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Posts Tagged ‘Oxfam’

I am very honoured to have been featured in the Georgia Straight again. Please direct your comments directly to the article and spark up some discussion! Thanks, Scott

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A whole bunch of activists came together last Saturday afternoon for a Flashmob to End Global Poverty. The United Nations Millennium Development Goal review summit wrapped on Tuesday, so we decided we would make some noise for the Millennium Development Goals! Check it out!

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A Police Car  is set on fire while Riot Police Stand Back and Watch

A Police Car is set on fire while Riot Police Stand Back and Watch. Photo by Deborah Mensah-Bonsu/Torontoist.

Canadian Politics | Scott Andrews: For Distribution July 2, 2010

Yesterday marked Canada’s 143rd Birthday. 2010 has been brimful for our juvenile nation, though we have not behaved well this year. I am an extraordinarily proud Canadian, I believe that Canada can be great, but this July 1st, less that one week after the largest mass arrest in Canada, I am embarrassed.

Canada has accomplished many great feats in the past, many of which I share with people when I am traveling and think of when I sport our Maple leaf. A Canadian invented peace keeping, we see health care as a human right and in the past we have opened our doors and provided safe homes for refugees. Canadian forces stood their ground in 1994 when one the most devastating Genocides in Human History swept through Rwanda, and in 2003 we clenched our jaw and told George Bush that we will have no part in his invasion of Iraq.

Fast forward to 2010 and we live in a much different Country. In 2004/2005 Canada started tapping into the Athabasca Oil Sands, which became commonly known as the “Tar Sands”. In 2006, Canada cut funding to all Women’s groups who engage in advocacy. Just a few months ago our minister of finance bragged “We are staying on course to having the lowest corporate income tax rate in the G7 by 2012.″ To top off the emetic assault on Canada’s working class, this weekend marks the debut of the HST – a consumer tax, which by all definitions is regressive, ie: hurts poor people. The bill for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was nearly 50% greater than our entire annual Overseas Development Assistance.

Two weeks ago I was in Toronto with Oxfam Canada for their National Assembly and for the lead up to the G20 meetings. On Saturday June 18th, I took part in a peaceful protest rallying against Canada’s imposition of the “Gag Rule” which bars funding to groups in the third world who provide safe abortions (The Global Gag Rule prohibits US family planning assistance to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide abortion-related information or services, even if these services are legal in their own countries and are funded with their own money. The rule prevents NGOs from even participating in public debates or speaking out on issues concerning abortion.)  Our rally pictured below featured a few hundred activists taking to the streets and participating in a rally. We were met by dozens of Police on bicycles who did not let us take one step on the road. After participating in a Gaza Solidarity march in Vancouver a few days earlier, I was shocked at how overbearing these police were. The events that took place the following weekend, however, are the reason I am not wearing a Maple Leaf on my chest this Canada day.

Maternal Health Rally June 18th Toronto

Peaceful Maternal Health Rally June 18th Toronto

I was back on the West Coast for the Vancouver Peoples’ Summit, so I was fortunately spared the baton and the substandard detention cells. With Canada having spent one billion dollars on security for the G20 summit, $12 million per hour, The French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy was quick to announce that he will do next year’s G8/G20 for one tenth the cost. Amidst so many recent cuts to social spending, a billion dollars on security is not only a slap in the face, but an indicator as to what kind of a society our government is looking to create. A police state that makes no attempt to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and crime is not the type of Canada I want to be a part of.

To dig a little further into what exactly happened last weekend on the streets of Toronto, a few inconsistencies begin to emerge. The mainstream media has been repeating the images of the “black bloc” protestors who lit two police cars on fire and broke several windows in the financial district of Toronto. For those of you unfamiliar, black bloc protesting is a tactic (not a group) which entails wearing black clothing and balaclavas to hide your identity, often with violent intent. It goes without saying that violent protest at the G8/G20 is counter productive and absolutely unacceptable. Peaceful demonstrations on the other hand have been pivotal in turning the tides in the civil rights movements, women’s emancipation and in the ongoing struggle for universal human rights. From the actions of the Toronto Police during this monumental summit, the target was undoubtedly the peaceful activists.

