year old female York student suffered a violent sexual assault near her home on Murray Ross Parkway in April 2010. The road connects housing at The Village with Keele St. and Sentinel Road, but can be isolated at night. In 2007 and 2008, a string of sexual assaults took place on campus, including two rapes in a York dorm during frosh week 2007. 20. Assault, 2011 Absinthe Pub, Winters College In a blatantly homophobic attack, three men violently assaulted a female student for entering the women’s washroom in what they thought should be men’s clothing. 21. Sexual assault, 2011…again! On the afternoon of May 5, 2011, in broad daylight and just days after the murder of Qian Liu, a female student suffered two sexual attacks--one in the main hall of Seneca@York and then again after she escaped and was re-captured. In the wake of so many violent incidents and an audit of York’s security situation, the university recommends that its security officers be armed with batons and handcuffs…but that will hardly deter the brazen and violent sexual assaults that plague our campus.
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
COMMENTS Living Among Us: Activists Speak out on Police Infiltration Tim Groves
Reprinted from Briarpatch Magazine
On Jun. 26, 2010, while the G20
Summit was under way amid mass protests on the streets of downtown Toronto, a startling revelation was made that would reverberate through activist communities for months to come. Two undercover police officers had joined protest groups and been living among activists as part of a large-scale investigation that began more than a year earlier, in Apr. 2009. Following the arrest of four activists that same morning under charges of conspiracy, the Toronto Star reported that “Undercover officers infiltrated criminal extremist groups in Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Toronto and forged relationships with several people whose ideological beliefs and backgrounds pose a direct threat to large-scale public events, including the G20,” according to allegations by Crown attorneys. The case is now under a courtimposed publication ban, which prohibits disclosure of the undercover agents’ identities. While only two officers have been officially acknowledged,
The stated goal of undercover investigations is to gather information and to provide testimony in criminal prosecutions, but many activists believe that the distrust and the divisions they generate are just as damaging, whether or not this is their intended impact. Infiltration doesn’t have to actually happen to create fear, says Blandine Juchs, a Montreal-based organizer who supports G20 arrestees: “It creates fear just by knowing that it could happen.” Infiltrators are also known to provoke, entrap, and criminalize activists. Juchs points to an example from the protests against the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, where the police infiltrated the ‘Germinal’ activist collective. In order to place an officer inside the group, they set up a front company with the sole purpose of hiring a member of Germinal so that an undercover officer, posing as a co-worker, could befriend him. This officer was then able to join the collective.
police infiltration in social movements as a “long and ignoble tradition in Canada.” Leier states that events like the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike helped shape the mandate of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which was founded the following year with a directive to spy on Canadians, particularly left-wing and labour organizations. On some occasions, plainclothes or undercover police officers will attend a specific protest or meeting to gather information, but soon return to other duties. The term infiltrator, however, generally refers to officers who assume false identities for months, or even years. In one case described by Leier, Mountie John Leopold infiltrated the inner ranks of the Communist Party of Canada for over eight years before being exposed in 1928. The RCMP has since continued to use undercover officers, infiltrating unions, Black Power groups, the FLQ, Indigenous groups, anti-war movements, and other organizations.
Illustration by Ben Clarkson
a range of intelligence-gathering agencies with different rules and regulations to carry out a broader range of activities than any one agency could alone. According to Crown attorney Vincent Paris, who was quoted in the Toronto Star, JIG was made up of the RCMP, the Ontario
“[T]he use of undercover officers is just one of many surveillance tactics employed by the RCMP; others range from reading a group’s public literature and opening their mail to wire-tapping, placing people under surveillance, and coercing or paying members of a group to become police informants.” documents recently released to Briarpatch support suspicions among activists that the level of infiltration was in fact much more extensive. Although the names of the confirmed infiltrators are yet public, many activists convinced they know who officers are.
two not are the
“One of my former friends disappeared, and it became very obvious to us that she was a police officer,” says Joshua Gilbert, a house painter involved with anarchist organizing in Guelph, ON. He describes her character as a “motherly type” who was more interested in being an emotional support than in political organizing. “We became friends with her for a year and a half, and a lot of us became close. I cried on her shoulder and had lots of close conversations with her before realizing that her job was to manipulate people into giving information, and to create social profiles on us.” “It was really upsetting and infuriating, and I remember feeling isolated and not able to trust people,” recalls Gilbert. “That is part of the point of infiltration… creating this sort of fear and paralysis.”
“[Germinal] had a plan to break the wall around the summit. Their plan did not involve arms or anything, but the infiltrator proposed to have access to explosives. Because of this, the charges and conditions they got were way worse,” says Juchs. Gilbert feels that in the lead-up to the G20, undercover police tried to ensnare activists in a similar fashion: “They had to come up with some reason why they investigated us for so long. They needed to get charges on people, they needed to entrap people in conversation.” He believes there was a second undercover officer operating in Guelph who attempted to entrap people by stating his intention to engage in various illegal activities, such as acts of sabotage, hoping to find activists who would respond favourably. “Immediately people were suspicious,” Gilbert explains. The activists told the man that many of them felt uncomfortable with him and he left Guelph, but was able to join activist groups in other cities. “A long and ignoble tradition” Mark Leier, a professor at Simon Fraser University who has studied the use of police spies in Canadian labour organizations, describes
Leier emphasizes that the use of undercover officers is just one of many surveillance tactics employed by the RCMP; others range from reading a group’s public literature and opening their mail to wire-tapping, placing people under surveillance, and coercing or paying members of a group to become police informants. According to Professor Gary Kinsman, who studies surveillance in Canada, the infiltration period for officers ahead of the G20 was one of the longest in recent decades. “For those people who experienced this [at the G20] and didn’t expect it to be happening, it may have been seen as shocking or unique. But if you have a longer view of Canadian history, this is pretty standard for how the security police have related to various social movements,” says Kinsman. Infiltration and the G20 security apparatus The undercover officers who infiltrated activist groups ahead of the G20 were part of the Joint Intelligence Group (JIG), which was tasked with monitoring all suspicious activity and threats to the security of the G20 Summit. As a collaborative umbrella organization, JIG brought together
Provincial Police, and a variety of local police forces across Ontario, including the Toronto Police Service. Documents from Canada’s main intelligence agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), show that it was also part of JIG. Several lesser-known intelligence agencies, including the Canadian Forces National CounterIntelligence Unit (CFNCIU) and the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), were also involved in intelligence gathering. Documents made available to Briarpatch through an Access to Information request reveal that the investigative arm of JIG, called the Primary Intelligence Investigation Team (PIIT), had a mandate to “detect, deter, prevent, investigate, and/or disrupt threats” to the Summit. According to the documents, PIIT used a wide array of investigative techniques including “the recruitment of confidential informants and undercover operations” and was “divided into 13 investigative teams, in addition to an RCMP Covert Operations Team [COT].” Some PIIT teams conducted surveillance on the various forms of transportation used to get protesters to Toronto for the demonstrations. Other
teams were comprised of “Event Monitors” who were placed inside the crowd to report on the “temperament and tempo” of demonstrations. It was the COT that was charged with conducting “undercover operations to uncover criminality in relation to the 2010 G8-G20 Summits.” While Paris told the Toronto Star that there were only two undercover officers, activists suspect that there was a much greater number of undercover police infiltrating activist organizations across the country ahead of the G20 - not only in Guelph, Toronto, Kitchener, and Waterloo, but also Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Activists’ suspicions are usually directed at those who joined groups in the lead-up to the G20 then disappeared shortly before the Summit commenced and who have been unreachable ever since. Activists also speculate that infiltration was not limited to militant protest groups or those using direct action tactics, but that undercover police were also placed in a variety of groups that were clearly not involved in any criminal activity. This includes a group of legal observers, a media centre for independent journalists, and a team of street medics who volunteered to provide first aid to those on the streets. “It is not like any one element can be the proof - people disappear from movements all the time. I am glad they are not all cops,” says Blandine Juchs. But she believes that when several factors all point to someone being an infiltrator, “it can become clear.” RCMP documents acquired by Briarpatch suggest that there were indeed more than two infiltrators, though they do not reveal the identities of any undercover officers. CONTNUED ON PAGE 15
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Bodies at War Amy Saunders
property. My body never was, never at any moment is, and if things continue along this same trajectory, my body will never belong to me.
