ILPS Housing Justice & Anti-Poverty Conference – Synopsis

22 Mar

Martin Raffery of the 32CSM and ILPS comrades saying Free Tony Taylor

written by comrade M

Over the weekend of March 16 through 18, 2018, the Downtown Kitchener Social Justice Coalition, in conjunction with the International League of People’s Struggles (Canada), were honoured to host delegations from across the country for a conference on Housing Justice and Anti-Poverty planning. Our goals for this gathering were many; we wanted to encourage discussion of concepts and ideas that are central to human rights activism, and to form resolute plans to combat poverty, homelessness, and class-struggle in Waterloo Region and across Canada. And most importantly, to break bread together in the hopes of build strong working relationships among the large and awe inspiring community of human rights and equality activists who hold the front lines in this war against colonialist, capitalist, and fascist entities in Canada and around the world.

Each person who attended brought with them a combined lived-experience spanning many decades, and through that experience we were able to generate solid, actionable resolutions that can be used and adapted to many different situations in many regions. As such we were pleased to meet members of the Association des Travailleurs/Euses Temporaires d’Agences de Placement (The Association of Temporary Agency Workers – ATTAP); The Alliance to End Homelessness – Ottawa; Tent City of Victoria, British Columbia; The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU); Toronto’s 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations; Kitchener’s own Participant Advisory Group; and the Alan Ryan People’s Community Defense Brigade. We also enjoyed tele-presentations from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (Ireland), and the Victoria Tent City organizers.

The conference officially kicked off Saturday morning with a group breakfast and great presentation by a member of the 32CSM. Wherein we learned who the 32s are and what their struggle has entailed over the years. As well as how the fight for sovereignty in Ireland relates to the struggle for self-determination all around the world. Representatives from ATTAP offered us insights into the struggle for acquiring truly equal rights in labour across Canada. “Human rights, not citizen rights!” They highlighted some uncomfortable facts for patriotic Canadians, including deepening inequality for women of colour in Canadian workplaces. The presentation from the Victoria Tent City organizers made clear that policing in Canada is not only a hindrance to homeless advocacy and harm reduction, but that it is also still a direct physical threat to the “others” of this land.

Perhaps most importantly, our ILPS delegate reminded us of the importance of unity and cooperation in activism and advocacy. Our struggle is much too important to allow interpersonal politics and in-fighting to disrupt the flow of ideas and completion of day-to-day work. We must, all of us, stay focused on the goals we each undertake.

Following these presentations we got down to work by breaking into three discussion groups, each with a different topic – Drugs and Community Defence, Housing and Poverty, and Migrant Issues and Anti-Colonialism. Out of these conversations we were able to formulate resolutions to be used as a means for furthering our work, and that of anyone working to defeat the state.

These resolutions will affect our communities at local, provincial, and national levels, and entail the creation of community programs, the execution of political actions, and the generation of more targeted organising across communities that are underrepresented in the struggle. Such as:

Life skills and literacy mentorship programs
Advocacy and activism training
Community “social” events intended to humanise disadvantaged communities and to reach middle-class citizens on a personal level
Public relations campaigns intended to de-stigmatise addictions and to popularise safe-consumption sites among the voting public
Political action to force better and more effective union representation among temporary and foreign worker communities, and/or to create the same as a grassroots movement, providing collective representation to communities being left behind by labour reform
Using ground-level political actions to circumvent the bureaucracy of government run social services, i.e. using squats as a means to acquire property/locations for shelters, community housing, drop-in centres, and safe consumption sites
Demonstration activity to demand more accountability and action from government housing agencies
Housing clinics, hosting local agents from housing, social services, ID agents, and social program administrators to bring services to a single location for the benefit of the homeless and near-homeless
More deliberate attempts to include all disadvantaged groups and communities in the benefits won through our struggle, and to remain conscious of how our actions affect others, such as and especially indigenous groups, using the following as a starting point: “Does our work conflict with indigenous rights and interests? And if so, how can we fix that?”

The conference concluded on Sunday, following whole-group discussion of these resolutions, with a tour of downtown Kitchener led by our own Julian Ichim. We visited several key locations around the city while Julian explained the history of activism in Kitchener-Waterloo, and the significance of community run organisations in the downtown area.

The first ever Housing Justice & Anti-Poverty conference in Kitchener was a huge success, and that’s because of the people who came together to make it work. Thank you to all of the attendees for coming, and for putting up with a little disorganization on our part. You have our gratitude for bringing such great ideas, discussion, and positivity to the conference, and for doing the work each of you already do in the face of a society and a country that is increasingly divided, indifferent, and perpetually inequal. It is our hope that everyone came away with a sense of accomplishment and focus for the struggles ahead. The Downtown Kitchener Social Justice Coalition and the Alan Ryan People’s Community Defence Brigade look forward to working with all of you going forward, and remember…

…If what we’re doing isn’t weakening the state, we’re doing it wrong.

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2 Responses to “ILPS Housing Justice & Anti-Poverty Conference – Synopsis”

  1. seachranaidhe1 March 22, 2018 at 10:21 am #

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

  2. doug March 23, 2018 at 12:55 am #

    Your doing it wrong!! LOL

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