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Maya Rolbin-Ghanie's blog

June 23, 2009 Weblog:

Vancouver Media Co-op, part 4

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A few of us from the VMC (including a couple of recent volunteers), took a day trip up to Sutikalh, one of the most successful, and seemingly least talked about acts of Indigenous resistance to the Olympics. It's about three hours from Vancouver if you don't stop along the way.

Picture 1: In May of 2000, members of the St'at'imc nation and their supporters set up a permanent camp near Melvin Creek, located between Mt. Currie and Lillooet, in order to stop plans to build an all-season ski and recreation resort in time for the Olympics. They are still there today.

Picture 2: Words really can't describe how beautiful the mountains are, or how amazing and unfamiliar it feels to breathe the air there.

Picture 3: The water too, was the best I'd ever had.

Picture 4: The "camp" headquarters.

Picture 5: One of many photos from an album dating back to the St'at'imc 2000 blockade to save their land.

Picture 6: Hubert Jim, or Hubie, one of the people currently living at the "camp." This photo was taken during an interview. Hubie has lived at Sutikalh since the 2000 blockade, and will continue to stand guard. "It's my fate. I'm a hereditary chief," he said with a wry smile.

Picture 7: Doug, also living at Sutikalh, comes and goes between there and Vancouver. He showed me his cabin, which a "crew from Denman island" helped him build with discarded shingles from someone else's house. It's small and surprisingly beautiful, with a wood stove inside.

People from 110 different countries have stepped through the doors of the camp since 2000, all by word of mouth.

» view more photos in"Vancouver Media Co-op, part 4"

June 22, 2009 Weblog:

Vancouver Media Co-op, part 3

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Picture 1: We attend a meeting of Vancouver's Anti-Poverty Committee, and give a brief presentation about the Media Co-op. People express a desire to contribute financially to the project but it is fairly clear that what we'd like more than anything from a group like the APC (who struggles with funding, like many other activist groups), is based on what they are directly working on: ideas for coverage of the 2010 Olympics, information on poverty in Vancouver, articles for the site.

Picture 2: Next, the VMC posse rolled into an Olympics Resistance Network (ORN) meeting in the DTES. After giving a run-down of Media Co-op goings-on, people broke out their laptops for a tech session of sorts; those who needed computer help got it.

Picture 3: Dave Dickson. An ex-police officer with the Vancouver Police Force. He was the Police's one and only "Downtown Eastside Liaison" for many years, and also acted as their "Native Liaison." He was one of a special team which investigated the Pickton case. Of many of the city's sex-workers, he says he has known them since they were in pre-school. According to him, although this is questionable, he has built up a trust with many in the neighborhood over the years, and now spends his time doing outreach with women on the streets. On the topic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, Dickson maintains that the police have never treated anybody differently based on their race; they have been abusive, sure, but not based on race. As kind and fatherly as he is, I find something integral left to be desired.

» continue reading "Vancouver Media Co-op, part 3"

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June 14, 2009 Weblog:

Vancouver Media Co-op Tour, Days 3-7

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The Vancouver Media Co-op held a meeting several days ago for folks who are interested in helping with organizing, promoting events, and covering stories. About 7 or so amazingly solid folks showed up to our meeting on the back balcony of Spartacus Books. People threw around some great story ideas, agreed to taking on specific tasks (ie postering and flyering), planned a group trip to Sutikalh, talked about the structure and purpose of the co-op, as well as its goals, and shared contact information. It was an impressive tone-setter to say the least.

The bulk of Media Co-op work so far has consisted of talking to or emailing people, getting contact info for other people, talking to them, setting up meetings, and then talking some more. Several meetings with a diverse cross-section of folks linked to media production, cooperatives, and unions have been arranged and are slowly filling up the VMC calendar.

Picture 1: A demonstrator at a women's housing march put on by local group Power of Women (POW). The march was a dignified expression of anger at the government for authorizing mass evictions in poorer areas of the city (most notably the downtown eastside), as well as destroying potential social housing sites in favour of making way for the Olympic Games in 2010. Aboriginal people comprise about 3 per cent of BC's population yet make up over 32 per cent of the homeless population. Aboriginal women are particularly vulnerable to losing their homes.

