Solidarity with LDSS and CVDCS Student Walkouts Against School Closures!

Solidarity with LDSS and CVDCS Student Walkouts Against School Closures!

This past Wednesday, in solidarity with last week’s student walkout at Lively District Secondary School (LDSS), members of RSM-Sudbury gathered there to distribute a slightly different version of the statement below among the students, and to write messages of solidarity in chalk around the school. That same day, students at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School (CVDCS) also staged a walkout, inspired by LDSS students. We greet that action with the same enthusiasm and our statement has been amended accordingly.


Students of LDSS and CVDCS!

Down with the school closures!The Revolutionary Student Movement – Sudbury (RSM-Sudbury) congratulates you on the mass walkouts you organized over the past week to protest plans by the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) to close your schools!

As the local chapter of a country-wide organization of anti-capitalist students and youth, with members at a few high schools in Sudbury and at Laurentian University, we wish to extend to you our full solidarity and support in this struggle.

Last month we were dismayed to learn about the RDSB’s announcement of massive and accelerated cuts to school infrastructure and educational programs – but the defiant stand you have taken gives us hope! And we are sure there are many others being inspired by your rebellious spirit.

You know better than anyone about the countless hardships these closures will create for many thousands of students, families, teachers and support staff across Greater Sudbury. The loss of jobs, community resources, educational and extracurricular programmes, hopes and social bonds will be hardest felt among low-income, working-class, rural and Indigenous communities.

And for what? The RDSB is trumping up a relatively small budget shortage to justify a sweeping attack on many communities that are already struggling with effects of past school closures – and with a social, economic and political system that leaves us poor, powerless and without prospects for the future. Meanwhile the School Board has no problems finding $7 million to spend on a new office for their bureaucrats!

That is why the cuts must be fought, that is why you are fighting, and that is why RSM-Sudbury has been gearing up to join the fight by your side. When we first heard about the walkout in Lively, we were in the midst of organizing a series of student speak-outs across Greater Sudbury, including in Lively and Chelmsford, to condemn the school closures. The speak-outs are meant to let students and families express their anger and unite for mass actions, just like what you did last week. They will also provide a fighting alternative to the phoney public meetings that the RDSB will be holding in the coming weeks, the aim of which is to create the illusion of ‘community input’ and stem the tide of grassroots struggle.

And a broad, united fight to the finish is absolutely necessary, because we are going up against powerful forces that will not budge unless we force their hand. The School Board and the Government have already shown they are no friends of us students, like in Spring 2015 when they worked together to crush the high school teachers’ strike that fought for better quality of education, for smaller and more personalized classes. The system that these institutions represent offers us nothing, unless we demonstrate that we have the strength to take it regardless of the wishes of those in power.

Your example deserves to be imitated widely, both at schools directly affected by the cuts and at schools that have been spared for now. Our hope is that the speak-outs will go a small way toward building a combative movement of students and supporters in Greater Sudbury that will toss the RDSB’s plans into the trash.

Solidarity with students of LDSS and CVDCS!

Fight the school closures all across Greater Sudbury!

No compromise, no cuts!

We invite all sympathetic students and supporters who wish to work together with us to push this struggle forward to contact our Facebook page or email rsm.sudbury@gmail.com. You can also come out to our twice-weekly general meetings:

  • Tuesdays, 3:30-6pm on the main floor of the Mackenzie Public Library
  • Thursdays, 7-9pm in room C-318 (Classroom Building) at Laurentian University

Down with Displacement, Up with Decent Housing!

British Columbia’s Lower Mainland includes some of the most expensive places to live in occupied Canada. Of the 523 municipalities surveyed in the Canadian Rental Housing Index, Vancouver and Burnaby rank last, or close to last in measures of rental affordability and quality of rental units. [1] The lack of affordable housing for working class people has been termed the “housing crisis”. This crisis affects up to 116,000 people in BC alone. [2]

With the housing crisis deepening, activists have initiated a number of actions in the Lower Mainland to raise awareness about it. In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) have organized a “Tent City” since July 9. About 50-60 activists, including individuals who are homeless or are currently living in squalid conditions, have set up tents to occupy 58 West Hastings Street, a site currently owned by the municipal government. [3] “Tent Cities” have also been set up in Victoria and Abbotsford elsewhere in BC, and Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario.

Furthermore, there was currently an occupation of an apartment, acquired by the developer Amacon, at 5025 Imperial Street in Burnaby, by the Alliance Against Displacement. Tenants in this block of apartments are among an estimated 1,400 people in the low-income Metrotown neighbourhood facing the threat of “demoviction”. Apartment buildings with affordable housing units will be demolished so that expensive condos get built in their place. [4, 5] The occupation started on July 9, and as of the morning of July 20, the RCMP have carried out the court injunction to remove the protestors from the site of occupation. [6]

The Revolutionary Student Movement-Vancouver section, extends our solidarity with the “Tent City” in Vancouver and the occupation in Burnaby. We believe that decent, affordable housing for working-class people is a vital necessity, and as such, resolutely support their demands. We commend both occupations for highlighting how the housing crisis affects some of the most vulnerable sectors of capitalist society. We also commend the actions for highlighting the inaction that “progressive” municipal governments in Vancouver and Burnaby, led by Gregor Robertson and Derek Corrigan respectively, have taken in addressing the housing crisis.

