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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BROKEN AUDIO LINKS

Hello, supporters of Talking Radical!

As I noted in a post earlier this week, Rabble.ca — the site that distributes the version of Talking Radical Radio for online listening — has undergone a major site upgrade. At the time, I was noting that because it meant this week’s episode had to go up a day later than usual. (It is now up and circulating and I encourage you to listen to it!)

However, it has just come to my attention that the upgrade has had some other challenging consequences for the TalkingRadical.ca site. One is that the feed that I embed with links to the Rabble.ca postings of the episodes is broken. That will, I think, be easy enough to fix in the next several days.

The other problem, however, is more serious. I don’t know a lot about what changes were made by Rabble.ca, but I think they may have switched hosting services for their podcast network. And for the episode posts on this site, I have almost always simply linked to the audio file as hosted by Rabble.ca. However, now all of the links are broken to all of the episodes except the one I posted today. While I know old episodes don’t get tons of traffic, and most that they do get is probably through the Rabble.ca site itself, I still will need to figure out how to fix this. It probably won’t happen immediately, but rest assured, I’m on it!

Thanks, as always, for your support of Talking Radical Radio and the larger Talking Radical project, and I encourage you to browse through the episodes from the last few months on Rabble.ca and listen to any that strike your fancy!

I’ll do my best to figure out a solution to this problem as soon as possible!

Scott 8)

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Radio — Anti-fascist organizing in Ontario and beyond

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Walter Tull, a long-time militant anti-fascist who is currently based in Toronto. Tull speaks about the wave of anti-fascist activity that peaked in the 1980s and 1990s, about his current involvement in Antifa International and the International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund, and about the need in our current moment for reinvigorated militant anti-fascism on the streets.TRR_feb20-24_2017_antifa_international_rect

Even just two years ago, it would’ve been hard to imagine that, in 2017, discussion of mainstream domestic politics in North America would have to include significant attention to fascism, white nationalism, and other variants of the far right. Yet you-know-who won the presidential election in the United States, and he, the inner circle he has brought with him to the White House, and a number of his most notorious supporters — who have in turn been boosted by his win to unprecedented mainstream visilibity — make such discussion tragically inescapable.

Of course even when liberal democracy has been at its most robust and most liberal, there has never been an absence of massive systemic violence of various sorts directed against all manner of people designated in one way another as Other — from deportations to drone attacks, from austerity to racist police violence, from colonial land theft to growing wealth inequality, from rampant misogyny to a neverending parade of violent Western interventions in countries of the Global South. Still, the presence at the pinnacle of the most powerful state in the world of the kinds of figures that dominate this administration is taking us into new and uncharted territory. Events are moving very fast, and predicting consequences even in the near term remains difficult and fraught.

One thing, however, is certain: This new moment is sure to embolden street-level fascist and extreme racist organizations. Indeed, we have already begun to see it, both south of the border and here in Canada. And history proves that when such organizations are numerous and bold, and when they are able to occupy public space at will, they directly threaten the safety of people of colour, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ people, disabled people, and more.

Such violence has never gone unopposed, however. While liberal anti-fascists often attempt to appeal to reason and to the authorities, there is also a long tradition — in Canada as elsewhere — of militant street-level anti-fascism that relies not on police but on mobilizing people willing to engage in confrontational action to deny fascists and extreme racists access to public space. The last wave of militant anti-fascism began in the 1980s, when groups like Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (or SHARP) and the Anti-Racist Action Network (or ARA) mobilized in militant, street-level ways in cities across the continent. Toronto and Montreal had two of the most well developed ARA chapters, and they existed in many other Canadian cities as well. In the early 2000s, after the wave of street-level fascist activity to which this anti-fascism was responding was beaten back, ARA faded away. But many of the militants who were active back then are still around, and both they and a major influx of younger radicals are not hesitating today. According to today’s guest, they are actively getting organized, and they have no intention of ceding even an inch of public space to fascists.

Walter Tull has been active in anti-fascist organizing for close to two and a half decades. Starting in the 1990s, he was involved in both SHARP and ARA in a number of cities. Currently, he lives in Toronto, and in recent years has been part of Antifa International, which is an online initiative that uses Tumblr and Facebook to circulate and translate news of anti-fascist organzing from around the world, and part of the International Anti-Fascist Defence Fund, a multi-national effort that raises money to defend and support anti-fascists who need material assistance.

