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 — A new model of multi-issue social justice organizing in Oshawa

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, organizers Tiffany Balducci and Jim Freeman talk about We Are Oshawa, a new organization working on multiple social justice issues in a small Ontario city.

Oshawa is a city of just over 150,000 people on the north shore of Lake Ontario, east of Toronto. A centre of auto manufacturing, it was also the birthplace of industrial unionism in this country, after a crucial strike in 1937. Though certainly not as hard hit as some manufacturing communities across North America, things like unemployment, poverty, and income inequality have a presence in the community today in a way that just wasn’t the case 40 years ago.

New times require new ways of struggling to create change. We Are Oshawa is a new-ish group, and when you hear it described — what it draws from past struggles, how it goes about its work, who it involves — it sounds just like common sense, like the sort of thing that’s probably already happening everywhere. Yet it’s not at all clear to me that that is the case — We Are Oshawa is actually, I think, quite an exciting experiment. It is multi-issue. It is quite pointedly not a coalition, but rather a horizontal, democratic membership organization whose political focus is determined by those members. It involves labour activists, students, community activists, environmentalists, retired people, youth, and more. It is campaign-based, it emphasizes creative actions, and it seems able to apply a healthy share of strategic thinking. It combines newer activist tools like social media with a major emphasis on older approaches that many groups today don’t do nearly as much as they should — things like face-to-face encounters, door-knocking, and canvassing. Balducci and Freeman talk with me about the group, its campaigns and actions so far, and its approach to mobilizing people.

To learn more about We Are Oshawa, 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 the recently revamped 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 — Laying groundwork for resisting tar sands pipelines in Quebec

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, climate justice organizers Aurore Fauret and Lily Schwarzbaum talk about “La marche des Peuples pour la Terre Mère,” a month-long walk across Quebec that connected urban radicals with activists in communities under threat from proposed tar sands pipelines.

As the resistance on the west coast intensifies to the various dangerous efforts to export the climate-destroying hydrocarbons from the Alberta tar sands, so various pathways to export them eastwards have grown in importance. And as a consequence, resistance is heating up in the east as well. Back in May and June, one of the first major mobilizations of both francophone and anglophone youth in Quebec against the tar sands took place. On one level, “La marche des Peuples pour la Terre Mère” was a powerfully symbolic action, as people walked for 34 days along proposed and actual pipeline routes stretching 700 kms across the province. More fundamentally, however, the walk was a crucial exercise in laying groundwork. Along every step of the way, relationships, consciousness, and skills were built — not just among the upwards of 350 people who marched for at least one of the 34 days, but with and among the many more who participated in events and activities in each of the many communities the march passed through. City-based climate justice organizers and people in front line communities shared stories and skills and got to know one another. Veterans of the massive 2012 student strike and those who live on the land through which bitumen might be piped began to talk, to learn from each other. As the pipeline process advances in Quebec and the need for climate justice resistance instensifies, this will likely be a potent combination. Fauret and Schwarzbaum are climate justice organizers who were heavily involved in the walk, and they tell me about how it came to be, what they did along the way, and what they forsee in the future.

To learn more the walk, 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 the recently revamped 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 Peoples’ Social Forum: A pan-Canadian/Quebec/Indigenous movement convergence

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, organizers Sakura Saunders and Greg Macdougall talk about the Peoples’ Social Forum. It will be the first pan-Canadian/Quebec/Indigenous convergence of movements and communities-in-struggle to draw people from across the northern half of Turtle Island, and it is happening in Ottawa from August 21 to 24.

The finishing touches are still being put on the plans for the event, but it looks impressive. The planning process has spanned three years. There will be more than 500 workshops, amazing keynote events, and lots of artistic and cultural activities, as well as what are being called “movement assemblies” — opportunities for focused strategizing among people involved in the same struggles in different places. Attendance is expected to number well into the thousands. The vision for the event depends heavily on self-organization by participants, so what comes out of it will depend on what those of us who show up put into it, but hopes are running high that it won’t just be a chance to meet and talk, but a chance to start things.

Saunders has a long history of working on mining justice issues as well as with alternative media, and she has been heavily involved in the central layer of organizing for the forum. Macdougall’s organizing background is in indigenous solidarity, education, and alternative media, and his role in prepping for the forum has mostly been as a central organizer in one of the fifteen movement assemblies that will be happening there — in his case, it’s the Alternative Media Movement Assembly. (Talking Radical, too, has been involved in supporting that piece of the work, though in a much more limited way than Macdougall.) I speak with them about the organizing that has been building towards the social forum, about what they expect from the event, and about the importance of the movement assemblies in general and the Alternative Media Movement Assembly in particular.

To learn more about the Peoples’ Social Forum, please click here. To learn more about the Alternative Media Movement Assembly, 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 the recently revamped 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 — Islam and social justice at Toronto’s Noor Cultural Centre

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Samira Kanji and Azeezah Kanji talk about the work of the Noor Cultural Centre in support of a vision of social justice grounded in Islamic teachings.

Many non-religious progressive and radical folks in North America have trouble wrapping their heads around the grounding in faith that is crucial to many who work for social justice. And to the the extent that this is understood, it often goes as far as a nod to strands of Christianity like the social gospel and liberation theology, and no further. The ways in which, for many, Islam is a powerful resource for understanding and acting in the world that calls for and guides towards social justice is often completely off the radar.

