Tag Archives: World Social Forum

nsjf featured in the Brock Press!

Mary Breunig of the Niagara Social Justice Forum committee was recently interviewed by Brock Press and discussed the forum’s history, current organizing for the upcoming 2011 forum and what the committee is looking for in regards to workshop proposals for the 2011 forum. Check out the full article below.

Brock Press: Brock University’s Local Newspaper
www.brockpress.com

Issue date: 10/26/10
Section: News

Revolution/Rebellion
By Katherine Gottli

To promote social justice and change through a series of workshops and seminars in an institution of higher learning is pertinent, to say the least. However, it is easy to talk about an important issue and to get excited about promoting social change, yet if there is no action plan and manageable goals set to accompany said talk, what is the point? Discussion needs to be the initial step that leads to positive and constructive action in order to see change and growth in our community.

The Niagara Social Justice Forum (NSJF) understands this concept, and is currently looking for students, organizations, faculty and community members to offer their time and expertise to conduct seminars or workshops, performances, exhibits or information tables to facilitate social justice and change, and offer participants who attend the NSJF the tools to go back into the community and put the change into action. The NSJF is a day-long programme in its fifth year of existence, and hosted by the Brock University Social Justice and Equity Studies Graduate Program.

The idea of the NSJF is based off of the World Justice Forum (WJF), according to Brock University Recreation and Leisure Studies professor Mary Breunig, the WJF is an international event hosted by The World Justice Project in which prominent international leaders in a variety of disciplines come together to educate and inform individuals, and promote action-oriented programs to take back to their respective communities. While the NSJF does not exist on the same level, it has the same goals in mind.

Breunig has been a committee member on the NSJF for the past three years, and describes her it as her “favouritest” committee to be a part of. “It’s this really trans-disciplinary group of people,” she said. “Our membership on the committee is OPIRG – the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at Brock – students in the Social Justice and Equity Studies Graduate Program, students from other programs, faculty across the University, librarians. So we’re a whole mix of people, and – I would say – very high functioning in the way that we operate.”

In the years that she has spent on the committee, Breunig has seen a diverse number of workshops and seminars presented at the NSJF. In the past, community members from Fort Erie who were opposed to the proposed Fort Erie Racetrack presented a comprehensive slide show explaining the negative effects that Racetrack proposed, including environmental and noise pollution as well as land issues. There have also been presentations from Aboriginal groups from the community and even as far as Ottawa, as well as seminars discussing the rights of Migrant workers, specifically healthcare and pay related issues.

The one concern surrounding the forum in the past, however, was how “academic” it was. “Last year there were a fair number of academics,” Breunig said. “One of the concerns was that too much of it was too similar to what the rest of the university is doing.” To combat this, the forum this year has been dubbed with the tag-line “Revolution/Rebellion”, and, according the Breuning, the committee is trying to get groups who would be more interested in conducting more experiential and interactive workshops.

Any student can attend the NSJF, as well as send in a proposal to facilitate some aspect of the forum. The whole event is free, and with last year’s attendance being 150, the committee is hoping to expand further this year, and eventually see the NSJF grow past the confines of a university on top of a hill.

The online version of this story can be found at: http://media.www.brockpress.com/media/storage/paper384/news/2010/10/26/News/Revolutionrebellion-3949823.shtml

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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
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further reading:
The World Social Forum: Canadian contexts and questions By Janet Conway
http://www.rabble.ca/news/2010/01/world-social-forum-canadian-contexts-and-questions

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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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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