The Homelessness Crisis

At its most visible level, the housing crisis includes the 11,000 people in BC who live on the streets. Although Robertson was elected on a promise to wipe out street homelessness in Vancouver by 2015, there are 1847 people who live on the streets in Vancouver in 2016, the highest in a decade. [7] These figures do not include the 40,000 people who are “hidden homeless” in BC and who get by through living in cars or couch-surfing. As the crisis of homelessness has gotten worse, some cities such as Burnaby and Surrey do not even have homeless shelters, and the number of empty units in Vancouver now exceeds the estimated homeless population. [8, 24]

Some of the most vulnerable sectors of the proletariat, or working-class, are at risk of street homeless. We are appalled when migrants, and indigenous people disproportionately face homelessness and housing insecurity. It is estimated that even although 4% of the Lower Mainland’s population are indigenous, they represent over 30% of the homeless population [2]. When migrants, including refugees, and indigenous people do not have access to basic needs, this highlights the continuing racist, colonial, and white-supremacist nature of the Canadian State. Next, women and other gender oppressed people who are homeless face a vicious cycle. They often need to choose between facing physical and sexual abuse from an abusive partner, or going homeless; and while homeless, they sometimes need to return to an abusive partner for financial support, so they can afford fines just for being homeless! [3, 9] Finally, we are concerned when up to 1 in 5 homeless youths identify as LGBTQ2S and when the number of homeless youth is growing. [2, 10] We are appalled especially when homeless youth face unnecessary stress and abuse as they try to get an education or enter the workforce. [10, 11]

The Gentrification of Proletarian Neighbourhoods

13718521_10205350418759957_4339080494318765082_nThe housing crisis also includes up to 65,000 individuals in BC who spend more than 50% on their income on rent, and who often live in substandard, cramped conditions. These individuals are considered at risk of homelessness since housing is considered affordable if it uses 30% of a person’s total income [2]. Housing insecurity, however, does not come out of nowhere. The continuing displacement working-class communities experience in Vancouver and Burnaby is because of policies of gentrification set out by Robertson and Corrigan’s “progressive” governments. These policies are often framed as benign “densification” plans.

In principle, more housing is a good thing, but in reality, building more housing actually displaces low-income residents when they are not able to afford the new housing which is being built. In Metrotown alone, tenants on average would need to pay 25% more in rent than they currently do under Corrigan’s “Downtown Metrotown” plan, yet over half of the tenants in Metrotown cannot afford to pay their existing rents! [3] The same fears of being “priced out” of their own communities are being expressed by tenants in nearby Joyce-Collingwood. [13]

In the Downtown Eastside, including Chinatown, the Robertson government has advocated “social mix” for new developments in these neighbourhoods. “Social mix” means any new developments would include both social housing and “market-price” housing. However, few social housing units in practice would be developed. For instance, a new development at 105 Keefer Street would only include 25 social housing units compared with 102 “market-price” units, at a time when 3,000 Chinese seniors are in need of affordable housing. [14, 15] Next, “social mix” is a policy of segregation. Low-income residents face additional policing, and have separate amenities from higher-income residents, although both live in the same building.  Most importantly, “social mix” destroys more affordable housing than it creates. A net 279 units of low-income housing were lost during the development of the Woodward’s building, one of the first buildings in Vancouver with a “social mix”. [16]  Policies of “social mix” offer no permanent solution to thousands of individuals who have waited years for decent housing, and in the meantime, have lived in cockroach, bedbug-infested, and unaffordable SROs without a shed of privacy. [113606803_10205315895976909_4803548621804326757_n2] It is an absolute shame when these policies destroy the fabric of proletarian neighbourhoods.

The Housing Crisis at Universities

As many working-class students now attend universities, the housing crisis also affects them and extends on campus. There is a lack of affordable housing for students whether housing is on or off campus. Indeed, more than 6000 students are now on the waiting list to access residences at UBC at a time when residence fees are getting more expensive. [21] In 2015, students at UBC protested a 30% increase in residence fees as part of the “I Am A Student” movement. A dormitory at UBC can now cost over $1000 per month [17] at a time when the average student makes only about $750/month (unadjusted for inflation) [18]. This means that students often need to work 2-3 jobs, even during the school year, to make ends meet and to pay for tuition.

To make matters worse, universities do not make developing affordable housing a priority but instead choose to destroy units of affordable housing! Earlier this year, tenants at the SFU’s Louis Riel House, which included 60 units of affordable housing for low-income students, students with families, single mothers, and First Nations students, were evicted. SFU had willfully neglected the condition of the building over its lifetime, and does not have a plan to rehouse all students who were evicted. SFU plans to close down an additional 210 units of affordable student housing. [19] The closure of affordable housing for students with families has also happened at UBC with the closure of the Acadia Courts in 2012. [20] It is shameful when universities choose profit-making from developing projects such as Wesbrook Village and UniveriCity at a time when many students are in need of affordable housing.

Our Demands

Once again, we are glad that a genuine proletarian movement has emerged to struggle for housing justice when until now, “taxpayers” and “homebuyers” have dominated this conversation. We are glad to see militant struggle against landlords and developers who take advantage of oppressed peoples, and action against governments who do not listen to proletarian communities. [3, 13, 14] We see the struggle for housing justice as part of the wider struggle for socialism since capitalism is the root of oppression for proletarian communities. Power needs to be directly in the hands of proletarian communities so that gains for housing justice are made permanent.

 In solidarity with the demands made by the “Tent City” and the occupation at Metrotown [3, 22, 23], we demand the following:

  • Stop the gentrification!: Declare an immediate moratorium on all new “demovictions” and new expensive housing developments in proletarian neighbourhoods.
  • Social housing now!: Build 100% social and affordable housing on government-owned lands in all proletarian neighbourhoods, including the site at 58 West Hastings Street, and university-owned lands for proletarian students.
  • Stop the displacement!: Rehouse all students living at Louis Riel House evicted by SFU, and all tenants evicted by current or future “demovictions”.
  • Rent control laws!: Enact rent control laws, which also apply to dormitories, to ensure housing is affordable for working-class tenants and students in the long term.
  • Homes not jails!: Divert $5 billion dollars from the federal prison, military, police, immigration enforcement budgets, and subsidies to Canadian mining companies committing dubious acts abroad, to support affordable and safe housing for the people!

