EquitableEducation.ca

~~~~~~ Learning a better world ~~~~ with Greg Macdougall

Hi, here’s a short (3m45s) video message from me explaining a bit about what EquitableEducation.ca is about, and why you might consider putting your email in the box on the right-hand side of this site in order to receive (low-traffic) email updates from me.

 

 

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Pam Palmater on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls; Walking With Our Sisters; and, Extending the Conversation. As published in the Leveller Vol 7 No 6 (March 2015)

Also available with a fourth article, “Survivors Lead in Fighting Indigenous Women Crisis” by Francella Fiallos, in online viewer or as a printable two-page 11×17 pdf file
 

by Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca

 

Pam Palmater on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls

mmiw-palmater

Root Causes, Public Discourse, and Call for a National Inquiry and Emergency Action Plan

The following three sections consist of direct quotes and paraphrased summaries of what Pam Palmater had to say in a talk and interview on Feb. 24, 2015 at the University of Ottawa. She is a Mi’kmaw lawyer from Eel River Bar First Nation, Chair of Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University and a well-known activist for her role in the Idle No More movement, among other things.

The talk was entitled “The Law’s Role in Canada’s National Disgrace: Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.” Videos of both the talk and interview are available at EquitableEducation.ca/2015/pam-palmater-mmiwg

On the root causes of the problem of MMIWG:

“This issue around missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls didn’t just crop up a couple of years ago when it got all [this] media attention,” said Palmater. “This has actually been a problem since contact.”

Palmater feels we need to “address the root causes of why these Indigenous women and girls are vulnerable to begin with, and that’s a crucial place to start the dialogue.”

Her talk included a chronology of Canadian governments’ policies, motivated by genocide, towards Indigenous people. She said that the present problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is indicative of “a discussion that Canadians have yet to have [on] the second method [aside from assimilation] of obtaining [Indigenous] lands and resources, and that’s the elimination of Indigenous peoples in this country, targeting Indigenous women.”

To the long and continuing history of the Canadian state’s racism, violence, neglect, perpetual victim-blaming and settler colonialism – of which forced relocations and dispossession of land, the Indian Act of 1876, the Residential School system and the Sixties Scoop, and smallpox blankets are only the most well-known abuses – Palmater added a list of other atrocities intended to eliminate what was then referred to as Canada’s “Indian problem.”

Beginning in 1749, Nova Scotia began offering scalping bounties, beginning at 10 guineas (over $3,750 CAD) per head and rising to 50 guineas per head by June 1750. “That,” said Palmater, “is how you decimate a nation by upwards of 80 per cent.”

She also highlighted the theft and murder of many Indigenous children from their own communities through Residential Schools and more recently provincial care, and the forced sterilization of Indigenous women in the past.

This legacy has direct descendants today, among them the “chronically maintained and legislated poverty by the federal government which makes these women more vulnerable, makes them homeless.” According to Palmater, the vast majority of cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls happen in urban areas, not home communities.

This cycle of poverty is self-sustaining, she said, and creates and maintains the conditions for violence.

Current public discourse:

Palmater says that there is a big problem when it comes to educating Canadians about these “uncomfortable truths.” She feels that misinformation dominates public discourse.

Palmater takes issue with a 2014 RCMP report which pegs the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women at 1,181. She says the number is actually much higher – 1,181 is “all that’s known” or reported.

She also said she doesn’t trust the RCMP to be the ones to honestly deal with or assess the situation. She cited both the Pickton inquiry findings, which report that the RCMP consistently fails to adequately follow-up on and investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and a 2013 Human Rights Watch report that found that RCMP officials have been perpetrators of rape and violence against Indigenous women and girls.

There is even a case of a sitting judge (David Ramsay, from British Columbia) who was found guilty of sexual assault causing bodily harm to Indigenous girls aged 12-17.

Palmater also says she feels that the discourse around criminality, victim-blaming and the ‘othering’ of Indigenous peoples creates a separation from potential allies in Canadian society on this issue.

The call for a national inquiry and an emergency action plan:

Palmater backs the wide call for a national inquiry into the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. She says that such calls have been “almost unanimous – not just by the families of the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and all of the First Nation and women’s rights groups and organizations, but also by the majority of the provinces and territories, by all of the international human rights committees that have ever looked at the issue, by legal experts – there’s a reason why everyone is calling for a broad expansive national inquiry, and that’s because we need to know about all the things we don’t know.”

Such an inquiry, she suggested, should be “expansive in scope, with very targeted investigatory powers, done in partnership with those impacted and First Nations…At the same time [the government ought to develop] an emergency action plan to protect Indigenous women and girls right now, in terms of not just their personal safety, but also in terms of their mental health, their health, their social well being, all of those things need to be addressed…it can’t be a scenario where we do a national inquiry and just wait and see what happens.”

Calls for a national inquiry are, she said, “about giving Canadians the truth, the facts, so that they can analyze their own solutions for how we move forward, in addition to giving First Nations a voice.”

 

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Walking With Our Sisters

Art installation comes to Ottawa in September

Walking With Our Sisters is an art installation which commemorates the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women of Canada and the United States.

In June 2012 a call was put out for people to create moccasin tops, or “vamps,” to honour the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women. 13 months later over 1,600 vamps had been sent in.

This large, grassroots collaboration began touring in late 2013. It arrives in Ottawa this fall, hosted by Gallery 101 from Sept. 25 through Oct. 16, 2015.

According to the installation’s website, “The work exists as a floor installation made up of beaded vamps arranged in a winding path formation on fabric and includes cedar boughs. Viewers remove their shoes to walk on a path of cloth alongside the vamps.

