EVENTS & MEETINGS:
1) All May: Continuing Earth Month
2) Tuesday, May 8: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty
3) Thursday, May 10: Northern Initiative for Social Action Heart Show Opening Gala
4) Sunday, May 13: Wolf Lake Field Trip
5) Tuesday, May 15: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore
6) Thursday, May 17: reThink Green Annual General Meeting
7) Wednesday, May 23: "The Injustice System" - A talk by John Moore about his struggle against an unjust and racist conviction
8) Saturday, May 26: Eat Local Sudbury Membership Launch Extravaganza
9) Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15: Peer Support Training Conference
NEWS, ANALYSIS, & CALLS TO ACTION:
1) "History of Wolf Lake Forest Reserve" by Vicki Mather
2) "Riot police turn bus into Victoriaville jail cell: A first hand account from the Québec student strike" by Stefan Christoff
EVENTS & MEETINGS:
All May: Continuing Earth Month
Check out http://www.earthdaysudbury.ca for a complete list of events associated with Earth Month in Sudbury.
Tuesday, May 8: Next meeting of the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty
Location: Rethink Green, 176 Larch Street, Sudbury
Matters to be discussed include ongoing direct action support work, evaluation of the April 19 action, and organizing against the proposed provincial budget.
Thursday, May 10: Northern Initiative for Social Action Heart Show Opening Gala
Location: Fromagerie Elgin, 5 Cedar St., Sudbury
NISA / Northern Initiative for Social Action invites you to come out to Fromagerie Elgin on Thursday, May 10th between 6-9pm for the NISA Heart Show Opening Gala!
Showcased will be a diverse collection of artistic expression including poetry readings of the 10th Annual BrainStorm contest winners, crafted items and visual art pieces. There will be refreshments and entertainment provided! Some art works will be available for purchase.
Our works, individual and unique, reflect our diverse mental wellness journeys. We use the power of art as a vehicle to share and heal. "Every brush stroke is an act of courage."
The show will be exhibited from Saturday, May 5th until Sunday, May 27th. Partial proceeds from the sales will go to support NISA's programs.
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Sunday, May 13: Wolf Lake Field Trip
Time: departure at 9:30am, return at 4:00pm
On Sunday, May 13, Mother's Day, come out for a guided hike of Wolf Lake Forest - one of the last old growth red pine forests in the world! This is your chance to experience it for yourself, and find out what you can do to help protect this unique ecological treasure.
The hike will be led by Viki Mather and Franco Mariotti, who are both very knowledgeable about the forest.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot on the bus and on the hike.
Date: Sunday, 13 May 2012 - please note that this is Mother's Day
Time: departure 9:30am (plan to be there 10-15 minutes early), travel time ~1.5 hours, hike ~ 2-3 hours, return before 4:00 p.m.
Cost: suggested donation of $20 per person to cover the cost of the bus
What to bring: Dress for the weather and for the woods. Wear good shoes for hiking. Bring water, a lunch, some snacks, and any other basics for your daypack (e.g. sunscreen, small first aid kit, camera...).
Other information: We will have a waiver to sign before we head out. Around April 23, we will contact those people who have confirmed to ask that they bring in their donation for a 'ticket' for the bus. This will contribute towards the cost of the bus, and will help ensure we know who is coming, so that we can give the opportunity to as many people as we can, and not leave empty seats.
We will send a last reminder a few days prior to the hike.
The bus will depart from a central (downtown) location accessible by transit. A pick-up point in New Sudbury will also likely be provided. Final details will be sent to you with further notices.
Tuesday, May 15: Meeting of Justice and Freedom for John Moore
Location: Little Montreal, 182 Elgin St., Sudbury
Matters to be discussed include the zine of material about John's case and the various information-gathering steps that people committed to taking at the last meeting in our discussion of where to focus our energies next given the deplorable decision by AIDWYC not to proceed with John's case.
Thursday, May 17: reThink Green Annual General Meeting
Location: reThink Green - 176 Larch Street, Sudbury
You are cordially invited to reThink Green's (Greater Sudbury Environment Network) Annual General Meeting and 'Earth Month Thank you' on Thursday, May 17th in the ERC (176 Larch Street, rear entrance) from 7 to 9 p.m. We have had a very successful year that we want to share with you and have some exciting announcements on new developments, partnerships and projects that will make an impact for our members and the community at large.
