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Thursday, June 29, 2006

In print

I have the honour of being among the contributors of the newly released anthology, In Our Own Voices: Learning and Teaching Toward Decolonisation. Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Proma Tagore of the University of Victoria, editor and inspiration of the volume.

Publisher: Larkuma Press, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Cover Art:
Izmer Ahmad

Publication Year: 2006
ISBN: 0-9733821-2-0
Contributors: Olivia Ashbee; Tara Betts, njeri-damali (campbell), Chiinuuks; jennie duguay; Wil George; Naomi Horii; Rozmin Jaffer; Meghan Jezewska; Michelle La Flamme; Rhonda McIsaac; Victoria Marie; Lisa Okada; Rachel Reidner; Donyell L. Roseboro; Rubina Sidhu; Shaunga Tagore


In Our Own Voices: Learning and Teaching Toward Decolonisation is the work of nineteen scholars, poets and artists, each of whom extends our understanding of what it is to be a racialized minority in a classroom.

As Proma Tagore, editor of this anthology of essays, poems and graphic art, says, "This anthology came out of a direct need for a resource that could help racialized students to better negotiate their educational experiences and, along with others, create ways of resisting racism on campuses, in class rooms, and in class materials."

Kevin Kumashiro, Director, Centre for Anti-Oppressive Education, Washington D.C. writes:

This collection - at once moving and inspiring, insightful and troubling - speaks of the partialities of teaching, the paradoxes of change, and the intersectedness of identities, especially for those on the margins.

Ashok Mathur, Canada Research Chair in Cultural and Artistic Inquiry, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops writes:

The excitement of a collection such as this is not just that it gives space to previously hushed positions, but that it brings these writers together as a collective movement to document problematic histories and articulate potential futures.

The contributors are from diverse disciplines, including Literature, Visual Arts, Social Work, Nursing and Women's Studies, and diverse ethnocentric backgrounds, including First Nations, Chinese-, Japanese-, African- and Indo-Canadian.

For details, please contact Dr. Proma Tagore at or Larkuma at

Peace and All Good, Dear Bishop Ruiz

Tatik (meaning “father” or “elder”) is an affectionate Tzotzil title for Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who flies home tomorrow after a 10 day visit in Vancouver. Bishop Ruiz is the beloved and distinguished retired Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas (Mexico) known for the prophetic ministry of reconciliation and accompaniment he practiced for more than 50 years.

Bishop Ruiz led a delegation from Mexico at the World Peace Forum. Thousands of Vancouverites and international visitors participated in workshops, spiritual gatherings, festivals and panels organized by the “Times of Struggle” Tour. The delegation also included human rights activists from Mexico City and four indigenous leaders from the southern state of Oaxaca.

During the Times of Struggle tour, the indigenous leaders occupied the Mexican consulate of Vancouver three times, in response to acts of state violence against striking schoolteachers and their supporters.

“These are dangerous times for community organizations in Mexico— federal, state, and local governments have been complicit in horrific violence against communities in the build up to the July 2nd federal elections; Canadians can’t continue to ignore the violation of basic human rights in communities across Mexico” Said Emilie Smith, a Vancouver-based organizer of the tour.

Tonight at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre on East Hastings Street, Times of Struggle participants came together one last time to receive the Bishop’s blessing, and to give him ours. He returns to Mexico to advocate peace among the peoples of Oaxaca. He has been invited by the school teachers to lead a commission to mediate between themselves and government authorities.

In a celebratory atmosphere, Indigenous peoples and activists from the north and south danced, shared stories, networked and made plans to continue in la lucha (the struggle), together.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The month of May left a footprint in the history of Colombia

(Personal correspondence from Amanda Martin)
The month of May left a footprint in the history of Colombia.

Alvaro Uribe was elected for a second consecutive Presidential term (2002-2006, 2006-2010). His amendment to change the 1991 Colombian Constitution, to legally permit his candidacy, passed in October 2005. President Uribe was in Washington last week (his 9th visit) to discuss the Free Trade Agreement.

Also in May, a national summit was held to protect and enforce the rights of the Colombian people. 15,000 people (farmers, indigenous groups, students, labor leaders, Afro-Colombians, and many others) gathered at the Guambiano indigenous reserve of La Maria, Piendamo, in the state of Cauca (SW Colombia). This land is titled “for co-existence, negotiation, and dialogue”.

The people demanded to meet with the government to discuss the failure of the state to comply with the law. Specific issues included the indigenous and Afro-Colombian right to collective land, a national referendum on the Free Trade Agreement, Agrarian Reform, inclusion of victims in negotiations with demobilized illegal armed actors, state support of the right to protest and freedom of expression, and the right to life.

During the 5 day summit, none of the government ministers attended. The people decided to block the Pan-American highway in order to get the attention of the government. The government responded by sending the anti-riot police to enter the indigenous reserve by force.

Helicopters flew just 20 feet above the ground, shooting tear gas canisters at the people. Many were wounded, and one indigenous leader was killed. The community health clinic was destroyed. The organic coffee plants were contaminated with tear gas, while the harvested coffee beans were stolen. A house, 15 motorcycles, the entire stock of medicine from the clinic, and furniture was burned. Computers and the dry goods from the community store were stolen. The state troops defecated in the community cooking pots and on the floors of the health clinic.

The US government has just approved another $801 million for Plan Colombia in 2007. 82% of this money is designated for war (further militarization). $200 million alone is for fumigations and helicopters (maintenance and purchasing). Our tax dollars are funding this war.