“Each pair of vamps (or “uppers” as they are also called) represents one missing or murdered Indigenous woman. The unfinished moccasins represent the unfinished lives of the women whose lives were cut short. The children’s vamps are dedicated to children who never returned home from residential schools. Together the installation represents all these women; paying respect to their lives and existence on this earth. They are not forgotten. They are sisters, mothers, aunts, daughters, cousins, grandmothers, wives and partners. They have been cared for, they have been loved, they are missing and they are not forgotten.”

A group of women of diverse backgrounds and ages have come together locally to organize Walking With Our Sisters community conversations in Ottawa – the fourth one happened Thursday Mar. 26 at Carleton University: see photos on Facebook.

Find more information on Walking With Our Sisters at www.walkingwithoursisters.ca – and “Walking With Our Sisters Ottawa” on Facebook and Twitter, or by email at wwosottawa@gmail.com.

 

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Extending the Conversation

Gender-based violence is not restricted to women. Widening discussion about the violence inflicted upon Indigenous women to include other gender identities exposes how deep and how wide gender-based violence runs in Canada’s Indigenous communities. Below, we shed some light on the plight of missing and murdered Indigenous men and trans and Two Spirit-identified people.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Two Spirit & Trans People

Groups like It Starts With Us, a campaign to support victims of violence and their families and loved ones, aim to “expand the dialogue…to include those [First Nations, Inuit and Métis Two Spirit, or trans identified people] who fall outside of Eurocentric male/female gender and sexuality binaries.”

According to the group, violent deaths and disappearances of Indigenous people who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning intersex and asexual (LGBTTQQIA) community not only face increased violence but are often ignored by mainstream media and public discourse simply because they are so marginalized.

The group exists as a partnership between three other groups: No More Silence, Families of Sisters in Spirit, and the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. Some of the group’s most important support work involves the maintenance of a community-run database, publicizing disappearances and cataloguing violent deaths of Indigenous women and members of the LGBTTQQIA community.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men

Although there is much popular and media attention given to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, and justly so, the documented murder rate of Indigenous men in Canada is actually higher than that of Indigenous women.

Both the Toronto Star and APTN have had stories reporting on Statistics Canada’s figures of Indigenous murder victims between 1980-2012. StatsCan documented 745 Indigenous female homicide victims and 1,750 Indigenous male homicide victims. That’s 14 and 17 per cent of all female and male homicide victims, respectively, despite the fact that, as of 2011, only 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population self-identified as Indigenous.

The female figure of 745 Indigenous female homicide victims differs from the 2014 RCMP report of 1,017 murdered and 164 missing Indigenous women since 1980. (The RCMP has yet to provide such a figure for murdered and missing Indigenous men.) Regardless, these figures still show a disparity between Indigenous and settler Canadians’ experiences of violence.

Such violence scars communities all across Canada. Lydia Daniels, whose son Colten Pratt has been missing since November 2014, told APTN that “we also wanted to make a statement that we also have murdered and missing men in our communities.” Sandra Banman, whose son Carl was murdered in 2011, stated “In balance and unity with our people, we also need to think about our men. We don’t love our daughters more than we love our sons, so when our sons go missing or are murdered, it hurts the families just as much.”

 

Click for 2pg PDF 11x17

Click for 2pg PDF 11×17

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Reminder:

If you would like to print these three articles, along with a fourth one, “Survivors Lead in Fighting Indigenous Women Crisis” by Francella Fiallos, for use as a handout/resource, they are available in a two-page 11×17 pdf file

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The anti-authoritarian current: sophisticated politics with powerful implications – a book review of “Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements” by Chris Dixon (University of California Press, 2014). Including 17min video interview embedded at end.

by Greg Macdougall

9780520279025[1]With such widespread challenges and injustice facing our society, combined with the shifting energies and momentum of people power, the ‘another politics’ Chris Dixon documents in Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements offers perhaps the most promising and exciting approaches to collectively addressing these problems while simultaneously moving us into the world in which we wish to live.

The book is based on in-depth interviews with 47 anti-authoritarian activists and organizers in major Canadian and U.S. cities and is organized into three main sections: politics, strategy and organizing.

The ‘another politics’ Dixon describes is most simply put as the ‘anti-authoritarian current’ in leftist social movements. It is also identified as being anti-capitalist, anti-oppressive and anti-imperialist in what it stands against. And it is pre-figurative in what it stands for, meaning that the ways in which the organizing is done in the present already contains the elements of the social relations and other aspects of the world that ‘another politics’ is working to build.

This book offers to readers who identify as belonging within this current the stirrings of a ‘political home’ a term referencing community where shared analysis, reflection and support can be developed on the work being done. And to readers who may not identify themselves specifically in this anti-authoritarianism, it still provides a good understanding of this approach and what and how it contributes to broader movements for social justice and social change.

As Dixon writes, in the best light, the anti-authoritarian current is a large set of projects and groups that play a leading role in many ongoing struggles and periodically kick off wider mobilizations. He also offers that the ‘worst light’ view might see the current as mostly tending to ineffectiveness and insularity.

The book addresses such challenges and brings out the best of what the current has to offer learning from best practices, a grounding of principles and a setting of priorities, the insight and reflection developed over decades of experience, and the tensions and experimentation taking place.

Dixon situates ‘another politics’ as an embodiment of the intertwining of key elements of anti-racist feminism, prison abolitionism and reconfigured anarchism, and drawing upon more historical movements as well. He notes ‘another politics’ does not yet fully exist and its elements are neither entirely new nor unique, but the ways in which the anti-authoritarian current is bringing them together indicate an increasingly sophisticated politics with powerful implications.