We are inviting all those involved in this year's Earth month festivities to attend, share and provide your feedback around this year's events.
Beverages and appetizers will be served.
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Wednesday, May 23: "The Injustice System" - A talk by John Moore about his struggle against an unjust and racist conviction
Location: Aboriginal People's Alliance (Northern Ontario) or APANO, 66 Elm Street, Sudbury
Saturday, May 26: Eat Local Sudbury Membership Celebration
Location: 176 Larch Street, Sudbury
Always wanted to become a member? Need to renew your membership? Want to know more about Eat Local Sudbury?
Come join the celebration!
11:00-12:00pm Peggy Baillie, our new Managing Director will give a talk on cooking with different meat cuts
12:00-2:00pm will be the membership drive
A complimentary, all local lunch will be provided, and there will be activities for the kids!
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Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15: Peer Support Training Conference
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm each day
Location: Days Inn Sudbury, North Banquet, 117 Elm Street
We invite you to participate in our five-day training program and build upon your qualifications in the field of peer support!
"Peer support is sometimes known as self-help, mutual aid, co-counselling or mutual support." (Mental Health Commission of Canada)
For many people with lived experience of mental illness, recovery is an ongoing journey. We know that a lot of skills are developed from negotiating the rough terrain of individual wellness and from encounters with various mental health services and supports in our community. Recovery is a very individual experience, but it is often strengthened by connecting with someone else who has been there-a peer.
Peer Support Workers are formalized, paid employees who adhere to best and emerging practices in the field which embrace confidentiality, boundary setting and conflict resolution, as well as traditional skills found within the mental health social services system.
NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action is pleased to offer a five-day training program presented by Robyn Priest and Susan Musante from the Alaska Peer Support Consortium to offer those with lived experience of mental illness help to build their knowledge and qualifications in peer support for future employment.
To sign up for this conference, contact Jude Ashburn at 705 675-9193
NEWS, ANALYSIS, & CALLS TO ACTION:
"History of Wolf Lake Forest Reserve"
By Vicki Mather
In the late 1990s, all levels of government committed to the idea of protecting 12% of Canada lands by the year 2000. Ontario's Conservative government took up this challenge, and in 1997 created the Lands for Life public consultation process to determine where new parks and protected areas needed to be created.
Two years later, the multi-stakeholder task groups were unable to come to consensus. As the 1999 election was approaching, the government of the day felt it was crucial to come out with a plan to meet the year 2000 commitment for defining protected areas. They asked the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and some of the larger provincial organizations to work out their differences and come out with a plan.
The result was announced on March 29, 1999 as Ontario's Living Legacy (OLL). On this date, most of the Chiniguchi River system was designated as a Waterway Park. Included within this area is the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, which contains the largest area of Old Growth, self-sustaining red pine anywhere.
The OLL document recognized that some mining claims and leases overlapped with these important ecological areas. So the Forest Reserve designation honoured the existing rights of the claim holders to continue to work their claims. However, should any of the claims lapse through time, the land would not be allowed to be re-staked for mining claims.
Over the next few years many of the claims across Ontario did lapse (as claims are wont to do). The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines (MNDM) feared they were losing too much land, and stopped allowing the claims to lapse in 2003. In 2005, a Disentanglement plan was developed to sort out which lands were important socially and ecologically vs. lands important to keep available for mineral exploration.
It was six years later that MNR finally arrived at a plan to disentangle the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, by changing the designation to General Use area. Last summer, nearly 300 letters responded negatively to this proposal. On March 13th of this year MNR withdrew the proposal to take away the Forest Reserve protection.
Minister Gravelle assured the public that their voices had been heard, AND that once the current claims lapsed, the area would become part of the Chiniguchi Waterway Park.
One major problem remains. MNDM, specifically Minister Bartolucci, continues to renew the claims within the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, despite the fact that no exploration work has occurred on the claims, ever.
Mr. Bartolucci's staff met with some environmental organizations in the middle of April 2012. They were assured that the auto-renewal practice was cancelled for the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve on April 7th. Yet on April 30th, another claim got the Minister's auto-renew for another 2 months.
While it is not unheard of for claimholders to be given extra time to file paperwork, it is expected that the claimholder would be the one to request such an extension. In the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve, this is not the case.
Why has claim #1214413 had yet another Minister's extension? Flag Resources has had ample time to decide if they want to keep this claim or not.
