2018 Workshops March 3rd & 4th, 2018

Workshops at a Glance

Link to a visual schedule for the weekend.

SATURDAY, MARCH 3rd

10:00-11:30

Food Sovereignty on Stolen Land – Room #1 (122)

Taking over your workplace – Room #2 (124)

11:30-1:00

Against Politicians, Even the Nice Ones: An Introduction to Anarchism and Anti-State Politics – Room #1 (122)

Not Your Founding Fathers’ Anarchism – Room #2 (124)

2:00-3:30

Anti-Prison Struggle in Ontario and Quebec – Room #1 (122)

Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism – Room #2 (124)

3:30-5:00

Working in Solidarity with prisoners – Room #1 (122)

The Revolution Without Delay: Biography of Maria Nikiforova, an anarchist in Ukraine during the Russian Revolution – Room #2 (124)

SUNDAY, MARCH 4th

11:00-12:30

Small Town Organizing – Room #1 (122)

Anti-Capitalist by Definition. Mapuche indigenous sovereignty against Capitalist Encroachment and Co-optation – Room #2 (124)

Anti-Fascism and the Revolution 2022 Campaign – Room #3 (120)

1:00-2:30

Fight or Flight: Anarchist [Dis]Engagement with the Left – Room #1 (122)

Imminent Collapse: Accelerations and Preparations – Room #2 (124)

Anarchism in India – Room #3 (120)

2:30-4:00

Stories from the Syrian Revolution: Syrian Revolutionary Youth and the Formation of Local Councils – Room #1 (122)

Anarchism and Tenant Organizing: Building Neighbourhood Power – Room #2 (124)

Gentrification, LGBTQ2SI+ Communities and Modes of Resistance – Room #3 (120)

Workshop Descriptions

Food Sovereignty on Stolen Land

Interrogate your connections to the food you eat and the land you live on. Begin to question your ability to sustain yourself outside of colonial capitalism and the work that happens when the systems crash and burn. Food sovereignty can be many things, including a strategy in which Indigenous peoples reclaim space, in which structures of settler colonialism are diminished and where we can rebuild relationships with ourselves and the land. We’ll learn more about negotiating the spaces and the power dynamics in which we find ourselves, while also taking the time to understand why caring for seeds can be one of the most revolutionary things that we do. This workshop will be an opportunity for self reflection, group work and strategizing.

Danielle Boissoneau is Anishnaabekwe from the shorelines of the Great Lakes. She likes to write poetry and enjoys developing strategy. You can find her in her garden, on the front lines to tar sands expansion projects or at home with her children. She’s a seedkeeper who upholds her responsibility to protect the land and water. Danielle is from the Old Turtle Clan.

Taking over your workplace

The goal of this discussion is to both agitate and educate those who wish to explore strategies to create a shift in power in their relationship with work and bosses. We will start by discussing the successes and failures of the Labour Movement in North America highlighting the successful and widely inclusive activities of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). We will also highlight the political and economic landscapes around some of the more notable general strikes that have taken place with the intention of drawing similarities to our climate today. There will be a clear link drawn between the decline of organized labour causing an increase in inequality in broader society. A discussion will be held on the different tactics to get your workplace organized! This will include an analysis of the current legislation around employment standards, labour relations, employment standards and Human Rights and occupational health and safety. Understanding the law can certainly give you and advantage when fighting for workplace empowerment but we know that these laws are often weak at best and other tactics may need to be explored. Wildcat strikes, work slowdowns, work to rule, secondary picketing and other informal actions will be discussed at length.The workshop will be run through the model of popular education and the purpose is to get participants sharing with each other stories of best practices or hard lessons learned of struggle in the workplace as much as possible.

Dan Browne is an anti-capitalist union educator who lives in Hamilton.

Against Politicians, Even the Nice Ones: An Introduction to Anarchism and Anti-State Politics

Is anarchism kinda like being progressive, but extreme? What does it really mean to be against the government? Couldn’t we just vote for more ‘revolutionary’ politicians? Opposition to the state is anarchism’s hallmark, that which distinguishes it most amongst the shitstorm of various political ideologies. But what does it mean? And what implications does it have for how we act? In this discussion, we will explore some of anarchism’s principles and history, as well as examine what it means to be an anarchist in a time where politicians are styling themselves in solidarity with the oppressed and “revolutionary” groups abound. Open to those with any (or no!) level of familiarity with anarchism.

Jay is a long-time anarchist who lives in Hamilton.