We finally encourage all proletarian and politicized students raise awareness about the housing crisis and to support both the “Tent City” and the occupation in Burnaby. To support these actions, students can:

  1. Sign VANDU’s online petition, linked here, to support the “Tent City”’s demands in resolving the housing crisis.
  2. Donate supplies to Vancouver’s “Tent City” or support it financially. A list of supplies which the “Tent City” needs is here, and a site where financial contributions can be made is here.
  3. Follow the “Alliance Against Displacement” on Facebook and Twitter for latest updates about future mobilizations in Burnaby and other information about their campaign.
  4. Share this statement, the demands of housing justice campaigns, and other news items on housing justice on social media.

Homes not jails!

Our homes can’t wait!

Affordable housing is a right. What do we do? Unite and fight!

References:

  1. http://rentalhousingindex.ca/pdf/Ranked-Indicator-Scores.pdf
  2. http://www.socialhousingbc.com/
  3. http://thevolcano.org/2016/07/13/were-not-going-home-and-were-not-giving-up/
  4. http://www.burnabynow.com/news/update-housing-activists-occupy-vacant-building-1.2300122
  5. http://www.stopdisplacement.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Dunblane-Demovictions-Report_Spring2016-1.pdf
  6. https://twitter.com/stopdisplacemnt
  7. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/homeless-create-new-tent-city-to-protest-vancouvers-social-housing/article30898440/
  8. http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/10/28/Burnaby-Surrey-Shirk-Homeless-Responsibility/
  9. http://www.wavaw.ca/talking-the-talk-vancouvers-homeless-count/
  10. http://blogs.ubc.ca/gayandhomeless/files/2011/07/BetweentheCracks2002.pdf
  11. https://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2015/06/09/foreign-whiz-kid-endured-homelessness-to-graduate-top-of-class-at-u-of-t.html
  12. https://raisetherates.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/2015report.pdf
  13. https://joyceareara.wordpress.com/
  14. http://www.vancouversun.com/business/controversial+chinatown+proposal+rejigged/11438334/story.html
  15. http://thevolcano.org/2016/02/04/our-generations-fight-for-chinatown/
  16. https://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/ww_gent/
  17. http://vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/applications/fees-payments/
  18. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/2010109/pdf/11341-eng.pdf
  19. https://lrhcommunity.wordpress.com/about/our-declaration/
  20. http://ubyssey.ca/news/acadia-courts-relocation-876/
  21. http://www.theprovince.com/news/housing+waiting+list+names+long+would+month+square+feet/11736766/story.html
  22. https://tentcityvancouver.wordpress.com/
  23. https://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/ourhomescantwait/
  24. http://www.straight.com/news/653356/empty-homes-study-reveals-10000-vacant-condos-still-fails-explain-vancouver-real-estate

Images taken by ILPS Canada and author.

Reject Austerity- No to VSB Cuts and School Closures!

Reject Austerity- No to VSB Cuts and School Closures!

The Revolutionary Student Movement, Vancouver chapter, (RSM-Vancouver) is a group of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist student organizers, based on unceded Coast Salish Territories. We are aware that the Vancouver School Board (VSB) is currently finalizing its operating budget for the 2016/2017 school year. In this process, the VSB has proposed cuts to make up for a $24.6 million funding shortfall, the largest to date, on top of the $82 million in cuts already made to the Vancouver public school system in the past decade. The VSB has launched public consultations on the budget, and will vote to adopt or reject it by April 28. 

In the long term, the VSB is exploring the possibilities of closing up to 19-21 schools, mainly on Vancouver’s East Side: a place where the working-class, urban First Nations, and immigrants are concentrated. School closures were recommended by consulting firm Ernst and Young, acting on behalf of the Liberal provincial government, as part of an “asset rationalization approach” to manage the VSB’s finances. The provincial government has  continually reduced funding for public education, and has previously asked the VSB to close schools before the board goes ahead with seismic upgrades. The school closures would mean that by 2030, up to 5,167 fewer seats would be available in Vancouver’s schools. The “Long Range Facilities Plan” , which proposes school closures and came as a result of Ernst and Young’s report, has been tentatively adopted by the VSB and will become final, after some public consultation, by June.

The RSM-Vancouver unequivocally denounces the cuts proposed in this budget and all recommendations proposed by “consultants” to close schools in Vancouver’s East Side. We see them as egregious, co-ordinated attacks on the conditions on proletarian, or working class neighbourhoods in Vancouver.

We are firstly concerned about the elimination of up to 200 positions from the Vancouver School Board in the present budget, especially when some individuals employed in these positions are precarious workers and serve in positions which benefit proletarian students. For instance:

  • ESL instructors, multicultural liaison workers, and a district-wide anti-racism worker are set to be eliminated or have their hours reduced. This is concerning when immigrant families and immigrant children in proletarian neighbourhoods access these services provided by the VSB, especially when the primary caregiver in a household does not speak English fluently.
  • The district-wide anti-homophobia mentor position will be eliminated. This is concerning when queer families often settle into proletarian neighbourhoods, when students in proletarian neighbourhoods are often far away from LGBTQ2S support services, and when a policy adopted last year to protect trans*/gender-variant students is yet to be fully implemented by the VSB.
  • Elementary school enrichment programs, including music and arts programs, are set to be eliminated. This is concerning when proletarian children often rely on these programs as their only source of extra-curricular activities.
  • Braille, Deaf, and special education support positions are set to be eliminated. This is concerning when these are often the only sources of support for proletarian families whose children have disabilities, and when schoolteachers are often not trained to support students with disabilities.
  • Aboriginal education positions are set to be eliminated. This is concerning when Vancouver’s First Nations population lives in proletarian neighbourhoods and when decolonization and aboriginal education is needed more than ever, in light of recent events.

This is not to mention the elimination of 23 teaching positions and the class size cap in Vancouver’s secondary schools. These changes will only put more stress on overworked teachers when teachers have indicated that their class sizes are already too big during the previous BC Teachers’ Strike. The quality of education in proletarian secondary schools will only go down when teachers in those schools become overworked and are not able to give enough individualized attention to students who are struggling.