The recent events of slut-bashing and the conflation of slutty-ness to rape are not mutually exclusive from the events that took place on York University’s Keele campus on Apr. 5 this year. A young, female, identified lesbian entered a washroom in one of the campus’s popular clubs and was followed by three men. She was beaten for dressing ‘like a man.’ She suffered cuts, bruises, a broken nose, and scars that will most certainly last forever. This is not only homophobic violence; this is an instance in which the violence against women,
dress at York University and this instance of violence in the name of dyke regulation) are at the hands of men. This creates within me a desperate worry for our future. In a world in which women are told we share complete equality with men, why do events such as these occur? It is clear that an egalitarian world is one that is far off, though close to us in our dreams and our hopes for a safer and more accepting future. The acts of violence and regulation to which the female body is host confirms that our culture continues to be misogynist, with the ‘underdog’ fighting for acceptance and rights. That little guy is anyone from the organizers of this past summer’s successful SlutWalk, to the father who held the hands of his two daughters and marched with our sisters through the streets during the
oppression rises again and again, all in the name of control and surveillance. The female body becomes a commodity for the reifying of archaic politics. It is frustrating to see such amazing and progressive minds exist in our culture, yet there are few opportunities for progress and community. Our current culture still relies on narratives of exploration, conquest, murder, and the seizing and pillaging of lands and people
In this world, my body is not my
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your body is a battle ground), 1989
“The insurgency of my soul refuses control and dictatorship, but rather embraces itself as its own government: my body as my politic, my heart that governs. To sever my body’s ties to the patriarch is to set myself and my bodily understandings free...a freedom that this society cannot begin to comprehend, for the idea of freedom of the female body remains a foreign concept.” the regulation of women’s bodies, and also the violence against the queer community and the policing of queer bodies completely coincide. Both the recent incidences of violence against women (the cop’s slander of “slut”
Living Among Us CONTINUED FROM PAGE 14 In a section of the documents dealing with covert and undercover operations, the document states that “JIG has assigned 12 trained covered investigators and will conduct active operations as directed by the Primary Investigator.”
event. Oppression doesn’t limit itself to gender and colour; it exposes itself through our dress, our haircuts, and our expressions of self and for the people we love. Rather than successfully decline, She has witnessed activists become so preoccupied with protecting themselves from infiltration that it becomes an impediment to achieving broader goals. Juchs explains that in Montreal, while there were strong suspicions that some people who disappeared after the G20 were undercover officers, it was decided that the “emotional and energy cost” of trying to expose them was too great.
in order to legitimize current clashes, modern-day warfare, and oppressions of all types. Using these past experiences of the darkest, more violent aspects of human nature re-appropriates
However, he feels some security measures can backfire. “I try to stay really far away from the idea of hunting infiltrators and informants,” says Gilbert. He advocates a model he calls building a “base of safety,” which helped him overcome the feelings of isolation that plagued him when he first concluded that he had been friends with an undercover officer.
When asked if “covered investigators” are synonymous “We decided, ‘Okay, we are never “Ask yourself what you know about with undercover investigators, the going to know for sure; we are just the people who are in your network RCMP refused to comment, stating going to move on, we have other and who you organize with, and try to close the social distance between that answering any questions things to do,’” says Juchs. them to understand people’s social “could compromise ongoing “I am not saying we shouldn’t history and where they are coming criminal prosecutions, civil litigation, “Infiltration doesn’t have to actually happen to create fear, says and other Blandine Juchs, a Montreal-based organizer who supports G20 inquiries.”
arrestees: ‘It creates fear just by knowing that it could happen.’”
“You can’t know for sure,” says Juchs when asked if she believed there were 12 infiltrators. “To know for sure there is an infiltrator you have to go through a trial and the police have to decide to use the testimony of that infiltrator.” Strategies for dealing with infiltration Activists often speak of infiltrators in hushed whispers. Juchs believes that more dialogue about infiltration is needed, including discussions about how to organize effectively despite their presence.
investigate; I am just saying we shouldn’t overestimate our capacity,” she adds.
from, in order to organize with them effectively,” says Gilbert, explaining this model.
Gilbert feels that if people had gotten to better know the infiltrators they worked with in Guelph and asked them more questions about their personal histories, that some of the inconsistencies in their stories would have emerged.
He believes getting to know people better will allow activists to grow and build networks that connect to more people, instead of closing themselves off.
“I think with certain security precautions it would be a lot harder for infiltrators to become a part of our network easily,” he told Briarpatch.
A very different perspective on how to combat infiltrators is advocated by Macdonald Scott, a Toronto activist and legal worker. After 20 years of organizing with groups in Canada and the United States, he has seen countless
oppressions, struggle, racisms, sexisms, and all types of hate as something innate – found within our human bodies, not far from our thoughts as a collective of beings. The only way forward is an aim toward humanity that perpetuates the lives of thousands at the cost of none – rather than the majoritarian expansion of power that costs the human whole a heavy sum. To look upon the future of our society requires no dreams, no fantastical imagination that can uphold age-old ideas of beauty and success, but rather future forms of weaponry, for the sake of life for living. In the time of such a brutal war against my sex, it is necessary to discover combative groups struggling with the impacts of infiltration. He worries that it is all too easy for activists to draw the wrong conclusions. “I have seen a tendency within organizations to say ‘we will close our membership, we will really carefully scrutinize [new people],’” he says, explaining that he doesn’t think this will stop some infiltrators from blending in seamlessly. Scott points to an example from the US in the late 1980s where an undercover officer infiltrated Earth First!, a radical environmental movement, and was able to gain the complete trust of Peg Millett, a key organizer from the group. “The infiltrator who got her was sleeping with her for two years,” explains Scott. He believes the FBI created a psychological profile of Millett in order to place an infiltrator who matched her interests. Scott believes that rather than heighten secrecy, organizations should embrace open and democratic ways of organizing, whereby infiltrators aren’t able to easily impede activists’ ability to fight for a better society. Scott is troubled by the way some organizations have been responding to reports of infiltration since the G20. “The fear of infiltration becomes
forces that resist and detain the patriarch from its colonial rule over individual bodies. The insurgency of my soul refuses control and dictatorship, but rather embraces itself as its own government: my body as my politic, my heart that governs. To sever my body’s ties to the patriarch is to set myself and my bodily understandings free. To remove myself from the constraints of a world that made no space for me, no language for my tongue is to give breath to a freedom that this society cannot begin to comprehend, for the idea of freedom of the female body remains a foreign concept.
more damaging than the actual infiltration. It becomes a stymieing of growth, discussion, and debate within our movements. That is what worries me, and I see that now, post G20,” he says. Scott feels that the real strength of infiltrators is that they can exacerbate existing divisions or conflicts within a group. “We need to focus on figuring out ways of dealing with our divisions constructively, figuring out more democratic ways to disagree with each other, yet still support each other and work in solidarity.” Scott believes the best way for activists to combat infiltration is to focus on their strengths. “We are not good at being cops or trying to investigate each other like we are cops; what we are good at is…creativity. We are good at diversity when we are doing well. We are good at engaging people and involving people. We should focus on those things rather than focusing on creating internal police forces, or internal secret services to sniff out the cops,” says Scott. “We should be focusing on being democratic and using the strength of being democratic to create a revolution.” Reprinted from Birarpatch Magazine
Tim Groves is a Toronto-based investigative journalist and researcher.
Gimme Shelter Raisa Bhuiyan
recall feeling nauseated as I stood by the reception desk when the homeless shelter director announced that it was in everyone’s best interest to place our one transgender youth in the single room on his own. In the only single room at the entire shelter, the one you’d have to stay in only if you were causing trouble among the other shelter residents. The one room with no actual windows but thick, tweed curtains to give the appearance of there being windows. He hadn’t even done anything to cause any sort of commotion. In fact, he was just getting admitted to the youth shelter as a resident. Actually, it was his first day here. And he was already getting situated in a room with an atmospheric temperature equivalent to that of solitary confinement cell. Pretty shitty, right? And this isn’t even taking into account the fact that he was told to use the disabled person’s washroom and mandated to wake up an hour earlier than the other residents so as to take a shower without anyone seeing him. That’s right, without anyone seeing him. To break it down, what the homeless shelter staff was basically insinuating to this kid was that he should turn his human existence dial to ‘invisible’ and keep it there. Because apparently, ‘invisible’ is the badge you have to put on when outdated registration forms and local city policies already have a standard cookie cutter idea of who’s going to be using a homeless youth shelter’s services. And if you’re a youth who
identifies as either a trans person or queer, you’re more than likely to be on the receiving end of some inappropriate goodhearted-ness arising out of those diametrically horrible youth shelter policies geared toward dealing with ‘other’ kinds of clients.
