Monday, September 21, 2009

Here's something that there is far too little of, a report on a recent anarchist bookfair held in the Canadian city of Victoria. There should be more of such public reports. The following is from the A-Infos website.
Canada, Victoria Anarchist Bookfair Report Back:
This past weekend marked the beginning of the 4th Annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair in British Columbia, Canada. For those of you who have never been, Victoria is a prime tourist location that can be described as nothing less than “quaint”—and I don’t mean that in a good way. Regardless, Victoria’s local radicals have managed to prove that there is more to the city than the world’s most well kept gardens and daily whale watching expeditions. The bookfair brought together an interesting assortment of vendors, collectives, and organizations, each with a unique project and mission. Being my first trip north of the border, the bookfair provided a space for me to connect with and learn about the different struggles that some individuals and communities in B.C. are facing. Off the bat, it was good to see the bookfair organizing collective’s Statement of Indigenous Solidarity:
The Bookfair collective supports the struggles of indigenous peoples throughout North America to assert their cultural autonomy and territorial sovereignty. Victoria is located on the traditional inter-lapping territories of the Lekwungen and Songhees peoples, who have endured the seizure of much of their land by force and repeated attempts to obliterate their culture through multiple forces of colonization. The resilience and strength of these and the other communities who make ancestral connections to this region in the face of injustice, challenges us to support them and all indigenous peoples in the on-going struggle against colonialism, capitalism, and cultural genocide.
As with previous years, there were various events held throughout the week leading up to the bookfair, including the D.I.Y Fair, which, luckily, I was able to attend part of. Among the myriad of workshops held at the D.I.Y. Fair (guerrilla art, first aid, etc), AK author Cindy Milstein facilitated a discussion entitled “Educating for Freedom” where she spoke about her work at The Institute for Anarchist Studies. Cindy also gave a talk the next day at the bookfair entitled “Anarchism’s Principles and Prefigurative Politics,” which covered some of the themes touched upon in her upcoming book, Anarchism and its Aspirations, available soon from AK Press. After the first day of tabling, much of the crowd headed over to a bookfair-affiliated spoken word/hip-hop show featuring Testament, an anarchist rapper, who also helps run the Empowerment Infoshop in London, BC. ( Ooops, I think he means London Ontario-Molly )
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend any of the workshops held during the bookfair because I had to tend to the AK table, but the line-up was solid, with presentations regarding Gender-Queer Anarchy, Indigenous Resistance to Ecocide, Social Transformation through Martial Arts, and more. I did get a chance to walk around the bookfair hall, which included local booksellers Camas Infoshop and Black Raven Records, among others. Josh Macphee, author of Realizing the Impossible, was also present at the bookfair tabling for the radical arts collective Just Seeds. Positioned at a 90 degree angle from the AK table was a new group called the Women’s Publication Network, a project of the UVSS Women’s Center, who were handing out free zines. I found some incredible zines at this table, including a collection of writings from (mostly Canadian) young women of color and a zine critiquing the portrayal of First Nation Peoples in Canadian cinema. Directly across from the AK table was Victoria Street Newz, an independent newspaper/activist resource distributed by low/no income people throughout the city. There is current contact info for all of these groups at each of their linked websites, so please get in touch to find out how you could support any and all of these projects.
Across the room, Gord Hill, author of 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance was tabling on behalf of Warrior Publications, as well as the No 2010 Olympics on Stolen Native Land campaign. For those of you who haven’t heard about the No 2010 campaign, I urge you to visit their website, to find out why such a diverse constituency has come together to resist the devastating impact that the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is sure to bring to local Indigenous communities, women, and poor people alike. Heads up—if you are anywhere near the west coast during the month of November, stay alert for updates on the No 2010 Speaking Tour that is making its way down the coast.
I wish I could give you a better sense of what a great learning experience the Victoria Anarchist Bookfair was for me, but I guess it’s just one of those things where you just have to be there. Lucky for you, there’s always next year.

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