People’s Social Forum 2014 : Space for Change

The People’s Social Forum is a “critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today.”

Amassing over 3000 participants with over 500 unique workshops, the PSF held the space for social change in a brilliant fashion. One of the most under-acknowledged successes of the Occupy movement was the physical space in which it was held. It was an agora, a public space for discussion and philosophizing where its participants were conscious that their space was safe and held with their collective interests in mind.

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Our relationship with space and property are complex to say the least. Ottawa (as well as most of, if not all of, Canada) is on unceded Native American territory. The contracts that were forced upon the Natives have largely been decreed illegal. If you’re interested in your Canadian history of colonization, I highly recommend Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance.

I humbly thank the organizers and participants for allowing us to meet freely throughout the beautiful campus of the University of Ottawa, and to talk about all of the issues as we saw fit.

 

So much of the value comes not just from the knowledge brought through the workshops, but through networking with our comrades across Canada with whom we can share our opinions, ideas and experiences.

 

Now let me credit some workshops:

 

The first talk of the day was hosted by the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, an absolute beast of an organization that helps support community economic development throughout Canada by providing resources and assistance (I realize that description is quite vague, but their vastness is a bit imposing).

 

Fair Vote Canada are pushing for an alternative to first-past-the-post voting (for example, the alternative vote).

 

I left the “Marx was Right” (unrelated, but fantastic article) talk after ten minutes of meaningless rhetoric. The speaker was no Richard Wolff.

 

Solidarity Halifax knocked it out of the park with their talk. Having a group that stands together with those who need it most is of unmitigated importance towards building a unified left in Canada

 

Post-Capitalist Futures with prolific author Richard Swift, inspiring no-nonsense author Errol Sharpe, and Bob Thomson of Degrowth Canada was another phenomenal talk.

 

Economic Democracy for the 21st Century with author & professor Tom Malleson was another wonderful opportunity to learn about the keys necessary to help reach our goals of a fairer future.

 

And author Pierre Ducasse spoke about economic democracy, shouting from the rooftops that all of the issues we fight for are symptoms of a rigged economy and that, to create sustaining change, we must fight for a fair economy (which is exactly what we’re doing with JoatU).

 

Overall, the event was incredible on several levels. By holding space, the People’s Social Forum allowed for experiences of all kinds to take place, including yours truly expressing himself at a poetry slam and taking part in a healing workshop discussing the role of touch in society.
I am feeling refreshed, inspired and ready to change the world. And with your support, we will do just that.

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