Tag Archives: Social Forum

nsjf 2010 featured in The St.Catharines Standard!

Conference shares the struggles of aboriginal women

Monday, March 22, 2010

Standing before a room of 30 men and women — all different ages, races — Wendy Sturgeon explained how aboriginal women in Canada have become an ‘endangered species.’

The residential school system, which stripped away their children for more than 100 years, the executive director of charitable organization Niagara Chapter- Native Women Inc., told the group gathered in the Brock University classroom Saturday afternoon.

The forced assimilation into European culture, said Sturgeon, hosting one of several workshops during Brock’s fourth annual Niagara Social Justice Forum.

Being forced into a foreign culture where men reigned supreme.

In most traditional indigenous tribes in North America, women were in charge, she said. They were the decision makers about when to go to war, when to move.

That all began to change with the arrival of the Black Robes, or Christian missionaries, in the 1600s, Sturgeon said.

“They regarded us as savages and thought we had to be civilized,” Sturgeon said. “We were a full-fledged, well-functioning society for years.”

Women have suffered the most in the years following the Indian Act of 1876. They were the ones who had to fight to keep their Indian status if they chose to marry a non-native man, she said.

Like other indigenous women around the world, decades of heartache has followed. Issues of extreme poverty, discrimination, and horrific violence, including murder, rape and torture.

This native baggage, as fellow presenter Marie Jones put it, is what aboriginal women have been carrying around and what’s been holding them back.

But all of her people are starting to wake up and are fighting oppression, said Jones, who is Mohawk from Six Nations.

It’s like being laid up for months with an injury, she said.

“Now we’re getting physiotherapy,” said Jones, an aboriginal child advocate with the Niagara Chapter-Native Women, Inc.

Sturgeon and Jones’ workshop, called Native Woman – Endangered Species, was one of 10 sessions led by Niagara residents during the day-long free forum. Topics ranged widely from protecting Niagara’s beautiful landscapes, to homeless youth to staying loyal to food produced in one’s own country.

About 200 people attended the day-long event, which was designed to give a variety of community groups the chance to share their commitment to overall social justice while addressing specific issues important to them.

“An event like this is a wonderful opportunity for groups in the community and groups on campus to connect with one another,” said Janet Conway, Canada Research Chair of the Social Justice at Brock and head of the forum.

“It’s great for the students to become aware that there are community organizations that are working on a myriad of issues in their own community and to get connected with them if they want to.”

The online version of this story can be found at:


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From Brazil to Canada: What is a Social Forum?

What the World Social Forum Is:
The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, for formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action. Since the first world encounter in 2001, it has taken the form of a permanent world process seeking and building alternatives to neo-liberal policies. This definition is in its Charter of Principles, the WSF’s guiding document.

The World Social Forum is also characterized by plurality and diversity, is non-confessional, non-governmental and non-party. It proposes to facilitate decentralized coordination and networking among organizations engaged in concrete action towards building another world, at any level from the local to the international, but it does not intend to be a body representing world civil society. The World Social Forum is not a group nor an organization.

visit the World Social Forum: Another World is Possible website by clicking on the link below: http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/index.php?cd_language=2

further reading:
The World Social Forum: Canadian contexts and questions By Janet Conway

Janet Conway
Associate Professor of Sociology – Brock University
Janet Conway teaches in the areas of social movements, feminism, and democratic theory. She is the author of Praxis and Politics: Knowledge Production in Social Movements, Routledge, 2006 and Identity, Place, Knowledge: Social Movements Contesting Globalization, Fernwood, 2004. Her work has appeared in journals in sociology, law, politics, geography and women’s studies. Her current research focuses on the World Social Forum. She is a long-time social justice activist in women’s and anti-poverty organizing, a founder of the Metro Network for Social Justice and  founding chair of the Toronto Social Forum. She is currently the chair of the Niagara Social Justice Forum organizing committee and the Canada Research Chair in Social Justice at Brock University.

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Six Miles Deep: Plenary of the nsjf 2010

The Plenary for NSJF 2010 is featuring the film – Six Miles Deep (2009) about the Haudenosaunee Women and the Six Nations/Caledonia Conflict. Panel to follow with Director Sara Roque.

Six Miles Deep (2009) Director: Sara Roque – Run time: 43 minutes 22 seconds | Canada

On February 28, 2006, members of the Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the Haudenosaunee or People of the Longhouse) blockade a highway near Caledonia, Ontario to prevent a housing development on land that falls within their traditional territories. The ensuing confrontation makes national headlines for months. But less well known is the crucial role played by the clan mothers of the community – the traditional source of power in the Haudenosaunee Nation. Six Miles Deep is an inspiring and compelling portrait of a group of women whose actions have led a cultural reawakening in their traditionally matriarchal community.