Tull talks with me about the earlier era of anti-fascist organizing in Canada, about the organizations in which he is currently involved, about the basics of militant anti-fascist politics, and about the kinds of responses we need in the face of the resurgent far right in our current, very dangerous, moment.

You can learn about Antifa International here. You can learn about the International Anti-Fascist Defence fund here and you can donate to the fund 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 check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

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

The image that was modified for use in this post is the background image of the North End Community Action Committee’s website.

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This week’s episode = 1 day late

Hello, supporters of Talking Radical!

Just a quick heads up that this week’s episode will be appearing a day later than usual. As you know, the show is distributed for online listening by Rabble.ca, and they are busily putting the finishing touches on a major site upgrade — they are up and running, and the new site looks great, but I’m told that it won’t be possible to upload podcasts until tomorrow. So hold tight, and an important new episode on the past, present, and future of anti-fascist organizing in Ontario and beyond should appear in your inbox on Thursday!

The show *should* be appearing on those community radio stations that broadcast it on its usual days and times, as most stations get the episode by mechanisms other than Rabble. So if that’s how you listen, just sit back and enjoy as usual. (And if your local community station doesn’t broadcast the show and you’d like it to, please have your program manager email me at this address and we can work out the details. )

Thanks for your patience!

Scott 8)

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Radio — Black youth opposing gentrification and empowering community

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Kyturea Jones, Payton Ashe, and Donntayia Jones. They are members of the North End Community Action Committee, a Black youth-led community group in Halifax’s North End that came together around concerns about the gentrification of their neighbourhood and that has become involved in a wide range of issues focused on empowering both Black youth and the communities they live in.

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Not a lot of people outside of Nova Scotia know the story of Africville, but they should. Africville was a historic African-Nova Scotian community in Halifax, on the Bedford Basin. It was a poor yet resilient place, dense with ties of kinship and community. Its residents, for the most part, owned their homes, paid their taxes, and went about their lives. But over the course of the first half of the 20th century, those in charge of urban planning in Halifax sited increasing numbers of noxious land uses — things like a dump and various industrial uses — right next to Africville, with no consideration for the input or well-being of residents. Then in the late 1960s, these same powers-that-be decided that Africville was no longer a healthy place to live, and they evicted the entire community — and in that process, thereby made the land available for other uses, by other people.

This episode of Talking Radical Radio is not about Africville. Rather, it is about Halifax’s North End — a neighbourhood in which quite a few of those evicted from Africville ended up living. As long ago as 2008, a visiting scholar specializing in urban issues warned that what had happened to Africville could well happen to Uniacke Square, a major public housing complex in the neighbourhood, and to the North End community more broadly. Jim Silver was quoted as saying, “So far as I know, there’s not a plan afoot … But there are broad social forces at work that will bring about the same end.”

Move forward to just the last couple of years: A few Black youth from the North End were in a meeting with the local regional councillor. From her, they learned that in fact there was a plan — or, if not quite yet a finished plan, at least a process that was well underway to develop a plan that would lay out an approach to development and re-development in a section of the city that includes the North End. For the most part, residents had no idea this was happening.

This was in the context of these youth already seeing signs of gentrification in their neighbourhood. Gentrification is a process in which urban space is re-made in ways that threaten to push out existing residents so that other people can make money — a sort of creeping 21st-century version of the same logic that destroyed Africville. So far, the most visible signs in the North End have been the opening of new businesses. The youth stress that they have no objection to new businesses in principle. The problem is, in contrast to the older, established businesses in the North End, many of the new ones are clearly not intended to cater to existing residents, particularly those with lower incomes. In fact, many seem to be run by people who don’t know the community, who don’t seem to want to know the community, and who often regard community residents — particularly Black residents — with suspicion and unwelcome.

Given all of this, these youth knew that it was important to make sure that community voices got heard as the city developed what it was calling the “Centre Plan,” so they formed the North End Community Action Committee — “a community based, youth-led initiative with goals aimed towards assuring the voices and concerns of Black youth, marginalized communities, and North-End residents get addressed. With the overall objective of empowering black youth to better the communities they live in.”

