Filed under: Canadian Tire Fire, Featured
cover photo: @KanahusFreedom
The past few weeks saw a number of anarchist gatherings across so-called Canada, along with the announcement of a digital bookfair interview series coming soon from Victoria.
Here at CTF, we’ve found that as the summer dies down and as the election serves as a great distraction from grassroots organizing, news has been a little slower the past few weeks. That said, there is always resistance worth noting, including, this week, a collective effort to fight repression of encampments in Toronto and the ongoing forest defense struggle at Fairy Creek that recently broke 1,000 arrests.
As always, we welcome feedback and tips on stories at [email protected]!
Good Riddance to the Election
Canada’s 44th election draws to a close on September 20th. Over the course of the election, we’ve been reminded of the ways that elections, and orienting one’s struggles toward elected decision-makers in general, is an uninspiring and disempowering practice. For groups that factor lobbying into their strategy, the election can be a tempting time to double down on this practice. It’s a time when usually-indifferent leaders may take more time to listen to what their constituents are asking for; when it’s really worth their while to appear to care. It’s tempting to try and seize this moment to force candidates into election promises that will forward one struggle or another.
I wrote about the anti-vaccine movement in Canada and its ties to Bannon, Flynn, the PPC, Christian nationalism, and the global far-right movement — and why things could escalate after Monday’s election.
— Caroline Orr Bueno, Ph.D (@RVAwonk) September 19, 2021
Ultimately, most substantial election promises won’t be kept. Those that are don’t result in changes rooted in community, that can be sustained or defended. Time spent developing strategies to get leaders to care is time not spent figuring out how to do things ourselves.
This is not to pretend that there are no differences between parties – the party in leadership will shape the terrain on which we fight over the coming years. Election results also tell us something about the political climate in the communities in which we live. The rise of the People’s Party of Canada, and general far-Right engagement in this election cycle, points to a building of frustration, polarization, fear, and misinformation, concentrated as xenophobia, white supremacy, covid-denialism, etc. When we can only expect wealth disparity and scarcity of resources to grow in the coming years, paying attention to and pushing back against increasingly-overt fascist rhetoric that attempts to present authoritarian nationalism as a solution to the current crisis is crucial.
— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) September 19, 2021
And yet, on some critical issues, whatever wording they use, the outcome of any given party’s approach will be indistinguishable. For example, the struggle against the Trans Mountain Pipeline, one of the most inspiring and uncompromising struggles across so-called Canada, can expect an uphill battle regardless of which party is in leadership.
We continue to be inspired by struggles that expect nothing of politicians – mutual aid programs, overdose prevention networks acting outside the law to provide safe supply, Indigenous-led land defense, just to name a few. Struggles that don’t rely on politicians making the “right” choices or lending their support are resilient to the ebbs and flows of the political tide, instead of being swept away in the distraction of an “opportune” moment to participate in democracy. Finally, we can’t forget that engaging with politicians and elections means participating in a violent system that we want to destroy, not add legitimacy to.
I will not be voting because the Indigenous Hereditary systems will always be at odds with whoever thinks they have democratic jurisdiction on our unceded sovereign lands.
Instead, we will meet your chosen on the frontlines as per usual.
— Smogelgem (@smogelgem) September 14, 2021
As Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel recently wrote for Ricochet, on the subject of not voting as a Kanien’kehá:ka person,
I remember Elders telling us not to vote or it would mean losing our rights to our lands, our inherent rights to self-determination. They knew that participation in colonial election systems was a threat to our sovereignty; we would essentially be turning our backs on our own laws. As the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau said in regards to his White Paper, when you no longer speak your language or practice your culture, you have become assimilated. This remains the mantra of provincial and federal colonial governments. Sounds outrageous, but it’s true.