He describes its development in part from the global justice movement, highlighted by the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization and other such mobilizations, as organizers perceived the limitations of such large convergences and realized the need for more long-term, intentional and visionary organizing grounded in communities.

One of the criteria Dixon used in selecting interviewees was their grassroots organizing work outside of activist circles, which points directly to the movement-building approach and the understanding that it is only through large-scale participation that we can actually create the change we’d like to see.

This collective organizing work is described as being ‘revelatory’ that through transformative processes of action, we learn who we can be, how we can work and what we can achieve rather than prescriptive; as one interviewee notes, at the most basic level, people don’t join movements because we tell them how to think, but because we suggest how they can participate.

A ‘correct line’ or ‘purity’ politics is outweighed by a focus on the importance of actually achieving change; Dixon describes this as dynamic experimentation in messiness, and highlights the connection of being in the world but not of it or in other words, engaging with people’s current lives and social realities while still remaining committed to transformative visions.

Dixon sums up the ‘another politics’ organizing orientation of widening participation, creating collectivity, fighting strategically, and building power a set of practices for creating more activists and organizers. It is a non-instrumental organizing that brings people together as collaborators, rather than using them as mere instruments to obtain a predetermined goal.

Dixon describes a growing attempt to be clear, conscious, and collective about leadership in describing different approaches to building non-dominant leadership, that include challenging power relations and ensuring skill-building, political education, and ’empowerment’ aka having each individual experience and understand their own agency.

Anti-authoritarian organization- and institution-building is examined as an area that needs work, to stay out of the ‘ruts’ of problematic models while still embracing the need for structures that meet both the context of the situation and the aims of the work. It sees them as different types of vehicles which can each have their own usefulness at different times, and it also urges a shift in focus from organizational forms to important features that can be included in whatever form may be used.

But organizing without strategy is like watching pee-wee soccer, as one of the interviewees puts it, referencing the ad-hoc, unorganized rush of activity also seen in many activist settings. Another Politics examines the primary obstacles to anti-authoritarian strategy development prioritizing principles over plans; the fetishization of certain tactics; and a tendency towards a ‘crisis’ mode of organizing while putting forth what it means to have a long-term movement-building orientation that takes the work seriously and with intentionality.

The question of developing strategy is in part, as Dixon puts it, about fostering a movement culture that enables collective and constructive strategic reflection.

And later in the book, he adds, … far too rarely do we more deeply explore the political assumptions underlying our efforts, what we believe we are accomplishing (rather than what we want to accomplish), what we’ve learned through our work, how we’ve made changes based on what we’ve learned, and what those lessons mean for our visions for change.

Collecting together these reflections and insight that come from so much diverse experience in anti-authoritarian organizing, Dixon adds a great deal to this needed kind of movement-generated theory, offering affirmation, clarity, and challenging questions that can help move ‘another politics’ forward.

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Chris Dixon’s website is www.WritingWithMovements.com

Greg Macdougall writes and does multi-media work aimed at social justice and social change, based in Ottawa, unceded Algonquin territority. His website is www.EquitableEducation.ca

This review originally published on rabble.ca

 

Video interview with Chris Dixon about the book (17min):

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pam photo 1bVIDEOS: 12-min interview and 73-min talk with Pam Palmater discussing root causes / historical context, the current situation and public discourse, and furthering the urgent call for both a national inquiry and an emergency action plan on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.

“So the reason why I’m talking about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls today is because Canada is killing our people, and if Canadians don’t stand up and stand beside us and stand in partnership with us, more people are going to die.”

Dr Pam Palmater is a Mi’kmaw lawyer from Eel River Bar First Nation and holds the position of Chair in Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University. Pam was one of the spokespeople, organizers and educators for Idle No More movement and a well-known social justice advocate.

The talk was titled “The Law’s Role in Canada’s Disgrace: Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls” and was part of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession – Speaker Series.

pam photo 2From Tuesday February 24, 2015 in Ottawa, unceded Algonquin territory. Interview and filming by Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca

 

~ Connect with Pam Palmater online ~
Twitter: @Pam_Palmater
Facebook: Pam Palmater
Indigenous Nationhood Blog & website: indigenousnationhood.blogspot.ca

 

 

Interview – 12 minutes, also at youtu.be/_dULLnpG9Hg

 

 

“The Law’s Role in Canada’s Disgrace: Murdered & Missing Indigenous Women & Girls”
73 minutes, also at youtu.be/6g665LSQpX0 – pls contact me if you’d like the file to burn to DVD
The talk (minus intros and Q&A) is also posted as a 55min rabble.ca podcast – or download the mp3

 

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cosmophiliaThis appendixed poem on mental health and belonging was written for / originally published in the astrological PlanetWaves.net 2015 annual edition, Cosmophilia: You Belong Here.

 
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PSYCHOVARIANT BELONGING
by Greg Macdougall

disassociation
when you feel that you don’t belong
don’t want to belong in what’s going on
leave this world, find other reality
literally or ‘just’ in your mind

and then you’re different
because you know different
than them

‘them’ is when you don’t belong
when the enforced normalcy of normal
doesn’t belong on you, to you,
anywhere near you

you’ve known different-ly
feelings that really connect
with leverage points of the soul
spirit imbued with life
and the consensus don’t fit

fit you into their place
is what they know to do
their place is the place they have for you
because that’s what they fit in to

belong-ing, a yearning
but mostly out of place

but find that, when not yearned for
there is that sense of being found
of being in place, right place
at the right time
the right time is when you’ve let the yearning go

when the fears don’t rear up
and the loneliness no longer in your heart
gone along with the other clouds,
claws that threaten to shed a furtive peace

born from inhabiting a sense of wrongness
of invalidation, discredited
because your currency doesn’t seem accepted

so learning to feel your own way through
because the advice in the guise of should and ‘need to’
doesn’t feed any of what makes you you

the semblance of everyone is a master in the know
only buoyed by the sense that everyone’s bought in
to the way it’s fixed up to be

this psychotic plague known as normal
‘just the way things are’
the what you’re being taught to adapt in to

 

FOR FURTHER REFERENCE / APPENDIX:

psychovariant
“I identify as “psychovariant” because that label recognizes my atypical brain functioning as a source of both distress and a gift to be nurtured. This is an umbrella term that can be claimed by anyone whose brain operates divergently (ex: depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety, bipolar, DID). Identifying as psychovariant is an attempt to recast what is commonly referred to as “mental illness” through a framework that destigmatizes and celebrates neurological diversity.”