way, shape, or form accommodating toward the specific needs of queer and trans youth in Toronto. In fact, to even use the term ‘acommodating’ is at best concealing the actuality of what’s happening within homeless youth shelters across the city because all existing services at the moment are transphobic or homophobic. And this isn’t even taking into account
FALL ISSUE 1 2011 There was another time when a young woman actually ran away from our shelter because she was afraid that shelter staff would treat her differently if she came out to them as a gay woman. We found her the next morning sleeping on a park bench, and ended up having to relocate her to another youth shelter on the opposite end of town because she just didn’t want to be at our shelter anymore. And right
seasons about Toronto-based ad hoc groups planting the seeds of what I personally hope will sprout a coalition movement demanding the creation of better spaces for queer and trans youth in Toronto. There was even a local Toronto MP, Michael Erikson, who promised better services for queer and trans youth within existing homeless youth shelters during the most
Now, although “... the current state of youth homeless shelter services is in no way, shape, I intended this or form accommodating toward the specific needs of queer and trans youth in Toronto. brief introduction In fact, to even use the term ‘accommodating’ is at best concealing the actuality of to be anything but fatalistic and what’s happening within homeless youth shelters across the city” foreboding in the Doctors-Withoutthe unsafe environment that’s recent federal election. Then there Borders kind of way, it continues created when youth shelter staff on her, because who’d want to stay are those countless other personal to astound me that such would and other shelter residents impose in a space where despite having posts by people in the Toronto be the conditions that trans and their own constellation of mundane the basic necessities to stay alive blogosphere chirping and getting queer homeless youth encounter transphobic and homophobic for another day, there are all these the conversation jazzed up about whenever they seek out the services remarks on how gender-specific poisonous undercurrents of blatant trans and queer homeless youth. of a youth homeless shelter. Having spaces like bathrooms and dorms homophobia and transphobia been employed at a youth homeless slurping through your breathing And these actions don’t even can be regulated. shelter myself for the past two air? include some of the marvelous years, I’d say that the issue of how For instance, a month back I things local Toronto residents to listen and inject rigour into the overheard the executive director of Unfortunately, there are no are doing to help trans and queer dialogue about instituting a queer my youth shelter say unabashedly ignorance-fighting gas masks out youth out that we don’t hear about youth shelter in Toronto is a topic during the snack break at a there yet. So cue that screen cap in print. For instance, I can’t that’s far too often been careened committee board meeting that she of Danny DeVito vehemently even begin to account for all the onto the back, back burner of City found it funny that our latest batch preaching to Mara Wilson in wonderful souls who’ve opened up Hall’s gravy-zapping to-do list. of residents identified themselves Matilda about how adults were their own homes in the city so that Actually, it’s an issue that’s never as gay. Her sense of amusement, always right and kids were always trans and queer youth can have a even been addressed at City Hall. as described by her, derived solely wrong and that there was nothing place to stay for a few nights with from the basis that homeless youth we could do about it. Nothing you somewhat of a peace of mind. And rightly so, since homeless would claim to be gay one day and could do about it! people themselves aren’t supposed then straight the other, bisexual the I urge you to learn more about to take up space in your line of next day and pansexual the next. Except there is something we can the activism that local groups in vision anyway. I mean, you were With a carton of soy chocolate do about it. Toronto have been doing to help told by your parents to avoid milk in hand, this otherwise homeless queer and trans youth encountering homeless people in open-minded and caring woman As of last winter, I’ve noticed a retain their agency and dignity. the city, weren’t you? I know I was, proceeded to remark that she felt sharp increase in the amount of It’s only the beginning of what we and what’s more is that I also was sorry for the parents of the gay- ink, whether on paper or internet can do together to make sure these told to ‘pretend like they’re not identified homeless youth because gigabytes, being spent on drawing issues don’t fade away. there’ on the street. To walk briskly it’d be taxing to deal with all those more attention to the realities and quickly by, ’cause heaven fussy identity changes. And these endured by homeless queer and Raisa Bhuiyan is an enthusiast, forbid you look a homeless person kids were only ever going through trans youth in Toronto. More particularly of gritty grassroots straight in the eye. some whacky, experimental phase specifically, Xtra magazine is a activism and events that bring of their lives anyway, so why bother local media source that I think people together to mobilize against painstakingly dangerous social norms. From my perspective, it’s apparent taking their supposedly temporary deserves particular mention here She’s also harbouring a pathological that the current state of youth for the handful of articles they fear for biographies, especially the queer identities seriously? homeless shelter services is in no published last fall and winter type that has to be typed out in a box. Graffiti Art done by Second Base Youth Shelter residents
Save Our Jets Tyler Shipley In an era where vintage is cool and big government is not, the new Winnipeg Jets logo foolishly discards a popular classic and chooses instead something that looks like it belongs on an Air Canada safety brochure. While hockey teams in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Montreal labour to give everything a retro, classic feel (all five teams regularly wear jerseys that date back to the 60s, 70s, and 80s), the old/new Winnipeg franchise has elected to abandon a look that maintained its popularity throughout the club’s 15-year absence. Clever. These would be minor offences, explained by the cynical desire to sell new merchandise, if the new logo were simply a cartoon duck or an abstract swath of colour. After all, no one knew what an Atlanta ‘Thrasher’ meant, so the fact
that the Jets predecessors played hockey in Jackson Pollock’s paint smock was harmless, if a bit boring. But there can be no mistaking the inspiration for the new Jets logo. If the CF-18 fighter draped in a red maple leaf wasn’t obvious enough, the team’s new owner made no secret of the fact that the logo was designed in consultation with the Department of National Defence. In fact, Mark Chipman’s comments in the unveiling of the new logo had more to do with the air force than the hockey team. He noted in the press conference that he only felt comfortable with the ‘Jets’ name when he determined that he could re-brand the team around the RCAF. In other words, my beloved Winnipeg Jets are being twisted into another cheap marketing ploy for the new Canadian militarism.
It wasn’t so long ago that Canadians proudly believed ourselves to be citizens of peace. True or false, we took seriously the mythologies around Lester B. Pearson and our international role in peacekeeping and conflict resolution. These made us different, we thought, from our neighbours in the United States. Different and better. But it’s a new day for Harper’s Canada. Today, we cut funding for schools, hospitals, and parks in order to build bombs, bases, and, well, fighter jets. We barely bother to maintain the pretence that we are peacekeepers in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. There is, as I said many years ago, no peace to keep when you ride up in a jeep and you blow the bleep out of a wedding party – which has happened more than once in Afghanistan alone. That country is more devastated, more dangerous, and more impoverished than it has ever been – a gift of our decadelong occupation. Our posturing as ‘humanitarian’ support in Haiti is an offensive lie; our military was an active
participant in the overthrow of a democratic government eight years ago and there has been no semblance of justice or peace since. Our military’s involvement in savagery and torture is welldocumented, with the Somalia affair being among the most shameful. Our engagements in Latin America involve hiring thugs to murder trade unionists who demand better pay in Canadianowned mines. And jets – now featured on the crest of the NHL’s newest member – are a cornerstone of Harper’s military project. The purchase of obscenely expensive CF-18s was partly justified by Canada’s demonstration of their utility in
attacking Libya. After sitting quietly while people were slaughtered in dramatic revolutionary upheaval across the Arab world for months, Canada suddenly felt the urge to send fighter planes to Libya, where Suncor (Canada’s second-largest corporation) feared its assets might be nationalized by the Gadhafi regime. Yes, CF-18 fighter jets are very effective at killing people from a safe distance, and in the hands of the Harper government we will use them to ensure the prosperity of our wealthiest multinational corporations. It all starts to feel pretty George W. Bush. CONTINUED ON PAGE 17
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Indecent Exposure: What are we Hiding?
A Two Minute Interview with Jeanette ‘The Bra-Girl’ Martin Jenelle Regnier-Davies
public protest, to consider revising their antiquated laws. It takes many years to develop fresh perspectives, though, even when new laws have been passed. It seems we are only now hearing the echoes of Photo Taken by Darren Stehr at Pride 2011 our mothers’ In 1976, my mother was asked to voices, telling society that it is in leave an art gallery in Winnipeg for the wrong, and that we deserve indecent exposure. I would love to change. tell you that she was burning bras and fighting society’s positioning of women, but the truth is that she was simply breast-feeding my older brother, completely covered, quietly sitting on a bench.
