The Peoples’ Social Forum in Ottawa – an invitation for Indigenous participation

After over two years of cross-Canada planning, the Peoples’ Social Forum will be taking place August 21-24 in Ottawa, based at and around University of Ottawa facilities. Organizers are expecting thousands from across the country to attend this gathering that is aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. The Forum is intended as a space for social movements to meet and converge, for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges and for artistic manifestations reflecting a diversity of demands and aspirations.

The gathering will open on August 20 with a traditional Algonquin ceremony at sunrise. August 21 and 22 will see hundreds of participant-led workshops happen simultaneously at the University of Ottawa, and a celebratory peoples’ march in the afternoon.  Saturday, August 23 will be a day of movement assemblies.  The last day there will be a final all-movements assembly and closing ceremony.   The Peoples’ Social Forum is also a joyous gathering with special exhibitions, work and peoples history tours, film screenings, critical mass rally, a pow-wow, street performances, concerts, games, and building new relationships. The Peoples’ Social Forum is a means of  stimulating debate, discussion and furthering our sense of community and collective action.

The Peoples’ Social Forum is intended to bring a diversity of peoples together and is especially focused on bridging the English / French – Quebec / rest of Canada divide, as well as centering the participation and leadership of the Original Peoples of this land.

As such, we’ve prepared this short invite and welcome tailored to local Indigenous people and communities, on how to be involved in the lead-up process to the Forum, and during the Forum itself.



In advance / preparation:

Can you see yourself doing any of the following for the forum:

Giving a workshop? Performing music or dance? Creating art to display and/or sell? Serving as a healer in the healing space? Helping with programming for the children and youth? Participation in the different assemblies? Helping outreach to other local people and groups? Talk about how you want to change the world? Screening a film? Reading from and/or selling your book(s)? Drumming at the big opening event, or at the pow wow? Organizing the pow wow? Giving a guided walk? Offering traditional teachings? Guiding people in beading or making ash baskets,  birchbark containers, or other art / cultural artifacts? Discussing Indigenous comics? Childraising? Hosting a hand games competition?

There are specific ways to propose your activity, listed below.
– If you don’t see your desired form of involvement, please use the contact info below to discuss how to sign up for what you’d like to do.


During August 21-24:

Bring yourself, bring your family, bring your friends – there will be a lot going on for everyone. Activities will be centred at the University of Ottawa, but there will be other venues as well, including Victoria Island and Sparks Street.

Stay tuned for a complete schedule, but please take a moment to register in advance: http://www.peoplessocialforum.org/register

* Note: A Solidarity Fund is set up to help support the participation of Indigenous, People of Colour, youth, elders, remote and low-income. Apply by July 31st: www.idlenomore.ca/peoples_social_forum_apply_now_for_financial_support


Overall

This guide is not an exhaustive description of everything the Peoples Social Forum has to offer. For more, please explore the website www.PeoplesSocialForum.org including the ‘FAQ’ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Contact information – for the local ‘expansion committees’ representing different locations across Canada, for the different Caucuses, and for the PSF coordinators as listed below – is all accessible at http://www.peoplessocialforum.org/contact

  • Roger Rashi: Finance and Program, Labour and Quebec, rogrash@videotron.ca or 613-236-7230 #7971
  • Darius Mirshahi: Culture and Mobilization, People of Colour and Queer, darius_mirshahi@hotmail.com or 613-236-7230 #7977
  • Ana Collins: Logistics and Mobilization, Original Peoples, Youth and Women, anapsf2014@gmail.com or 613-868-6983
  • Sakura Saunders: Communications, (dis)Ability, sakura.saunders@gmail.com


Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO)

IPSMO has put together this guide, and is committed to supporting this process of the PSF, especially involving Indigenous people and solidarity participation. To that end, we are doing some fundraising in order to support that participation – if you require financial support, please contact us (although we may have limited funds).