Moreover, we oppose the recommendation to close 19-21 “underutilized” schools in the East Side, especially at a time when BC Statistics Agency has predicted that enrolment in the VSB may go up by 8000 students by 2025! Closing these schools will only cause grief to working parents who may need to travel far away from their neighbourhoods to access education  for their children. Next, we reject the basis that these schools are “underutilized”, when they often provide special programs such as a First Nations-focused education and spaces where proletarian communities can gather and organize.  As such, enrolment should not be the sole measure of a school’s value when schools provide much more than literacy and life skills for children.

Based on all of these proposals, we can only see that austerity is just a synonym for class war. Class war occurs when “consultants” recommend closing “underutilized” schools in proletarian neighbourhoods, only so that the VSB can have the resources to make seismic upgrades for schools in bourgeois, upper-class neighbourhoods. Class war occurs when budget proposals make cuts to services proletarian families often access. Class war occurs when the quality of education in proletarian schools is declining as a result of overworked teachers and support staff. In these times of capitalist crisis and neoliberalism, austerity becomes a way to openly exploit proletarians so that the rich can only become richer.

teachers-1Austerity, however, can be stopped. In the short term, we would like to encourage the current school board to extend public consultations, especially when the masses are condemning austerity, to vote no to an austerity budget, and to stop any proposed school closures. We condemn the so-called “progressive” trustees on the school board when they claim to be fighting for proletarian students and better public education, but instead vote for cuts and school closures. We recall Vancouver’s recent history when in 1984, a school board comprised of “progressive” trustees refused to obey the provincial government’s directive to make cuts. The cuts in that year never happened as a result of the trustees’ determination during this struggle.

Furthermore, we encourage the masses, especially proletarian students, to voice their opposition to these proposed austerity measures from the VSB. We are glad to see visible opposition to the cuts but we are appalled when under austerity, groups representing diverse sectors in proletarian neighbourhoods fight each other for whatever crumbs they can get from the ruling class. We applaud the actions of students, when the students of Greenwood Secondary School walked out of their classes in protest of the Toronto District School Board’s’ proposal to close their school. Similarly, we encourage students in the VSB to display the same militancy in opposing this budget and proposed school closures, as they did in organizing in solidarity with BC teachers during the BC Teachers’ Strike.

At the same time, we deplore a system when the bourgeoisie (ruling, and capitalist class) are allowed total power over the education of proletarian children. We cannot wait for “progressives”, including the BC NDP, to improve the conditions in proletarian neighbourhoods when many of these “progressives” support austerity at the same time. It is only fair that proletarians, which comprise the majority of society, are able to end austerity for good and allocate society’s wealth to benefit of their communities. This is why the Revolutionary Student Movement fights for an end to the rotten capitalist system, the root of oppression for proletarian families, and dares to build the struggle for socialism.

ROCK BEATS SCISSORS! SOLIDARITY BEATS AUSTERITY!

Sources:

  1. https://www.vsb.bc.ca/20162017-budget
  2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vsb-busdget-cuts-1.3515629
  3. http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/resource-management/reports/moe_vsb_review_report_june_2015.pdf
  4. http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/shared/Item%201%20-%20Interim%20Long%20Range%20Facilities%20Plan.pdf
  5. https://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/shared/2016-2017%20Preliminary%20Budget%20Proposals%20Report%20March%2031%202016%20-%20Website%20Version.pdf
  6. http://bctf.ca/publications/NewsmagArticle.aspx?id=21540
  7. http://www.newstalk1010.com/news/2016/04/08/east-end-high-school-students-walk-out-of-class-in-protest
  8. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/b-c-teachers-strike-imminent-as-negotiations-with-government-at-an-impasse

International Working Women’s Day 2016 – A March and Demonstration for Abortion Access in Charlottetown, PEI

In February 2016, the Revolutionary Student Movement at UPEI initiated a united front for abortion access. Working with affiliates of the Campus Alliance for Reproductive Justice (CARJ), the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization (PRRO), the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARRC), and Abortion Access Now PEI (AANPEI), we organized a demonstration which took place on March 8th, International Working Women’s Day, to raise the struggle for abortion access.

The rally started on Kent Street at 4 o’clock, where we distributed signs, flags, and the now-iconic red braids and bandannas of the ‘militant Anne of Green Gables’ street art, created by a local artist known only as iamkarats. We started by singing an abortion-themed parody of the Ice Cream song from Anne, and then began our march down Great George Street, past the Province House, and toward the Gentleman’s Club on King Street. Speeches were given over a megaphone by a few participants. The demonstration ended with a Scream Choir, to put the frustration and rage of the masses on display.

This demonstration, however, does not signify the pinnacle of the struggle we are waging for reproductive justice and against patriarchy. Capitalism and patriarchy have developed together, out of the same historical process, as a dual system of exploitation and oppression. As long as there is capitalism, there will be an economic system in which patriarchy can flourish. And as long as there is patriarchal oppression, there will be a society that favours capitalist exploitation. It is only by smashing both capitalism and patriarchy through communist revolution that we can end gender oppression, and secure a future that is free from exploitation and oppression. We will continue organizing demonstrations like these to bring more proletarian women, and other gender-oppressed people, into the mass struggle for liberation. Guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Proletarian Feminism, we must wage an endless struggle against all forms of oppression to build socialism and communism.

 

A March and Demonstration for Abortion Access
Photo by Jon Viau
Hands off Atikameksheng Land! Solidarity with Defenders of the Benny Forest!

Hands off Atikameksheng Land! Solidarity with Defenders of the Benny Forest!

whitefish1

The Benny Forest is threatened by the invasive arm of capitalist industry and the forces of colonization. Pristine blocks of old-growth forest, located an hour’s drive north of Sudbury on the ancestral lands and territorial hunting grounds of the Anishnawbek, are being clear-cut by the logging giant EACOM Timber and aerially sprayed with toxic herbicides. Innumerable rare species of animals and medicinal plants are at risk. And while the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and other state bodies work diligently to facilitate this lucrative destruction, the rights supposedly given to the original peoples of this continent by the settler-colonial Canadian state are once again being trampled.