When asked to leave, security explained to her that to bare her breast publicly was indecent and offensive. She left that art gallery that day, making sure never to return again. Years later, she explained this story to me, with a prairie winter’s bite still in her voice. The ‘security’ guards shamed her of her body, making her embarrassed of performing an act intrinsic to being a mother. She said to me, “Women back then were encouraged to button up, and put rubber nipples in their children’s mouths. Breasts were offensive things, thank goodness times have changed.” I smiled at her last comment: times have changed. I wanted to explain that I wasn’t so sure they had. Fast-forward 35 years, and women across the world are still being shamed of their bodies. Only months ago, here in Toronto, a local police officer warned the young women of York University that they should also cover up and avoid dressing “like a slut” to avoid unwanted attention. In July, Ontario-born Jeanette Martin was also asked to cover up at a summer festival, after simply trying to cool off, like the rest of the people around her. The security guards suggested that by wearing an article of clothing that was technically not a bathing suit, her security was on the line. How far have we come in the last 35 years? What is it about women’s breasts that society sees as so indecent, that, if exposed, will cause our safety and security to disappear? It seems women around the world are also asking this question. Despite this open deliberation, only a handful of cities across North America allow for a woman to exercise her right to bare it all. It wasn’t until the infamous Jacob case of 1991 that the province of Ontario was pressured, through
Although there is still a long road ahead of us, we should be proud that this year has been monumental for re-defining the position of woman in society. Slutwalk, an event that began in Toronto this last April, confronted the way society places blame on victims of sexual violence. In only three months we have seen Slutwalks materialize across North America, Europe, South America, Central America, and India. Women from our own city have sparked an international movement to speak out against violence against women, saying that our bodies should be defined as we choose. Women in our own city have challenged the ignorance of others, and confronted the ‘authority’ figures who insist they know the boundaries of our own bodies better than we do. I was lucky to get the chance to speak to Toronto’s own activist, artist, and girl-next-door Jeanette Martin, who in the last month has contributed so beautifully by bringing these issues to the public eye. When she was asked to leave a beer festival for removing her shirt, Jeanette, backed by a mob of angry beer drinkers, defied security and explained that she hadn’t broken any laws. Their response to this was that they could not “promise her security” if she refused to wear her shirt. The security guards neglected to give the same warning to bikini-clad girls nearby, however, and insisted that Jeanette could potentially receive negative attention because her clothing choice was indecent. Jeanette, what is the difference between a bikini top and a bra? Why do you think the event security found such discomfort in seeing your underwear, rather than, say, a pink spandex bikini? The only real difference between a bikini top and a bra is the public’s perception of those items. One is traditionally considered to be worn as an undergarment, emphasis on the ‘under.’ But the bra I was wearing that day was not a lacy see-through number and in fact my actual bikini top covers far
less. I really think it was the action of seeing me take my top off that got the security guard so riled. Then she explained to me that the drunken boys around me would get equally riled, and they wouldn’t be held responsible if I started a sex riot. I’m completely paraphrasing of course. Only Britney Spears can start a sex riot. You have been an active advocate for justice and human rights throughout your career. Had this debate not been so fresh in people’s minds, do you think that they would have been as supportive of your position as they had been? I’m not sure this debate was still fresh in people’s minds. It has been some time since Gwen Jacob’s eventual victory in 1996. The media storm that recently blew up my skirt would suggest to me the revival of an issue that people maybe hadn’t given thought to in some time. I inadvertently brought to people’s attention, again, the hypocrisy and double standard that unfortunately still exists out there. Attitudes and perceptions are changing, though. More and more are becoming aware of the double standard, and that’s where my support base is coming from. Years ago, in an interview with the Toronto Star, Gwen Jacob said that she held a lot of resentment over the attention her story received, and that the media focused far too much on the sexuality aspect of her story, rather than on the human rights issues at the heart of it. Do you feel, 20 years later, that people’s perspectives have matured? I think people’s perspectives have matured but maybe not the media’s perspective (see answer below). Of
Save Our Jets
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 16 As Canadians, many of us once defined ourselves by the fact that we weren’t like that. But these days we are being taught to understand our Canadian-ness in a very different way. We’re taught that instead of harbouring quiet confidence in our being good global citizens, we should be fistpumping nationalists. That we’re becoming one of the big boys in international affairs, and that we should be brimming with pride at all the good we do in the world, and that we should always, always, always ‘support our troops.’ And hockey, at the centre of our national consciousness, is the most fertile ground for sowing the seeds of this hyper-patriotism. What could be better than to have people associate the military with hockey – the game so many of us live and breathe? As such, Don Cherry’s never once during his insipid weekly performances
course people are still ‘titillated’ by the idea of topless women. After the Gwen Jacob victory, it wasn’t like women were suddenly
blowing up my blouse and their particular focus on my rack. The first question most media would ask me would inevitably be, do I have my top on, do I have my bra on, and – “What is it about women’s breasts my personal that society sees as so indecent, favourite – what’s your that if exposed will cause our safety cup size? and security to disappear?” No; Yes; and 34C, but that’s beside walking around airing their ladies. the point. They were focusing So while we have the right to do on the sexuality of the situation it, a large part of society is still not rather than on the fact that it’s well accustomed to seeing bare flesh within my rights to be topless in just taking a stroll down the street. public (Gwen Jacob recognized That being said, there has been this as did you in the question a huge outpouring of support. I above). Xtra’s Andrea Houston braced myself for lots of negative who first reported on the incident comments and feedback and was outraged and wrote about my instead received shows of support rights being violated and then the on Facebook, strangers high-fiving Sun, of all newspapers, brought in me in my local coffee shop, and renowned lawyer Clayton Ruby to one guy who commented that I also emphasize the abuse of human looked like I could “hold a tallboy rights. I’m happy to have those between those puppies.” Maybe articles out there to shed a light that last one was a bad example, on the rights violations side of but funny none the less. the story rather than on the brand name of my bra. Calvin Klein In the last week, you have should be aware, however, that I’m expressed frustration with the available for any and all modeling amount of attention you have been opportunities. getting from ‘the event’ (eek, sorry, I suppose this doesn’t help!). Do Jeanette is a Toronto-based you think, in the long run, your photojournalist who actively discomfort will contribute to an supports human and animal rights, alteration in society to be more queer activism, and drinking accepting of women’s bodies? beer. She has worked for Now Magazine and Xtra, and currently I don’t mind answering your freelances her photographic questions at all! It would certainly skills across Toronto. When she be worth more than a little of my is not uncovering scandals at the discomfort if it meant people’s Humane Society (yes, that was attitudes and perceptions are her!), she is often found wreaking changed from this event. I’m not havoc at summer festivals, or sure my boobs have that much blazing the city streets, camera in sway, but here’s hoping. The hand. discomfort really comes from the media storm that I found suddenly of ‘manly grief’ over deaths of Canadian soldiers stops to ask why so many Canadians – and so many more Afghans – are dying in our occupation. CBC’s hockey broadcasts relentlessly bombard us with images of the soldiers overseas cheering for their favourite team. Why do we never get scenes of Canadian aid workers or doctors watching hockey with sketchy antennas in a far-flung desert village where they are distributing medicine? Because that doesn’t serve the new national interest. Meanwhile, most Canadian hockey teams sponsor special military nights, ranging in intensity from spectacles of soldiers rappelling down from the rafters (war is really neat, kids!) to somber moments of silence for the fallen, insisting that we take their deaths as sacrifices for our freedom. No space is allowed to ask ‘how is torturing prisoners in Kandahar protecting me?’ or ‘if I’m so free, why do I get arrested for leading peaceful demonstrations in
Canadian cities?’ So into that cauldron of ideological brainwashing storm my Winnipeg Jets. Before they’ve even dropped the first puck, this team that I once cherished with all of my heart is being used to sell war machines. When I was less than a month old, I was given a Winnipeg Jets toque. When I was 11, I met Teemu Selanne at the Winnipeg Arena. I was 15 when the Jets were sold to Phoenix; at 30 years old I still wear my Jets toque to work all winter. The Jets are a piece of me, a piece of my childhood, a piece I have always been proud of. Mark Chipman’s desperate, pathetic pandering to a military that kills innocent people in my name will not sully those memories. These are not my Winnipeg Jets. Reprinted from rabble.ca Tyler Shipley is a writer and researcher who teaches at York University. He is originally from Winnipeg.
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
The Women Fight Back Heba H. Al Fara
Boston’s Statehouse is shot in the back of the image. The women are not facing the Statehouse; they are in front of the building, facing forward. The positioning of their bodies signifies their confidence that the State approves their activism. The State is literally and metaphorically behind them, in pursuit of their goals. They are embracing the notions of freedom of speech and expression that they deserve. This asserts women’s bravery to show their dissatisfaction with the way they are misrepresented by men. Their voices are being heard.
Picture from ‘SlutWalk’ march in Boston as seen in Toronto Star
The headline on the second page
of the Toronto Star on May 9, 2011 read ‘SlutWalk protesters march through Boston.’ The image accompanying the short article depicted a vibrant, active, and motivated group of women rallying against the placement of blame on the ‘victims of sex crimes.’ Images are not mere reflections of what is out there; they are representations created through the lenses of a camera. Why would Toronto Star choose to publish this specific image? The protest was part of the global phenomenon named ‘SlutWalk.’ Participants in the rally publicly refused to blame victims of sex crimes for what occurs to them. They sought to eradicate women’s fear of leaving their homes in clothes considered seductive. They tried to raise awareness about the power relations between men and women that make women feel vulnerable and unsafe. Through dressing provocatively, they illustrated that clothing should not be the reason for sexual advances and assaults. They hoped people would respond by respecting women’s freedom to choose the way that they dress as a form of self-expression, as opposed to an invitation for sex. In Stuart Hall’s 1997 book Representation, Roland Barthes relates a myth of the spectacle of excess. This means that the image speaks on multiple levels, as opposed to merely denoting a singular, ostensible meaning. In the image depicted in the Toronto Star, the significance is not in the identity of the people who are rallying. Rather, the significance is in why they are protesting and to what end. The message this image fosters is that women have the right and the ability to show their bodies without being regarded as sexually provocative or ‘slutty.’ Women do not want their bodies to be read so simply; they want to be
treated as complex individuals who are not objects for men’s aims. In this image, the stereotypical figure of a woman who is passive, quiet, and weak is challenged. There is a
challenge the ways their bodies act as signifiers for sexual activity. Furthermore, the form of the gaze (power spread through observation) that takes place in the image is interesting. The women are not
Moreover, the demonstration was organized through social networking media including Facebook and Twitter. In this day and age, social networking is the key to gathering large masses in a short period of time. For instance, the Egyptian revolution at the beginning of 2011 was claimed to be launched through Facebook. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo to express
their concerns. In a similar fashion, Facebook informed thousands of women to rally in response to a police officer’s recommendation to dress appropriately to avoid being raped. This feminist rally against blaming the victims of sex crimes is the product of the circulation and reproduction of knowledge about the demonstration throughout North America. The ability to organize a rally of up to 2,000 people in just Boston, when only 30 were expected to show, signifies the importance of the SlutWalk to many women. The women in the image use the negative stereotypes to provoke and to gain attention in order to be heard by the mainstream media. These women are working to further the politics of an issue that has existed over many years. What seems to be more important than the women’s gaze in the image as fierce and strong, is the gaze of the audience looking at the photo and finding ways in which they can individually implement change, not only in Toronto, but across the world.
“In addition, it is noteworthy that Boston’s Statehouse is shot in the back of the image. The women are not facing the Statehouse; they are in front of the building, facing forward. The positioning of their bodies signifies their confidence that the State approves their activism. The State is literally and metaphorically behind them, in pursuit of their goals. They are embracing the notions of freedom of speech and expression that they deserve. This asserts women’s bravery to show their dissatisfaction with the way they are misrepresented by men. Their voices are being heard.” sense of authority and strength seen in the way that they are dressed. For example, the woman on the left side of the image is dressed in a short top that is designed using metallic beads in the shape and style of a female warrior’s armor. The clothes resonate as symbols of strength and resistance against the allegations that through clothing women manipulate men and ask to be sexually assaulted. Here the clothes reveal women as ‘survivors’ as opposed to ‘victims’ of sexual assault. The connotation of ‘survivor’ leads to the assertion that women will fight to be, first and foremost, owners of their bodies, directors of their own voices, and fierce warriors. In the image, women use strategic essentialism, which reduces identity to a few key stereotypical characteristics and takes advantage or works to transform those characteristics. Women use trans-coding, as explained by Hall, where they take an existing meaning (where their bodies are merely used to be looked at and for sexual activity) and reappropriate it (where women dress for themselves). The strategic essentialism is the reduction of their bodies to semi-nude forms. This is traditionally thought of as mysterious and sexual by heteronormative individuals, and here this concept is used to justify their ability to take back their bodies as their own. Women
looking into the camera to gain publicity for their demonstration. It appears that the women are transcending the camera during their protest. They are taking control of their bodies. They want to live without feeling vulnerable and unable to express themselves. Within the poses that have been captured by the camera, women are marking their bodies as their territories. They are countering the stereotypes that they have been assigned as passive, weak, and dominated by others. They have embraced the ability to deny the power relations that promote the conservation of women. Instead, they are dressing (or undressing) in an extreme way to invoke retaliation. In addition, it is noteworthy that
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Why the Town of Markham is so Concerned about Israeli Apartheid Week Jenny Peto
battle over Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) has reached ‘the 905’ as the Town of Markham, a suburb just north of Toronto, has decided to take its own swing. Councillor Howard Shore introduced a motion calling on the Town of Markham to ban IAW and to pressure York University to do the same. The motion was first debated in Mar. 2011 and will be brought to council again on Apr. 11, 2011. The motion itself is quite puzzling because no IAW events take place in Markham; IAW is campus-based and Markham has no universities. This begs the question of why the Town of Markham is proposing to ban an event that does not take place within its jurisdiction. The answer to this question, I believe, sheds light not only on the situation in Markham, but also provides important context to the attacks on IAW and pro-Palestine activism across Canada. Playing to their base? The most obvious answer to the question of why Markham is the new flashpoint for debates about IAW is that it is a conservative town, with a large and vocal pro-Israel community. It is no coincidence that this motion would come forward in a town that has elected conservative, proIsrael representatives at both the provincial and federal level. The riding of Thornhill is located
in Markham; their MPP Peter Shurman put forward the nonbinding resolution to condemn IAW in the Ontario Legislature in 2010. Although it is unusual for an MPP to address a city council, Shurman made an appearance at the Markham council session to speak in favour of this latest motion. Thornhill MP Peter Kent has an equally pro-Israel track record on the federal level. During Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza, Kent, as Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs, blamed the war entirely on Hamas. As Israel killed over 1,400 people in Gaza, Kent’s support never wavered. In Feb. 2010, Kent gave one of the most pro-Israel statements in Canadian history when he declared that “an attack on Israel is an attack on Canada.” Both Kent and Shurman enjoy popular support in their ridings, in large part due to their fierce campaigning on behalf of the State of Israel. It is very likely that Howard Shore, the councillor
Photo taken by wyliepoon (flickr).
This photo was taken on Apr. 2, 2010 in Downtown Markham The business of apartheid While there is a compelling case to argue that this motion is simply a manoeuvre to pander to the proIsrael base in Markham, there are certainly other factors at play.
“Attacking Palestine solidarity activism has now become a key element of any efforts to strengthen trade with Israel - crush dissent so that you can carry out business as usual.” behind this motion, is hoping to gain popularity among pro-Israel voters by taking up the fight against IAW.
One central issue is economic ties between the Town of Markham and Israel. Shore has boasted of the plans for Markham to send a trade delegation to Israel in order to intensify their economic cooperation. This delegation is in partnership with York University, which is not surprisingly targeted by Shore’s motion. It is no coincidence that as Markham is set to increase its trade relations with Israel, they are moving to silence any criticism of their important business partner. This particular tactic is not new or unique to Markham. In 2010, shortly after the condemnation of IAW, Premier Dalton McGuinty went on a highlypublicized trade mission to Israel. In Manitoba, a province with strong economic ties to Israel, attempts have also been made to condemn IAW p r o v i n c i a l l y. The Town of Markham’s motion is simply the first attempt at the municipal level. Attacking P a l e s t i n e solidarity activism has now become a key
element of any efforts to strengthen trade with Israel - crush dissent so that you can carry out business as usual.
Veolia and the global BDS campaign In 2005, York Region, which includes the Town of Markham, privatized its transit by contracting services out to Veolia Transport. All bus routes in Markham are now run by Veolia under the name VIVA. Veolia is a French multinational corporation that is one of the main targets of the global movement for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli companies and companies that profit from Israeli apartheid. Veolia is part of a consortium that is helping to build and operate the Jerusalem Light Rail system, which links illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank with Israel. The rail line is explicitly designed to further entrench the annexation of these illegal settlements by creating another layer of permanent infrastructure. Veolia also operates other settlement infrastructure projects. For instance, it runs bus services for Israeli settlers on Israeli-only roads throughout the West Bank. These roads have decimated Palestinian towns and villages by stealing their land for construction. Since they are Israeli-only, these roads cut villages off from each other and force Palestinians onto dangerous, often unpaved backroads. Through its subsidiary TMM, Veolia also collects refuse from illegal settlements and buries it at the illegal Tovlan landfill site in the occupied Jordan Valley. The Town of Markham’s anti-IAW motion was put forward when Veolia and York Region were making headlines because transit workers with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 were in a strike position against Veolia. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Town of Markham would move to condemn IAW and the BDS movement, at a time when their links with one of the main BDS targets in the world was front page news. The privatization of public services such as transit should always be met with outrage. When this privatization involves a company that is violating international law by building and maintaining illegal settlement infrastructure, that outcry should be amplified.
Condemning BDS as anti-Semitic is a move to curtail criticism of Markham’s attacks on the public sector and its support for Israeli apartheid. Fighting back As the attacks on pro-Palestinian activism and IAW increase, activists are debating an appropriate response. We have spent a lot of time and energy fighting back on the issue of free speech and academic freedom. This has been very successful in some instances: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) won the right to march in Pride last year, George Galloway won the right to speak in Canada, and IAW has continued to grow across the country in spite of all of these attacks. Even Bernie Farber, the CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, now admits that banning IAW is an attack on free speech that is unpalatable to Canadians. He pushed to amend Shore’s motion from a banning of IAW to a condemnation. When these attacks happen, people who may not be informed about Palestine can plainly see the injustice of the censorship and they become sympathetic with those being singled out. It is our job as activists to take those people who are moved by the gross violation of civil liberties beyond the question of censorship to the question of Palestine. To do so, we need to link the repression we face to issues of Canadian complicity in Israeli apartheid. So when we talk about repression, we need to constantly emphasize that censorship is a power relationship that is never neutral. Repression is about maintaining the status quo and in Canada that status quo is uncritical support of Israel and billions of dollars in free trade between the two countries. In Markham, that status quo is trade missions and multi-million dollar contracts with Veolia. The Markham motion proves that censorship is always political and just as consistently a move by the powerful. Our fight must therefore focus not on issues of repression and lack of free speech, but on the power structures that facilitate and thrive on that repression. Reprinted from The Bullet Jenny Peto is an activist with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid. She holds an MA in Sociology and Equity Studies from the University of Toronto.
