The following represent a random sampling of voices from those activists and organizers who participated in our research project. To see more, refresh this page. Use the tag cloud to the right to navigate by theme.
I think that your generation is starting ahead of where my generation started and that brings me some hope. Now I think there are a bunch of things that I think you guys are doing that is totally as stupid as we did but there are things that I think you are thinking about, and concerned about, and critical about, and open about that was not reflected in the left wing movements of the sixties and seventies….there were many things we couldn't have known. But I think this generation of activists has a body of knowledge based on the trajectory of things that have happened in the last thirty, forty years that you are actually more humble about.
In union organizing drives and on picket lines...I've seen...racism, sexism break down. I mean not immediately, not in the first day or two, but over a period of time. Folks start to see that the person who's working with them side by side or standing with them in the picket line has a hell of a lot more in common with them then they do with the boss who's making racist jokes and sexist jokes.
Reconsidering the end goals
We need to change the end goal. Is the end goal about economic growth and increasing wealth or is the end goal...human well-being and quality of life? There is a really rich discourse around those things - gross national happiness and genuine progress indicators and those sorts of things. It's not enough just to do the academic research and come up with these ideas, there has to be direct correlations within the politics.
Confronting structures of domination
Organizing can be a space where actions can come out and thinking can be engaged...goal setting, and thinking, and...active critical analysis can happen because we don't live in a vacuum….[I’m interested in] the ability to translate...thoughts into the world we want to see…[through] the actions that we engage in, especially when they're explicitly aimed at challenging and confronting white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, other structures of domination.
Care and organizing
I think it's important to nurture people in the political movements that are important to me. So the form is as important as the content. So how we organize, and how we talk to each other, and how we behave is extremely important….a person I truly respec[t] once said to me that [the]...only...criteria for [being] progressive [is] they had to be interested in ideas and care about people and if they didn't have one or the other they were not progressive. So there are a lot of people in our progressive movements who either don't care about people or don't care about ideas...that's what I mean… [by] the converging of the social and the moral.
...voter turnout in provincial and national elections keeps on going down...I don't think it's a question of apathy...people have no real say in how things operate. That's one particular issue. Second, I think it's a question of empowering Canadians as a whole. I think first we have to begin with this electoral process which...serves the big parties and doesn't serve the ordinary Canadians. So how do Canadians participate in the political process? How do they make decisions? How do they control the decision makers? These are very important issues that have to be taken up but also the empowerment of each Canadian.
Organize where you are
You have to organize where you are. If you go to high school, you organize high school students, you don't organize pensioners or something. If you're a...pensioner you organize other people who are like you, you organize your friends, you organize. And that's something that's really important, it's building those [struggles] link by link, person by person. So if you're doing environmental organizing...you're bringing a radical perspective that links that struggle to other struggles. People often come into being active or caring about certain things through particular...issues, right? Going through the process of gaining a political consciousness...usually centers around one thing and then hopefully there's people there who can make links between that one thing and a broader perspective of capitalism, a broader perspective of a whole range of things.
Right now I think that the future is probably going to entail a lot of world crisis in terms of developing countries and resource wars and I think that'll probably hinge around three issues...peak oil, climate change, and natural resource depletion….I think resource wars are probably going to become more common. I think that as...climate change affects the world that Canada will probably gain a lot of population and be under pressure to exploit its natural resources a lot more. I'd suspect that we'll see this trend continue of sort of beefing up our borders and not letting people in almost like a worldwide [feudal] scenario, and I think that food and water are probably going to become the most valuable political tools...
One of the things we do a really bad job of is fostering a sense of hope. I know that's kind of cheesy but people come to radical politics because they think it's going to do something and be a legitimate option and we don't make it that. We make it seem like a club, we make it seem like something that people of only a certain ilk can engage in….It should be a part of everyone's day to day experience.
The state and class rule
The Canadian state itself is an instrument of class rule, and the Canadian state itself...has been deployed...against workers, against progressive peopl[e], against the First Nations, against minorities….The Canadian state[‘s]...foundations are colonial, we only have to talk about what happened to the First Nations, we only have to talk about what happened to Louis Riel.