In the last year, the group has mobilized residents to get their voices heard in the planning process, in the hopes of heading off the dangers of gentrification (with all of its echoes of Africville). They’ve also contributed to community improvement efforts, like a street painting project. They’ve begun to get involved in work to make the city’s schools more responsive to the needs of Black youth. And they are in the process of setting up their own mentorship program.

Jones, Ashe, and Jones speak with me about Halifax’s North End and about the work of the North End Community Action Committee. To learn more about the North End Community Action Committee, check out the group’s website, or find it on Facebook or Twitter.

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 check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

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

The image that was modified for use in this post is the background image of the North End Community Action Committee’s website.

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Radio — Defending social movements against digital threats

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Dmitri Vitaliev. He is a co-founder and director of eQualit.ie, a non-profit based in Montreal that helps human rights organizations and social movements — including some of the world’s most prominent — deal with increasingly crucial questions of online security and digital privacy.

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Information technology and the many resources and tools that comprise the online world are, for better or worse, integral to how most activist and organizing efforts in North America today do their work. Yet according to today’s guest, activists and organizers in this country are considerably less aware than those in most of the rest of the world when it comes both to the digital threats they face (from surveillance to disruption) and to the skills and tools necessary to counter these threats.

Dmitri Vitaliev is an IT professional who has for many years specialized in digital security and privacy technology in support of people who are engaged in independent media work and people who are on the frontlines of struggles for rights, justice, and freedom around the world. He has done a great deal of work to create resources and to build knowledge and capacity on these questions among activists and organizers.

In recent years, that work has primarily happened in the context of eQualit.ie, an organization that defines its mission as being “to promote and defend fundamental freedoms and human rights” through working to “create accessible technology and improve the skill set needed for defending human rights and freedoms in the digital age.” They aim to do this in large part through creating digital tools of various kinds, but also through education and capacity building. One area of particular expertise has been defending activist websites against what are called “distributed denial of service” attacks, a means of online attack meant to knock websites offline. Though most of the groups that they work with prefer not to be named, a couple of prominent websites they have been enlisted to protect and that have given permission to be identified publicly include Black Lives Matter in the United States and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (or BDS) movement that emerged from Palestinian civil society and has been taken up around the world.

Vitaliev talks with me about his own history of contributions to human rights work as an IT professional, about the work of eQualit.ie, about the relatively low level of interest and knowledge on these questions among many activist and organizers in North America, and about what we can do to start changing that.

To learn more about the work of eQualit.ie, 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 check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

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

The image that was modified for use in this post is the logo of eQualit.ie, taken from its website.

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Radio — Cockroach Zine: DIY feminist publishing

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Meg Crane. She is a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and she publishes a grassroots ecofeminist publication called Cockroach Zine.

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When Crane was younger, she was someone who cared a lot about the suffering in the world but she felt powerless to do anything about it. Then, at a pivotal moment in her teens, she realized that you didn’t need to be someone richer, or someone older, or someone more important to take action — you, whoever you happened to be, could act, could make a difference in people’s lives.

Also in her teen years, Crane read a lot of feminist publications, but none of them were quite what she wanted. Many of them came from the United States, and she also found many of them pretty depressing. What she really wanted was a publication local enough to touch on the issues most relevant to her, and one that took a more uplifting kind of tone.

In 2011, she started the Creative Communications program at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and in the second year of that program part of the curriculum was to do a major independent project. She realized this was her opportunity to create the Canadian feminist publication that she felt was lacking. She called it Cockroach Zine.

All along, Cockroach Zine has been not just feminist but — reflecting Crane’s passion for environmental issues as well as feminist issues — it has been ecofeminist. For Crane, an important element of feminism is the idea of justice for all people, and the importance of a sort of caring for all people. Similarly, her environmentalism is about extending justice and care to the rest of the planet. So the two naturally blend together in her understanding of the world.