This is business as usual on occupied Turtle Island, an unjust order that has handsomely profited the dominant minority of exploiters and oppressors for centuries, which they hate to see disturbed and work hard to maintain against fierce resistance. But to challenge this injustice is the aim of Barbara McNichol, her partner Clyde who is a descendant of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek Clan that was promised part of land by the Robinson-Huron Treaty of 1850, and Art Petahtegoose, elder and former Chief of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. Generations of Clyde’s ancestors are buried in the Forest in two marked cemeteries and among the trees – lives past and present are being defiled in pursuit of private profit. The McNichols also operate a traditional Native and contemporary arts and wilderness recreation centre called Camp Eagle Nest out of the Benny Forest. Since last Spring, when the decades-long cutting in the region first began to reach Camp Eagle Nest’s doorstep, they have been defiantly campaigning to protect their land and culture from further ruin.

Clyde’s Clan and the Anishnawbek people share a deep connection to the land. The Forest is their heritage and the basis of their communities. It is more than just a commodity to be bought and sold, more than a trivial product to be consumed; it is part of life itself. To lose it would be to lose themselves. If anyone can condemn the clear-cutting as unsustainable, it is the people that have lived in harmony with the Forest for generations. Animals too, the deer and bears, cannot return to the brutalized remains of what the logging industry calls ‘reclaimed land’. These creatures are often pushed out of their habitat forever. In the face of this all-out assault, surrender is not an option for the McNichols and the traditional hereditary Clan leadership of the area.

whitefish2
Revolutionary salutes from RSM to the Benny Forest Defenders!

The Revolutionary Student Movement – Sudbury (RSM-Sudbury) stands in solidarity with the brave Defenders of the Benny Forest. We join them in demanding that the pillaging of the Forest stop here and now! All encroachment onto the territory must cease immediately! The full political, economic, legal, social and cultural autonomy of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek nation must be recognized! We say YES to complete self-determination for all oppressed nations in this occupied country, including the right to secede from the settler state that has never stopped waging war on them.

The McNichols and Petahtegoose are currently pursuing a court injunction to halt all logging, road-building and spraying on lands reserved for the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek in 1850. But they are also urgently aware of the staggering pace of the destruction in the area, which continues not just in Benny while the courts grind through the ‘due process.’ And it is also known that any justice offered through this process – marked as it is by a fundamentally oppressive colonial character – has historically been partial, double-edged, ultimately a disorienting mirage. For militants of RSM-Sudbury, this presents the task of building our capacity to go beyond this rigged framework by any means necessary, now more than ever!

To ensure they are prepared for any court decision, the Benny Forest Defenders have started to establish a winter camp by a key road leading into the Forest. On February 27 they were joined by members of RSM-Sudbury and other supporters to help get the camp off the ground, which has served as an outpost for reconnaissance on the logging operations and a visible sign of the mounting opposition. The Defenders and allies have remained at the camp for over a week. They are calling for support from all groups, artists and other individuals who want to stand with them against further assaults on their land. RSM-Sudbury plans to help further agitate and organize in support of this struggle in the areas we are active, especially among working-class youth and students; and to continue participating in actions on-site to protect the Forest.

Ever since arrival of European settlers, Indigenous peoples here have been in the genocidal crosshairs of white-supremacist patriarchal colonialism and capitalist imperialism. Their communal ways of life, which they have long struggled to assert and defend, are vital inspiration for us as we strive to help build the perspectives and unity needed for our common liberation from all oppression and exploitation. We envision and fight for the united Power of Indigenous militants and the revolutionary working class, a mighty force to smash the dominance of the imperialist bourgeoisie and dismantle colonialism from coast to coast.

Hands off Atikameksheng land!

Self-determination for oppressed nations!

Down with the colonial state!

Please consider donating to the land defence via GoFundMe or PayPal at Camp Eagle Nest. Supplies like firewood, water, signs and craft material are also welcomed. For more info contact ronson.mcnichol@gmail.com or see the campaign’s Facebook page.bennyforest

Oppose the Laurentian Board of Governors’ Attacks on Students! Expand the Fight to Defend the Barrie Campus! – RSM in Solidarity with Laurentian Barrie Students

Oppose the Laurentian Board of Governors’ Attacks on Students! Expand the Fight to Defend the Barrie Campus! – RSM in Solidarity with Laurentian Barrie Students

Greetings from the Sudbury chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement (MER-RSM) to the students of Laurentian Barrie!

We stand in solidarity with you in the struggle against the University Board of Governors’ plans to shut down many of your programs in Barrie by April 2017, denying hundreds the chance to finish their education there. We are an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist student group with a presence at LU’s Sudbury campus and a high school in town, where our work includes organizing students to fight for free, accessible and democratic education, as part of building a broader revolutionary working-class movement. We were dismayed to hear last week about the Board of Governors’ unilateral and profit-driven decision, but our hopes have been high as we followed the actions you have organized so far to reclaim your education.

lu-barrie-sit-in
Students occupied the LU administrative offices in Barrie last week

We commend the initiative and militancy you have shown in pressing your demand that all Barrie students be allowed to finish the degrees they started, where they started them, until all graduate. Your recent occupation of administrative offices, your protest actions on the streets, and the action planned for April 15 in Sudbury have surely given pause to the Board of Governors that dared throw your lives in jeopardy without a second thought! Your defiant stance has even made two-faced bourgeois politicians take notice and suddenly turn warm and obliging, whereas before they never seemed to care about our daily troubles. But the fight has only begun, and we urge you to keep organizing, making links in action with faculty and other workers also affected, and upset the administration’s attempts to divide and conquer.