Samira and Azeezah Kanji are a mother and daughter who are part of Toronto’s Noor Cultural Centre, a place of Islamic worship and education. Samira is the centre’s President and CEO, and Azeezah works with both her mother and her sister to organize the programming at the centre. A key element to the centre’s work is a concern for social justice along multiple axes, grounded in Islamic teachings and ethics. Samira and Azeezah talk with me about the critical education work they do with the congregation and beyond around questions as diverse as poverty, animal rights, and globalization; about the ways that their vision of justice is integrated into worship at the centre; and about their work against Islamophobia in local, national, and global contexts. Particularly timely is their role in organizing a recent public statement calling for an end to the “callous devaluation of Palestinian life communicated by [Canadian] political leaders,” and signed by hundreds of academics and cultural luminaries from many places, institutions, disciplines, faiths, and communities across the country.

To learn more about the Noor Cultural Centre, please click here. To see the statement calling on Canadian political leaders to take a more just stand in response to the massacre in Gaza, 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 the recently revamped 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 — Fighting racism and settler colonialism in Thunder Bay

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Jana-Rae Yerxa and Damien Lee talk about the work of the Biskaabiiyang Collective in the face of both longstanding and recently intensified racism and settler colonialism in Thunder Bay.

Thunder Bay is a small city on the north shore of Lake Superior, in northwestern Ontario. Like pretty much everywhere in Canada, racism has long been a daily reality for residents of the city who are not white. Like most communities with roots in resource extraction industries, the racism faced by indigenous people in the city has always had a particular charcter and intensity. In the last six months, though, there has been a significant upsurge in racism in the city.

Yerxa is from Couchiching First Nation and lives in Thunder Bay, and Lee is from Fort William First Nation, which is right next to the city. In response to this recent upsurge, they and a number other Anishinaabeg people in the city have formed the Biskaabiiyang Collective. They organized a teach-in for indigenous people in the city to discuss racism and settler colonialism and equip themselves to better respond to it in ways grounded in Anishinaabeg traditions, political orders, and philosophy. They have been providing some loose input to a group of settlers — that is, non-indigenous people in the city — who have been organizing separately to respond to the racism. And they have been clearly naming the inadequacy of the official responses, which have amounted to a focus on educating white people about indigenous people, with little or no attention to racism and white supremacy as structural things, and no mention at all of white supremacy as a tool of settler colonialism. Yerxa and Lee talk with me about the situation in Thunder Bay, about the work of the Biskaabiiyang Collective, and about what needs to happen to challenge white supremacy and settler colonialism.

To learn more about the Biskaabiiyang Collective, you can follow them on 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 in general, visit the recently revamped 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 — Activist seniors raising a ruckus in Edmonton

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Carol Wodak and Noel Somerville talk about the Seniors Action and Liason Team, or SALT, a grassroots group of older adults in Edmonton that organizes around seniors’ issues and around social justice issues more broadly.

Grassroots effort to change the world is often portrayed as exclusively the province of the young. Notwithstanding the crucial role that youth do in fact play in many movements the world over, this stereotype manages to combine being wrong with being dismissive of almost every element it contains. The way it is usually intended gives a flavour to both activism and youth of being a bit foolish and both things that one outgrows. And while at the more obvious level it contrasts that with the wisdom of age, it also implies a certain incapacity and a certain disengagement that are hardly complementary to older adults either. And as I said, none of these things hold up to scrutiny.

SALT has been around since the 1990s and has tackled a wide range of issues in a wide range of ways, and Wodak and Somerville have both been involved with the group for around a decade. They spoke with me about SALT, about some of the issues it has tackled — including the woeful state of elder care in Alberta and the general erosion of democracy in this country — as well as the tactics they have taken up, from pamphleteering to public education to a successful occupation of an MLA’s office earlier in the year.

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 the recently revamped 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 — Kicking war off campus: Demilitarize McGill

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Kevin Paul and Arabella Colombier talk about the past and present of student organizing to get military research off the campus of McGill University in Montreal.

The popular image of the university is as an institution that’s a little bit apart from the so-called “real” world. But universities are not separate from the world; they are very much a part of it. And even if undue attention sometimes goes to those few small corners of universities that have been carved out by struggle and used for critical or even radical knowledge production, much more common on almost every campus is work that contributes in massive and crucial ways to reproducing the oppressive status quo. That means a lot of different things at different institutions, but one is involvement in research that has horrific impacts on the world — research that serves environmentally destructive industries, for instance. Or research for military purposes, that supports the killing of civilians and the perpetuation of global injustice.

Kevin and Arabella are members of Demilitarize McGill. This group, founded in the aftermath of the massive student strike in Quebec in 2012, builds on a long tradition of students at Montreal’s largest anglophone university organizing against the significant levels of military research that have long been done on that campus. When this incarnation of the group began, few people at McGill even knew that such research was taking place, but now it is a regular topic of campus conversation. And to the regular work of wrestling information from the secretive university administration and publicizing what actually happens at this supposedly public institution, they have also been taking action to disrupt this research. They talk with me about exactly what kinds of military research are happening at McGill, about what that says about the social role of the university, and about the actions they’ve taken in response.

To learn more about Demilitarize McGill, 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 the recently revamped 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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