» continue reading "Vancouver Media Co-op Tour, Days 3-7"

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June 10, 2009 Weblog:

Vancouver Media Co-op Tour, Days 1-2

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Picture 1: The Vancouver Media Co-op tour kicked off in Victoria BC at the Camas Bookstore and Infoshop. About a dozen people showed up, and in spite of technical difficulties which prevented us from showing the Media Co-op's promo video (filmed in Halifax during our February tour), the discussion was a success, as folks were enthusiastic and interested in finding ways of supporting and collaborating with the Media Co-op on independent media projects that are already up-and-running in Victoria. An organizer from Indymedia Victoria attended the event and gave an update of events after the talk. Another organizer there is starting a news site called B Channel News in response to Victoria's mainstream A Channel.

Picture 2: After Victoria we headed to Nanaimo to speak to people at Radio Malaspina(CHLY), the town's campus community station. Four people came out, but they were incredibly enthusiastic and spent some time brainstorming ways that Nanaimo could fit into the Vancouver Media Co-op picture.

Picture 3: After the talk in Nanaimo we were interviewed on the Popular Participation Movement (PPM) news show. The PPM is a a group that mobilizes against war and empire. Most notably, they have staged theatrical demonstrations for four years in a row now to oppose Nanaimo's annual Empire Day celebration. The following morning, the Media Co-op snagged an interview on CBC Victoria news.

» view more photos in"Vancouver Media Co-op Tour, Days 1-2"

May 11, 2009 Weblog:

The Search for Maisy and Shannon

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On May 2nd, the search for Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander continued, on the Kitigan Zibi reserve, 8 months after the two girls went missing. The search was organized by the Odjick family, with the help of Amnesty International, which donated 2 buses to help transport volunteers from Ottawa who wished to help with the search. The two buses were filled, and many more showed up on top of that. All in all, over 240 people came to help scour the woods around the reserve for any clue at all that might lead to answers. Four member of the Missing Justice collective in Montreal attended.

The search was led by Search and Rescue Global 1, a pro-search team run entirely by volunteers. The SAR team was overwhelmed by the number of volunteers, so some people had to wait in the community hall for their turn to join a search team.

We were divided into groups of 15-20 people, with 2 team leaders. Everyone had a stick of some kind to help them push aside some of the thick brush that we would encounter. We lined up for instructions: we were to yell ’stop ‘ along with a number we had been given whenever we saw anything that might be a clue. A clue could be anything at all: a beer bottle, a piece of cloth, strange litter, anything.Then, a team leader would come and find us, look at the clue, and maybe choose to radio it in.

At times distracted by nightmarish visions of what we might find, at times pre-occupied with getting through the insanely thick bush unscathed, we walked through the woods, in as straight a line as possible given the fact that we were supposed to go through all obstacles as opposed to around them. There were a few times when we lost site of the people beside us, but it was never long before someone yelled ’stop.’

» continue reading "The Search for Maisy and Shannon"

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April 20, 2009 Weblog:

The Simple Art of Terror

by Anamitra Deb

The Simple Art of Terror

On November 26th, 2008, Bombay was the target of a terrorist attack allegedly carried out by men from the jihadi organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), meaning 'Army of the Pure.' Armed with AK-47s, hand grenades, and RDX (an explosive chemical used in military applications), the terrorists targeted civilians, killing over 200 men, women and children.

Ten men came to my city by the sea and docked their rubber dinghy in a forgotten fisher-people’s slum. Ten men, armed with guns and grenades, headed nonchalantly in the direction of the city’s main attractions. Dressed in jeans and t-shirts, and carrying backpacks, ten men split into four groups, maybe five, and started the shooting later that evening.

In an attritional siege that lasted more than 60 hours, severe damage was done to the inhabitants of a city that is no stranger to terror.

Over half of the casualties took place within the first few hours, all at frequented landmarks – at the touristy Leopold Café, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Train Station, used by millions of local commuters daily. At the already-overflowing Cama Hospital and outside of Bombay's oldest cinema, the Metro. Inside of the city’s best-known five-star hotels, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi Trident, men fired guns in lobbies and staircases, bars and restaurants, chambers and kitchens.