Fighting Against Repression of Encampment Support in Toronto
“I am ashamed at our City. At Lamport, 3 police assaulted me. I cannot imagine the level of hate someone must have to try to obliterate these communities. I have been on the waitlist for wheelchair accessible housing for 15 years” Jennifer @Wyld_Wych – supporter/shelter resident pic.twitter.com/AQIZOxKXSt
— Encampment Support Network Toronto (@ESN_TO) September 16, 2021
On September 16th in so-called Toronto, Ontario, anti-poverty and housing activists gathered outside the home of Mayor John Tory to call for safe, affordable housing solutions, an end to encampment evictions, and an end to the repression of those charged during encampment evictions this summer. Over 50 people were charged or ticketed over the course of three encampment evictions this summer, and the press conference called for those charges to be dropped. 45 of the people charged or ticketed are working collectively to fight the charges.
CALL FOR RAPID RESPONSE
Skyler Williams, land defender from 1492 Landback Lane, and our first speaker today, was just arrested outside John Tory's condominium. A press conference was being held against this exact kind of targeting of organizing.
— Encampment Support Network Toronto (@ESN_TO) September 16, 2021
A number of people spoke, including former encampment residents, those brutalized during the encampment evictions, and other organizers. During the event, police doubled down on the repression. 1492 Landback Lane spokesperson Skyler Williams, who had attended the Lamport Stadium encampment eviction defense, was arrested by Toronto police just moments after speaking. By the end of the press conference, two more people were arrested. It seems that all the arrests were for charges tied to activities on the day of the Lamport Stadium eviction. On the same day, police released a list of 8 more suspects from the day of the eviction.
Just in: Active Homelessness in Toronto jumped by another 200+ in August.
The system is now 1700 beds (acknowledged) short. More like 2000 practically.@johntory continues to try to lie, beat, and arrest his way out of a fundamental and growing crisis. https://t.co/lykIEu9LjN pic.twitter.com/lUqtHy2Eys
— Doug Johnson Hatlem (@djjohnso) September 17, 2021
Toronto’s mayor and police have continued to defend the City’s actions on the day of the encampment clearing, where many encampment residents and their supporters were brutalized and arrested. People came away with injuries including broken bones and concussions, and many were pepper sprayed.
NEW: The City of Toronto just announced it spent ~$2,000,000 to violently evict 60 people experiencing homelessness from park encampments this summer.
This is class warfare.
They'd rather spend money to hide people living in poverty than actually help people living in poverty.
— Naheed Dosani (@NaheedD) September 17, 2021
Meanwhile, on September 17th, the City of Toronto announced in a press released that the total cost of encampment eviction activities this summer totaled almost $2 million. One calculation found that this worked out to $33,333 for each person evicted – resources that could have instead gone toward providing long-term housing solutions.
Halifax and Montreal Hold Anarchist Gatherings, Victoria Announces an Online Bookfair
The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair – which brought together anarchists & people curious about anarchism – has been an important gathering space for radical and anti-authoritarian ideas and practice in North America for two decades. pic.twitter.com/zf434yqsbB
— Jaggi Singh (@JaggiMontreal) May 26, 2021
In Montreal, the first in-person anarchist bookfair since the beginning of the pandemic took place on September 12th. The all day event took place in a park and featured tables with books, zines, and art, food provided by Food Against Fascism, a grief space, and discussions on inter-generational anarchism and race and racism in anarchist organizing and community. Despite a lack of permit, there was no trouble from the cops.
For the second year in a row, organizers in Halifax tackled the challenge of holding a COVID-safe bookfair. The bookfair took place on September 4th and included workshops, tables, and a concert. For more about the bookfair, check out this From Embers episode.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the gathering last weekend. It was a total success! We 🖤everyone who came and tabled, made food, took part in the discussions, and who came to reconnect with each other🏴 pic.twitter.com/bgA6HPdiiy
— Anarchist Bookfair MTL (@AnarchyBookfair) September 14, 2021
The Victoria Anarchist Bookfair also just announced an upcoming online bookfair. Their announcement states:
In 2021, due to the worldwide pandemic, the Anarchist Bookfair Collective has decided to host an online Bookfair. Working with the podcasting radio collective From Embers (visit them here: https://fromembers.libsyn.com) we will be producing a series of interviews covering such issues as Indigenous anarchism; anarchist perspectives on Afghanistan; activism against prisons; policing the police; defending old growth forests, anarchism and the arts, and more!
