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Angela Davis ignites convention

To the sounds of DJ Lissa Monet, CLC delegates and guests danced into “The Power of Disruption”, Sunday evening’s Human Rights Forum. Shelina Merani, the evening’s host, asked the crowd of a thousand whether they were ready to disrupt tonight as she introduced CLC’s Executive Vice-President Marie Clarke Walker to kick off the forum.

“Open up the doors and let everyone in.” said Clarke Walker, as she listed an impressive number of community and social action groups who attended.

CLC President Hassan Yussuff addressed the crowd reminding them that “if we don’t have the respect for each other, how can we create a better world.” He continued by pointing out how the justice system has failed so many, including missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

“When we join hands together, we can do some amazing things,” he concluded before introducing the keynote speaker, Angela Davis.

The room erupted into a standing ovation as Davis took the stage. “I’ve long considered myself a friend of the labour movement in Canada,” she said, “movements matter and movements can make a difference.”

There can be no effective struggle for racial justice, for economic justice, for gender justice without placing the struggles of First Nations peoples at the core of all our justice endeavors, Davis proposed.

Davis spoke of the need to revitalize the labour movement. She emphasized that nothing happens in our world without working people.

She spoke with passion about women in society. “These are historic times…women are on the rise.” She reflected on the powerful community of black domestic workers in the United States. “Black women who worked in white homes…they were the ones who refused to ride the bus…they were responsible for the victory.”

“I want to suggest that we rethink this whole notion that there is a hierarchy of labour and those who do the reproductive work – the cooking, the cleaning – don’t really matter. Because that is work without which no other work is possible.”

On union organizing, she challenged the audience to “organize the unorganized” and to ask “who are the unorganized”.

Finally, she challenged men in crowd by stating that “men have to take on the fight against violence and misogyny.”

Angela Davis’ presentation was followed by a panel on human rights issues that included, Casey Oraa, Danielle Dubuc, Jessica Burnie, Ronald Rousseau and Ainsworth Spence.

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