– Amanda Gelender, http://grownuptruth.com/diary-of-a-young-pro-amanda-gelender/

disassociation (dissociation)
“[P]sychological trauma results in alterations of consciousness in the domains of time, thought, body, and emotion … [A]s the levels of dissociation increase, a person is more likely to experience identity fragmentation and flashbacks/reliving (time), voice-hearing and confusion (thought), depersonalization (body), and numbing/compartmentalization (emotion). … [T]rauma effects the brain and makes one more likely to become addicted to alcohol or benzodiazapines at a neurochemical level … [E]xperiencing multiple traumas (unlike a single trauma) results in a shutting down response rather than hyperarousal and increased physiological activity. This includes: loss of emotion, loss of memory and language, shutting off of cognitive processing, deactivation of the brain, loss of physical sensation, social disengagement, miscommunication, and social withdrawal.”
– Noel Hunter, http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/11/trauma-schizophrenia-ultimate-political-battle/

leave this world
“From 2,429 suicides and 50,323 controls, the researchers found that taking psychiatric medications during the previous year made a person 5.8 times more likely to have killed themselves. If a person had made contact with a psychiatric outpatient clinic, they were 8.2 times more likely to have killed themselves. Visiting a psychiatric emergency room was linked to a 27.9 times greater likelihood of committing suicide. And if someone had actually been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, they were 44.3 times more likely to have commited suicide within the year.”
– Rob Wipond, http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/research-suggests-psychiatric-interventions-admission-mental-facility-could-increase?paging=off

fit you into their place
“Scott London: Symptoms are so often seen as weaknesses.
James Hillman: Right, so they set up some sort of medical or psychotherapeutic program to get rid of them, when the symptoms may be the most crucial part of the kid. There are many stories in my book that illustrate this.” http://thesunmagazine.org/issues/439/conversations_with_a_remarkable_man

when the enforced normal of normalcy doesn’t belong on you
“The problem of selfishness has a particular bearing on psychotherapy. The neurotic individual often is selfish in the sense that he is blocked in his relationship to others or overanxious about himself. This is to be expected since to be neurotic means that the integration of a strong self has not been achieved successfully. To be normal certainly does not mean that it has. It means, for the majority of well-adapted individuals that they have lost their own self at an early age and replaced it completely by a social self offered to them by society. They have no neurotic conflicts because they themselves, and, therefore, the discrepancy between their selves and the outside world has disappeared. Often the neurotic person is particularly unselfish, lacking in self-assertion and blocked in following his own aims. The reason for this unselfishness is essentially the same as for the selfishness. What he is practically always lacking is self-love. This is what he needs to become well. If the neurotic becomes well, he does not become normal in the sense of the conforming social self. He succeeds in realising his self, which never had been completely lost and for the preservation of which he was struggling by his neurotic symptoms. A theory, therefore, as Freud’s on narcissism which rationalises the cultural pattern of denouncing self-love by identifying it with selfishness, can have but devastating effects therapeutically. It increases the taboo on self-love. Its effects can only be called positive if the aim of psychotherapy is not to help the individual to be himself; that is, free, spontaneous and creative – qualities conventionally reserved for artists – but to give up the fight for his self and conform to the cultural pattern peacefully and without the noise of a neurosis.”
– Erich Fromm, http://digilander.libero.it/mgtund/eric_fromm.htm

you’ve known different-ly
“All war is first waged in the imagination, first conducted to limit our dreams and visions, to make us accept within ourselves its terms, to believe that our only choices are those that lay before us. If we let the terms of force describe the terrain of our battle, we will lose. But if we hold to the power of our visions, our heartbeats, our imagination, we can fight on our own turf, which is the landscape of consciousness. There, the enemy cannot help but transform.”
– Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing

there is that sense of being found
“For those of us involved with this work, and for those of us who are coming into it, if this work does not transform you then you are not paying attention. If you are immune, complacent, indifferent, and untouched by the horror of human avarice and aggression, then you are not paying attention. It is not possible to be engaged in this work and not behave differently. It is not possible if we are really doing what we are supposed to be doing with this work.”
– gkisedtanamoogk, Finding Our Way Despite Modernity; in Alliances: Re/Envisioning Indigenous-non-Indigenous Relationships (Lynne Davis, ed)

a sense of wrongness
“A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet “for sale”, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his “normal” contemporaries.”
– Erich Fromm, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/41805-a-person-who-has-not-been-completely-alienated-who-has

sense of wrongness – pII
“Nothing is so apt to challenge our self-awareness and alertness as being at war with oneself. One can hardly think of any other or more effective means of waking humanity out of the irresponsible and innocent half-sleep of the primitive mentality and bringing it to a state of conscious responsibility.”
– Carl Jung, as quoted by Jonathan Zap, http://www.zaporacle.com/thoughts-on-jung

sense of wrongness – pIII
“Dissonance / (if you are interested) / leads to discovery.”