With 20,000 police and a one billion dollar budget, it would seem that stopping the violence that was taking placed shouldn’t have been too much of an issue. This rings especially true when we consider the violence happened right in the middle of the financial district in downtown Toronto. Joe Wenkoff, a photo journalist recounts his first hand experience in a video posted online.

“At the end of the Protest reached Queen and Spadina at around three o’clock, somewhere between seventy five and one hundred black bloc members rallied. They left the main protest and started quickly back down Queen street heading east. On the way they encountered two police cars, with the police in them, which they attacked – broke windows. There were riot police at the intersections at each street that went South from Queen street into the Financial district, but they did not engage the protestors, they just watched them go smashing windows and spray painting.

From there they turned south on Bay street and started into the Financial district. There were three police cars abandoned in the intersection and King and Bay. The black bloc started smashing the police cars and set one of them on fire. After around fifteen minutes they walked North on Young street smashing windows along the way. There were no police to be seen anywhere. The streets were full of people just doing normal things. At 4:20 they reached College where they smashed more windows on their way back to Queen’s park. They also smashed some windows at a police station. When they arrived back at Queen’s, they had all huddled in a circle to remove their black clothing and then after I lost track of them – they all blended into the crowd with the peaceful protestors.

After about half an hour, the riot police began moving into the protest zone in Queen’s park. Another group of riot police came from behind Queen’s park and surrounded the protestors. They squeezed the bystanders and protestors as they pushed us back, hitting us with batons. They hit me in the back and my field producer in the hand, breaking his finger. They were also pepper spraying the protestors at that time. We knew we were going to follow the black bloc, so we wore helmets for protection. But we ended up needing them for protection from police more so.”

After only short reflection, it is very clear that police were not interested in stopping the violence. From Joe’s videos it is very clear that the riot police waited at the intersections and watched the protestors smash the police cars that were strangely abandoned in the middle of the road. Nine hundred people were arrested, but consider the fact that the police allowed the black bloc to disperse into the crowd.

Having witnessed the police set up a week prior to the G20 summits and bearing witness to the security during the Olympic Games in Vancouver, I am outraged. Outraged at a very strategic and political display of force that aims to subvert and discredit civil society. This Canada Day I am taking the day to reflect on the fact that I cannot take for granted that my country respects the rule of law and values human rights. In this situation of manufactured chaos and panic we forget that an active civil society strengthens democracy. If you have taken the time to see past the thirty second clip brought to your familiar media conglomerate and pieced together the puzzle, please speak up and lend your voice to the chorus that is calling for accountability for what happened Saturday June 26th on the streets of Toronto. To quickly take action, join the Facebook group and sign the petition on Amnesty International’s website demanding a Public Inquiry into the Toronto G20.

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Oxfam releases report on climate change adaptation in poor countries

As part of their human impact stories, tcktcktck.org has recently added Oxfam’s report on climate change adaptation in poor countries.

Climate change is fast pushing communities, particularly the poorest and most marginalized, beyond their capacity to respond. Across the world, subsistence crops are approaching the limits of their viability as temperatures change, erratic rainfall patterns and changing seasons are upsetting agricultural cycles and many are left struggling to feed their families.

Oxfam’s report draws on case studies from around the world and Oxfam’s experience working with rural communities to set out what is needed and a range of interventions that are available to enable people living in poverty to adapt to climate change. Nonetheless, there are limits to adaptation, and without rapid and significant global mitigation, these options will be quickly lost.

The report identifies the need for a combination of bottom-up and top-down processes in order to create the enabling conditions needed for people living in poverty to adapt to climate change.

Source: tcktcktck.org and Oxfam UK

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Oxfam Canada Pailwalker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OXFAM CANADA VOLUNTEERS READY TO MARCH FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE

April 5, 2010

VANCOUVER AREA OXFAM VOLUNTEERS DECLARE CLIMATE CHANGE IS MORE THAN JUST AN ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE – IT IS ABOUT POVERTY AND THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN.

