"L'éveil au Cercle" - "Awakening to the Circle"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why we need a Canada-Quebec-Indigenous Social

Forum in Ottawa on August 2014 !

Anger and discontent against the ruling Conservative government is on the rise
all across Canada. Human rights groups, women's organizations, cultural
associations, environment groups, labour, indigenous peoples, students, generally
civil society organizations feel threatened and angered by the government's
policies and actions. Protests for social and environmental justice are erupting all
over the country. Casseroles have been organized on the streets of many cities in
support of the student movement in Quebec. The youth across Canada are joining
hands with those from Quebec in challenging neo-liberal austerity policies. Mass
mobilizations were held against Bill 115 restraining the ability of teachers to
negotiate and strike in Ontario. Indigenous communities are also fighting
against the government to preserve their culture and defend their lands from
predatory mining and oil corporations.
Yet our movements continue to be fragmented and ghettoized. We must work
together and create a space for all these voices of dissent and strategize together
our progressive agenda to help build links and solidarity across movements and

A grassroots approach to building the Peoples Social Forum

The grassroots horizontal approach was taken while organizing a Social Forum
across Canada as a means of stimulating debate, discussion and furthering our
sense of community and collective action. The process of the social forum seeks
to reach out to a plurality of social movements, groups and progressive
institutions across Canada, Québec and Indigenous communities. The short term
goal being to build on existing struggles by forging a united and cohesive front
against the Conservative agenda of austerity and privatization but long-term to
help transform the current political, economic and social paradigm, by
employing creative resistance while proposing alternatives solutions.
The second General Assembly of the Peoples Social Forum held in Edmonton on
July 2nd and 3rd of this year ended with several important advances, in particular
the decision to hold the first Canada-wide Social Forum in Ottawa at the end of
August 2014. The Assembly unanimously agreed with the motion presented
jointly by the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Ontario Common Front, a
wide coalition of over a hundred unions and community groups.

The Edmonton assembly also saw the birth of a Labour Caucus which includes
Canadian and Quebec union activists. This confirms the widespread interest
among organized labour for the Social Forum and demonstrates the unity
potential of this process: the historical construction of an extra parliamentary
alliance between activists from Canada, Quebec and Native communities in order
to counter the neoliberal austerity programs promoted by governments and
At present, the Forum General Assembly includes five caucuses (Labour,
Indigenous Peoples, People of Colour, Women, Quebec) as well as several
Regional Commissions (Montreal / Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver). A few
more are in the works, particularly in the Maritimes and the Prairies.

An Assembly of Social Movements to fight the right

The Edmonton meeting also reaffirmed the Forum's open and inclusive model of
organization whereby caucuses and regional commissions must be represented at
all levels of the structure, from the General Assembly down to the Working
Committees. These committees, as well as the Secretariat that will take charge of
logistics and day-to-day activities, will be set-up during the fall. Other caucuses
and/or commissions may be added as the need arises.
The next phase will also deal with the program. In keeping with the participatory
nature of the Forum, groups will be urged to propose self-organized activities
along the ten to fifteen overarching themes retained for PSF. At a later stage, a
system of convergence assemblies will be proposed in order to promote
collaboration between groups wishing to work on common issues. The Forum
will close with a central convergence meeting called the Assembly of Social
Movements where common statements and actions could be adopted.

These are the organizations that have joined the discussions

Alternatives; Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW); Canadian Community
Economic Development Network; Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW);
Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ); Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal;
Chantier de l’économie sociale; Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA),
Toronto; Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP); Common
Frontiers; Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN); Conseil Central
Montréal métropolitain (CCMM-CSN); Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes;
Council of Canadians; Fédération des femmes du Québec; Fédération des
travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ); Fédération interprofessionnelle de
la santé du Québec (FIQ); Fédération nationale des enseignants et enseignantes
du Québec (FNEEQ-CSN); Front d’action populaire en réaménagement urbain;
Indigenous Environmental Network; Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement;
Institut du nouveau monde; Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network;
Latin American Trade Unions Coalition; Montreal Labour Council (FTQ);
Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL); Occupy Toronto; Public Service Alliance of
Canada (PSAC); Quebec Native Women; Toronto Bolivia Solidarity; Toronto Stop
the Cuts; Earth Warriors Standing Circle