Hamilton Book Launch

Date: November 8
Time: 7pm
Location: Room 1010, Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning (MDCL), McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario

Join author and activist Scott Neigh for a talk and book signing as he launches two new books published by Fernwood Publishing: Gender and Sexuality: Canadian History Through the Stories of Activists and Resisting the State: Canadian History Through the Stories of Activists. Hear about some of the many struggles that have shaped the Canada of today, and talk about new ways of relating to the past as we struggle for a transformed tomorrow.

To learn more about the books and the project of which they are a part, and to read and hear excerpts from the interviews around which the books are organized, visit here. To find out about ways to purchase the books if you can’t make it to the launch, click here.

From the book jackets:

We usually learn our history from the perspective of our rulers — from the top down. In these books we learn about our history from the perspectives of ordinary people — from the bottom up. Whatever liberty and justice that communities, workplaces and individuals in Canada enjoy are due to the many struggles and social movements in our country’s history. Yet the stories and histories of those movements to overcome racism, sexism, and poverty, for example, remain largely untold, thanks to the single, simplistic national story taught to us in school. Deftly combining history with accounts from participants in social movements, Neigh introduces us to the untold histories of activists, histories that encourage all of us to engage in struggles that will shape our shared tomorrow.

Gender and Sexuality unearths a diverse spectrum of struggle through the accounts of longstanding social movement participants. From indigenous women working against colonization and Christian women trying to end sexism and homophobia in their churches, to gay men opposing sexual oppression and women fighting against hostile employers and violence, this book reveals the ways that oppressions based on gender and sexuality — and the struggles against them — have shaped our society.

In Resisting the State, Neigh details the histories of a broad range of social movements and provides readers with a richer understanding of the Canadian state and why so many people — including military draftees, welfare recipients, workers, indigenous people, psychiatric survivors, immigrants and refugees — have struggled, and continue to struggle, for equality and justice for all members of society.

What people are saying about Gender and Sexuality and Resisting the State:

“Never doubt that a few committed people can change Canada (and the world) for the better. Scott Neigh’s oral histories show not only the power of committed idealism, but also how the history of our whole country has been shaped by brave Canadians who refuse to accept the misery and injustice that surrounds us. Read these books to learn how the history of social change organizing is indeed the history of Canada — and then go out and start making your own history.” — Jim Stanford, union economist and peace activist

“This work is a treasure that provides a portal to Canadian history, bringing it alive and urgent through the voices and profound insights of veteran social justice activists, an indispensable guide for present and future generations to carry on these struggles.” — Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, veteran activist and author

And even more.

Scott Neigh is a writer, parent, and activist currently based in Sudbury, Ontario. He lived in Hamilton, Ontario, from 1993 until 2004, where he was active in student, anti-poverty, anti-racism, environmental, and other social justice organizing, including as a board member of OPIRG McMaster. He blogs regularly on political topics at A Canadian Lefty in Occupied Land. You can learn more about these books and the project of which they are a part at the Talking Radical site, and more about Scott here.

This event is sponsored by OPIRG McMaster, Bryan Prince Bookseller, and Fernwood Publishing.

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Radio — Beit Zatoun: From Palestine to important multi-movement infrastructure in Toronto

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, I talk with Robert Massoud about Beit Zatoun, a cultural centre and grassroots space in Toronto. It emerged from a project focused on supporting Palestine to become a multi-issue space, hub, and infrastructural node used by many grassroots initiatives focued on many different issues — while still constantly returning to the importance of Palestinian struggle.

In 2004, Massoud founded an organization called Zatoun, which is the Arabic word for “olive.” Since that time, Zatoun has imported fair trade olive oil from Palestine and sold it through grassroots networks and select independent businesses in North America. Massoud, who is Palestinian-Canadian, has been active in a number of ways in supporting a just peace in Palestine, and this sale of olive oil is a way of supporting Palestinian farmers and building material connections between sympathetic people on Turtle Island and the lives and realities of people in Palestine.