Many of you study at the ‘satellite’ campus in Barrie because the socio-economic constraints of life in this society have denied you access to what the Board of Governors glibly call a ‘vibrant university experience’, like what is supposedly on offer at the campus in Sudbury. But the reality for many of us here is not so different. Here too, entire departments are being eroded if not demolished to shape a more efficient factory for producing new research, skilled labour, and managers for the resource extraction industry, one of the most predatory sectors of Canadian capital. And here too many find ourselves with heavy debt, uncertain futures and no real power over fundamental decisions that affect us – and further disoriented by the liberal ideology doled out by the curriculum.

That is why your organized resistance over the past week has been a powerful rallying call for us and surely for all militant students in Ontario and beyond. But although the outpour of support so far has been very encouraging, we should consider why this solidarity has yet to really materialize in terms of larger mobilizations and actions on the ground, particularly from the official student associations that command huge resources. This absence is strongly felt at LU’s Sudbury campus, where student unions like the undergraduate Students’ General Association (SGA) have been mostly silent, compromised by their close ties to the administration and thus unable to take real measures to mobilize their members in your support.

The Laurentian Students’ Union (LSU) at Barrie is in a unique spot where their membership is up in arms and its immediate existence is threatened by the BoG’s decision anyway. Uncharacteristic of a typical students’ union, the LSU has given valuable support to the demands of the LU students at Barrie and for this they must be commended. But the SGA is under no such pressure, so while the struggle is quickly unfolding in Barrie, it has been business as usual just few hours away at the Sudbury campus.

For the RSM, this highlights the importance of maintaining political and organizational independence from the typically passive and apolitical official student associations, which in their current bureaucratic and undemocratic form tend to be obstacles to waging real struggles for our needs. That is the only way to build the kind of class-conscious student movement we need in the long run: one that isn’t afraid to fight and to win small and large victories, and at the same time is oriented toward the revolutionary transformation of existing society. Organizing in your support is an important step along that path, so that higher education can one day be free and accessible to all, a fundamentally liberating tool in the struggle against our oppressors, under democratic control in service to the oppressed and exploited in this society who need it most – and impossible to be snatched away at the whim of thieves in a boardroom.


We propose to build the #LUBarrie2019 Sudbury Mobilization Committee!

The student associations here are effectively siding with the university administration by their inaction. It is up to the students, especially those among us with the biggest stakes in resisting the Board of Governors’ continued attacks on all of us in Barrie and Sudbury, to seize the initiative and push the struggle forward. So what are we waiting for?

RSM-Sudbury calls for the formation of the #LUBarrie2019 Sudbury Mobilization Committee to open up a new front in the fight, right here on LU’s home turf. The Mobcom will be a democratic vehicle for collective struggle, not lobbyism and capitulation. It will not shy away from combativeness and political demands. It will mobilize broad sections of students and workers at the Sudbury campus for powerful actions that will help smash the administration’s anti-student agenda. And to ensure it can achieve all this, the Mobcom will maintain independence from the officially sanctioned student associations.

10362541_696533583764489_2396405001352725054_nLaunch Meeting & Action Planning
This Monday, February 29, 4-6pm
Instruction Room (30-230), J.N. Desmarais Library
Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Rd

We invite all students, faculty and service staff of LU in Sudbury who want to organize in support of the students and workers of LU in Barrie to attend the launch meeting and help shape the direction of the coming actions. Allies from the broader community are also welcome. If you want to join us but cannot attend the first meeting, or if you’re with a group that wants to endorse the Mobcom and/or send delegates, please email LU.Mobcom@gmail.com or message the Facebook page.

We also invite all Laurentian Barrie students and groups who are interested in coordinating their actions with the Mobcom to contact us without delay. We look forward to seeing many of you at the planned action on April 15 in Sudbury, for which we hope students in Sudbury can mobilize alongside yourselves.


Solidarity with Laurentian students in Barrie!

Oppose on all fronts the Board of Governors’ attacks on students!

Expand to Sudbury the struggle to defend the Barrie campus!

Join the #LUBarrie2019 Sudbury Mobilization Committee!

Revolutionary Students Disrupt Cop Recruitment at Laurentian University

Revolutionary Students Disrupt Cop Recruitment at Laurentian University

On 9 October 2014, the Sudbury chapter of the Revolutionary Student Movement carried out disruptive operations against an RCMP recruitment event held on Laurentian University campus. As the recruitment presentation began at 4pm, members of the RSM stood up to read aloud a statement condemning “the RCMP – enforcers of the racist settler-colonial capitalist order – and their presence here to disseminate state propaganda on the ‘socially beneficial’ role of the police and gather new recruits to expand the police force!”

RCMP: Racist Colonial Mercenary Pigs!The statement went on: “This encroachment on our campus comes on the eve of the first anniversary of the brutal RCMP raid on the brave land-defenders of Elsipogtog who defied exploitation and destruction of their territories. … In opposing the RCMP’s presence here, we stand with the common struggle of all oppressed and exploited people across the world for liberation from the imperialist yoke of the capitalist class, its state institutions, and armed forces!”

The disruption continued with the student-militants brandishing a red banner and chanting “Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” Their intention was to stay until the RCMP ceased the recruitment presentation, left the space and ultimately the campus. However, as one RSM member recounted after the action, “the officer proceeded to physically remove us from the room. Despite acknowledging our actions weren’t illegal and we weren’t under arrest, the officer continued to use force to suppress and silence us.”

RSM members regrouped outside the room and continued to educate students about the enemy in their midst, in line with the mission outlined in the leaflets they handed out: “Whereas the capitalists want to use the university for their own ends … we want to reclaim it for the people, by building a combative movement of revolutionaries and progressives on campus, turning the university into a site of class struggle. Against cop recruitment on campus, we advance the recruitment and development of revolutionaries from the student body.”