Vancouver, British Columbia – On Saturday April 24th at 10:30am you will find a team of Oxfam volunteers at the Vancouver Art Gallery making the connection between Climate Change and Women’s Rights. More specifically Oxfam’s goal is to raise awareness of the devastating impact that Climate Change has on the livelihood and the rights of women living at the margin in the global south. Climate fluctuations change rain water patterns which decimate crops and destroy water sources that hundreds of millions of people depend on for survival. This silent catastrophe disproportionally affects poor woman who very often shoulder the burden of collecting water and preparing food.

Our group will stepping out of the silence at the Art Gallery at 10:30am then embark on our march to the Earth Day celebrations at Jericho Beach with pails of water on our head, symbolizing the struggles that our partners overseas face everyday. In the lower mainland Oxfam Canada’s Advocacy and Outreach committee has a growing volunteer base that meets every Monday to plan events, media stunts and educational programs to connect the issues of Women’s Rights and Climate Change here in Canada. As one of the top countries worldwide in per capita carbon emissions, we strongly believe Canada has an obligation to make steps towards reducing our emissions and funding an adaptation program abroad that will help countries hardest hit by the climate crisis. The Oxfam Advocacy and Outreach committee won’t stop until Canada fulfills these fundamental obligations.

Oxfam’s work with their partners overseas has heightened our awareness of these issues prompting our action locally. Martina Longom, a colleague from the Kotido district of Uganda explains, “[i]n the past there was enough rain…but now things are different. The rains have disappeared… What can I do to address this thirst? I get so anxious. There aren’t enough words to express the pain.” (Martina Longom, a farmer and mother in Kotido district, Uganda)

Leading up to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, Oxfam Canada delivered 53,500 signed petitions that demanding that Canada: significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide funding to help women living in poverty adapt to climate change, support women’s leadership in climate action and enable women to utilize green technology. The volunteer team in BC/Yukon collected an incredibly large portion of these signatures. The Vancouver Advocacy and Outreach committee is continually rocking the boat and applying political pressure by meeting with local Members of Parliament and through public media stunts like the one coming up Saturday April 24th.

If you too feel passionate about ensuring woman’s rights and dignity for all, lend your support to Oxfam by signing our petition online and hitting the streets with us. You can visit the Oxfam website and sign our petition at http://act.oxfam.ca/act/stopharm_09/petition.php. Oxfam volunteers will also be working hard to ask Canadians to take this one step further and stake their seat at the table to make issues heard ‘At the Table’ at the upcoming G8/G20 meetings. We are taking part in a national campaign to raise awareness that Canada has a unique opportunity to set the agenda for the world’s most influential leaders to prioritize climate change, poverty and global economic policy.  For more information about Oxfam Canada, please visit the website at www.oxfam.ca, contact us and join us Monday evenings and at our events to lend your voice to a growing movement for a more just and sustainable world.

Contact:

Scott Andrews

Oxfam Canada Volunteer
http://www.oxfam.ca

http://www.thirdwaveactivism.com

http://www.atthetable2010.org

Tel: (604) 943-4680

Cell: (604) 218-2270

Email: sjandrews@gmail.com

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Oxfam Canada works with people to secure their basic human rights, combining support to long-term development and humanitarian responses with research, advocacy and campaigning against the root causes of poverty and injustice. Third Wave Activism is an insider’s journal for activism in lower mainland written by Scott Andrews.

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By Gary Kean

The richest and most powerful countries in the world will be gathering in Canada in June and those who want these countries to do more to help the world’s poorest nations have found a way to apply global pressure.

Bill Hynd, who is Oxfam Canada’s national campaign co-ordinator, brought the message of how everyone can have their say on this issue when he gave a presentation at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College as part of the university’s Sustainability Week Wednesday evening.