– William Carlos Williams

along with the other clouds
“i have kept quiet about feelings of unworthiness, loneliness, feelings of isolation, dissociation and craziness because i am scared of being left behind. and the reality is, our community leaves people behind sometimes.”
– ngọc loan trần, http://www.nloantran.com/blog/2014/6/26/fearingfueling-silence

claws that threaten
“It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on this earth as though I had a right to be here.”
– James Baldwin, Collected Essays

learning to feel your way through
“In the end, there is nothing more that I can do to prove this, so therefore I just have to take the leap of faith and believe in the things that are invisible, that I can’t prove to anyone else, because they seem real to me.”
– Soren Kierkegaard

learning to feel your way through – pII
“As you consider other ways to approach what you require of yourself, let how you feel about each idea guide you. Feeling good and an inner sensation of calm are clues that a concept matches with your own genuine boundaries and personal requirements.”
– Genevieve Hathaway, PlanetWaves.net

because the advice
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
– Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

because the advice – pII
“It’s extraordinary how much of this [judging] comes down to “why don’t you change your life, because it inconveniences me or makes me uncomfortable.” People don’t want to admit that, so they throw a lot of other judgmental ornaments around the edges and hope no one will see their version of the ninja double reverse.”
– Maria Padhila, PlanetWaves.net

psychotic plague known as normal
“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.”
– Martin Luther King Jr, Strength To Love

what you’re being taught to adapt in to
“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
– Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

what you’re being taught to adapt in to – pII
“Only the strong go crazy. The weak just go along.”
– Assata Shakur

 
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Click image to download 2-pg PDF

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A group has formed to save the Islands at Chaudière Falls in Ottawa from being developed into condos, retail and office space. This handout includes an article on the situation as well as links to four videos and two audio interviews, and the contact info for the group: akikpautik@gmail.com

Please print, make copies and distribute as you see fit.

Article & multi-media follow below (just scroll down) …
 

 

Featured multi-media:

 

Article:

Ottawa City Council approves rezoning of sacred Algonquin site near Parliament
( Ricochet, Oct 10 2014 )

 

Audio interviews:

Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Gilbert Whiteduck
( 16min, Oct 7 & 9 2014 )

Windmill Development Group’s Randy Wilts
( 9min, Oct 8 2014 )

 

Videos:

Asinabka – The Vision
( 3 min, 2010 – youtu.be/uFC6aSSmRs0 )

Architect Douglas Cardinal on the Chaudière Falls & Islands, and the Windmill development
( 10 min, 2014 – youtu.be/UeFqbRBU5mk )

Free the Chaudière Falls – Lindsay Lambert with Judith Matheson
( 24 min, 2014 – youtu.be/PbYfVRzkB24 )

Spirituality, the Chaudière Falls, and Responsibility:
Albert ‘South Wind’ Dumont with Judith Matheson

( 19 min, 2014 – youtu.be/Va3Vj3l7-_8 )

 

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Ottawa City Council approves rezoning of sacred Algonquin site near Parliament – Development of islands seen as “offence to the spirit of the land”

by Greg Macdougall | Oct 10th, 2014 | RicochetMedia.ca

Ottawa City Council has approved a rezoning application for private and commercial development on two islands at the Chaudière Falls, about a kilometre upstream from the Parliament buildings on the Ottawa River. The decision, made at a council meeting on Oct. 8, came despite numerous objections from citizens as well as a formal request for further dialogue from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Gilbert W. Whiteduck.

The land in question is unceded Algonquin territory, and the area at the falls is considered a central sacred site of the Algonquin and all Anishnaabe peoples. Samuel de Champlain’s writings documented a tobacco ceremony conducted at this specific site during the first European visits to the area in the early 1600s.

— Read the full article here on Ricochet.

 

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For this article, I did a number of interviews.

I’ve posted two of them below, both are edited versions ie not the complete interviews.

See below the interviews for some relevant documents / links.

 

Interview with Rodney Wilts, partner at Windmill Development Group

windmill logoTopics include the sacredness of the site to the Algonquin peoples, the consultation process for the developments, and a response to the community opposition to the development/ rezoning plans.

9min:13sec, download the mp3 file here – Recorded Oct 7th, before the city council rezoning decision

 

 

Interview with Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Chief Gilbert W. Whiteduck

kitigan zibi logoTopics include the consultation process and the City of Ottawa’s need for “due diligence” – then “profound disappointment” with the rezoning going ahead despite a request he’d sent for dialogue first, a response to a statement from the Mayor’s office, considerations around Aboriginal title to the land, the Kitigan Zibi letter putting the federal and provincial governments on notice, some history of the area and the relationship between First Nations and European settlers, and the significance of the Chaudière area to the Algonquin and particularily Kitigan Zibi.

16min:38sec, download the mp3 file here – First 2m45s recorded Oct 7th, before the city’s rezoning decision; the remainder recorded Oct 9, after the rezoning proposal had been passed

 

 

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The Faceless Dolls Project done last year in Curve Lake was to serve as a visual representation of strong and beautiful aboriginal women who have become faceless victims in Ontario. – Photo by Tracey Taylor

by Greg Macdougall

Originally published in Anishinabek News

CURVE LAKE FIRST NATION – This Saturday October 4 will mark the ninth annual Sisters in Spirit vigils, honouring the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

The importance of making sure these women did not lose their lives in vain, but that some positive changes result, was stressed by both Claudette Dumont-Smith, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), and Anne Taylor, Cultural Archivist for Curve Lake First Nation, in interviews for this article.