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Arts & Culture
Film Review: Mountains That Take Wing ANGELA DAVIS & YURI KOCHIYAMA - A CONVERSATION ON LIFE, STRUGGLES & LIBERATION Hadiyya Mwapachu
ountains That Take Wing: Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama – A Conversation on Life, Struggles & Liberation is a documentary that features conversations in 1996 and 2008 between activists Angela Davis and Yuri Kochiyama. One of the parallels that Davis and Kochiyama share is that their introduction into activism was a result of the social conditions that structured their lives. The film emphasizes the intersection of family and political history. Davis cites as great influences her mother’s involvement in the NAACP in the 1920s and support for Communism. The violence perpetrated by white citizen groups and the Ku Klux Klan, which accompanied segregation in the South, resulted in an atmosphere of social terror. Davis discusses how her earliest memories include hearing bombs and the burning of the church where she took part in an interracial discussion group. Her experiences are discussed in tandem with Kochiyama’s depiction of spending years in a Japanese internment camp and how this act of government enforcement and curtailing of civil rights led to a change of perception regarding the practice of freedom, justice, and equality in the United States. One of the documentary’s persistent themes is how intrinsically the struggle for social justice is tied to personal location and the witnessing of social disparities. Kochiyama discusses how living in Harlem led to an awareness of the ardent discrimination enacted on Black and Hispanic communities, specifically in the absence of jobs. This led to her participation in mass demonstrations. Davis was a member of the Student Non-Violence Co-Coordinating Committee, which focused on constructing a social movement in California. Within these discussions, the role of activism
contrast with being governed by the administration. Both examples display how education can serve projects that emphasize social liberation through both the acts of protest and the promotion of knowledge. The documentary focuses on the role of trans-racial and transnational social organizing. Kochiyama tells of organizing a meeting between civil rights icon Malcolm X with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb attacks. The meeting took place in Kochiyama’s apartment in New York. Kochiyama describes her continual dialogue with the leading activist, which took place largely in the form of postcards that he sent from nine countries. Davis and Kochiyama consider how depictions of Malcolm X’s legacy often limit the international significance he had,
solidarity movements, as well as his struggle against colonialism in its myriad forms. The women note how Malcolm X envisioned the struggle of Vietnam as being part of a struggle for Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism within an
Internationalist activist movement. By emphasizing the cross-racial ties that Malcolm X inspired and built, the film works to recuperate the lack of visual representation surrounding these issues. It also celebrates and strengthens feminist perspectives of his legacy by portraying ties between his work
movements. Both Kochiyama and Davis express the importance of regarding the historical role that women of color had in constructing cross-racial, feminist networks. The intersection of different struggles is the film’s most vital refrain, evident in the exploration
Angela Davis & Yuri Kochiyama from Mountains That Take Wing film poster
specifically his collaboration with Asian movements. One of the most revelatory examples of this is the omission of Kochiyama’s presence during Malcolm X’s assassination in the film about his life by Spike Lee. Davis notes that the film would have been different had it included the photograph of Kochiyama sitting next to Malcolm X’s body
after he was shot. Kochiyama also notes the absence of the chapters on his visits to the newly independent states in Africa from his autobiography written with and completed after his death by Alex Haley. Specific characterizations of Malcolm X have obfuscated his work to build transnational
historicizing the work of Davis and Kochiyama as being an integral part of diverse oppositional struggles throughout social history. It thus gives the audience a sense of collective history, which both enlivens and radicalizes official
“It is striking that for both Davis and Kochiyama, education structures were influenced by social opposition that was dictated by the students in contrast with being governed by the administration ... education can serve projects that emphasize social liberation through both the acts of protest and the promotion of knowledge. ”
and the work of activist women. The role of women within social movements is the documentary’s most dynamic theme. The film explores how the participation of women central to the civil rights movement is often obscured and subjugated. According to Davis, “many people did not want to
“The film gives testimony to multiple struggles by historicizing the work of Davis and Kochiyama as being an integral part of diverse oppositional struggles throughout social history. It thus gives the audience a sense of collective history, which both enlivens and radicalizes official narrations of historical events.”
within education is prevalent. Kochiyama speaks of the influence of the text The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual by Harold Cruse, which was not widely taught at the time. It is striking that for both Davis and Kochiyama, education structures were influenced by social opposition that was dictated by the students in
been marginalized throughout social history. One of the most transformative points is Davis’s view that in order to encourage young people to join movements, you have to “legitimatize the role of women” within the past
make connections between race, gender, and class.” She argues that male leaders are celebrated in contrast with women who “did the real work.” The film interlaces archival footage of female leaders alongside Davis’s reflections, thus giving the audience a visual history of the women who have
of cross-racial and national solidarity movements across history. The women refer to Black soldiers who, struck by the brutality against Filipino citizens during the American occupation, joined the Filipino Guerrillas. This event would have been lost to history without the reporting of Black news writers. Through the use of archival cartoons and photographic evidence, the film depicts how these events of rebellion against the state mandate forged acts of collaboration. Before Davis and Kochiyama’s time, National Colored Unions were vocal against the Asian Exclusion Immigration Act, and grassroots activist Ho Chi Minh of Harlem supported the Marcus Garvey movement in Chicago. Historical constructions of the time, however, often fall short in scope and nuance. Davis argues that some stories surrounding campaigns linked to the past “are not recorded.” The film gives testimony to multiple struggles by
narrations of historical events. The prison industrial complex and its role as both a racist and repressive force plays a central role within the film. In 1969 Davis was prohibited from teaching at the University of California due to a McCarthyite clause preventing members of the Communist Party from lecturing. Davis sees parallels between fighting for the right to teach and the struggle of George Jackson, who was fighting for his freedom within a justice system governed by racist disparities and politics. The film depicts how many political prisoners were targeted during this time and how this was part of a legacy of individuals involved in social movements being detained due to their activism. After Davis was arrested for participating in George Jackson’s legal case, she began to establish a way to use her voice to bring the issue of prisons to the forefront. The film explores how the political campaign to free Davis was centered around bridging a movement that was trans-racial, across gender, class, national, and political divides. The campaign to free her is a concrete example of how cognizance of inequality within the justice system can lead people to see how prisons and detention centers work to silence oppositional voices. Davis expresses how her first campaign to free a political prisoner was the international campaign to free Nelson Mandela. Davis contends that more government funds are spent on building prisons as opposed to education. She describes how they serve as tools for “surveillance and discipline” and are inextricably linked to the strengthening of corporate economies. The film shows Davis speaking to groups about the movement to abolish prisons due to the high number of people of colour incarcerated and used for cheap labour. She addresses the need for creating a new vocabulary, one which disrupts normative discussions around crime. She introduces the notion of ‘environmental crime:’
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Arts & Culture
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Lars von Trier: The Art of Provocation Amee Lê
hen the weather finally picked up for what’s considered a cool summer in Berlin, Lars von Trier came to Babylon, the city’s festival theater, to kick off a retrospective on his works and to hopefully find some redemption for his previous public appearance that had arguably cost the Danish director the 2011 Palme d’Or while having earned him the title ‘persona non grata’ first ever to be declared at the Cannes Film Festival. I sacrificed the rare sunny afternoon toward the end of my internship in Berlin to line up in a packed lobby, with decreasing oxygen and increasing excitement, during the one hour leading up to the Q&A event. Lars von Trier is notorious for his lack of mercy for the audience. Found in his films are some of the most psychologically difficult, if not disturbing, stories as well as visual images employed to tell them, habitually in a fairytale manner. Trier’s masterful use of the Brechtian distancing effect leaves no one innocent as watching a Trier film often forces one to face one’s own senses of greed, guilt, and despair. In Dogvile (2003), the first in Trier’s projected USA – Land of Opportunities trilogy (including Manderlay (2005) and to-be-completed Washington), during almost three hours of emotional and physical torture scenes, the audience will slowly be turned from a justified sympathizer to a bewildered accomplice in a horrid crime of revenge by the central character Grace. While asked about Dogville as a critique of a country he never set foot on, Trier explained that he had always been brought up to be against the US and the Vietnam War, and more blatantly, to feel nauseated every time America was mentioned as a great nation. In 1995, inspired by the French New Wave of the 60s, Lars von Trier co-founded Dogme 95 with Thomas Vinterberg. The avantgarde movement was intended to render filmmaking more accessible by declaring manifestos that
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inadequate living conditions and government appeasement in cases of disasters, which Kochiyama elaborates on in reference to Hurricane Katrina. Kochiyama works to shed attention on the sexual imprisonment that Asian women faced during the Second World War by Japanese soldiers. She rebukes the term ‘comfort women’ and describes how these women from different countries were placed in forced sexual labour during wartime.