» continue reading "The Simple Art of Terror"

March 5, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, end of tour

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Picture 1: Our presentation at Just Us cafe on Spring Garden had a really good turnout, one of the highest, at 13 people. The tour, on average brought about 8-10 people out to each of its events. The thing about touring a city (as opposed to a country) is that, while touring a much smaller area, small groups of people make it out to whichever event is the easiest one for them to attend. With each event, a different group of people comes out, and most are there for really good reasons, making every presentation interesting in the sense that the people in attendance dictate its terms.

Picture 2: "The revolution starts here!" shouted Dominion editor, Dru Oja Jay, in the midst of a presentation at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Those in attendance were highly enthused, amazingly supportive individuals, ready to take a stand on Canadian media. It was a rejuvenating experience to be in the same room as these folks, older than myself, who see the big picture with blatant confidence. In this picture: Errol Sharpe of Fernwood Publishing (middle), and Dave Shaw of PSAC (right).

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February 25, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 22

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Picture 1: A public presentation in the North End was held upstairs from Anchor Archive, a growing local library of zines on every topic available. Besides being the most well-attended event this month, a journalist from the Chronicle Herald described how he had survived the paper's brutal cuts, and expressed interest in being involved in the co-op.

Picture 2: Our presentation in Bedford, aka 'an attempt at branching out,' proved a little less than fruitful in spite of concerted attempts at postering in bus stops and sticking flyers under people's windshield wipers nearby the community's shopping mall. There is a lack of public space in Bedford. We are told that the ice rink is the favorite public hangout by our solo contact there to date, Mark, who, when he's not helping build media co-ops, is driving a Zamboni.

Picture 3: The 7th annual Homelessness Marathon, which airs every year in Montreal, aims to raise awareness about homelessness with 14 hours straight of live broadcasting. This year, CKDU 88.1 FM in Halifax hosts a listening booth at St. Matthews United Church of Canada, serving food and drinks all night long. In collaboration, women from the Roberts Street "Stitch and Bitch" have a KNIT-A-THON to raise funds for the Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter.

Picture 4: The Media Co-op's own traveling videographer, Van Ferrier. Van has returned to Montreal since this photo was taken, but before he did, was instrumental in documenting the process of building the co-op. Here, he flims The Dominion's first annual AGM.

» continue reading "Halifax Media Co-op, Day 22"

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February 19, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 16 (skipped a few, but am compensating)

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Picture 1: Halifax is saturated in cooperative media potential. Posters detailing a list of events in different neighborhoods in and around Halifax can be seen from the four directions.

Picture 2: A presentation at Oxfam involved many projections, even though the writing was on the wall.

Picture 3: A journalism skillshare and intro to the Halifax Media Co-op website drew a diverse and engaged audience into NSPIRG's office at Dalhousie.

Picture 4: Handing people flyers outside of the Halifax Ferry Terminal leading to Dartmouth was incredibly fun. Being able to tell people about the upcoming event in Dartmouth ("it's not just a Halifax thing") felt like an exercise in being thorough.

» view more photos in"Halifax Media Co-op, Day 16 (skipped a few, but am compensating)"

February 14, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 7 (more like Day 12...)

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Picture 1: The Dominion presented at the Ecology Action Center to the most receptive audience to date. When asked "If we lived in a real democracy, what would news media look like?" people's responses included "Politicians would have to speak for themselves," "the media would be accountable to it's readers," and "news would not be only from the perspective of power."

Picture 2: We The Dominion presented at the Halifax Labour Council to a small crowd, but many enthusiastic head-nods made up for what we lacked in numbers. The highlight of the occasion was, without question, Labour Council member Judy Haiven's extra-special Mr. Coffee brew.

Picture 3: A Friday night lecture at Dalhousie University entitled "Enduring Legacy, Enduring Challenge: The Global and Canadian Dimensions of the Trans-Altlantic Slave Trade," was one of many events going on in Halifax as part of African Heritage (or Black History) Month. Dr. Afua Cooper performed a spoken word piece called "The Negro Cemetery" about how old 'negro' cemeteries are currently resurfacing all over Canada--in corn fields, and in potato fields. Made me quake, simply. "Historians, by and large, see themselves as guardians of the story of the nation," said Cooper about the way she is treated as a historian who is trying to challenge prevalent notions of Canadian history in scholarly circles.

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February 10, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 6

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Picture 1: The Media Co-op's first formal presentation was given to Journalism students at the University of King's College. The crowd was small but receptive, and the event was well-documented by the Media Co-op's Van Ferrier (our traveling videographer).