This episode is not about Zatoun, however, but about a space and an organization that emerged from it in 2009 — Beit Zatoun, it’s called, which means “house of olive.” It is a name familiar to anyone involved in grassroots work in Toronto, where the organization managed to secure central, beautiful, and highly affordable space, and established itself as a cultural centre, a gallery, and a meeting and event space for people from a broad range of communities, organizations, and movements. Beit Zatoun quickly became a piece of widely used infrastructure for all sorts of grassroots work in the city. With no government or foundation funding, they have survived based on olive oil sales, space rentals, admission fees, and of course the hard work of volunteers, and have hosted more than 650 events in the last fives years, including cultural events, arts events, films, meetings, book launches, teach-ins, debates, discussions, and many other sorts of grassroots educational endeavours. Though Palestine is never far from the goings-on at the centre, its work is informed by a vision of offering broad solidarity to diverse efforts to create a better world. Though the space is now threatened by gentrification, and will have to move within the next two years, it remains an inspiring example of how determined effort can reestablish what Toronto-based organizer and scholar Alan Sears calls “the infrastructure of dissent.”

To learn more about Beit Zatoun, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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Radio — Health workers radicalizing health struggles

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, I talk with Martha Roberts. She is a midwife, an educator, and a community organizer, and was one of the founders of the Alliance for People’s Health, a collective of health workers, grassroots organizers, and community members committed to understanding the links between health and social justice, and to building the struggle for health for all.

There’s something a bit weird about how we talk about “health.” As deep as the mainstream roots seem to be of the conviction that health care is best understood as a socialized public good (however imperfectly that has always been realized, and even more so today), there is still something deeply individualized and asocial about most of the ways we have available to talk about health itself. From the majority of professional public health discourse to that aunt that always raises her eyebrows when you take a second helping of dessert at a holiday meal, we’re bombarded with incessant messaging that links our health to a very narrow spectrum of individual behaviours. This completely ignores the ways in which far more of the circumstances which determine our health are about how our lives and communities are socially organized. And not just in terms of the growing but still very under-appreciated focus on “social determinants of health” in some professional corners, but in ways that go to the very core of how social relations of exploitation, oppression, and marginalization take such a toll on so many lives. “Structural determinants of health” are where the analysis needs to go, according to today’s guest.

The Alliance for People’s Health combines popular education, organizing, and mobilizing in working-class communities in Vancouver, in a way connected with and informed by liberation movements from around the world and among indigenous nations on Turtle Island. Along with their important work on the ground, they are elaborating a cutting edge analysis of health that Roberts says identifies “social justice as prevention of disease” and “participating in liberation movements [as] a form of healing.” I spoke with her about the group, about their analyses of health and social justice, and about ways that progressive health workers can and do participate in collective struggle.

To learn more about the Alliance for People’s Health, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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Radio — Bringing together Black students, scholars, and communities in Montreal

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, I talk with Rosalind Hampton of Community-University Talks about their work to centre the the many different experiences, needs, and strengths of Black communities in creating dialogue and collaboration among Black students, scholars, and communities in Montreal.

It’s not unusual for universities in Canada (much like many other large institutions) to claim the mantle of “diversity.” Though that term is often deployed to respond to a broad spectrum of social justice-related claims, it often does so, particularly in how it gets taken up by powerful institutions, such that it is emptied of political meaning, or at the very least stretched so far that its truth along some axes is used as a way to avoid dealing with stark deficiencies along others.

McGill University in Montreal could certainly, in some respects, be understood as “diverse,” yet when Hampton and a colleague of hers began the PhD program in which they are studying, they noticed what they described as “a lack of Blackness.” Though Black people have been part of the McGill community throughout its history, this lack remains intense in terms of representation in positions of authority, presence as faculty, in curriculum, in the kinds of scholarship that get centred and prioritized, in the ways of knowing that are valued, and much else.

To respond, they came together with other Black students and faculty at McGill to found Community-University Talks — abbreviated as C-Uni-T, which they pronounce “c-unity.” Over the last three years they have organized small and large events that centre Blackness, that support Black scholars and scholarship, and that nurture relationships and collaboration between Black people at McGill and Black communities more broadly in Montreal. We talk about the context, the group, and the work that they have been doing.

To learn more about the work of C-Uni-T, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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Radio — The Occupy-inspired grassroots revitalization of a marginalized neighbourhood

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, TJ Travis talks about The Bloomfield House, an unfunded, grassroots, and highly successful revitalization and community empowerment project inspired by the Occupy movement that is making a major impact in the marginalized Sandwich Town neighbourhood of Windsor, Ontario.