The EBR posting in June 2011 to make changes to the Wolf Lake Forest Reserve (F175) should have been a wake-up call to Flag that they would have to work if they wanted to keep the claims.
Claim #1214413 has never had any work done on site since it was recorded in 1996. It has been auto-renewed since 2004. It was given a 6 month extension last October and another 2 month extension on Monday this week.
A little recent history:
On March 13th this year, the Minister of Natural Resources announced that the Forest Reserve status would stay, and that the land would be protected once the claims lapsed.
On April 7th, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines auto-renewed claim #1214759 for another year, despite the March 13th announcement.
(This claim was staked in January 2000, a full 9 months after the land was supposed to be placed into the Forest Reserve.)
On April 16th, environmental groups met with MNDM staff and were assured that no further extensions would be granted in F175.
On April 30th, claim #1214413 was renewed again! "MINISTER'S ORDER EXTENDS TIME UNTIL AND INCLUDING 2012-JUN-27 FOR WORK AND FILING THEREOF"
What do we want from Minister Bartolucci?
1) Immediate assurance that no more claims will in F175 will be renewed without the required work being performed.
2) Reversal of the 2 claim renewals that occurred after the March 13th announcement.
3) A meeting with him and local citizens to discuss the future of the Wolf Lake Forest and Chiniguchi Waterway.
"Riot police turn bus into Victoriaville jail cell: A first hand account from the Québec student strike"
By Stefan Christoff
Late on Friday evening Sûreté du Québec (SQ) sirens rang out in the night, the flashing lights of speeding patrol cars fast approaching our bus, transporting many teargas-soaked striking students, community activists and journalists from Victoriaville back to Montreal in the spring rain.
After intense late afternoon protest clashes, involving rubber bullets and rolling clouds of tear gas from SQ forces, patrol cars raced to intercept buses as they left the small town and headed out onto the highway. This included our bus, organized by McGill and Concordia student activists. In the end, three buses were held overnight. In our case, we were forced to sit throughout the night - over ten hours - as police processed passengers in the station and armed guards stood watch on a bus transformed into a jail.
Earlier in the day, activists had successfully challenged police barricades in Victoriaville, delaying the Québec Liberal Party general council meeting.
The protest came in the twelfth week of Quebec's historic student strike, and had been called for by the Coalition opposée à la tarification et à la privatisation des services publics. The coalition, which includes student groups, has been fighting the PLQ government's attack on public services, including a new $200 per year health tax. They have also been vocal supporters of the student strike and the fight for accessible higher education.
"Today in Victoriaville, there's of course a great number of student groups protesting, but there's also many unions, community organizations, women groups, and professors as well as citizens from different parts of Québec," explained Véronique Laflamme from the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU), a group that campaigns against poverty and for social housing in Québec, and which is also a member of the coalition. "The message of all these organizations is the same: we don't want a society were the collective wealth is transferred to the rich and the corporations. We're fed up!"
On the streets in Victoriaville, struggles against poverty, for social housing and in solidarity with union campaigns for workers rights at a time of austerity economics were clear: demonstrators were chanting « étudiant-e-s, travailleur-euse-s, même combat » in the thousands, while flags via Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) were waving alongside red flags in the clouds of tear gas.
Libérez-nous des libéraux by hip-hop group Loco Locass blasted from loud speakers while people challenged en masse police barricades and continued to protest despite police repression.
Sûreté du Québec night raid on protest buses
Over 3,000 people from across Quebec had come to Victoriaville to participate in the protest. As the demonstration wound down in the early evening, people boarded their rides and began heading back to their hometowns.
As the bused rolled out into the night, SQ forces moved quickly to intercept them. Passengers on three buses were arrested, totalling about 100 people.
During the day, on the ground in Victoriaville, police forces seemed at times overwhelmed by both the size and the militancy of the protest, so any major arrest attempts could have been shut-down by protesters or resulted in heightened open street battles. At the protest a number of de-arrests took place, protesters rushing SQ police to break-up arrest attempts. SQ forces instead chose to arrest students under the cover of night, away from the media cameras.
Just after 10pm, fully armed SQ forces boarded and took control of our Montreal-bound bus, announcing all were under arrest for "participating in a riot."
In full riot gear, complete with batons and guns, SQ officers took-up position throughout the bus, forcing the bus driver to return to Victoriaville. SQ police stood in pseudo-military formation on the bus throughout the drive, surveying people, taking notes and ordering people to immediately close phones, cameras and to stop talking.