Sara Roque is a multi-talented Metis filmmaker, writer, arts administrator and activist who has been involved in a number of community-based arts and Aboriginal history projects. Her short films have screened at ImagineNative Film Festival and the Splice This! Super8 film festival, and have been broadcast on MuchMusic. She is originally from northern Ontario and currently lives in Toronto. Six Miles Deep is her first documentary.

Visit the Six Miles Deep page at the NFB website here: http://www.onf-nfb.gc.ca/eng/collection/film/?id=56523

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nsjf 2010: Schedule

Niagara Social Justice Forum 2010
Saturday, March 20th
9 a.m. – 5:45pm
Pond Inlet, Brock University
Price: FREE. Lunch Provided
Evening performance of The Vagina Monologues
Market Square, Downtown St.Catharines
7:30 p.m.
Price: $10: All proceeds go to the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre.
Hosted by OPIRG. Refreshments provided.



8:45: DOORS OPEN. Coffee Available
9:00: Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:30: SESSION 1: Workshops
– Niagara’s Threatened Beautiful Landscapes
– Proper Shelter Saves Lives (Habitat for Humanity)
– Building Global Solidarity with Migrant Farm Workers in the Niagara Region
11:00: Coffee Break and Information Tables
11:30: SESSION 2: Workshops
– Aboriginal Children in Care of Children’s Aid Societies
– The Other Side of Consciousness: Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Queer Films
– Conflict, Violence and Reconciliation: Lessons to be Drawn from Colombia
– Naming Homelessness
1:00: LUNCH
2:15: SESSION 3: Workshops
– Native Woman – Endangered Species
– Food Sovereignty in the Global South: A Development and Peace Appeal
– Peace Cafes: Opening Your Own Community Centre for Peace Education and Social Justice
3:45: Coffee Break and Information Tables
4:15: PLENARY: Film – Six Miles Deep (2009) about the Haudenosaunee Women and the Six Nations/Caledonia Conflict. Panel to follow with Director Sara Roque.
5:35: Drumming and Closing Remarks
For map, visit:
*Pond Inlet is located in “J” block of the MacKenzie Chown Complex which is directly north of the Zone 1/Lot A parking lot

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15 Days Away: nsjf 2010 Is Fast Approaching!

In just over two weeks the 4th annual Niagara Social Justice Forum is happening at Brock University, and the excitement is definitely building!
The Forum, based on the World Social Forum model, provides a dynamic space for dialogue and learning. The model invites diverse groups to mount self-organized activities in a common space in their own ways and on their own terms, but within a shared commitment to social justice broadly understood.
Self-organized individuals and groups responded to an open call for proposals and put the day’s program together, which features exhibits, workshops, information tables, music, film, theatre and food.
“The organizers of this event were mindful to create an open and shared space for community groups and individuals to encounter one another without any interference in how they choose to do that,” says Janet Conway, one of the event’s lead organizers and a Canada Research Chair in Social Justice at the University. “We had about 85 people at the first Forum in 2007 and last year’s event attracted more than 150 participants. We also had more workshop applications that we could accommodate this year.”
“We’re encouraged by this growth and the fact that we are able to provide an open forum for individuals and groups working for social change in Niagara to connect with one another,” adds Conway. “The organizing committee has heard from past participants that the Forum has helped groups and individuals with like-minded interests and concerns to come together.”

The Forum opens at 8:45 a.m., and there are 10 workshops taking place throughout the day from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Workshop topics include Niagara’s threatened landscapes, homelessness, Aboriginal children and Children’s Aid Societies, food sovereignty, migrant farm workers in Niagara and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered Queer films, just to name a few.
The event’s Plenary at 4 p.m. looks at women’s leadership in the Six Nations/Caledonia land claim dispute and will feature a screening of the documentary film Six Miles Deep, followed by a talk with its director Sara Roque. This film tells the story behind the headlines and offers a compelling look into a community where the achievements and roles of women have long been admired and respected.
The day’s program will finish off at 5:20 p.m. with a performance by the Aboriginal big drum group Gathering Thunder.
Forum attendees are then invited downtown for a special evening performance of the Vagina Monologues at Market Square, St. Catharines at 7:30 p.m. Admission for this event is $10 with proceeds going to Niagara Sexual Assault Centre.
The Niagara Social Justice Forum features free lunch and drinking water and dishes will be provided. The event is fully accessible (wheelchairs, sign language) and childcare services are available on-site. Please register before March 8 for sign language and childcare services.
The Forum is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences, the departments of Social Justice and Equity Studies, Child and Youth Studies, Sociology and Women’s Studies, and OPIRG Brock.

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