The vigils began in 2006, with 11 held in different locations across the country. Each year since, the numbers of vigils have increased, with over 200 registered in 2013, including some held internationally. The vigils are all organized locally, with NWAC playing a coordinating role.

This year in Curve Lake will mark the second annual event held in the community. For a number of years, Taylor and others travelled the 30km to Peterborough to participate in the annual vigil there. Last year Taylor and her co-worker Tracey Taylor at the Curve Lake Cultural Centre decided to host an October 4 event.

They posted an open invite for all to come and participate, and were overwhelmed when some 40 people – all women – showed up. The only male was an invited speaker, Constable Alex Zyganiuk of the Anishinabek Police, who had previously worked in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver and was able to share stories of some of the women who’d lost their lives there.

This year the Curve Lake October 4 event is from noon until 3pm at the Cultural Centre, and there will be special guests – an international delegation of around 15 development workers who are in Canada for a large conference in Toronto earlier in the week.

The delegates were initially surprised to hear there is such a problem in Canada, but recognize a “global phenomenon” of the harmful effects of colonialism, and hope their presence at the vigil can lead to an exchange of ideas on what can be done both in Canada and elsewhere, says delegation coordinator Jennifer Brennan.

Taylor sees raising public awareness as key in addressing the problem. Visiting classes in various school boards to share Aboriginal culture, she’s found it troubling how many students and teachers are unaware of the problem.

She also thinks it is important to have a national public inquiry, as does NWAC.

“At the end of an inquiry, an indepth inquiry process, you’re going to have not only a picture of why these things are happening, but you’re going to have information on the systems that are in place but they’re not quite working, and how these systems can work to prevent the loss of lives of Aboriginal women,” says Dumont-Smith.

She feels an inquiry will result in a “very very comprehensive and very very coordinated” action plan to address the problem, and that “the Native Women’s Association of Canada, who have this expertise, must be at the forefront of the inquiry” right from the start, including in decisions on its design, its length and who will be called to testify.

With the vigils, Dumont-Smith feels that people “are keeping up with the pressure, and that’s what we need – the momentum has to be steady, and we have to continue with our efforts because this is really a problem that affects us, especially as Aboriginal people, and should affect all Canadians as well.”

For a list of Sisters in Spirit Vigils, click http://www.nwac.ca/2014-vigil-locations

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by Greg Macdougall, EquitableEducation.ca

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This article was published as part of rabble.ca’s Revolution 101 series, on their Activist Toolkit Blog.

It is also available in a 4-page PDF version (8.5″x11″) for printing / use as handouts / etc.

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Image of print version of this article

This piece is aimed specifically for people who make media with the intent to help create positive social change.

But it is also for others engaged in efforts towards positive social change, who are interested in thinking more about the role of media in supporting those efforts. And thirdly, for those who are interested in using media to learn more and/or get involved in these kind of efforts.

This is simply a presentation of some ideas and questions; it is by no means a comprehensive thesis, but hopefully provides some good starting points to help you foster further ideas and contemplation that might eventually lead to some change in your perspective, and then your approach, towards media.

I would like to call attention to how we base a lot of our action on underlying personal beliefs/values /theories/perspectives/understandings. This is important to note, because we can then deal with how we often don’t make explicit what were basing our action on.

So this is a call to think about why we are doing things the way we do. And to highlight that we might, upon reflection, be able to think differently about how things work related to making and using media – and that could then change how we choose to engage in the process.

For example, an underlying assumption guiding a lot of alternative media making is that we need (to make) more media. Because more is better. Because people need more alternatives, more information.

Just put more out there, and change will happen.

Applying Marshall McLuhan’s idea of “the medium is the message” the concept that, more important than whatever content the media is delivering, it is the characteristics of a medium’s format and how it is used that define its impact or ‘message’ Neil Postman comes to the conclusion that, “the message of computer technology is … that the most serious problems confronting us at both personal and professional levels require technical solutions through fast access to information otherwise unavailable.” So with our reliance on computers, it is easy to see how we may come to accept this as true.

But is it?

What about information overload/overwhelm, or death by distraction?’

Postman then goes on to state his opinion, that “Our most serious problems are not technical, nor do they arise from inadequate information.”

And worth noting, in terms of social change, is what Jodi Dean writes of the “distinction between politics as the circulation of content and politics as official policy,” observing how actual public policy is not really influenced by the range of critique and opinions that are widely circulated and available via the alternative media sphere.

It might be useful to think about why that is. If alternative media isn’t really affecting public policy, why isn’t it, and what effect(s) is it actually having?

One possibility is that it is actually demoralizing people.People see all these great critiques in alternative media, but still see the same problems continuing to occur. It doesn’t seem to make anything change.

Bruce Levine writes, “I wish my declaring the truth of people’s personal abusive relationships or the truth of their systemic corporate-governmental abuse were enough to set them free. I wish that the people I know caught up in this state of helplessness could be spurred to action by lectures that would be an easy fix. But more often, lectures are a turnoff. What these victims of abuse need is the strength to do something with the truth of their abuse strength that comes from support, morale, healing, and self-respect, as well as practical strategies and tactics.”

I think that is a very insightful statement, and it also speaks to a more general question: what is it that people need?

Gotta Give The Peeps What They NeedPublic Enemy

It’s a starting point for thinking about what your media should be providing to your audience. But that question is a bit too broad to provide any useful answer. We need to focus it a bit.

How do we focus it? We don’t start by looking at what people need. Instead we ask, who is itthat we aim to make media for?

This is the concept of niche(for some great explanatory posts, search for the topic at Tad Hargrave’s www.marketingforhippies.com). If you try and make something for everyone, it’s not really speaking directly to anyone. So instead, you figure out who your target is: you need to understand their situation, their experiences, their perspectives, their goals and desires, etc etc, in order to understand their needs, and – how to give them what they need.

