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The Activist Toolkit's fierce giving guide for 2018

According to statistics, at this time of year many of us donate to charitable organizations. Given the huge need around the world, and here in Canada, this guide is meant to help you inform your giving. This list is by no means exhaustive and so please send me suggestions at toolkit@rabble.ca and I will be happy to add them.

1. Syria: ISIS has been routed from Syria and the Assad government is reinstalled. The country is in ruins and the wars in the Middle East have created the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. However, there is high probability that the reconstruction money given to the government will not get to all Syrians and will be used to sure up President Assad's power.   

The Syrian government's plans for rebuilding the country’s wrecked cities and governorates are starting to take shape, but there are warning signs the process may not necessarily be geared towards recovery and renewal, according to Swiss-Syrian academic and author Joseph Daher. Daher argues that two ulterior motives underlie the Syrian government's approach to reconstruction: Consolidating political and economic power within a narrow circle of Syrian elites connected to the ruling Assad family and quelling dissent in former opposition areas.

Organizations are working on the ground, and here is a list of 27 which are helping refugees from Syria. Meanwhile many of the Syrian refugees who have been granted asylum in Canada are reaching the one-year mark. This means an end to their monthly living allowance and many of the government supports, despite the fact that some still need assistance. The Canadian Council for Refugees has put together this guide for people who want to help refugees. In April 2016, rabble.ca interviewed Maisie Lo, the Director of Immigation Services at WoodGreen Community Services in Toronto, who called for support to meet the long term needs of refugees. This support is sorely needed. 

2. The United States: I still shudder when I think of the morning of November, 9, 2016, the morning when I realized that Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States and that the Republicans controlled or would control all three branches of the United States government. 2017 has been a rollercoaster. There have been some wins, but far too many losses. However, there are amazing organizations which continue to organize and fight back. They need your support to keep on fighting. This is a partial list, please feel free to find others. The Activist Toolkit will also continue to highlight great initiatives across North America.   

Right now, the efforts to renegotiate NAFTA are chugging along in secrecy. Here is a great analysis of what NAFTA has meant for farmers and working people in Canada. There are important fights being waged to see if the renegotiation of NAFTA can be a better deal for people in Canada. Stay tuned in 2018 for more on this issue.

3. Clean drinking water in First Nations communities: Justin Trudeau and the Liberals made a commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations communities by March 2021. As of October 31, 2017, there are 100 long-term drinking water advisories and 47 short-term drinking water advisories in public systems financially supported by INAC and other systems where the public has a reasonable expectation of access.  

Many of us are, understandably, getting involved and demanding that the government address this issue. However, water by any means is not an answer. Some First Nations communities are already relying on private water sources and these water sources are not maintained and are part of the problem. The Harper government wanted to privatize water for First Nations and the current Liberal government likely sees privatization as a quick fix. Let us not continue this complicity by rushing to action. Many communities are demanding increased voice and autonomy, and do not want the federal government farm out contracts to private companies as a quick fix. The Canadian government has a responsibility to ensure that all Canadians have access to clean drinking water and the government should not be allowed to step away from this responsibility. Right now, in Atlantic Canada, First Nations communities are demanding the establishment of a local First Nations Water authority. 

The Council of Canadians has been actively working on this issue and with local First Nations community to amplify their work to access water. Follow and work with their campaign.  

4. Net Neutrality and Digital Rights: There has been a steady erosion of digital privacy, and a steady corporatization of the internet which culminated in the recent United States decision to end net neutrality, giving big United States based telecom giants a lot more power over what we can see and do online. The internet has no borders, and so this petty attack on President Obama's legacy will impact not only the United States but all of us. 

Meanwhile the Liberal government has introduced Bill C-59, to address national security issues. This bill is being proposed as an attempt to address the concerns of organizations that united to protect our privacy and fight against Bill C-51, the Harper governments attack on our privacy. However, Bill C-59 continues to undermine privacy and endanger land and environmental activists. Currently, OpenMedia is collecting letters to the government to reform Bill C-59. OpenMedia.ca has been leading a lot of important fights for digital rights, as have organizations like ACORN Canada, which has been fighting for internet access for low income Canadians. 

5. Racists and Islamophobia:  On January, 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette went to the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City and shot six men, Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, and Boubaker Thabti.  In December 2017, the Globe and Mail published an article about Ayman Derbali, who was paralyzed in the attack and is now struggling to survive.  According to a colleague, if you want to support him or the mosque, you can send donations to the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. Since 2014, hate crimes against Muslims in Canada have increased by 253 per cent. According to ommunity leaders, this increase can be linked to the anti-Muslim messages that were shared by Conservative candidates during the federal election and during the Conservative leadership race. The alt-right media, various politicians, and far-right organizations have continued to fuel Islamophobia across Canada.   

Bloggers and editors at rabble.ca have been working with partners around the country to highlight who the racists are and highlight efforts to fight back against them and some of their reporting is compiled in this list. However, the most important thing we can do is to work to organize against racism when we see it in our communities, within our families, and among our friends and acquaintances. As we head to holiday dinners, here are some guides we originally put together for September to help you organize against Islamophobia in your communities.  

One of the most important and difficult things to do is to organize within our own communities, to listen and build real change.  If you want to report an anti-Muslim incident or get a sense of how pervasive these incidents are, the National Council of Canadian Muslims has been mapping anti-Muslim incidents across Canada.

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