IPSMO will be facilitating some workshops during the Forum, as well as leading the coordination of an Indigenous Solidarity Movement Assembly. If you are interested in being part of that planning process, or know others who might be good, please do get in touch – you can see the initial description at https://ipsmo.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/indigenoussolidarity__thepsf.pdf

We can be contacted at ipsmo@riseup.net or http://www.ipsmo.org – or by phone, via OPIRG/GRIPO-Ottawa, at 613-230-3076.

—-

Native Caucus Invitation (August 18-20) – For Indigenous folks from all nations!

The Social Forum is scheduled for August 21-24 (Thurs-Sun) in Ottawa. The potential for good to come from this is tremendous, but the need for all of our Original Peoples’Caucus to meet ahead of time is more important.

This is an invitation to start our strategizing for positive solutions by meeting together before the Social Forum.

Our invitation is to meet August 18-20 (Mon-Wed) near Poltimore, Quebec, which is 30 minutes from Ottawa. Neecha Dupuis’s parents have offered their land located on 200 acres with a private lake. Bring your camping gear and tents. Remember to bring your personal items (soap, towel, etc.). Cooking can be taken care of by friends who helped with Theresa Spence’s kitchen staff. Because this is potluck, we request food donation and/or money donations.

Any further information or suggestions can be emailed to either of our contacts listed below.

This separate time will give all of us the opportunity to strategize together. Good minds coming together in our own way.

Hope to see you there.

Nya:weh,

Wes Elliot, wes.at.6@gmail.com
Neecha Dupuis, neecha@hotmail.com

—-

First Voices! First Women Speak! A Teach-in and Community Gathering

You are invited to attend First Voices! First Women Speak! A teach-in and community gathering featuring renowned Indigenous scholars, writers and artists Lee Maracle and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, as well as Claudette Commanda, Viola Thomas, Vera Wabegijig, Moe Clark, and others!

Please click the image to download the poster.

1:30 ~ 9 pm
Friday August 24, 2012
Odawa Native Friendship Centre
12 Sterling Ave.
Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory 

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/409497419085733/

We will meet, share knowledge and generate ideas about how we – as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – can work together in solidarity to the benefit of all living beings.

There will be a lecture, a book launch, discussion circles, spoken word performances, traditional drumming and a feast!

Please register by August 17th – space is limited! Click here (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/firstwomenspeakto confirm your spot. The registration fee is $20 or pay what you can. You can pay in advance or at the door. 

EVERYONE IS WELCOME!

This is an amazing opportunity to have so many inspiring women in the same place, sharing their wisdom and experience! We especially want to encourage youth to participate. If you are a youth and/or non-waged, registration is free.

If you are unable to attend but would like to support this event, please make a donation by clicking here. Once the cost of the event has been covered, any additional funds will be put towards the publication of ‘Honouring Indigenous Women: Hearts of Nations- Vol. 2’, an initiative of IPSMO. For details on this publication, please see: www.ipsmo.org.

Programme

MC: Viola Thomas

Part I

1:30 Opening and welcome by Claudette Commanda with drumming by Greg Meekis and Brad Picody
2:00 Lecture by Lee Maracle: There is a direct connection between violence against the earth and violence against women: looking to the past to restore our future.
3:00 Break
3:15 Circle responses, reflections and crafting plans of action (circles lead by Claudette Commanda, Lee Maracle, and Leanne Simpson)
5:00 Spoken word and poetry performance by Vera Wabegijig
5:30 Closing for the afternoon with drumming by Greg Meekis and Brad Picody

5:45 Feast!

Part II 

7:00 Ottawa Launch of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s recent book: Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence with an opening by Greg Meekis and Brad Picody
8:00 Performance by Moe Clark and Leanne Simpson
8:40 Closing remarks from Lee Maracle
9:00 Closing for the day by Claudette Commanda 

*If you are unable to come for the whole day you are welcome to come only for the launch of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s new book ‘Dancing on our Turtle’s Back’ which will be happening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This event is a collaboration between Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) and KAIROS Canada.