Ask yourself: who is it I would most like to reach? Why them? What do I have to offer them?

An option in figuring out your niche, is to look at/for people like you. They don’t have to share all the same characteristics, but what are some key things about you that you find important and that allow you to be able to speak to what’s important to them.

Identity politics is somewhere where people can really connect with others who share the same identity.’ I think a key in that is about having the shared experiences that are often based upon certain identities and what that means in terms of experiencing the world. So that’s worth some thought.

The feeling of belonging, of having your experiences and values represented and reflected back to you through media, is a powerful thing. The reverse of this is also true – in an interview I did with Simmi Dixit, the former national coordinator of the now-finished UNAC Multimedia & Multiculturalism Initiative, she explained how, “They [particularly youth from ethnocultural communities] said the biggest missing link between them feeling a real sense of belonging, and not, was the media. They felt like their lives, their communities, weren’t adequately represented by the media – and multimedia: so not just TV, but radio, newspapers, social media.”

Unintentionally or not, the media you make can welcome some people in and cause others to feel excluded.

In figuring out your niche, consider the whole media ecosystem – what’s out there, who it’s directed to, what function it serves. Then think about what you have to offer and where it can fit, who needs what, and what kind of impact you can have for whom.

Take a minute to think about the media you make right now, and who it speaks deeply to, even if you aren’t intentionally thinking, ‘I’m making this for these certain/types of people.’

A worry sometime is that if you are focusing only on really reaching a small segment of people, then what you make won’t be relevant to most others. But focusing your work to one target can actually help it be more coherent and compelling, and thus speak more clearly to others outside of that target, too.

Knowing who you’re making your media for helps you figure out what exactly to make, what aspects of it are going to be important and relevant to who uses it.

So that leads into considering what makes media powerful.

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” James Baldwin

Resonance. Stuff that makes you feel more alive, that captures a moment, sentiment, or insight so vividly and resoundingly that it might move you to shivers, or tears. Can you think of such a moment you experienced? What it was that moved you so much? The power to feel that inner connection, or to experience someone else’s situation so much that you’re almost living it yourself.

You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimetre, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin

A really interesting observation I’ve read was how for many people, they need to see their own personal/inner experiences, insights, knowings articulated or expressed externally, in media, in order to claim it for themselves, to accept it as true or worthwhile – which speaks a lot to both how we have been led away from our own inner power, but also the role media can play in nurturing its growth.

Beyond visceral emotional connection, there’s also the numbers. With the internet and being able to track page views, numbers of shares, followers, etc – and even before that, with circulation figures or audience ratings – we can quantify our ‘success’ or ‘impact.’ But are numbers really all that important?

One example to consider is the newsletter – I’m thinking of the ones for a certain industry, or field of practice; the ones that existed way before the internet – that collected and communicated all types of really useful material for a very targeted group of people. A newsletter could have a hundred, or even fifty, subscribers and still have a huge impact, since it was equipping these people with what they needed to succeed and thrive in their work. People would pay hundreds of dollars a year or more for what might not seem like an awful lot of content, but it was more than worth it to them because of the powerful benefit it provided.

I was speaking in the past tense there, but these kinds of newsletters are still run, online or off. The prevailing view of newsletters now, though – thinking of all these email lists available to sign up for – might be that they’re basically not much more than spam, clogging up our inboxes with things we don’t really (have the time to) care about. It’s helpful to reflect on how things can be different.

In terms of social change, I think it’s helpful to use one model of considering the concept of power that defines power in three categories: ‘power-within,’ the power of the individual to accomplish things; ‘power-with,’ the power of working together to accomplish things; and ‘power-over,’ the one where the oppressor or authority, through force or coercion or other means, is able to direct the actions or behaviour of others.

Media can play a powerful role in both individual and collective empowerment (and in this way, also challenge ‘power-over’). To this point, I’ve mainly been describing examples dealing with the first aspect; and in building towards social change, it is important that individuals are empowered. But key to actually accomplishing any significant social change is being able to work together to build collective power, and that is what I now address.

To fight, you only need a sense of shame, a certain amount of dignity, and a lot of organisation. The rest either serves the collective or doesn’t serve at all.Subcomandante Marcos of the Zaptistas

We can look at media’s role in organizing in three ways: to help think about what to do; to offer specific guidance on how to do it; and as a specific tool you can use to do it. (And at times theyoverlap).

Media can provide us with analysis, with perspective, with other people’s vision and insight. It can provide us with things that will help develop our own point of view on what we are doing.

I think that we differ from some other groups simply because we understand the system better than most groups understand the system. With this realization we attempt to form a strong political base based in the community with the only strength that we have and that’s the strength of a potentially destructive force if we don’t get freedom.” Huey P. Newton of the Black Panther Party, Prelude to a Revolution

So we consider how we can use media as a part of building that better understanding in a group or collective context. (And more on community in a bit).

Media can also provide how-to guides, document models of different approaches and describe how and why they work well or what problems they might have, and other thingsto think about for doing different steps of our work.

And when we are considering how we can use media to organize, we need to think about what organizing means to us. Do we want to inform people about specific issues that we’re working on? Do we want to connect people with our or other’s organizations, events, campaigns? Do we want to facilitate people empowering themselvesand the groups or organization they’re a part of? Other things?

It does help to start by thinking about what we mean by organizing, which in itself is a really good topic that people could spend a lot of time learning about, discussing, and developing their thoughts around.