required on-location shooting with hand-held cameras, minimum to no editing and special effects, as well as non-credited directors. The movement produced many critically acclaimed films such as The Celebration (Dogme #1), The Idiots (Dogme #2), Julien DonkeyBoy (Dogme #6), and Kira’s Reason: A Love Story (Dogme #21). Trier, like other Dogme directors, admitted to having cheated on the principles of Dogme and is no longer making strictly Dogme
had only learned about who his real father was shortly before his mother passed away. He had believed during most of his life that he was Jewish, only to find out that he was of German descent. This provided the pretext for the awful joke Trier made at Cannes this year that he had always thought he was a Jew but it turned out that he was a Nazi. Trier then dug himself deeper into the grave by commenting that he sympathized with Hitler. For this, Trier is now banned from Cannes.
on people working on his films, Lars von Trier is also accused of being a misogynist for having often made martyrs out of his female protagonists. Ironically, under his direction, there have been three Best Actress wins at the Cannes including Dancer in the Dark’s Bjork, Antichrist’s Charlotte Gainsbourg, and even Melancholia’s Kirsten Dunst despite the aforementioned unfortunate event at the film’s press conference. Melancholia (2011)
“... Trier argued that provocation while making people angry also made them think and reconsider things; and being provocative was about having an opinion and taking part in life.”
films. When German newspaper Die Welt’s film editor Hanns-Georg Rodek confronted Trier about what the latter was thinking when he wrote in one of his manifestos that there should be more heterosexual films of, by, and for men, Trier dodged the issue by saying that manifestos were written just to be thrown away and giving nods to great ‘heterosexual films’ made by homosexual directors such as Fassbinder and Pasolini. The topics of Trier as a provocateur and the recent Cannes incident unavoidably dominated the Q&A. The prologue of the auteur’s most controversial film yet Antichrist (2009) is perhaps one of the most poetic and perturbing pieces of hard-core porn that has ever graced the movie screen. It also validates Trier’s assertion that children are only props in his films. The film deals with Trier’s defined three stages of guilt – pain, grief, and despair. Once again, in response to the German film critic about provocation as an art form, Trier emphasized the importance of being rebellious. Having already confessed to being someone who was against everything, Trier argued that provocation while making people angry also made them think and reconsider things; and being provocative was about having an opinion and taking part in life. He admitted however that there was also bad provocation. This led back to what had happened at Cannes and before Cannes, at Trier’s mother’s deathbed. Trier The film depicts how women demonstrate every day before the Japanese Embassy in Korea, calling for an apology and reparations. Kochiyama states that one of the most abhorrent aspects of these historical events is that the imprisonment of these women was left out of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. The film displays footage of Kochiyama rallying in front of groups, proclaiming that “the most powerful
A perhaps intentionally unwise member from the Q&A audience asked Trier to recontextualize the N-word now that he was in Germany, which received a great boo from everyone else. Trier redeemed himself with the Berlin audience by acknowledging his foolery (“…but I’m only a human,” he added), claiming that we were all a bit Nazis, and stressing the importance of not making a taboo out of the subject. The speech’s resonance with the audience was confirmed by a hearty round of applause. Besides the reputation as a sadist for placing exceeding demands
too contains a visually breathtaking prologue perfectly set to the music of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde’s prelude. The title, also the name of a blue planet in the film, is not only an obvious reference to depression, with which Trier himself is not unfamiliar, but an encompassing emblem for a sense of despair in us all as well. The sickening dance of Death between the planets Earth and Melancholia is sped up in the film by the human tragicomedies of empty rituals (in this case, the most expensive wedding a bride can have) and failed relationships (Trier seems to blame the parents for this one – we either inherit or are made messed up by our
21 parents). The disheartening theme can be forgiven, however, for the visual decadence of stunning imagery created by either quoting or ‘paraphrasing’ the many classical paintings including Pieter Brueghel’s The Hunters in the Snow (1565), Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), John Everett Millais’s Ophelia (1852), and Edvard Munch’s The Dance of Life (1899). Babylon theater’s director Timothy Grossmann awkwardly commented on Melancholia that he never knew dying could be so pretty. For me personally and with all of the Trier films I have seen, there is always a Nietzschean sense of liberation in Trier’s acceptance of fallible humanity. Commenting on his next film Nymphomaniac, Trier perfected his role as the entertainer of the day by stating that the film was made out of his deep respect for female sexuality but “I’m just saying it because you won’t see it in the film.” Human, all too human! Amee Lê is a MBA/MA in Art History student at York. She found the best use for her mathematics undergraduate degree in figuring out knitting patterns. All the film titles mentioned in this article, except for Melancholia, which will open in limited theatres across Canada this winter, can be found at the Sound and Moving Image Library, Scott Library.
Jens Mayer Lars von Trier signing autographs for fans following the Q&A at Babylon, Berlin, Germany weapon for women is to go out and tell the truth.”
The importance of testimony, specifically of formulating a vocabulary that builds campaigns, is a recurring t h e m e throughout the film. Davis notes how the “proliferation of prisons is the main drive for empire,” and both activists discuss the overarching influence of US nationalism in prisons at home and abroad, from sites’ Still from Mountains That Take Wing ‘black
to the practice of ‘extraordinary rendition’. They speak of strategies to foster a sense of identification between people from different locations who are all affected by acts of aggression, in order to strengthen transnational movements that work against the threat of wars. Hadiyya Mwapachu is a Film Studies student at York, aka aspiring starving writer and artist. . Mountains That Take Wing will be screened at Rebels with a Cause – OPIRG–York’s inaugural DisOrientation film festival followed by a panel discussion.
Arts & Culture
FALL ISSUE 1 2011
Amy Saunders Looking for the love I had sought to seek – I have lost the tolerance in me. I remember all the things I used to silence, all the reasons I felt out of time, out of place – I’m pure defiance I catch myself praying to a hybrid: the evolution of my god, the evolution of my science. And all the suns, I see them crying; the stars to vanquish with stones: the liars. I have struggled with my heart and passion, settled out of court: my nutrition, my rations. I had fed myself, my drink: compassion. But all the while, my stomach hastened.
Crimes on mine! Written moths and famed frozen text: a brutal stabbing, dark street corners where i made the alley his rest. Amends leaned in to test his breath then stole his last one.
The devil took my wrist and led perfect conversation, I told him these crimes were not mine. He begged for my heart; a puzzle piece apart…The arches were sawedoff edges now. I cut his throat with it, and left it… …among bricks and other deep crimsons
My brain was drunk and merely fractioned. I hid myself in the darkest fashion. To love thyself and know your madness: to see you with my eyes, half blindness. I find myself confused and righteous: I find myself too heavy for lightness. To believe that I am nothing great, but to see the world as a pure, beautiful slate:
But I have become everything I hate. . Amy Saunders is a student of Sexuality Studies at York University. Her essays and poetry have been published in University of Guelphs’ Feminist Journal, as well as the literary arts magazine, In My Bed. . Michelle Kent is a Women’s and Sexuality Studies major who spends most of her time drinking coffee and memorizing rap lyrics. She hopes to pursue a career in social work.
If spontaneous had a spelling error, I’d revise. But, these babbling shuffles please an unwanted audience, so who’s to blame Perception is the contraception for truth, a useful tool for an ignorant endeavour. we’re leaving tomorrow, coincidentally. waiting face to face entertains no more than ignoring your cloudy smirk, so turn Away. An abrupt knock is the cue for me to unpack – “fuck, I forgot our minds…” He says “I told you so” through the windows so I break every single one
EVENTS SEPTEMBER Sex Week where: when:
322 Student Centre, York University
Mon. Sept. 12 - Thurs. Sept. 15, Various times
(416) 736-2100 x.33484
The Centre for Women and Trans People presents a free series of workshops centered on queer folks and sexualities, but open and useful for everyone.
Wendy Babcock Memorial
Gardens, at the Carlton/Sherbourne
Thurs. Sept. 15, 6:00pm–10:00pm
It is with great sadness that Wendy Babcock, a fiercely loved and adored friend to so many, is no longer with us. Her passing was discovered on Aug. 9, 2011. Wendy accomplished a great deal over the course of her life. She was an advocate and activist for many marginalized communities in Toronto including sex workers, street-involved folks, trans-folks, queer folks, harm-reduction and the rights of children, to name a few.
City-Wide Art Attack where: when:
Metro Hall, 55 John St.
Wed. Sept. 14, 1:30pm–9:00pm
Public consultation on art projects that are designed to protest the selling of naming rights to parks, subway stations and public spaces.
Lillian H Smith Library, 239 College St.