Oxfam, along with a host of other international groups concerned about issues requiring global attention, have launched a campaign called At The Table. The umbrella campaign is intended to mobilize citizens around the world to take their place at the G8 and G20 summits planned for late June in Huntsville, Ont. and Toronto respectively by telling world leaders to live up to their commitment to cut world poverty in half by 2015.

Being heard may be accomplished by individuals going to the campaign’s website at www.atthetable2010.org, where they can download a flat image of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with any of a selection of speech bubbles carrying messages campaign supporters want the leaders to heed. Some of the messages, for example, implore leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions, make poverty history or invest in women and children.

There is even an option for a blank speech bubble so supporters can write their own message.

The idea is for supporters to then upload a photo of themselves holding the speech bubble and image of their leader onto the website.

One of the major issues the campaign will be drawing attention to, said Hynd, is the idea of a global “Robin Hood tax.” First proposed by Nobel laureate economist James Tobin of the United States back in 1972, the tax would be a is a minimal tax on bankers all over the world which has the potential to raise billions of dollars to tackle poverty and climate change.

You can find a link to a video explaining the Robin Hood tax at The WesternStar.com.
Such a tax has been explicitly supported by the leaders of Great Britain, France and Germany, but has been downplayed by Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

“Jim Flaherty came out and said we don’t need any bank regulations because we have good bank regulations already,” said Hynd. “He missed the point. It’s not about regulations. It’s about raising real money to deal with real issues. We need to get a message to Jim Flaherty that he should be joining with (Great Britain’s) Gordon Brown, (France’s) Nicolas Sarkozy, (Germany’s) Angela Merckel and others.”

Hynd said the world has the resources to address the issues facing Third World countries. He alluded to a report from the United Nations last June regarding the global recession, which said the world’s financial industry received 10 times more aid — $18 trillion — in one year than poor countries received in 49 years.

April Muirhead, an environmental studies student at Grenfell College had never heard of the “Robin Hood tax” before and said it was an eye-opener to hear what Hynd had to say.

“That’s interesting and something I definitely want to look into more,” she said.

She also plans to take part in the At The Table campaign, which Hynd said can be a fun way to get friends to join in drawing attention to serious and important topics.

“I think it’s a very good campaign and has opened my eyes more about what needs to be done on international issues,” said Muirhead. “It’s something very simple that anyone can do who has computer access. It’ something different and can be funny, but the facts have to be presented as well.”

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Scott and Lamin At the Table

Myself and Lamin from the Gabon 'At the Table'. Despite the minor sweat stain, I thought it was a good picture.

Today I decided to do a more conventional blog post after reading the devil’s (David Meerman Scott) handbook (The New Rules of Marketing). The basic premise is that blogging is the way to get people to know what you are doing. Well this is my blog and I want people to know what I am doing. This week I spent three evenings in meetings with different groups of activists around the city organizing how we are going to engage more Canadians in the march towards and just and sustainable world. It is now Thursday evening and though I am tired I feel that it is important to let people know what is going on, but more importantly that individuals are coming together in order to make a strong statement.


Bridge to a Cool Planet last October (which happened to be the first blog on this site) was an excellent example of how powerful collaboration can be. Tonight’s meeting was a gathering of individuals from a variety of groups that are planning a huge day of activism for June 20th. During our discussions we recognized the incredible number of gifted and ambitious Vancouver activists. We are so ambitious that everyone is so eager to start their own thing and branch in their own direction. This is admirable but also counter productive in a number of ways. First off the first challenge of activism is that activists measure themselves against the problems they are seeking to address. The fantastic part about Bridge to a Cool Planet is that it felt like everyone was marching with an army. Bridge to a Cool Planet

Taking a page of their book, our At the Table group is hoping for the same thing in June. It is a win-win all the way around. Not only is it easier, but the impact is substantially larger. Small advocacy groups and events can be informative but without the size, the concept of becoming a ‘movement’ is lost. Stay posted here and on Facebook group for more information about how to network, end up doing less work and being substantially more influential.

Buenos noches,

Scott

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