In terms of media use in organizing, again I’ll reference the “the medium is the message” concept. As an educator, facilitating a class or a workshop or something else, I interpret this to mean that people learn what they do. That’s a simple explanation of the concept of the hidden curriculum: at school you learn to show up on time, change classes when a bell tells you, sit and listen a whole lot, obey authority, socialize only with people roughly your own age, be told what’s important to learn and what’s not, etc.

So when we consider the “message” of media, how are people doing it?

Some possibilities provide people with printable resources that they can then make copies of and handout on the street: thereby starting conversations with strangers. Or set up discussion groups based on books or magazines or even articles you collectively choose to all read, then meet and talk about your reactions: you’re creating community, relationships and connections, along with deciding through action that your own opinions and thoughts are worthy of collective sharing, being taken seriously, given feedback, etc.

Book clubs might be generally seen as primarily social/entertainment activities for an (older) group of friends, but a lot of serious organizing includes this kind of collective self-education, in service to improving the analysis at the base of the organizing efforts. Like the newsletter example, here are vastly different perspectives on/uses of what superficially is just one type of inauspicious activity.

I think a key thing in organizing is that as people come together, as they work together over a period of time, they learn and develop their own perspectives. Looking at popular education, for example Paulo Friere’s work, we see the emphasis on people’s own experiences, their own lived knowledge, being prioritized in the process and being the key to inform their theory and action. Media that simply tells people things, feeds them information, needs to be put in a context where people are developing their own knowledge and don’t need all the answers to be broadcast or handed to them.

So if we like this approach, we ask how media can ask people questions, stimulate reflection and self-articulation, and educe personal and collective knowledge. Think about the differences between active and passive media use.

This touches on a further, final point in this article: what are the values of the media you make? There can be principles of promoting social, economic, and environmental justice, of healthier community/ies, but how well do the principles contained in the ‘content’ correlate with the principles embodied in the process of making the media?

What connection do you have with the subjects of your stories? Are they one-time drive-by features, quoting and reporting on? Or is there a building of ongoing relationships, developing over time whereby more subtle connections are made, principles and priorities are lived and experienced and not just articulated?

Where does the knowledge your media expresses, come from? Is it built in community, or isolation? Is it still rooted in/connected to its source, or is it a picked flower that will now wilt, having lost its connection to the soil.

And where is your media going to take root? Do you know who your audience is? The community/ies they are part of? Is that important? If so, how and why? What kinds of approaches to connecting with readers/listeners/viewers are there, and what are the different values of each?

It can be useful to think of media making not as being independent, but interdependent – as I wrote in a summary of a panel session on Survival Strategies for Independent Media, “We need to not look at us as independent media as serving people, instead look at it as we’re partnering with others to do something together.”

Looking at media’s potential in being a community activity is useful. There are lots of examples of community media projects that do a lot of really good community building. There’s a lot to be learned from them, even if the examples you see aren’t explicitly political or social change oriented. It’s interesting to think of media that builds community by connecting people with what’s going on in the community, and then about building community around media making.

In-person events or social opportunities organized through media organizations have a lot of promise. Community radio stations host concerts, and other events, that bring their listeners into direct contact with the outlet and the people involved in it. Book writers host book launches and signings and meet their readers. Those are two examples; I think what’s important in thinking about this is having definite aims or vision of what the purpose of doing this is.

Whether it is as a media outlet or an individual maker, what ways are there to extend the connection with those people who are already taking in your media? And what ways can you think of that extending this connection would be mutually beneficial?

Great opportunities exist around the whole area of supporting the development of media making and media literacy with individuals and in communities. Other opportunities exist in being the bridge to further connections between those you feature in your media, and the communities/audiences you are building relationships with through your work.

As an individual media maker, part of the mutual benefit could be receiving direct support from your ‘audience’ (financial or otherwise); if we can expand who sustains/pays for our work, beyond treating media outlets as the sole commissioners of our media work, perhaps there are opportunities that can come from the people who are the ‘final destination’ of the media you make.

Even nationallevel media projects/outlets could take an approach where they aggressively promote and facilitate local- and community-based self-organizing around the work they are doing. It can give people a sense of belonging that is attached to the media, when they are meeting others on an ongoing basis with said media as the connecting point. There are different ways this can happen, but the main thing is to see how we can battle the overwhelming nature of much of media consumption being a very isolated/ing experience – just the media ‘consumer’ and the media product, and maybe a bit of online participation, but very much a one-way flow.

The problem of isolation is huge in terms of preventing effective collective action, and if we can think about how our media can help to address instead of reinforce that problem, perhaps something good can be the result.

As a media maker, are you delivering abstract information to people as someone they’ll never meet or interact with, or are you engaging on a continuing and not-only-one-way basis with the people who actually feel what you do? Not to say it’s one or the other, but it’s worth thinking about how to shift the current balance a bit towards engagement rather than abstraction.

A lot of thoughts, and with much more that could be said, but really with one aim: to help you think about different aspects that pertain to what you are doing with media, and in particular in making media.

To bring this to a close, I’d like you – for a moment – to forget all the ideas you just read.

Then focus on asking yourself, and thinking about, the following:

  • Why do you make media?

  • Why do you make media the way you do?

  • What are some of the media you’re most proud of?and why?

  • What do you hope to accomplish through making media: Specifically?More generally?

  • What are the key principles you think are most important in creating positive social change?

  • What are you going to do about that?

After spending some time with those thoughts, please then revisit the ideas in this article and see if they have anything to add to the answers you’re coming up with yourself.

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Greg Macdougall is a writer, educator and organizer based in Ottawa. More of his writings and multimedia work focused on media, as well as other subjects, can be found at his website EquitableEducation.ca, where you can also subscribe to the newsletter for notices of future content and resources as well as (primarily Ottawa-based) in-person learning opportunities.

 

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