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Letter to the Editor

by The Concordian November 1, 2011
Re: citizen involvement

Having attended three interconnected, paradigm-shifting events here in Montreal in the course of less than two weeks, I felt inspired to share some of my insights with fellow Concordians.
The first event is Occupy Montreal which, as we are witnessing, has been growing ever since its first day of occupation (or rather de-occupation, as some have pointed out). This authentic people’s movement, joining in solidarity with the Wall Street occupiers and over 1,500 other cities in 70 countries, is an extremely important event. Although I’m not sleeping on site, I’ve been by a few times to show my support and to take part in a general assembly organized by different committees every evening at 6 p.m. The feeling of excitement and chaos, too, serves as a great wake-up call. It’s important to be against ‘the system’, and finding viable solutions to get us out of this economic mess must naturally accompany this dissent.
The second event was the Forum international de l’économie sociale et solidaire which took place Oct. 17- 20 at Palais des congrès. It showcased a spectrum of these solutions through learning workshops. A wide diversity of ideas were exchanged; 67 different countries were represented, the first forum of this magnitude organized by Le Chantier de l’économie sociale, located here in Quebec. The focus was on five main topics: security & food sovereignty, finance & trade solidarity, innovation & entrepreneurship, employment & work and planning & local development. Emphasis was placed on combining research, public policy and citizen action for a wider access to knowledge and financial tools capable of fueling the growing momentum of the social and solidarity economy. I was happy to see that women were at the forefront of these activities and that First Nations held an important place in the forum.
There were incredibly inspiring examples of communities and cities that have already taken or are exploring alternatives to the obviously failing capitalist model of production and distribution of goods and services and replacing these with more cooperative, socially and environmentally responsible models of economic development.
The third event I took part in was a seminar on re-imagining the Quebec society post-capitalism. In the evening was the launching of the documentary/reflective film [Re: public] by Hugo Latulippe shown at the Société des arts technologiques. More than 700 people attended. Speakers included Quebec solidaire spokesperson Françoise David and Laure Waridel, researcher, writer and co-founder of Equiterrre. It felt like everyone in the audience was buzzing with the excitement of creating this creative and value-based, social identity that resonates throughout Quebec society.
All of the events mentioned here show that we are presently living an important historical moment where a ‘window of opportunity’ has opened up – what we do now is up to us, collectively (the 99 per cent) to change paths towards real democracy, freedom, justice and dignity; what beings on this planet deserve. Perhaps this can only happen by creating meandering paths instead of thinking that there will be just one system to replace the old one. As Vandana Shiva says, “Diversity is our highest form of security.”
It seems pretty clear now that this diversity must be found in all of our systems: economic, cultural, social and ecological.
Let’s keep the fire burning!
Sonya Girard
SCPA and human geography undergraduate student
VP Action Communiterre

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