Not Your Founding Fathers’ Anarchism

Anarchism’s record on the issue of gender liberation is at once ambiguous and contradictory. Historically, the anarchist response to the “woman/sex question” was mixed. During the period of classical anarchism, women were active in anarchist organizations, publications, and projects throughout the globe. While most of them rejected the label of feminist (seeing feminism as a bourgeois movement), they nonetheless spoke out against sexual subordination and called for the emancipation of women with the overthrow of all forms of social, political, and economic hierarchy. At the same time, countless others were at best ambivalent to the idea of sexual equality and at worst outright hostile to it. Frequently credited as the founding father of anarchism, Pierre Joseph Proudhon vehemently argued against the rights of women to be anything other than wives and mothers. And, many accounts of early anarchist movements note the pervasiveness of “anarchist antifeminism” and “anarcho-sexism”. This workshop will examine the question of anarchist history from an explicitly feminist standpoint. It will look how introductions to anarchism and accounts of anarchist history are routinely gendered; explore the prevalence and operation of patriarchy in past anarchist movements; consider the ways in which anarchist women engaged in “dual struggle”; and discuss the lessons and insights that might be drawn to help us address the presence of (trans)misogyny in our anarchist spaces today.

Tammy is an anarchist organizer and theory nerd based in Hamilton. She’s involved in a variety of different anarchist projects and spends much time thinking about gender, struggle, and liberation.

Anti-Prison Struggle in Ontario and Quebec

This workshop will introduce participants to some notable anti-prison struggles being waged in Ontario and Quebec by prisoners, anarchists, and abolitionists in recent history. With a focus on the federal prison system, we will situate the emergence of the Canadian penitentiary in the context of colonial expansion and chattel slavery. We will discuss the violent unrest and restructuring throughout the 1970s, which continues to be an important reference point for contemporary prisoner struggles and led to important traditions such as Prisoners Justice Day. Finally, we will attempt to outline recent efforts of anarchists and abolitionists to engage with the prison movement and build an anti-authoritarian practice against prison, including Anarchist Black Cross chapters, inside/outside communication infrastructure, confronting prison construction, solidarity campaigns, and more.

This workshop will be presented by three anarchists living in Hamilton, Kingston, and Montreal active in a variety of anti-prison and prisoner solidarity projects. We are not ex-prisoners or academics, but most of our information comes from folks who have done a lot of time and a lot of research. We’re grateful to those who have shared their insights with us.

Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism

This workshop will jump off the themes/arguments raised in the anthology “Taking Sides,” which is described on AK Press as follows (https://www.akpress.org/takingsides.html): “The lines of oppression are already drawn. The only question is, Which side are you on in the struggle against the violence that is white supremacy and policing? Taking Sides supplies an ethical compass and militant map of the terrain, arguing not for reform of structurally brutal institutions but rather for their abolition. Its thirteen essays are sharp interventions that take particular aim at the role of nonprofits, ‘ally’ politics, and ‘peace police’ in demobilizing rebellions against hierarchical power. The authors offer tools to hone strategies and tactics of resistance, and hold out the promise of robust, tangible solidarity across racial and other lines, because in the battle for systemic transformation, there are no outside agitators.” Beyond this, we’ll explore solidarity from a variety of angles, both within protest and resistance contexts, and crucially, as the basis for prefigurative politics and projects.

Cindy Milstein is the author of “Anarchism and Its Aspirations,” coauthor of “Paths toward Utopia: Graphic Explorations of Everyday Anarchism,” and editor of the anthologies “Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism” and “Rebellious Mourning.” Long engaged in anarchist organizing and social movements, do-it-ourselves spaces, and popular education, Cindy is currently part of the collectives Solidarity & Defense, Huron Valley (Michigan) and the Institute for Advanced Troublemaking (Worcester, MA).

Working in Solidarity with prisoners

Prisoners’ voices need to be part of our everyday organizing. All imprisonment is political, and as abolitionists we must centre this in our work. As well, people in prison can offer important contributions to movements on both sides of the walls. This workshop will offer practical tips on working in solidarity with prisoners, from zines and radio to noise demos and parole campaigns. We’ll share experiences from projects including prison blogs, 4strugglemag.org, Prison Radio, the Certain Days calendar, and more. You’ll also have an opportunity to write a letter to a prisoner. Whether it’s your first time or you’re already doing this work, we hope you’ll join the conversation.

Mandy was lucky to be on the receiving end of a lot of prisoner solidarity efforts while doing time in Vanier Centre for Women in 2012. during her sentence she wrote a blog, helped to organize Prisoner’s Justice Day, helped put together a special prison issue of The Peak magazine, and learned a lot about what kind of support is needed for people on the inside.