Though it doesn’t get nearly the same attention as its flashier and more confrontational cousins like “direct action” or “demonstration” or “strike” or “protest,” one element in the repertoire of popular movements has always been “mutual aid” — marginalized people coming together to collectively support each other and meet each others needs, in the face of uncaring elites and dominant institutions.

TJ Travis grew up in Sandwich Town. It’s a very poor neighbourhood and many of its residents are marginalized in other ways as well. An artist, musician, and poet, Travis has also trained as a social worker, but was feeling dissatisfied with what conventional social work practice could actually do for communities. Instead, he and others took inspiration from their experience of the Occupy movement, and decided to bring the grassroots spirit of co-operation and mutual aid that Occupy encampents represented for so many to addressing marginalization and poverty in Sandiwch Town. They got access to a building in the neighbourhood — it’s Travis’ aunt that owns it — fixed it up, opened the space to the community, and waited to see what would happen.

And the community has responded with enthusiasm. With no major external funding, in less than two years they now have multiple locations in the neighbourhood, a community clean-up initiative, a food-share program, programming for children, a weekly community drum circle and potluck, rich arts-based programming for people of all ages, a soon-to-open arts-focused free school, and lots more. I talk with Travis about The Bloomfield House, where it came from, how it works, and the amazing mutual aid and grassroots community empowerment that it’s helping to catalyze in Sandwich Town.

To learn more about The Bloomfield House, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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Talking Radical Radio on iTunes!

You can now subscribe to the podcast of Talking Radical Radio via iTunes!

And of course TRR_logo_100x100there are numerous other ways to listen, including these station that broadcast it and Rabble.ca for the podcast.

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Radio — Mining justice: Local work in a global struggle

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Beth Dollaga talks about the work of the Mining Justice Alliance, a Vancouver-based coalition with a global analysis that works to oppose the harms caused by Canadian extractive industries.

When it comes to mining and other forms of resource extraction, Canada is something of a superpower. While our current government goes to great lengths to emphasize (some would say “exaggerate”) the economic importance of such activities, residents of many frontline communities point out the accompanying horrendous damage to the environment and health and, often, violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples — not only here in Canada, but by companies based here that are at work in every corner of the earth.

The Mining Justice Alliance is a coalition of groups and individuals committed to working against the many injustices fostered by the mining industry, with an understanding of the causes and impacts of those injustices that is resolutely global. They prioritize the perspectives and social justice concerns of frontline affected communities, particularly indigenous communities; seeing the connections between abuses in the Global South and institutions, laws, and practices found in Canada; and working to challenge the devastating impacts that so often produced by the mining industry. We spoke about the group, the broader political context, and the struggle against what they describe as “endemic injustice within Canada’s state-supported mining industry.”

To learn more about the Mining Justice Alliance, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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Radio — Exposing and challenging environmental racism in Nova Scotia

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Ingrid Waldron and Lorne Julien talk about the Environmental Noxiousness, Racial Inequities and Community Health — or ENRICH — Project, which aims to understand the health impacts of environemtnal racism on African Nova Scotian and Mi’qmak communities, and to support their struggles against it.

One of the many manifestations of how our lives, our communities, and our spaces are organized in colonial and racist ways is that, quite consistently across North America, environmentally hazardous land uses are more likley to be sited closer to and more densely in and around communities that are predominantly not white. Nova Scotia has relatively spatially distnct racialized communities, compared to many other parts of the country — in particular, longstanding African Nova Scotian communities and Mi’kmaq communities. And, tragically true to form, more sources of pollution have ended up being situated in and next to these communities than in and next to predominantly white spaces in the province.

Ingrid Waldron is a sociologist who is a professor in the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She is the lead researcher in the ENRICH Project, which aims to collect solid data about the health impacts of this inequitable distribution of hazards, to build community awareness and community organizing capacity, and to help catalyze cross-community alliances to respond to it. Lorne Julien is an artist, a member of Millbrook First Nation, and a community participant in the ENRICH Project. They talk with me about environmental racism in Nova Scotia, about the effected communities, about the project, and about how they see that work fitting into broader efforts to challenge environmental racism in the province.

To learn more about the ENRICH Project, click here. (As well, to take a look at Julien’s art, you can click here.)

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show in general, visit its website here. You can learn about suggesting topics for future shows here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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