Preempting false liberal outrage over impeding the cops’ “right to free expression”, the leaflet explained that the “action is justified because the mantra ‘serve & protect’, so empty and deceitful coming from a cop, can ring beautiful and true when uttered by a revolutionary. We aim to serve the people, to protect the interests of the oppressed and exploited masses, to unite with their most pressing struggles and aspirations while pointing the way forward to liberation, and together make revolution!”

A Quick Historical and Contextual Overview of “JRA/PFLP: Declaration of World War by Masao Adachi” (1971)

A Quick Historical and Contextual Overview of “JRA/PFLP: Declaration of World War by Masao Adachi” (1971)

jracopy

The Proletarian Revolution Action Committee of Toronto and the Revolutionary Student Movement would like to thank everyone for coming out to the event tonight!!!

To put the film in context, we would like to provide a  brief historical overview of the political situation in which this film was made, the relationship between the Japanese Red Army and the infamous United Red Army, our own political position regarding some of these politics, especially the nature of armed struggle, and its implications of it on the larger communist movement.

This film was made 3 years after the second Ampo struggle by noted filmmakers Masao Adachi and Wakamatsu Koji, both sympathizers of the Japanese Left and the Communist League (Red Army Faction). The second Ampo struggle, like the first Amp struggle of 1960, was against the US-Japan Security Treaty which among others things included the right for American military bases to exist in Japan. The Communist League (Red Army Faction) itself was a split from the Communist League, or the Bund, in July 1969. The Bund itself was originally formed in 1958 by a group of Zengakuren members and leaders that split from the Japanese Communist Party in light of Khruschev’s Secret Speech and the JCP’s policies towards a number of political questions. Zengakuren stands for Zen Nihon Gakusei Jichikai Sō Rengō or in English the All-Japan Federation of Student Self-Government Associations, and is an umbrella group for numerous student groups in different universities. Although it must be noted that by the 1960′s several competing Zengakuren’s existed, each controlled by a different socialist/communist group. The Bund quickly came to adopt Trotskyism like much of the anti-JCP Left. The Bund was centrally involved in the first Ampo struggle in 1960 and collapsed shortly thereafter (1961) into numerous small sects due to the failure of that Ampo struggle. The different Bundists sects reorganized themselves into Communist League – Unity Faction in July 1965 in the midst of the ever deepening university struggles, the war in Vietnam and in preparation for the Ampo Struggles. The Bund again was a major force in the street battles, coordinated direct actions and university occupations across the country and was regularly pitted in violent street battles with the police.

Indeed, the unified Bund’s student organization soon emerged as one of the largest student groups on Japanese campuses. However, by 1969 tensions had arisen within the Bund’s central committee regarding the direction that the struggle should take thereafter. The Bund itself was largely concentrated in the Tokyo and the Kansai area around Osaka and Kyoto. The Kansai group argued, much like the Weather Underground, that the time had come to start a revolution in Japan using an urban political-military strategy. The Tokyo group opposed such a plan and deemed it adventurist and premature. In September 1969 at a public meeting organized by the Kansai faction called “The Great Red Army Political Meeting”, the Kansai faction announced the formal formation of the Communist League – Red Army Faction (RAF), and announced the following slogans, “Escalate the Present Struggle into Armed Revolution”, “Simultaneous Worldwide Revolution” and “Create a World Party, a World Red Army and a World Revolutionary Front”. Amongst the attendees were Shigenobu Fusako, future leader of the Japanese Red Army in the Middle East, and Tsuneo Mori, future leader of the Japanese Red Army in Japan. On September 22nd the RAF started attacks against police boxes in Osaka with molotov cocktails, and started a series of revolutionary expropriations and continued until 1971. Due to the success of these actions the RAF quickly came under pressure from police surveillance and saw the mass arrests of their underground and aboveground members. On November 5th the police in an early morning raid on a mountain lodge at the Daibosatsu Pass in Yamananashi Prefecture, surprised and arrested 53 members of the Red Army that were there on a program of ‘special training”. Chairman Shiomi was also arrested, thus resulting in the near collapse of the organization. These mass arrests resulted in two key developments: 1) the rise of Tsuneo Mori to the Chairmanship of the party; and 2) the remaining fragments of the organization came to theorize that it may be too difficult for an urban guerrilla army to get the necessary training in Japan itself, and results in a group of JRA members hijacking Japan Airlines Flight 351 on March 1970 which is re-directed to North Korea i.e. the JRA in North Korea, Shigenobu’s departure in 1971 to Beirut to receive training from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine i.e. the JRA in the Middle East at the behest of Chairman Mori, and the Mori group in Japan which would later merge with the Japanese Communist Party (Revolutionary Left Faction) to form the URA. Apparently Chairman Mori was less keen on establishing worldwide bases and continued to believe that domestic guerrilla training was possible.

Mori and the few comrades that remained in Japan continued to have a fair amount of cash and safe houses that had been acquired through donations and continuous revolutionary appropriations, but did not have easy access to firearms. Thus, they got in touch with another small far-left group that was committed to a form of Maoism and urban guerrilla warfare, the Japanese Communist Party (Revolutionary Left Faction), which was under the leadership of Nagata Hiroko, who like Mori, had been recently catapulted into the Chairmanship of her organization due to her organizing skills and the recent arrest of the former Chairman of the organization during a raid on a police station. The Japanese Communist Party (Revolutionary Left Wing) or Nihon Kyōsantō Kukumei Saha was a split from another Maoist group, the Japanese Communist Party (Left Faction). The  Japanese Communist Party (Revolutionary Left Faction), although having a number of firearms due to successful expropriations, lacked funds and safe houses. Thus, the marriage between the two organizations was one of convenience. The two organizations soon began to begin conducting joint trainings and finally result in the merger of the two organizations to form the United Red Army which is so well-known in the world for the torture and killings of 14 of its own members, and is the subject of a recent Wakamatsu film called “United Red Army”. This film wonderfully demonstrates the brutality and the odd theoretical developments that the new organization develops including: 1) Mori’s peculiar development of the theory of “communization”, which had been mentioned in earlier RAF writings, by merging self-criticism (jikohihan) and sōkatsu or collective critical examination of the problems that an organization faces; 2) the introduction of violence into the process of communization, and; 3) death by defeatism. It must be noted that whilst the PRAC and RSM believe that criticism/self-criticism and some process of becoming proletarian and revolutionary communists is healthy for organizations and the Left as a whole that we reject Mori’s theories, and indeed, note that Mori had little knowledge of Maoism, despite the fact that his organization had merged with a Maoist one. We must remember that this was an unprincipled merger based not on ideological and political considerations but simply on military questions, although it did result in the JRA in Japan and the Middle East shedding some its earlier Trotskyism in favor of a “transition world theory”. Furthermore, it is also interesting to note that in the early months of the joint training the discussions within the URA were lively and active and slowly became strangled through the authoritarian and bureaucratic tendencies of the leadership of Mori and Nagata, especially through the consistent practice of commandism, and the minutes soon become transcripts of speeches by the leadership. WThe PRAC and RSM oppose all forms of commandism, and argue that we must all recognize that commandism is rife in the Left at large.