Sara has been working in solidarity with prisoners since 2001, including collaboration on 4strugglemag.org (a zine by and for prisoners), Prison Radio, and the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar (certaindays.org).

The Revolution Without Delay: Biography of Maria Nikiforova, an anarchist in Ukraine during the Russian Revolution

Launch event for the English translation of The Revolution Without Delay, a biography of Maria Nikiforova. As an anarchist during the Russian Revolution, Nikiforova found herself fighting on multiple fronts, against nationalists and monarchists on the one hand and against the new “Revolutionary” bolshevik state on the other. From participating in terrorist attacks against the bouregoisie under the tsar, to leading an anarchist detachment that liberated and defended towns while redistributing land and property, and to finally going back underground to attempt to undermine the Bolchevik state, Nikiforova remained on the front lines of the social war during this exciting period. The experiments in forms of struggle she carried out with her comrades can still advise us today. This workshop will feature a timeline of Nikiforova’s life and of events in the Russian Revolution more broadly, and excerpts from the book will be used to spark discussion of questions that are no less urgent today than they were at the time. For instance, Nikiforova and her comrades experimented with indiscriminate violence against the bourgeoisie as a class before shifting to focus on expropriation and redistribution aimed at specific local oppressors.

Cedar is an anarchist based in Hamilton who participated in revising the translation of this book.

Small Town Organizing

There are specific challenges to organizing as an anarchist in smaller cities and towns, and there are opportunities that larger centres might not offer, too.What are they? How do we fight isolation and establish a support system that can keep us struggling? How do we link relevant issues happening outside our areas to our communities? What can we win, and how? What are we doing that works? If you have questions about how we might do a better job in smaller communities, or have strategies and actions that have been successful or might be, join in. The goal of the workshop is to help each other work through some of the challenges we face in organizing in smaller cities and towns and to share ideas to take back and put into practice in our communities.

Christine Renaud is an anarchist and community organizer living on Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat and Mohawk land in so-called Prince Edward County. Once a homeschooling parent, she is also a Food Not Bombs organizer and active in various struggles in the community. She runs Diggers, a small infoshop/book and zine shop. Her wage work includes 10 years as the Outreach and Communications manager in the public library system. She is now a Community Outreach Organizer in the Violence Against Women service sector.

Anti-Capitalist by Definition. Mapuche indigenous sovereignty against Capitalist Encroachment and Co-optation

How is anti-capitalism intrinsic to indigenous struggle? How have some indigenous movements been co-opted to conform to ENGO standards and capitalist logic? We explore these questions in recounting the experience of the Mapuche indigenous sovereignty movement, through the lens of Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM) spokesperson, Hector Llaitul, and other organizations in their struggle for territorial control against state/corporate interests in Wallmapu. Connections between the Mapuche movement and other mutual indigenous struggles in Abya Yala and Turtle Island will also be explored.

The Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu is an indigenous Mapuche grassroots organization based in Toronto, Turtle Island. Our goal is to link the struggles of indigenous sovereignty (specifically the Mapuche Peoples of so-called southern Chile) with that of other indigenous, anti-capitalist/anti-colonial, community based struggles across Turtle Island.

Anti-Fascism and the Revolution 2022

In this workshop, with the experience developed in Montreal, it will be possible to deepen some key concepts and strategies of the antifascist movement. Doxing, the control of our neighborhoods, the security culture, the question of violence as a tactic will be covered during this workshop. In response to the rise of the far right in the province of Quebec, the speakers will also talk about the campaign Revolution 2022, a campaign that aims to be antifascist as well as revolutionary.

Éric Sedition and Julien Archie are both involved in the antifascist movement since a couple of years through different groups in Montreal. They are also members of the Montreal Branch of the IWW.

Fight or Flight: Anarchist [Dis]engagement with the Left

Most anarchists are all too aware of the dangers and limitations associated with engaging with the dubious political category known as “the Left.” Its ranks are swarming with all manner of liberals, social democrats, progressives, union staffers, academics, NGOs, social agencies, politicians and would-be politicians… not to mention Leninists of various stripes repping a wide array of acronyms, newspapers and party affiliations. This elastic composition of the left, coupled with decades of declining influence and relevance of leftist institutions, has produced a collection of fair-weather allies constantly searching for bandwagons to jump onto and struggles to recuperate, either in hopes of padding their organization’s ranks or steering momentum towards electoral dead-ends. The concept of “left unity”, if it ever had any value at all, is these days little more than fodder for ironic memes. Faced with this reality, many anarchists have justifiably withdrawn from the left. But withdrawn into what… exactly? As you’d expect, there’s been divergent lines of flight. Prominent among them has been a rise and spread of various modes of anti-political theory rooted in post-left and individualist anarchism, many of which seem to take the abandonment of collective struggle and revolutionary strategy as their starting point, and whose bleak social prescriptions strike a chord with the prevailing sense of hopelessness and alienation commonly felt and expressed by radicals today. This workshop will look at how and why we think this dynamic has developed, and the ramifications that it has had on anarchist theory and practice. It will also put forward another possible path of abandoning the trappings of the left – one that leads towards more deeply involving ourselves in the daily lives of members of the working class as they struggle to survive under an increasingly aggressive white supremacist, hetero-patriarchal capitalist regime.