Clearly the conditions placed on the detained were legally questionable. The order for people to stop using cell phones seemed to aim to create a sense of panic and police control, but was also clearly to ensure no communication with world outside.
Despite SQ orders, text messages were sent to spread the word on the intervention, while people on the bus chanted « So-So-So, Solidarité ! » and a rendition of Solidarity Forever rang out collectively.
Down the highway SQ patrol cars raced alongside the bus, driving through red lights as SQ patrols shut-down intersections, escorting the protesters back to an SQ station in Victoriaville.
The entire scene was both menacing and theatrical: armed riot police on a civilian bus, an SQ escort and illegal orders for people to remain silent. All of this clearly pointed a decision to use state repression against a student movement that is inspiring many to struggle not only for accessible education, but for social justice in an increasingly unequal Québec.
Today in Québec, the earning gap between the wealthy and the rest of the population sits at a 30-year high, according to a recent study by Institut de recherche et d'informations socio-economiques that found "70% of Quebec families are earning a smaller share of the income pie than a generation ago."
After arriving back in Victoriaville the bus pulled into the SQ parking lot, and slowly an all night detention unfolded.
Instead of processing all the arrestees at the SQ station, we were held on the bus throughout the night, from around 10pm until just after 8am; a total of over 10 hours jailed at gun point on a school bus.
Despite repeated orders by SQ officers to remain silent, people challenged the legality of their order and continued to talk and joke on the bus all night. A reporter from Le Délit, the French-language student newspaper at McGill, was able to record some footage inside the bus. Activists distributed legal advice cards, printed by the Concordia Student Union (CSU).
Slowly, one by one, we were taken into the SQ station for processing. We were each photographed and interrogated individually by SQ agents in a small florescent lit room. Questions ranged from details on personal information, to information on participation in past student protests. A few people involved in student strike movement were held throughout the night inside the SQ station. Police confiscated everything from iPhones, to sweaters as 'evidence' for upcoming court dates in Victoriaville.
After being jailed all night in a school bus and slapped with questionable charges of participating in a riot and illegal assembly, the bus returned to Montreal. A few accused continued to be detained at the SQ station, though, and were only released later in the day. They faced similar charges to the rest on the bus arrested, accompanied by serious conditions, including non-association conditions between a few student activists.
Protesting the Liberal Party meeting
Throughout the night jailed on the police bus, and on the ride back to Montreal, people passionately discussed the Victoriaville protest.
As the night wore on, SQ officers slowly relaxed the authoritarian theatre of the raid, and by around 5am only one armed SQ agent remained on the bus standing beside the driver's seat. As the SQ presence on the bus subsided, people had more space to discuss the student strike movement.
The conversations really illustrated the inspiring ways that the Québec student strike has deepened the commitment of so many thousands of people to the fight for social justice.
Perspectives were shared on the bus on the militancy of the Victoriaville protest, the depth of the Québec student movement and various other struggles for justice. This included international links ranging from Québec to Colombia, where students organized a successful student strike last year.
Sitting on the bus throughout the night and into the early morning, my mind was racing with inspiration. As armed SQ officers stood inside the bus and lurched around in the parking lot outside, my heart was rising above the police repression, alive with the energy of a beautiful student strike in Québec that has successfully inspired or reignited so many other social movements.
Certainly state repression can have serious impacts on grassroots struggles; arrests, police violence and serious physical injuries are daunting realities, while drawn-out court dates and trials drain activist time, energy and finances. These trials that are often rooted in baseless charges, with court hearings operating within a legal system that fails to address the roots of social inequalities in our society.
Despite sustained police repression against the Québec student movement, people have remained resilient and continue to struggle with dignity.
Beyond night raids on protest buses, the May 2012 protest against the Liberal party meeting in Victoriaville will most certainly be remembered for police violence against the Québec student movement, Maxence Valade has reportedly lost an eye, while another student, Alex Allard, is struggling with life threatening head injuries.
Victoriaville's protest clearly illustrates a real political crisis in Québec, sparked by the student strike, but which is now becoming a discontent over larger questions of social injustice within Québec society.
Police violence and state repression will certainly take a toll on the movement, but it will only strengthen the resolve and solidarity of this rapidly expanding movement for social justice, a movement rooted in collective solidarity not in individualist capitalist economics.
Stefan Christoff is a Montreal-based journalist, writer and musician who is at twitter.com/spirodon/