About our guests and presenters:

Claudette Commanda is the Executive Director of the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, where she works tirelessly in the preservation and maintenance of First Nations languages, cultures, and traditions. She is also a part-time professor for the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law, the Institute of Women’s Studies, the Aboriginal Studies Program and the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. (from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa)

Lee Maracle is a writer, activist and performer from the Stó:lō nation located in the area now known as British Columbia. She is currently the Aboriginal Writer-in-Residence for First Nations House, and an instructor in the Aboriginal Studies Department at the University of Toronto. Lee is one of the founders of the En’owkin International School of Writing in Penticton, BC, and Cultural Director of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto. She mentors young people on personal and cultural healing and reclamation. (from CBC 8th Fire)

Books written by Lee Maracle:

  • Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel – 1975 (revised 1990)
  • Sojourner’s Truth and Other Stories – 1990
  • Oratory: Coming to Theory – 1990
  • Sundogs – 1991
  • Ravensong – (Press Gang Publishers)1993
  • I am Woman: A Native Perspective on Sociology and Feminism – 1988; Press Gang Publishers 1996
  • Daughters are Forever – 2002
  • Will’s Garden – 2002
  • First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style – (Theytus Books Publishing) 2010

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a writer and scholar of Michi Saagiik Nishnaabeg ancestry and is a member of Alderville First Nation. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, is an Adjunct Professor of Indigenous Studies at Trent University and an instructor at the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge, Athabasca University. Leanne has published three edited volumes including Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence and Protection of Indigenous Nations (2008, Arbeiter Ring), and This is An Honour Song: Twenty Years Since the Barricades (with Kiera Ladner, 2010, Arbeiter Ring). Her recent book, Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence was published in May 2011 and turns to Nishnaabeg theory and philosophy for guidance in building and maintaining resurgence movements. It is her hope that this work will inspire the regeneration of Nishnaabeg systems of governance, language, and knowledge – systems that place women back at the centre of Kina Gchi Nishnaabeg‐ogaming. (from Leanne Simpson’s web site: http://leannesimpson.ca/)

Moe Clark. With humble beginnings as a Calgary native, Moe received mentorship from Sheri-D Wilson, who was integral in launching her career as a spoken word artist at the 2005 Calgary International Spoken Word Festival. Following the success of her debut, as well as winning the Calgary CBC Poetry Face-Off (2007), Moe released a debut album “Circle of She: Story & Song” (April ’08) and toured across Canada. Her award winning poem “Intersecting Circles” was made into a video poem in 2009 (Bravo!Fact, CCA, AFA) and became part of the permanent collection at the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre. (from Moe Clark’s web site: http://www.moeclark.ca/. You can also listen to her on her web site!)

Vera Wabegijig is an Anishnaabe mother from the bear clan of the Mississauga First Nation and Wikwemikong Unceded Reserve. She is also a poet, writer and media artist. Her poetry has been printed in many anthologies including XXX NDN, Surviving in the Hour of Darkness, Breaking the Surface, Our Words, Our Revolutions, Reclaiming the Future, and Sweetgrass Grows All Around Her. Currently, Vera has completed a collection of poetry, Manomin – Wild Rice Dreams, and with her daughters Storm and Grace, will launch a new media website this summer called Ishkode/Fire. You can read her blog at: http://verawaabegeeshig.wordpress.com/.

This event is also supported by Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), OPIRG-Carleton (the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at Carleton University), Quakers, Project of Heart, Amnesty International Canada and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative and Arbeiter Ring Publishing!

     

   

Sacred Fire for Beaver Pond Forest starts Wed in Toronto

Media Release ~~ February 8, 2011 ~~ For Immediate Release

SACRED FIRE WILL BURN AT QUEEN’S PARK FOR OTTAWA’S SOUTH MARCH HIGHLANDS

(Toronto) Daniel Amikwabe Bernard, Algonquin Firekeeper, will keep a Sacred Fire burning at Queen’s Park from Wednesday 9th to Sunday 13th February to urge the province to halt tree-clearing and to promote understanding about Ottawa’s most important ecological and cultural heritage area.

The South March Highlands is one of the most bio-diverse areas remaining in urban Canada, with more than 675 different species of life, including 240 species of wildlife and over 134 different types of nesting birds.

