The Politics of Art in Radical Anti-Fascist and Indigenous Movements, An Interview with Gord Hill
Gord Hill, also known by the pseudonym Zig Zag, is an activist and
artist from the Kwakwaka’wakw nation on Northern Vancouver
Island. He has been involved in Indigenous peoples’ and anti-globalization
movements since the 1990s and took part in organizing efforts
to resist the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. As a comic artist, Gord’s
work documents resistance movements of oppressed peoples around the
world, including in his graphic novels The 500 Years of Resistance
Comic Book (2010), The Anti-Capitalist Resistance Comic Book
(2012), and most recently The Antifa Comic Book (2018).
An Interview with Gary Kinsman
In June 1969, amidst the rhetoric of the “Just Society,” the White
Paper on the extinguishing of Indigenous sovereignty, and the
early years of state-sanctioned multiculturalism, the Canadian
government passed an omnibus Criminal Code reform bill. The
Omnibus Bill is often cited as the moment homosexuality was
decriminalized in Canada, when Pierre Elliott Trudeau was benevolently
trying to bring about equality for lesbians and gays, or when
reforms established the right of women to access abortion and
reproductive rights. None of these claims are accurate. This interview
with Gary Kinsman, conducted in late March 2019, reflects on
the mythologies of the 1969 Criminal Code reform in light of recent
state actions and how these acts of recuperation and co-optation
impact left queer organizing strategies in the present.
Reflections on Activism and Abolition
James Kilgore is a researcher and an activist based in Urbana, Illinois. In the 1970s, he became involved with the Symbionese Liberation Army (sla), a left-wing revolutionary group infamous for the use of armed violence to further its political goals, including the kidnapping of media heiress Patty Hearst (although James joined after these events). Following the killing and capture of most sla members, James lived underground for 27 years, mainly in Zimbabwe and South Africa until he was extradited to the us in 2002 to serve six and a half years in prison for explosives and passport fraud charges. Following his release in 2009, he began to work at the University of Illinois and is currently the director of the Challenging E-Carceration project which focuses on developing alternatives to electronic forms of incarceration. Élise Thorburn sat down with James to speak about his life as an activist, both while underground and currently as an organizer in the prison abolition movement.
Reflections from the Frontlines in Moss Park, Toronto
The Toronto Overdose Prevention Site (tops) opened in Moss Park in August 2017 to address the escalating opioid overdose crisis. The Public Health Agency of Canada predicted that at least 4,000 people across the country could die of an opioid overdose in 2017. There were 1,053 opioid related deaths in Ontario between January and October of 2017, representing a 52 percent increase from the previous year.1 The death rate continues to be higher than any other infectious epidemic in the country’s recent history, and shows no sign of slowing down.
Following months of government inaction in the face of the escalating overdose crisis and bureaucratic delays in releasing funds to the three planned Supervised Injection Sites (sis) in Toronto, a group of harm reduction workers and drug users from the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance (thra)2 took action. thra decided to open an unsanctioned pop-up site in Moss Park—the first of its kind in Ontario. They set up makeshift tents for folks to use drugs in a safer environment, with medical and harm reduction volunteers on hand to intervene in case of overdose. The opening of the tops created pressure on the city of Toronto to speed up the process of opening a temporary sis at Toronto Public Health, The Works, in late August 2017, which was later replaced with the previously planned permanent site.3 tops organizers also worked closely with harm reduction workers and advocates in Ottawa, which led to the opening of Overdose Prevention Ottawa, the second unsanctioned overdose prevention site in Ontario.4 The existence of the Ottawa and Toronto sites also put pressure on the provincial government. After five months of operation, the Ontario government started accepting applications for the opening of Overdose Prevention Sites (ops) all over Ontario.5
As of March 2018, the tops had over 5,000 people use the service for injections alone and the volunteer-run group has reversed over 185 overdoses.6 The site continues to run seven days a week, operated entirely by volunteers. Nanky Rai and Gunjan Chopra spoke with two organizers, Matt and Fiona, a month and a half into the project.
Since this interview was conducted, another overdose prevention site has opened in Toronto’s west end neighbourhood, Parkdale. With the recent election of Doug Ford as premier, the future of all harm reduction sites in Ontario is in jeopardy.
Drug User Organizing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
Safer injection facilities provide critical resources for people who have been systematically marginalized. In Canada, organizing efforts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have been at the forefront of drug user advocacy. David Hugill and Michael C.K. Ma interviewed Ann Livingston in the summer of 2017 and discussed her organizing career and the contemporary overdose crisis.
An Interview with Lara Bee of the Beehive Design Collective
The Beehive Design Collective uses visual imagery to record and circulate histories of struggle in order to raise awareness about systems of exploitation, build connections between oppressed groups, and inspire new directions for movements. Over the past ten years, the collective’s graphic design…
An interview with Jason Moore
Jason W. Moore is a world historian and political economist in the Department of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, and Umea? Studies in Science, Technology, and Environments, at Umea? University in Sweden. H e has published widely on globalization, the history of capitalism, and envi…
An Interview with Joe Biel
Joe Biel (JoeBiel.net) founded Microcosm Publishing in 1996. His neighbours were unionized, working-class Democrats who helped establish his early interest in leftist politics. However, it was not until his teens when he discovered punk rock, and later with the founding of Microcosm Publishing, that…
An Interview with Yavar Hameed
Yavar Hameed is an Ottawa-based lawyer specializing in immigration detention, citizenship, and security certificates. He is well-known for addressing systemic racism and Islamophobia in many legal cases with people such as Mohamed Harkat (who was under a security certificate) and Abousfian Abdelrazi…
An Interview with Glen Coulthard
Glen Coulthard is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and an associate professor of political science and Indigenous studies at the University of British Colombia in Vancouver. Coulthard’s recent book, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (2014) is an incisive critique of Canadian settler colonialism that centres Indigenous peoples’ resistance to the state and capital.