Plenty to do in a year of challenges: 2017 in rabble news

Stitch-by-Stitch's Unsettling Canada Day Sewing Circle was held in solidarity with Unsettling Canada 150 National Day of Action by Idle No More and Defenders of the Land. Photo: Elizabeth Littlejohn

As any activist can tell you, important reasons to protest just kept coming and coming in 2017. There was plenty to be angry about, worry about, to regroup over, and lots to think about in terms of moving beyond a very disheartening present, whether looking at Canadian or international politics, economics, the environment. Trying to keep up with the machinations of the Orange Pluribus Unum to the south of us was enough on its own, and set the tone.

In summing up the year in an imperfect list, perhaps we can wrap our heads around the past year, break it all down, and rectify.

There were also positives, with a few of them squeezed in here for good measure.

1. Fascists in America: After a ramping up of racism, sexism, homophobia and other bigotry in Trump America following the Republican candidate’s win and swearing in, came Charlottesville.

2. And at home: Far right is emboldened by the mood. In August, hundreds turned out to protest racism in London, Ontario, but in November, 500 extreme right supporters marched in Quebec City under police protection, while counter-protestors were pepper-sprayed. Quebec City’s mayor echoed Trump by saying "there were virtuous people on both sides."

3. Elsewhere in Canada, activists such a Desmond Cole continue to shine a light on issues such as police carding and other civil rights disgraces.

4. Housing crisis: From activist Jean Swanson running for seat in a Vancouver City Council by-election (and narrowly losing), to further indications on a bubble ready to pop, rent increases, debt-to-income ratio increases and renovictions, housing remains a troubled part of the Canadian landscape. Salman Zafar has some suggestions.

5. A big change came to Montreal in the form of its new mayor, Valérie Plante on November 5, the first woman to hold the office in Canada’s second largest city. 

6. The desire and need for reconciliation between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the other Canadians continues to consolidate as a movement, even as centuries-long inequities and racism continues. Thousands took park in a walk for reconciliation in October,  while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leads the way in appalling behaviour by withholding funding as ordered by the Canadian Human Rights tribunal, while finding billions in federal loan guarantees for energy projects such as Muskrat Falls in Labrador.  

And the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation fired up Indigenous peoples and supporters to demand recognition for the harm done by colonialism, including this ingenious sewing project.

Meanwhile, when it comes to reconciliation, Canadian business has room for improvement, too

7. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry has been troubled all year, with limits on testimony and multiple resignations

8. Throughout the year, federal NDP leadership race got candidates talk on babble (check out here) , and Karl Nerenberg wrote extensively on the candidates and the eventual winner Jagmeet Singh. There was also a piece by Duncan Campbell on the excitement Singh brought to the race

9. In the new era of Trump, protestors went to Hamburg’s G20 Summit last summer with demands, but the G20 continued its international roadshow and photo op without progress on crucial issues such as climate change and inequality.

10. On June 29, the B.C. New Democrats and leader John Horgan were finally handed the keys to British Columbia by the narrowest of margins, and with the support of the B.C. Greens, which becomes the only co-ruling Green Party in North America. 

11. AND... something to look forward to in 2018 is rabble.ca’s first Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellowship appointee, Toronto-based journalist and poet Phillip Dwight Morgan

All the best of the season and into 2018, from all of us at rabble.ca!

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