The Peoples’ Social Forum (PSF) is a critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. It is a space for social movements to meet and converge, for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges. It seeks to inspire practical involvement in social movements and develop networked action strategies aimed at fostering the convergence of struggles, toward building a broad strategic alliance against neo-liberal and neo-conservative policies in Canada. Social justice, Original Peoples rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy at the centre of its concerns.
The PSF is part of the global movement of social forums that have emerged at different levels since the first World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in January 2001. The last World Social Forum was held in Tunis in March 2013and the 2015 one will also be organized in the same city.
Clayton Thomas-Muller, a member of our board of directors and a speaker in our New Voices Speakers Bureau, wrote an excellent essay for rabble.ca on his hopes for the Peoples’ Social Forum. Clayton is a facilitator, public speaker and writer on environmental justice and Indigenous rights. He is the co-director of the Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign of the Polaris Institute and is an organizer with Defenders of the Land and Idle No More.
As social movements, we have a shared intention to walk away from the Peoples’ Social Forum with serious commitments in terms of resources from unions, who have always been a great partner to the First Nations. Harper has been a revolutionary who has moved aggressively to implement his destructive neoliberal vision on many fronts. First Nations have been one of the key targets of this government, as it cannot abide the idea of collective rights that impede the power of governments, corporations, and private wealth alike. Whether it is in education, land rights or self-determination, Harper’s government is desperate to fast track its assimilation agenda.
We all know what kind of movement it will take to confront this vision — a movement that is like Idle No More was when it first started, but deeper, sustained, more focused and more strategic. We know from wide-ranging consultations with the member communities of Idle No More that they are ready to fight, as long as it is strategic, intelligent and effective. We have an incredible legacy of collaboration to build upon. We need to shift the narrative. We need to lay out a clear and strategic movement that can tactically build a strong base. At this year’s social forum, Idle No More, the Quebecois Student Strikers and Canada’s labour movement can do just that.