Wed. Sept. 14, 7:00pm
http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail. jsp?Entt=RDM87483&R=87483 details:
Talk on Jews and gender in Toronto’s labour movement from 1900 to 1939 by historian Ruth Frager.
Spotlight on Sri Lanka: Postwar Opportunities and Challenges
York University Commons
Wed. Sept. 14, 7:00pm
Directed by Jackie Reem Salloum, Slingshot HipHop tells the stories of young Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty.
Greenpeace 40th Anniversary Celebration where: when:
Magpie Taproom, 331 Dundas St. W.
Fri. Sept. 16, 9:00pm–2:00am
Free (Buy Your Own)
Ryerson University, Engineering Building Atrium, 299 Church St.
This fall Greenpeace celebrates 40 years of bearing witness and promoting practical solutions to environmental destruction alongside our courageous activists and dedicated supporters.
Thurs. Sept. 15, 6:00pm–10:30pm
Sri Lankans Without Borders will host a panel discussion ‘Spotlight on Sri Lanka: Post war Opportunities & Socio-Political Challenges.’ The panel will bring together notable journalists and academics.
In the Shadow of Harper/ Hudak/ Ford - Fall Greater Toronto Workers Assembly where:
Ryerson University, Rm. LIB 072, Jorgenson Hall, 350 Victoria St. when:
Dr. Mildred Warner Speaking in Toronto on Privatizing Municipal Services where: when:
Ryerson University POD 152, 350 Victoria St.
$10 suggested donation
The Toronto Workers Assembly invites members, guests, and supporters to attend several panels including: ‘Developing Our Shared Politics’, ‘Solidarity Platform’, and ‘Solidarity Against the Ford Cuts’.
Thurs. Sept. 15, 6:30pm–9:00pm email@example.com
In this public lecture Dr. Mildred Warner explores the impact of privatization and devolution on local government and the role of human services as part of the social infrastructure for economic development. Stop the Repression where: when:
Sat. Sept. 17, 9:00am–5:00pm
Slingshot HipHop (Pre–York DisOrientation Event)
Screening of the film Jhonny Cariqueo: The Permanent Struggle, about the Mapuche youth who was killed by police during the 2008 protests in Chile.
U of T Graduate Students’ Union, 16 Bancroft St.
Fri. Sept. 16, 8:00pm–10:30pm
The Past is a Battleground: DisOrientation 2011 where: when:
Various downtown locations
Sun. Sept. 18 - Fri. Sept. 23, Various times
The tenth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 reminds all of us that our conception of the past determines how we operate in the present. Join the Ontario Public Interest Research Group - Toronto for a week of events that will help us reveal the most accurate version of history, and prevent us from making the same mistakes twice.
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FALL ISSUE 1 2011
EVENTS MORE EVENTS ON PREVIOUS PAGE Toronto Stop the Cuts Workshop (Pre–York DisOrientation Event) where: when:
307 Student Centre
Tues. Sept. 20, 3:30pm–4:30pm
We have gone down to City Hall to lodge our complaints about the city cuts slated for later this year and have been ignored by our mayor and city council. This workshop will discuss the city cuts within the context of developing a city-wide strategy to fight back and keep the services our city needs!
Arab Spring: Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa where: when:
Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Ave.
Tues. Sept. 20, 6:00pm–9:00pm
Talk by Human Rights Watch’s Sarah Leah
Free Film Screening: Challenge Power
Palmerston Library Theatre, Palmerston Library, 560 Palmerston Ave. when:
Fri. Sept. 23, 7:00pm
Join CAIA as we host Filmmaker Johan Genberg for a screening of his documentary Challenging Power and a discussion about the film. On July 15, 2010, the Olympia Food Co-op became the first grocery store in the United States to boycott Israeli products. Challenging Power is a series of reflections on the decision to boycott, its significance, and the role it plays in the process of social change.
Looking Back, Moving Forward: War Resisters in North America where:
Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St.
Fri. Sept. 23, 7:00pm–10:00pm; Sat. Sept. 24, 9:00am–8:00pm contact:
Luke Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org
626 York Research Tower
A gathering that will address issues of war and peace from the vantage point of those who are struggling against militarism in North America. This conference will feature veterans, war resisters, activists, academics, labour organizers, and lawyers.
Wed. Sept. 21, 1:00pm–3:00pm
details: Environmental issues in China are usually conceived
and discussed in the Chinese context in very general terms. Nimrod Baranovitch’s talk will focus on the discourse and meanings of environmental protection among several ethnic minorities in China who perceive environmental protection not just in the narrow sense of maintaining clean water and air, but as the right of the minority group to control its territory and to maintain its traditional way of life and distinctive identity.
Farid Esack Lecture where: when:
Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St.
Sat. Sept. 24, 7:00pm–10:00pm
Lecture by the South African Muslim theologian and anti-apartheid activist.
Eyewitness to War Resistance across Borders: Medea Benjamin Speaks where: when:
Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham Street
Wed. Sept. 21, 7:00pm–9:00pm
$5 suggested donation
Medea Benjamin, currently banned from entering Canada due to her peace activism, will attempt to enter Canada and speak on Canada–U.S. border issues, and her work for peace! Other great speakers will also attend to discuss Canada’s borders and justice. If Medea is prevented from entering Canada, she will speak either live or by very recently filmed documentary.
Queen’s Park, Toronto
Wed. Sept. 21, 11:00am
Sun. Sept. 25, 7:00pm–10:00pm
Join Ontario Nature to support a biodiversity charter for Ontario and protect nature.
This coffee house, organized by the International Solidarity Committee of the Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly, will address these questions and other issues related to the wars in Central and South Asia and there will be plenty of time for discussion.
York DisOrientation 2011 York University (Various Locations)
Thurs. Sept. 22 - Fri. Sept. 30, Various times
email@example.com, full program online: www.opirgyork.ca/node/151 or ‘DisOrientation 2011’ on Facebook Free or PWYC
DisOrientation is a radically different, politically progressive week of events that will offer all students and community members access, critical thought, and insight, into the exciting and political social justice spheres that exist within and beyond York U.
Sun. Oct. 1 - Fri. Oct. 8, Various times
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org cost:
The Toronto Palestine Film Festival (TPFF) is pleased to announce that it will be returning for its fourth year! TPFF is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing vibrant Palestinian cinema to GTA audiences. Our mandate is to promote the richness of Palestinian Arab culture through cinema, music, and other forms of visual arts.
Failed Solidarity as a Result of Workers’ Trauma: Lessons from a Korean Car Industry where: when:
280A York Lanes
Wed. Oct. 5, 2:30pm–4:00pm
Behind the spectacular news of triumphalism in the Korean car industry, a question rarely asked is how this pace of car manufacturing has been possible to maintain, and even grow? The Ssangyong workers, who are highlighted in this case study, began to struggle on May 22, 2009 against the drastic restructuring of the factory in which they worked. Their struggle ended on Aug. 6 2009 with violent oppression by the state and the company. These workers have undergone psychological trauma since then, and the results have been dire, and even fatal.
Feminist Book Discussion Group–North York where: when:
North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge St.
Wed. Oct. 5, 1:30pm–3:30pm
Feminist Book Discussion Group meets at the North York Central Library on the first Wednesday of each month. On Oct. 5, we will be discussing The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill.
YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) Festival
Toronto City Hall
Mon. Sept. 26, 5:30pm
People from every walk of life will be coming to City Hall to demand respect for every Torontonian, our communities, public services, and good jobs.
Three Mile Island To Bhopal: The Life and Work of Environmental Activist Rosalie Bertell
Parkdale Library, 1303 Queen St. W.
Thurs. Sept. 29, 7:00pm–10:00pm
Part of the History Matters lecture series.
Toronto Palestine Film Festival
Rally for Toronto
Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St.
Rally for Nature
$2.00–$10.00 or PWYC
Men walk in high heels to raise awareness and funds to end violence against women. Benefit for: White Ribbon Campaign.
Fear of Extinction: Environmental Protection as Political Metaphor among China’s Ethnic Minorities
401 Richmond St. W.
Sat. Oct. 22, 11:00am–4:00pm
http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/listing.cfm?listi ngid=800056369&subsection=&category=& details:
Politicians, businesses, neighbourhood groups and citizens share ideas on how to make Toronto a better city by promoting citizen-based community development.
Rebels with a Cause (Post–York DisOrientation Film Festival) where: when:
York University, Various locations
Mon. Oct. 24 - Fri. Oct. 28, Various times
email@example.com, info and full schedule: www.opirgyork.ca details:
Walk a Mile in her Shoes where: when:
Thurs. Sept. 29, 12:00pm–2:00pm
OPIRG–York presents its first film festival at York U organized by and for York students. The festival screens artistically, politically, and socially subversive titles followed by panel discussions with artists, filmmakers and York community members.
Compiled by Stefan Lazov SEND YOUR EVENTS TO: firstname.lastname@example.org