For the past year local citizens, environmentalists and First Nations groups representing over 14,000 people have mounted a vigorous campaign to save undeveloped lands in the 10,000-year-old, ecologically unique, South March Highlands.  In the 1970s it was protected as a Natural Environmental Area but urban development has steadily eroded it until less than 1/3rd remains protected.  Citizens have actively opposed development since 1981 because the South March Highlands is an old-growth forest having the densest bio-diversity in Ottawa and provides critical habitat for 20 species-at-risk.

In the latest assault on the forest, KNL Developments recently began clear-cutting trees for a subdivision in an area known locally as the Beaver Pond Forest, even though development depends on planned water diversions without Environmental Assessment and a questionable archaeological study.

The principal Algonquin Spiritual Elder, Grandfather William Commanda, Ancestral Carrier of the 3 Sacred Wampum Belts, Officer of the Order of Canada, recognized as a spiritual leader and founder of the Circle of All Nations, considers the South March Highlands to be Sacred and sees this as an opportunity to renew our sustainable relationship with Mother Earth.

Algonquin across the Ottawa River Watershed in both Ontario and Quebec have called for a comprehensive archaeological assessment of the area.  KNL’s archaeological study was accepted by the Ministry of Culture in 2004 despite being described as ‘fatally flawed’ by Dr. Robert McGhee, past president of the Canadian Archaeological Association.  A review of the KNL study by Groupe de recherche archéologique de l’Outaouais (GRAO) led by Marcel LaLiberté, concurred that the area “can no longer be ignored as of low archaeological potential”.

In addition to questioning many irregularities in development approvals, the Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands has put forward creative proposals for stewardship of the South March Highlands that the City of Ottawa and the Provincial Ministries of Environment (MoE), Natural Resources (MNR), Culture (MTC), Aboriginal Affairs (MAA) and Municipal Affairs (MMHA) have to-date declined to discuss.

“We are also asking why the MNR has yet to confirm the area as a provincially- significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest despite the fact it was recommended for that designation in 1992, and why the MMHA has yet to enforce the Provincial Policy Statement that prevents development in ecologically significant areas such as ANSI candidates,” says Paul Renaud, of the Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands.

“We are asking why the MoE is allowing development to proceed without Environmental Assessments and why the MAA has yet to uphold the Canadian Constitution which requires the Crown to consult and accommodate the interests of First Nations,” adds Renaud.

Starting Wednesday, a Sacred Fire will burn as a beacon of hope within the provincial capital to promote understanding and to request support from the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, to issue a Ministerial Order to halt the clear-cutting, in light of the two independent archaeological reviews, and the discovery of potentially significant sites since the 2004 MTC approval.

In an unprecedented recognition of aboriginal religious practices by the Provincial Legislature, permission has been granted to keep the Sacred Fire burning day and night. The Sacred Fire is an altar for prayer and visitors are invited to approach respectfully and spend time with the Firekeeper to learn more about the South March Highlands and to discuss our relationship with Mother Earth.

On Sunday, February 13th, the Sacred Fire will go out at mid-day.  There will be Closing ceremonies, with drumming, prayers, and singing, a message from Grandfather William Commanda, and from other First Nations elders and chiefs.  Everyone is invited to join with us regardless of religion, race, or culture.

PLEASE NOTE:  There is a protocol regarding filming and photography at the Sacred Fire and media are kindly asked to speak with the Firekeeper before recording or photographing.

-30-

The Sacred Fire will be directly in front of the Provincial Legislature at Queen’s Park.

For more information:

Daniel Amikwabe Bernard – 416-876-3051

Liaison for Daniel Bernard: Peter Haresnape, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Aboriginal Justice Team – 647-838-8455 or office 416-423-5525

Paul Renaud, Coalition to Protect the South March Highlands  —  613-277-5898

Background Info:

UPDATE:

On the morning of Tues Feb 8th, approximately 20 community members staged an action in the forest, surrounding the cutting machines and temporarily preventing them from further destroying the forest: