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 — Students fighting to raise the minimum wage

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Jessica Chen and Jermaul Newell. They are students at York University in Toronto and are active with the campus chapter of the Fight for $15 and Fairness, which is working to raise the minimum wage, improve basic employment standards, and build solidarity between students and workers.
TRR_mar20-24_2017_f15f_york_rect
The extensive mobilizing by low-wage workers pushing to raise the minimum wage has been one of the most widespread and energetic movements of recent years. It has taken different forms in different jurisdictions, but across North America these campaigns have come together under the common banner of the Fight for $15, which encapsulates the core demand of a raise in the minimum wage to $15/hr. Though the outcomes of these campaigns have also varied from place to place, they have won at least some level of increase in minimum wages in a lot of jursidictions, and they have won commitments to phase in the full $15/hr amount in more than few.

Though bringing the minimum wage up to more liveable levels is the most visible demand in pretty much all of these campaigns, on some level they are also about more than dollars and cents. Whether it is present mainly in the details of the many stories that low-wage workers tell about their lives, or whether it finds expression in concrete demands, all of these campaigns convey a more expansive vision of dignity and a message of solidarity. They are about all of the many ways that low-wage workers get ground down because of how employers are allowed to treat them, and about their growing determination to stand together and get that changed.

Ontario is one of the jurisdictions where demands beyond the minimum wage level have been most clearly articulated, in part because the provincial government has been undertaking its first exhaustive review of the rules around basic employment standards in two decades. In Ontario, the campaign is called the Fight for $15 and Fairness.

Along with regular actions in communities across the province — often anchored by workers centres, labour councils, anti-poverty groups, and other kinds of organizations — the Fight for $15 and Fairness has also included plenty of campus-based organizing. This is really not surprising: Years ago, when it came to grassroots politics, the categories of “student” and “worker” were treated as separate, and the political work done by activists in their respective millieus was often quite distinct. Increasingly today, however, students have no choice but to be waged workers as well. Tuition in Ontario is among the highest in Canada and lots of students can only afford to pay for school, rent, food, and all the rest by working one, two, or even more jobs. And most jobs available to youth pay the minimum wage or only slightly more.

Jessica Chen is a third-year student at York University in Toronto. She works two minimum wage jobs in the service industry, so she has a very personal stake in raising the minimum wage and in improving basic employment standards. Jermaul Newell is a seond-year student at York. He also works for a wage, but in his case it’s in a unionized position in the auto sector. This means the issues of the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign don’t impact him directly, but he participates because he believes that solidarity among workers in different situations is crucial to making advances for all working people.

Chen and Newell tell me about the broader Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign and about how it is playing out at York University. In particular, they illustrate very clearly how the campaign as it is happening at York may have begun from the strong hook of the $15/hr wage demand, but has quickly built to a broader vision of better lives for low-wage workers. Yes, like most Fight for $15 and Fairness groups across the province, they are mobilizing to put pressure on the provincial government as we draw closer to the expected summer release of the final report from the employment standards review. But the York group goes even farther: They are part of broader efforts to build alliances between students and workers on the campus. They played a role in supporting the recent strike by food service workers on campus employed by private-sector giant Aramark, who demanded and won a raise to $15/hr. And they see it as essential to talk about how racial justice and economic justice are tied together, and to name and challenge racism as an integral part of building the solidarity necessary to win dignity and better lives for all workers.

You can learn more about the provincial Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign and about the chapter at York University.

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 modified for use in this post is used by permission of Fight for $15 and Fairness – York University.

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Radio — Defending Indigenous land in the far north

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Bobbi Rose Koe and Chris Rider about the long collaboration between Indigenous nations and conservation groups to protect the Yukon’s Peel watershed from industrial development. Along with a lengthy public information and advocacy campaign, in recent years Protect the Peel has also involved a court battle that will reach the Supreme Court of Canada on March 22.

The watershed of the Peel River encompasses an area in the northereastern Yukon that is larger than the province of Nova Scotia. It is one of the largest unroaded natural areas in the world, and is the territory of four First Nations.

The use of land in the Yukon is currently governed by agreements finalized in the 1990s among most of the First Nations in the territory, the Yukon government, and the government of Canada. These agreements include substantial requirements for consultation with and input from those nations whose territories will be impacted by land use decisions. When the land use planning process was begun for the Peel watershed in the early 2000s, all of the First Nations in the area plus the conservation groups with which they were working took the position that 100% of the watershed must be protected from industrial development. The process was extensive, lasting seven years, and resulted in a compromise that the First Nations and the conservation groups were not thrilled about but that they accepted: 80% of the watershed would be protected, even from the building of roads, while 20% would be opened for development.

Around the same time as the final report of the land-use planning process was released, however, the territorial government released it’s own report saying that rather than abide by the seven years of good-faith consultation and negotiation, they had unilaterally decided that they would protect only 30% of the watershed and open the rest up to industry.

Already by this point, for many years Protect the Peel had been a highly effective public education and public pressure campaign. It had succeeded in raising public conscioussness in the Yukon about the importance of preserving the watershed and had also made significant strides in connecting with people far beyond the territory. With the government announcement that it intended to open up the majority of the watershed to industry, the First Nations leadership and the conservation organizations decided they had no choice but to build on this public campaign with a robust legal challenge as well.

In 2014, the Yukon Supreme Court delivered a stinging rebuke to the territorial government, which was ordered to abide by the outcome of the land-use planning process with no option for introducing changes that would protect any less than the 80% figure in the original compromise. In 2015, the Yukon government appealed this ruling. While the Yukon Court of Appeal agreed with much of the earlier decision’s criticism of the Yukon government’s actions, it granted permission to re-boot the land-use planning process to a much earlier stage that would end up allowing the government to force through a major reduction in the percentage of land ultimately protected.

On March 22 of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada will be hearing an appeal by the First Nations and the conservation groups. Though the new Yukon government elected in late 2016 takes a much more pro-conservation stance than its predecessor, the case is continuing, and the court will decide whether or not the government will be bound by the earlier process to fully protect 80% of the watershed. All through the legal process, the public education and advocacy component of Protect the Peel has been contninuing, and there will be a series of public events in March in both Whitehorse and Ottawa.

Bobbi Rose Koe is a member of the Tetlit Gwich’in nation who lives in Fort McPherson. She is active in Protect the Peel and is one of the leaders of Youth of the Peel, a group of Indigenous people committed to reconnecting other Indigenous youth with the watershed and teaching them skills. Chris Rider is the executive director of the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, or CPAWS, one of the conservation groups active in defending the Peel watershed. They speak with me about the land, about the long public campaign to protect it, and about the legal process that will culminate in the Supreme Court of Canada later this month.

To learn more about the Protect the Peel campaign and the legal battle, 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 modified for use in this post was taken by Peter Mather for Protect the Peel. Used by permission of Protect the Peel.

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Radio — Images of Black protest

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Julie Crooks. She is an independent curator, an instructor at the University of Toronto, and a co-founder of Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue (BAND). She speaks about the recent photography exhibition No Justice, No Peace: From Ferguson to Toronto, and about photography as a tool for social change.

Jalani Morgan, from the series Black Reckoning, April 4, 2016. Courtesy of the artist

Jalani Morgan, from the series Black Reckoning, April 4, 2016. Courtesy of the artist

Since the invention in the 19th century of the first processes for capturing photographic images, such visual representations have come to take on an ever more important role in the ways we make and communicate meaning about the world. As with all other media, images provide not some sort of simple window into capital-T Truth but rather a way for particular creators and institutions to make claims about what is real and imporant, and what is not. Photography can thus be a tool of oppression and exploitation and a weapon of the powerful; but it can also be a tool of liberation and a weapon in the hands of those struggling for justice.

Crooks co-curated the No Justice, No Peace exhibition, which was shown from February 2 to 26 at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. This exhibition was one element in a larger season of exhibitions that is still ongoing, called Power to the People: Photography and Video of Repression and Black Protest (presented by the Ryerson Image Centre and BAND).

The broader season of exhibitions features a number of key figures, moments, and places in struggles — particularly Black struggles — in North America. One exhibition show images from the famous Attica prison uprising of 1971. Another commemorates the 1963 church bombing in Birmgingham, Alabama. Others feature images of Black radicals like Angela Davis, David Hilliard, and Kathleen Cleaver.

Crooks, however, talks mainly about the No Justice, No Peace exhibition, which had a focus on contemporary struggle and worked to position “photography at the forefront during an era of heightened global protests and systemic violence by police.” It featured work from artists Zun Lee, Jalani Morgan, and Nation Cheong. Zun Lee’s images were taken during the fateful protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in the aftermath of the police murder of Michael Brown — protests that were an important early eruption in the Black Lives Matter movement. Jalani Morgan’s work depicts some of the vital and powerful actions taken by Black Lives Matter – Toronto over the last few years. And Nation Cheong’s images feature various other scenes of contemporary grassroots political activity in the Toronto context.

Crooks speaks with me about the No Justice, No Peace exhibition; about the contiuums of both anti-Black racism and Black resistance that are just as present in Canada as south of the border, and just as crucial today as in days gone by; and about the place of photography in struggles for justice and liberation today.

To learn more about No Justice, No Peace: From Ferguson to Toronto, click here. To learn more about Power to the People: Photography and Video of Repression and Black Protest, which is still ongoing at the Ryerson Image Centre, 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.

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Audio links are fixed!

Hello, supporters of Talking Radical!

I posted late last week about how the major site upgrade at Rabble.ca — the main mechanism for listening online to Talking Radical Radio — had the unexpected consequences of breaking every single audio link for the show on TalkingRadical.ca.

Most of the last week has been spent addressing that problem. There were a couple of different ways that I could have done it, but I ended up deciding to create an account on SoundCloud.com and host all of the episodes there in addition to their home at Rabble.ca.

Here is a recap of the ways you can listen to Talking Radical Radio:

1) On select community radio stations across Canada. This list is a bit out of date, but it is a place to start in seeing whether your local station carries it: http://talkingradical.ca/how-do-i-listen/

2) If your local station doesn’t carry it but you want it to, you can put them in touch with me at scottneigh[at]talkingradical.ca. (There are a few different ways that stations can get the broadcast version of the show, either directly from me or via the National Campus and Community Radio Association’s Community RadioExchange site.)

3) Of course you can continue to go where most online listeners find the show, Rabble.ca (and be sure to check out their snazzy new site while you’re there!): http://rabble.ca/podcasts/shows/talking-radical-radio

4) And of course you can also always find the show at http://talkingradical.ca/radio/

5) Now you can also stream it or download it from SoundCloud.com. This is useful, because the new configuration of Rabble.ca does not currently allow listeners to download the MP3 for offline listening, but folks who prefer to listen that way are able to do that at SoundCloud. Check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/scott-neigh-talking-radical

6) Some of you may also find it useful to have the feed for the episodes as hosted on SoundCloud: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:291116396/sounds.rss

I will continue to make small changes to the TalkingRadical.ca site over the next couple of days.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for listening!

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Radio — Seeking justice for Nadine Machiskinic

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Delores Stevenson. Her niece, Nadine Machiskinic, died on January 10, 2015. Since that day, Stevenson and other members of the family have been pushing for a proper investigation and for some kind of justice — in the last year, with the formal support of a coalition of groups and individuals called Justice for Nadine.TRR_feb27-mar3_2017_justice_for_nadine_rect

When Nadine was found unconscious in the laundry room of a hotel in Regina, Saskatchewan, hotel staff did not notify the police. When Nadine died in hospital a couple of hours later, still nobody notified the police. It was only 60 hours after she was originally found that someone — a coroner — decided that the death under mysterious circumstances of an Indigenous woman who had experienced physical injury warranted police attention.

While the investigation that began at that point produced an official conclusion that Nadine’s death involved no foul play, the family and many in the community are highly skeptical of this conclusion. Her death was caused by falling 10 stories down a laundry chute, but how she got into the laundry chute to begin with has never been adequately explained. Nor have the details of who she had been with on the 10th floor, or what role they might have played in her death. The investigation was marked by delays, errors, and contradictions, and left the family with an overarching sense that authorities were not taking it seriously.

Though Delores Stevenson is Nadine’s aunt, they were close in age and had a relationship more like sisters. During the active investigation, she persistently sought answers from the police and the coroner, and because of their reluctance to provide answers she frequently had little choice but to take her questions to the media. Though she still does not have all of the answers that she wants, and certainly has not found the justice that Nadine deserves, the persistence of Stevenson and of Justice for Nadine, and their hard work to keep the case in the public eye through events and media work, have definitely had an impact. Their persistence played a role in unearthing the fact that toxicology samples were not sent for analysis until many months after they should have been, for instance, and the fact that two very contradictory autopsy reports were issued. Already the case has resulted in a provincial review of the coroner’s office in Saskatchewan, and Nadine’s death will be subject to a formal coroner’s inquest in March. Currently, Stevenson and Justice for Nadine are raising money with the crowdfunding site GoFundMe so that the family can be represented by a lawyer at the inquest.

Stevenson talks with me about Nadine, about the case, about the broader issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and about the hard work of trying to find some justice for Nadine.

For more information about the case and about Justice for Nadine, go here. To help the family hire a lawyer for the coroner’s inquest, go here.

p>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 taken from the Justice for Nadine Facebook page and is used with permission.

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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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