We expect to launch the 2021 Victoria Anarchist Bookfair on-line in early October. Stay tuned!
Fairy Creek Blockade Becomes Largest Act of Civil Disobedience in History of Canada
The longstanding blockades against old-growth logging at Fairy Creek in so-called BC have hit another milestone. On September 9th, the arrest count rose to 882, surpassing the previous record for largest civil disobedience act in Canada.
I spent my first weekend at Fairy Creek. I cannot stress how serious the situation is right now. 900+ arrests of land defenders often through extremely violent means, RCMP and police continuing to illegally block access to the forest. Police kidnapping occurring daily 1/ pic.twitter.com/uapPUWmpnJ
— Zaria Channer (@zariachanner) September 13, 2021
As reported by CBC, the record-breaking arrests included 16 individuals arrested during a police attempt to clear an access road of people locked down in trenches and on tripods. Until now, that record was held by Clayoquot Sound. Also known as the “War in the Woods.” the 1993 months-long logging protests at the Clayoquot Sound in BC saw 856 arrests. As CBC explains, the War in the Woods ended with “the promise of a provincial government review, which wound up reducing the annual allowable cut and clearcuts in the area to a maximum of four hectares.” However Fairy Creek, and other land defenSe struggles across the country, show us that these policy gains are never sufficient. New waves of resistance to colonial environmental destruction will remain crucial.
RCMP call protesters “well funded” but the paramilitary force has a budget of $400-million a year in BC – and they are misspending a lot of it at Fairy Creek, enabling the destruction of ancient trees. Police should withdraw now. @SaveFairyCreek https://t.co/sVuVusK2Yn pic.twitter.com/h2cwSWGmOw
— Mark Hume (@themarkhume) September 13, 2021
Teal Cedar, a Teal Jones subsidiary, has applied for a year-long extension of the current injunction beyond the September 26th expiry date. The judge responsible for deciding the fate of the injunction has noted that he is not sure what his decision will be but that he anticipates making a decision in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the injunction has been temporarily extended pending his decision.
In continuity with the last several months of resistance and repression, the blockades remain active and the arrests have not stopped, with the count recently surpassing 1,000. To read an anarchist analysis of the struggle at Fairy Creek, go here. Follow the campaign on Instagram here.
10,000 Western University Students Stage Walk-out Against Sexual Violence
Following orientation week at London, Ontario’s Western University, students’ social media featured multiple reports of approximately 30 women being drugged and some sexually assaulted in the Medway-Sydenham Hall student residence. The reports sparked more students not staying in residence halls to come forward about their own recent experiences of sexual violence on campus. These students articulated their assessment of the university as playing host to a culture of misogyny which enables abuse and makes it difficult for survivors to seek support.
As reported by CBC, a student sexual violence survey found that that as many as 71% per cent of Western University students reported being sexually harassed in the 2017-18 school year, with more than 32% of students reporting being sexually assaulted during the same time span. In response to the crisis, students staged a walkout against sexual violence on September 17th.
Yesterday, thousands of students gathered on UC hill to hear from survivors and demand change and protection against sexual violence against women on Western campus. Here a few shots from the walkout at @WesternU #MMJC7DaysaWeek pic.twitter.com/lWUgQ9of8S
— Griffin Jaeger (@griffjaeger) September 18, 2021
An estimated 10,000 people attended to show support for survivors and demand the university address the issue of sexual violence. So far, the president of the university has announced an increase in campus policing and security patrols as well as mandatory consent training for students in residence.
We know that cops don’t keep anyone safe, and are themselves an integral part, and defenders of, a system of patriarchy and rape culture. We hope that the students resisting sexual violence in their context will find creative ways to build a different culture at their school without relying on the police.
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