Cole, Ashleigh and Bryan are anarchists based out of Toronto; Alex is an anarchist based out of Hamilton.

Imminent collapse: accelerations and preparations

Although there has been a recent resurgence in environmental awareness, these lands have already faced centuries of exploitation for the benefit of the settler colonial state. We fight for the small vestiges of unlogged forest amidst the storms, fires and earthquakes that forewarn the coming ecological collapse. Even though it seems that we are in a steady state, the earth is shifting in many intense ways. As we face disaster in the wake of blatant disregard for the world around us, we must make fundamental shifts to the way we relate to each other and the land. Resource extraction is intricately tied to white supremacy and patriarchy, and the ongoing colonial occupation of this land. Although we exist more and more in the abstract, the violence that is necessary to maintain the state’s power is based in the physical, and needs resources to exist. This talk will draw on experiences from the front lines of resistance across Europe and Turtle Island, and speak of the possibility to dismantle and disrupt the global capitalist world by protecting the environment, engaging in Indigenous solidarity and building resilient, healthy communities.

Orka is perpetually a visitor on unceded Indigenous territories, working to do his best to understand and uphold his responsibilities. He is from Kutch through East Africa, and is a natural builder, gardener, DIYer, tree punk, sailor and language holder. He is currently focusing on gaining medical skills to work towards community healing and resiliency in the face of ecological collapse.

Stories from the Syrian Revolution: Syrian Revolutionary Youth and the Formation of Local Councils

The Syrian Revolution that began in cities and towns throughout Syria in 2011 is one of the great uprisings of our time. Though it contained a very strong anti-authoritarian current, it remains poorly known and understood by anarchists in the North America. This workshop will feature stories of local organizing in Damascus by the Syrian Revolutionary Youth, a network of activists who sought the fall of the regime and advocated for direct democracy and against sectarianism. It will also include a brief presentation of a new translation of the text The Formation of Local Councils, written in 2011 by Syrian anarchist Omar Aziz. We intend for about half the workshop to be left for questions and discussion.

Salam is a journalist and activist from Damascus who participated in decentralized grassroots organizing against the state there for the first two years of the revolution. Cedar is an anarchist from Hamilton who worked on the translation of The Formation of Local Councils.

Anarchism and Tenant Organizing: Building Neighbourhood Power

Like many other urban areas these days, Southern Ontario is currently facing an onslaught of gentrification. Yuppie developers and large corporate landlords are gobbling up real estate at a frantic pace, and their investments are leaving a trail of displaced tenants and destroyed communities in their wake. Faced with the daily effects of capitalist urbanization, anarchists have responded with a variety of tactics and strategies. In Hamilton, one of these projects has been the formation of a network that aims to organize on a building, neighbourhood and city-wide scale, with the goal of building working-class power and developing organizations that can mount effective struggles over urban territory.

This workshop, presented by several anarchist members of the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network, will discuss their own involvement and motivation for this type of work, and will seek to make the case that tenant-based neighbourhood organizing is an important and strategic intervention for anarchists to be engaged in.

Gentrification, LGBTQ2SI+ Communities and Modes of Resistance

In this workshop, participants will explore dominant discourses about neighbourhoods and gentrification, and how processes of gentrificiation and displacement relate to LGBTQ2SI+ communities. Together we will examine colonial discourse of neighbours and explore how LGBTQ2SI+ communities have both complicit in supporting gentrification and victims of displacement ourselves. We will look at global examples of queer and trans resistance to gentrification as well as local resistance efforts from (non-LGBTQ2SI+) Hamilton neighbourhood groups. As a group, we will discuss other tangible strategies for intervention in gentrification and associated displacement, with a focus on avoiding complicity/cooptation of LGBTQ2SI+ communities.

Mela Pothier is an educator and research. She’s queer, has Acadian roots, and hails from East Hamilton.