A burning case for a radical future: Naomi Klein says UBC needs to get with the program

Naomi Klein wrapped up the final leg of her book tour on October 26 Chan Centre

Naomi Klein wrapped up the final leg of her book tour on October 26, presenting at UBC’s Chan Centre for a sold out venue as part of the Vancouver Writers Festival.

Klein opened the event with a discussion on her new book and was joined by Kanahus Manuel, an Indigenous land defender from the Secwepemc territories as well as event moderator, UBC School of Journalism Professor Kathryn Gretsinger.

Klein’s seventh book, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, focuses on the interconnectedness of what she refers to as simultaneous planetary and political “fires.” These fires are both literal in reference to rising temperatures and climate crisis, as well as in a metaphorical sense; With references to global political crises and the rise of fascism under figures like Trump, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Modi in India and Kashmir, and Duterte in the Philippines, to name a few she touched on.

“A clear formula is emerging between many of these fascist figures who are trading tactics,” she said.

In her opening address Klein emphasized themes from her book, particularly that climate destruction systematically intensifies pre-existing societal inequalities and vulnerabilities. She cited the historic 2017 wildfires in BC as an example, sharing that while smoke hung over the entire Lower Mainland for weeks on end, it was Indigenous communities whose wellbeing was disproportionately affected, along with undocumented migrant workers working in BC’s interior.

Klein brought hope to the on-stage conversation by addressing that while political and planetary fires are raging, metaphorical ‘personal’ fires are also on the rise, and continue to spark global social movements, from Haiti to Chile to Lebanon and beyond.

From racism to colonialism, imperialism, neoliberalism, extractivism, eco-fascism, climate destruction, poverty and despair, in Klein’s words, these struggles can be tackled all at the same time rather than as single-voter issues.

“The fight for Indigenous rights and title is absolutely inseparable from the fight for a habitable planet. They are one and the same,” Klein stated emphatically in the two hour event.

Klein’s book is dedicated to the late Secwepemc leader and activist Arthur Manuel. His daughter, Kanahus Manuel — founder of the Tiny House Warriors movement in BC — joined her on stage for the event. Manuel reiterated the interconnectedness of Indigenous land rights as central to movements for climate justice, particularly as the Canadian government has repeatedly stated it’s intent to go on with Trans Mountain Pipeline construction despite a lack of Indigenous peoples’ consent.

Image result for kanahus manuelBearing a broken wrist and a defiantly raised fist, in a voice that was calm and contained, Manuel recounted a chilling incident of police violence from the week before.

“As I stand here today, I have this cast as proof of what Canada does to Indigenous people when they stand up for Indigenous land rights. There are mothers and children on the front lines.

“I don’t want anyone here to ever have to feel how this feels — for the RCMP to come and break your wrist at your home and take you away for three days without medical attention.”

Manuel was referring to her arrest the week before, when she and other Secwepemc land defenders had been resisting as federal pipeline developers encroached onto unceded Secwepemc territories.

“We expected them to deal with the matter in a diplomatic way; this is supposed to be a first world country,” said Manuel.

As Manuel handed the microphone back to Klein, she received a standing ovation from the packed Chan Centre audience, members of the audience joining her in standing with fists raised in unison with her own stance. MORE

Pam Palmater launches Reconciliation Book Club on YouTube

The Mi’kmaq lawyer and Ryerson professor is helping Canadians self-educate on Indigenous issues with a video series

Image result for pam palmater
Photo: Lisa Macintosh

According to Pam Palmater, the government isn’t doing the work for reconciliation. It’s up to the people – “the true government” – to do that work.

The Mi’kmaq lawyer and Ryerson University professor issued that call to action in the introductory video to her latest endeavour, The Reconciliation Book Club.

Launched in July, the YouTube video series and its comments section are meant to be a safe space for Indigenous peoples and their allies to collaborate on what Palmater describes as an interactive journey to educate the resistance. How to be an ally is not taught in schools, she reminds viewers, so self-education is key.

Palmater has written in NOW about Idle No MoreCanada 150 as a celebration of Indigenous genocide and most recently for our Missing and Murdered cover story. For The Reconciliation Book Club, she’s going beyond her own knowledge, tapping more voices and inviting discussion.

Each month she will recommend a book, and then in the following video she’ll discuss it using subscriber comments as feedback and contributions into the conversation. The series will focus primarily on Indigenous authors, she says, since those voices have been “silenced and ignored.” But Palmater will also feature a few non-Indigenous writers whose books she considers “important works to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and advance our causes.”

Palmater introduced the series in early July, announcing the first book: Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual For Decolonization. The collection of essays from various authors, including late activist Arthur Manuel, was published by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators in BC and is available as a free download.

Palmater’s first episode discussing Whose Land Is It Anyway? dropped on July 27. During the 40-minute video, she highlights the writing of Beverly Jacobs, who maps out the “core relationship between the colonization of Indigenous land and the colonization and targeting of Indigenous woman and girls.”

She describes the book as straight truth. “Truth has to come before justice,” she says. “And justice has to come before reconciliation.”

Check out the introductory video below.

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization is available free to the public as an e-book

Whose Land is it Anyway

Whose Land Is It Anyway? A Manual for Decolonization; was inspired by a 2016 speaking tour  by Arthur Manuel, less than a year before his untimely passing in January 2017.

The book contains two essays from Manuel, described as the Nelson Mandela of Canada, and essays from renowned Indigenous writers Taiaiake Alfred, Glen Coulthard, Russell Diabo, Beverly Jacobs, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Kanahus Manuel, Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, Pamela Palmater, Shiri Pasternak, Nicole Schabus, Senator Murray Sinclair, and Sharon Venne. FPSE is honoured to support this publication.