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Report back from Day One of the People’s Summit

The first day of the People’s Summit included over 50 workshops covering a huge range of social justice issues. The Council of Canadians’ campaigners, organizers and Toronto chapter members hosted, facilitated and participated in 5 workshops in addition to talking to hundreds of people at the table in the Community Commons.

Tracy, Michael and Tara on the Toronto chapter, joined by Fiona from the South Niagara chapter at the Council of Canadians table at the People's Summit.

Tracy, Michael and Tara on the Toronto chapter, joined by Fiona from the South Niagara chapter at the Council of Canadians table at the People’s Summit.

The ‘From Copenhagen, to Cochabamba, Toronto and Cancun: Building the movement for climate justice in Canada’ workshop drew a crowd of at least 50 active participants. It began with 4 presentations focussing on the significance of the Cochambamba climate conference (Andrea Harden-Donahue with the CofC and Clayton Thomas Muller with the Indigenous Environmental Network), and firsthand perspectives on the impacts of the climate crisis in the global South and real solutions (Naty Atz Sunc, General Coordinator of the Association for Community Development and Promotion in Guatemala and Francois Pihaatae from Tahiti, the Ecumenical Animator on Climate Change for the Pacific Council of Churches). After participants split into 5 groups focused on climate debt, offsets, sustainability in Canada, peoples assembly for climate justice and tar sands to discuss and strategize climate justice scenarios.

Following the ‘G20 Trade Agenda: New threats, new alternatives – a trans-Atlantic dialogue’ workshop many people from the G20 and trade workshop stayed into the ‘Canada-Europe Free Trade and the Threat to Good Green Jobs in Toronto’ workshop, including French, Quebec and German members of Attac. The workshop was going to focus on a Toronto campaign push but there were more people from outside of Toronto so the workshop focused on the Canada – EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement in general and who will win and lose in Canada and the EU. Presenters and participants explored what an acceptable trade agreement might look like or whether it is enough to oppose them all. The the new information comic to raise awareness about CETA was distributed – it will be available soon on the Trade Justice Now website.

At the ‘What is Climate Justice?’ workshop, climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden Donahue participated in a panel hosted by Climate Action Network Canada tasked with the question, what is climate justice? Drawing from the Council of Canadians’ statement on climate justice, she was one of 5 panelists to present a brief 5 minute response, arguing that climate debt repayment and system change not climate change are key components to achieving greater climate justice. Discussion highlights include what values we share in common in terms of wanting emission reductions and improvement of equity while identifying some differences of opinions on mechanisms (for example, the extent to which the carbon market has a role as a climate solution).

At the ‘Tar Sands Expansion Through Local Struggles’ workshop organizers from the east and west coast of Canada talked about challenging tar sands pipeline development through local grassroots organizing with effected communities. The workshop attendance overflowed with a small crowd listening outside the room and people left with a sense of enthusiasm to engage in local work against tar sands infrastructure.

At the No One is Illegal workshop ‘Colonialism, Capitalism and Migration about 120 people crowded in to hear from migrant justice organizers from across Canada and about the impact of borders and security on the lives of Adil Charkaoui (was held on a Security Certificate) and Missy Elliot (from Six Nations). Following that a workshop on direct action gave participants a basic understanding of ways of engaging in impactful political actions while providing an overview of concerns and key issues organizers must address in the planning process to assure safety for everyone involved and effectiveness.

Sunday’s schedule is equally full!