Skip to content

35 chapter activists at Groundswell conference in St. John’s

Chapter activists and allies gathered on October 15 to protest austerity and the Muskrat Falls dam.

Council of Canadians chapter from across the country participated in the Groundswell 2016 conference in St. John’s this past October 14-16.

Thirty-five chapter activists from our four regions came together for three days of meetings, workshops, panels, protests, resolutions, connecting, and much more.

On Friday, they gathered for the chapter caucus day to share updates, discuss emerging issues, explore the challenges facing them (notably the challenges faced by rural and big-city chapters), discuss strategies, tools and case examples of successful organizing, as well as to participate in a visioning exercise for the coming year. They then attended a public forum that evening featuring Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, anti-corporate globalization activist Jose Bove (who was initially barred and almost deported from the country just days before the conference), Innu Elder Tshaukuesh (Elizabeth) Penashue, and Leap Manifesto activist Avi Lewis.

On Saturday chapter activists participated in two plenary sessions and fanned out to nine different workshops. The plenary sessions focused on Big Pharma and the New Economy, while the workshops covered all our campaign areas as well as the topics of effective organizing in the Trudeau area and the economics of war and peace. In the early afternoon, chapter activists ventured out into the rain to rally against provincial austerity measures and the Muskrat Falls dam. And that evening they attended a reception that included the presentation of awards, live music and dancing, and a year in review video (which highlighted chapter activism).

The closing day on Sunday included a plenary panel on mobilizing for a new economy, as well as the supporters meeting. That meeting discussed fourteen resolutions submitted by chapters on topics ranging from the Geneva Convention, the formation of a youth wing, Canada’s militarism, an SOS climate crisis protest, support for frontline work in rural areas, the Bank of Canada, corporate capture, a funding formula for rural and remote chapters, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, and homelessness. Many of these resolutions will require further consultation with chapters which will occur in the coming weeks.

In her new book Boiling Point, Barlow writes, “Right across the country, tireless environmentalists, public sector workers and First Nations and community activists work day after day to protect water and local community rights. A special shout-out to the Council of Canadians chapters right across Canada, whose members give so freely of their time and talent.”

This is also true with respect to our trade justice, climate justice, and public health care campaigns, as well as electoral reform, and a wide range of local, regional and national issues.

Chapters are a cherished part of the organization and fundamental to our collective identity. They are also essential to our capacity to advance campaigns and key issues, connect with the broader community and Indigenous allies, draw attention to emerging issues, share information and analysis via social media, organize speaking tours and film screenings, be continually in the media, and so much more.

To join an existing chapter or help form a new one, please see this web-page on chapter activism.