Shigenobu, leader of the JRA, was completely unconnected from incidents that occur during the joint training, and left Japan for Beirut in early 1971, prior to the merger of the two organizations, although as you will see the film does recognize the JCP(Revolutionary Left Faction) as brothers in the struggle. She is soon joined by Tsuyoshi Okudaira, who would be in charge of the attack on the Lod Airport in 1972. Also, in 1971 two avant-garde filmmakers, Adachi and Wakamatsu, both JRA sympathizers in Japan join her on returning from a film festival Europe decided to make a film about the JRA-PFLP relationship, the film we are screening today. Adachi himself will remain in Lebanon for the next 28 years as a JRA member and was charged in 2001 for passport violations that resulted in a 4-year sentence, which was suspended to 18 months. He has recently made a film about Okudaira and the attack on the Lod Airport. The resulting film “Red Army – PFLP: Declaration of World War”, also translated as “Manifesto for World Revolution”, which makes more sense in the context of the slogans that were agreed upon in 1969, was shown in late 1971 in Japan to increase recruitment for the JRA in the Middle East. A member of the PFLP also spoke at the screening and made a passionate appeal for solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The JRA was thus able to recruit members from the Partisan groups and the legal front that had not joined the Central Army in the mountains. In 1972 after hearing about the lynchings and the Asamo-Sansō Incident, Shigenobu came under increasing pressure from the PFLP who were disturbed by the events. Shigenobu and Okudaira thus penned, “My Love, My Revolution” (which unfortunately has never been translated into English) as a response to the events and irrevocably broke from the URA. Furthermore, the attack on the Lod Airport was conducted on behalf of the PFLP to demonstrate their solidarity with the Palestinian cause and to further distance themselves from the horrific events in Japan. Indeed, it became clear, the JRA in the Middle East was now simply the JRA and had nothing to do with the URA. The JRA becomes increasingly dependent on the PFLP for infrastructure and funding because their links with the movement in Japan had been broken, although they do continue to receive some funding and support from JRA members in Europe who had been forced to leave Japan due to increasing police repression. The Japanese Left experienced increasing levels of police surveillance and crackdowns as the Japanese government repressed the Left due to its consistent embarrassment at the actions of the JRA internationally and their incapacity to catch them. By the 1980′s the JRA and the PFLP part ways because of tensions that arise due to the PFLP’s increasing narrow focus on the Palestinian struggle alone and nationalism, rather than the worldwide revolution that Shigenobu and other members of the JRA had been fighting for. It has been suggested by some that the JRA, like other urban guerrilla groups turned to Muammar Ghaddafi for funding in the 1980’s, and that Shigenobu’s arrest in Osaka, Japan in 2000 may have been evidence that she was trying to re-establish a domestic Japanese network to continue the struggle. Shigenobu formally disbanded the JRA in 2001 and in recent years there have been a number of arrests of other JRA members, although several remain in hiding.   The PRAC and the RSM understand the JRA’s and PFLP’s particular application and understanding of armed struggle, and stand in complete solidarity with the desires of the Palestinian people for a free unified secular Palestine, but do not believe that history has borne out the correctness of their strategies or line. In fact, the PFLP itself has distanced itself from these strategies and theories, and the JRA has completely collapsed because of the evident failures of said strategy. The strategy isolated the JRA from the Japanese people, from whom they had become completely disconnected and unwittingly aided in the suppression of the revolutionary movement within Japan. These are serious errors that were made and cannot be repeated. We would like to make it clear that we also do not believe that there needs to be a world party, a slogan repeated in the film that you will see today, but rather call for the formation of a new International of a new type. Furthermore, we believe that “simultaneous world revolution” and calls for a “world Red Army” are completely idealistic slogans, which demonstrate the JRA’s continuing idealism although it had made some major strides in changing its ideology away from the narrow idealism of a form of Trotskyism that denigrated the important contributions of Ho Chi Minh and Mao. Any and all revolutions must be built on the peculiar national composition of a given country and the contradictions within it, whilst recognizing that those national contradictions are influenced by contradictions that are developed at an international level.

Furthermore, the PRAC and the RSM firmly believe that it is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism that is the basis for any future revolutionary struggle in this country and around the world, although we also recognize that we must emerge from the narrow dogmatism of the past and develop new political strategies and theories that are appropriate to building revolutionary struggles in a given country. Furthermore, the PRAC and RSM stand in solidarity with the RCP(Canada) who recognize, unlike other groups in the Canadian Far Left that may have delusions about the possibility of some non-violent revolution against capitalism or some confrontation of spontaneously armed masses against the well-trained armed thugs of capitalism like the police and army, that protracted armed struggle and armed propaganda will be likely necessary stages in the revolutionary struggle at some future stage. However, these forms of struggle must emerge in direct relation to the mass struggles of the working class itself, and cannot be simply willed from international base areas around the world.