• Magazine

    Stepping up for future generations

    In summer 2011, several people from communities in northern Saskatchewan walked 820 kilometres from Pinehouse to Regina to raise awareness about the storage and transportation of nuclear waste in the province, and to oppose a proposed nuclear waste dump near Pinehouse. This is an excerpt from their radio interview with Don Kossick following the walk.

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    Canadian mining on trial

    As a court battle ensues between the Salvadoran government and Canadian mining company Pacific Rim, the disappearances and murders of anti-mining activists are a tangible manifestation of the lack of respect for individual and collective rights in the face of highly lucrative development projects.

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    The next generation of land defenders

    Meet the youth at the heart of a movement to raise awareness about a proposed nuclear waste dump near their communities. These five young people participated in an 820-kilometre walk from Pinehouse to Regina, Saskatchewan to oppose the storage and transportation of nuclear waste in the province.

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    Community organizing

    Those of us who are active in our communities, whether dealing with issues like homelessness or fundraising for a high school basketball team, have much to learn from the thoughts and insights of Joan Kuyek, whose experiences as a community organizer span some 30 years.

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    From the jaws of defeat

    Whether we are planning a short-term campaign or the theoretical work of long-term, widespread and systemic social change, the process of strategy development is the same. To begin developing a winning strategy, we must first ask ourselves: what does victory look like?

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    Letter from the editor

    Necessary for survival and intricately intertwined with our emotions, spirituality and culture, food holds major power. As such, the systems that govern its cultivation, distribution and consumption are fertile battlefields for controversy, domination, generosity and resistance.

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    Fair trade and empire

    Fair trade marketing and advocacy rely on the idea that fair trade increases connectedness between Global South producers and Global North consumers. But while fair trade does reduce the number of intermediaries in the supply chain as compared to the free trade system, it also serves to reinforce racist and colonial distinctions between the poor Global South farmer and the benevolent Global North consumer. While it may channel slightly more income into agricultural communities, it ultimately fails to address the colonial capitalist structures that produce the impoverishment of farmers on an ongoing basis.

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    Propagating the food movement

    Rhizomes are horizontal, underground plant stems with the ability to create complex root systems. They can expand relentlessly underground, often lying dormant for years, and re-emerge as healthy plants in different locations when the internal and external conditions are right. Each new plant created is connected to the parent but exists as its own independent, flourishing entity. The rhizome can serve as a metaphor for the Canadian food movement – a decentralized network of diverse, self-organizing, interconnected initiatives with no identifiable beginning or end.

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    20 food initiatives to get excited about

    A recent study on the Canadian food movement found it to be uniquely decentralized and self-propagating in comparison to other social movements. Through phone and e-mail conversations with foodies across the country, Briarpatch learned about dozens of inter-connected but independent food-related initiatives that together are crafting a network of more sustainable, democratic and inclusive food systems that challenge our current corporate, industrial model. What follows is a small sampling of the most exciting initiatives we came across.

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    Feeding the revolution

    After years of working for cash-strapped environmental organizations, Rick Morrell founded an organic grocery store in 1996 with the goal of directing profits into the environmental movement. Fifteen years later, Morrell is still struggling to find those profits, but the store has become a mainstay in Regina’s activist community.

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    Peak oil for preteens

    Claudia Dávila’s debut graphic novel, Luz Sees the Light, sets Luz and her friends on a path to transform their fossil-fueled world.

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    Turning the tide

    The Conservatives won a majority in the recent federal election with a very simple core message. On the basis of their economic agenda and tough-on-crime program, Stephen Harper presented his party as the safe choice in difficult times.

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    Lebanon rising

    Farah Koubaissy lifts a megaphone to the cheers of a crowd in downtown Beirut. The 24-year-old student, blogger and community organizer sports a calm smile, a keffiyeh scarf and a camera.

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    Living among us

    On June 26, 2010, while the G20 summit was under way amid mass protests on the streets of downtown Toronto, a startling revelation was made that would reverberate through activist communities for months to come. Two undercover police officers had joined protest groups and been living among activists as part of a large-scale investigation that began more than a year earlier, in April 2009.

  • Magazine

    Our way to fight

    In this book, you’ll meet Palestinians and Israelis whose struggles for peace, justice and an end to more than half a century of illegal dispossession and brutal occupation, belie the racism and harmful homogenising of history that fuel the current policies of the Zionist state.

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    The Jaggi Singh trial

    Ideas are being put on trial in Canada. This became clear sitting in the courtroom at Toronto’s Old City Hall on Thursday, April 28. Jaggi Singh, one of the nation’s most prominent anti-capitalist activists, pleaded guilty to urging people to take down the $5-million G20 summit fence erected in downtown Toronto last June.

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    From the ground up

    On the West Coast, agriculture has always taken a back seat to logging, which has generated a lot of money for folks in these company towns. Now, as the export-the-trees-and-import-everything-else economy seems to be running out of steam, there’s renewed interest in small-scale farming as both a way to make a living and as a community resource. And in contrast to the decades of focus on the male-dominated forest industry, this movement is in many cases being led by women.

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    Letter from the editor

    The first step toward emancipation must be recognition of the shared struggle between all those considered less valuable by our state and social structures. Liberation can only happen collectively and across all communities simultaneously. Freedom at the expense of others’ freedom is not freedom at all, but a different and twisted kind of enslavement.

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    Hierarchies of worthiness

    In news coverage of violence, women are almost always portrayed as victims. Whether they are worthy, innocent victims in need of rescue (“virgins”), as in the case of Afghan women post-9/11, or unworthy, culpable victims to be ignored or incarcerated (“vamps”), as with Indigenous women in Canada, depends on their strategic value to the forces in power.

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    Lives less livable

    Butler’s theory of gender-as-performance remains her best-known contribution to academia, but for the last decade her attention has gradually shifted from gender to the politics of war. Now she’s struggling with questions like, whose deaths matter, and why are some deaths grievable but others not?