Crane enjoyed the process of making that first issue, and it felt useful and empowering. Four and half years later, she hasn’t stopped. It comes out six times a year and publishes submissions from people across Canada. She circulates it in on-the-ground ways mostly in Winnipeg, but she has slowly been building up a subscription base among feminists not just across Canada but also in the U.S. At the beginning, it had more of a journalistic focus, but now much of what you can find in Cockroach Zine is things like personal essays about important feminist and environmental issues, related creative content like art and poetry, and also guides for do-it-yourself making of things like food and crafts. Along with its core ecofeminist commitment, Crane takes an approach to the zine that tries to be intersectional and sex-positive, and she works to ensure that the voices and issues of concern to queer, trans, and racialized people are present.

Crane talks with me about the trajectory of Cockroach Zine, the work of publishing it, and the politics informing it.

To learn more about Cockroach Zine, 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 check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

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

The image that was modified for use in this post is from the Twitter feed of Cockroach Zine.

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Radio — Canada 150 and the violation of an Algonquin Anishinaabe sacred site

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Lynn Gehl and Lindsay Lambert. Gehl is an Algonquin woman who traces her roots to the Ottawa River Valley, though she herself lives in Peterborough, Ontario. She holds a PhD in Indigenous Studies, and is a writer and activist. Lindsay Lambert is a white settler man, a historian, and also a writer. Both have been involved in the fight against the ongoing colonial development of the Chaudiere Falls and the three associated islands — a sacred site to the Algonquin Anishinaabe people that is, in the year of Canada 150, slated to be turned into condominiums.

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It’s not even the end of January, and already there have been no shortage of Indigenous and other anti-colonial voices pointing out how this year’s lavish Canada 150 sesquicentennial celebrations are an expensive, tasteless addition to the long list of ways in which the feel-good rhetoric from the Trudeau Liberals about a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples is amounting to little more than a cover for the same old settler colonial substance. From pipeline approvals to land claim processes, from unequal funding for Indigenous child welfare to contaminated water in reserve communities, little seems to have changed except the packaging. And in that context, it is hard to see Canada 150 as anything other than a celebration and continuation of the settler colonial violence that has spanned that century and a half.

Today’s episode is about one specific instance, among the many across the country, that seems packed with poignant symbolism: The ongoing willful violation of a sacred Indigenous site in the heart of Ottawa — the Chaudiere Falls and three nearby islands, which sit in the Ottawa River just west of Parliament — that is happening with the blessing of the Trudeau Liberals.

The land on which Ottawa sits is unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe land. The falls and the islands have been a sacred site not only to the Algonquins but to many other Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. They were a site of meeting, of peace-making, of ceremony. As colonization took place and Ottawa took shape, the falls and the island were taken over by industry, particularly the lumber industry, with a dam completely effacing the falls in 1908. Yet even in the mid-20th century, the official planning process that set the mandate for the National Capital Commission recognized that industrial uses would not last forever and recommended that the area be re-naturalized.

A little later, a respected Algonquin elder, the late Grandfather William Commanda, put forth a similar vision: Return the falls and islands to Algonquin stewardship and control, free the falls from the dam and otherwise re-naturalize the area, and — in the spirit of the traditional use of the islands as a meeting place for different nations — construct a centre for reconciliation and healing on one of the islands. As the final lumber company wrapped up its operations, it was widely expected in the community that this, indeed, would happen. Yet a couple of years before the end of their mandate, the Harper Conservatives made a shift. Suddenly, the land was promised to a private property developer called Windmill. The plan is now to use the islands to build condominiums. Trudeau has replaced Harper, but this plan to violate a sacred Indigenous site right in the heart of Ottawa is slated to continue moving forward in 2017 with the full support of the Canadian state.

Gehl and Lambert talk with me about the significance and sacredness of the site for Indigenous peoples, the history of colonial development there, the recent fight to realize Grandfather Commanda’s vision, and the significance of the ongoing violation of this sacredness in the context of Canada 150.

To more learn about the interview participants and the issues, check out Gehl’s website; an episode of Talking Radical Radio from August 2016 with members of Stop Windmill, a settler solidarity group that has been very active on the issue; and the sites for Free the Falls, Stop Windmill, and It Is Sacred.

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 check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

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

The image that was modified for use in this post was from the website of Lynn Gehl.

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