Picture 2: A Halifax Career Fair for students of Mount Saint Vincent University, Dalhousie, and Saint Mary's was met with protest. The event included recruiters for Lockheed Martin, the world's largest arms manufacturer. Local activist Asaf Rashid played the role of Dr. Clusterbomb of the Weapons Inspection Team.

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February 9, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 5

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Picture 1: Last-minute printing needs landed several Dominion organizers at Kinkos an hour before the AGM. They walked in with a USB key, and left with darling pamphlets, secret ballots (on sky blue and lavender paper), and double-sided copies of the candidates' bios. A little less colorful but no less valuable, were the financial statements and special resolutions to be presented at the much-anticipated event.

Picture 2: The food was set out, along with coffee and OJ. Fifteen people attended The Dominion's first ever AGM, and eighteen more participated online. The whole thing was broadcast across the country to whoever cared to watch. Resolutions were passed, and a new board was elected, including Harjap Grewal (new Reader member rep), and Tracy Glynn (winning Writer member candidate). Other highlights included the suggestion that The Dominion feature a cute baby animal in each of its forthcoming issues, in the spirit of covering more positive news.

Picture 3: Dominion Editor Dawn Paley's "Economic Downturn shoes" will continue to glitter long after the fall of capitalism.

» view more photos in"Halifax Media Co-op, Day 5"

February 7, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 4

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Media Co-op HQ, early morning, post-Muesli. The day before The Dominion's AGM and the plan is, roughly: work, eat, work, practice presentation (work), make pamphlets (work), go outside, walk, work, bluegrass with the Smokin' Contraband.

Three more organizers have arrived in the last 24: Dawn Paley (Dominion editor) from Vancouver, Van Ferrier (video guy), and Moira Peters (coordinating editor extraordinaire)!!

February 6, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 3

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A practice-run of the Media Co-op's presentation got positive feedback and a few snickers (all in good fun) from a couple of friends who sat down to listen.

Slide 1: After assessing an issue each of both the Chronicle Herald and the Metro, it was pretty clear that the vast majority of articles were "canned," (gleaned from newswires). Of those that weren't, most reproduced content from press releases or announcements. Of those that were actually original, local stories however, none could rightly be called investigative.

Slide 2: First, we take Halifax.

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February 5, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 2

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Hillary talks briefly to the Student Coalition Against War (SCAW) at Dalhousie University about the Media Co-op. There is interest in future involvement and events.

February 4, 2009 Weblog:

Halifax Media Co-op, Day 1

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The Dominion's first day of a month-long Media Co-op tour in Halifax, it's inaugural city, was all about getting the presentation together in time for a slew of speaking events, scheduled throughout February in different Halifax neighbourhoods. We did not have to look very far to find examples of media that do not serve the people.

June 29, 2007 Weblog:

What in Tarnation?

We lay in bed dozing off, talking about quality of life. About how apples and tomatoes, rumour has it, aren’t as robust, tasty or nutritious as they were in our parents’ generation, and that the quality of theirs didn’t measure up to those of previous generations either. Oranges and celery. Mangoes and Carrots. Fresh produce. The vitamins of life. I read an article about it that recited percentages, that recapped parentages.

» continue reading "What in Tarnation?"

June 14, 2007 Weblog:

Forts McMurray and Mackay: Tar Sands Stink

The entire day was slow-going and lazy. We had wandered around the town commenting surreptitiously on ‘Fort McMurray-isms’—that is, various opinions we’ve come to form in the last couple of days. For example, just before skipping town, we’d parked ourselves outside of Zellers, under a sign that read ‘No loitering, No Littering, No Spitting,’ and cooked ourselves some noodles on Macdonald’s camp stove. Most of the stores in that particular strip mall complex were closed, and Dru wondered aloud at how many cars there still were in the parking lot, which was close to full.

» continue reading "Forts McMurray and Mackay: Tar Sands Stink"

June 12, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray, first time

I Hitched into Fort McMurray from Edmonton late last night with Dru and Macdonald. It was dark and wet all the way here and having never been so far North before, the trees to me seemed sickly and pallid, pointless as far as trees go. I felt like the straight, black road could cease at any moment and we’d simply fall off the end of the earth.

» continue reading "Fort McMurray, first time"

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