(une version française suivra)
Last weekend all the Menchu interns attended the Forum Social Quebecois at the Université du Quebec à Montreal (UQÀM ). The conference was well attended by a variety of NGOs, political leaders, students and supporters of social justice movements at international as well as local levels. During my university studies, I attended many conferences and workshops where issues of solidarity, globalization and participatory democracy were primary topics of discussion. So, I decided to go to the FSQ more as an observer than as a participant. In addition, I wished to avoid being intimiately involved in the alter-globalization debate.
Throughout the proceedings, I had the sense of bearing witness to a true socialist gathering, one that presented a real sense of both honesty and hope. At the same time, the conference was quite professional, and I found the majority of panelists and workshop participants to be well-prepared and interesting. I thought that the FSQ, as a whole, suceeded by bringing many important issues to the table. Happily, also, the talks I attended created a sense of optimism and indicated that many positive changes have been made in the realms of social justice and participatory democracy.
A highlight of the conference was the workshop on participatory democracy in Latin America. The majority of panelists emphasized the importance of including each and every citizen, regardless of class, geographic location or gender, within the democratic process. Clearly, citizen participation in government systems is vital to the elimination of gender and class inequality. Moreover, there is an imminent need to link government processes (such as legislative reform, development of economic strategies, and education) to the mechanisms of civil society. It was definitely encouraging to hear that so many of the ideological ideals I had learnt in my studies were being applied in real life and with such vigour in the Latin American context.
One observation I had, and have not yet entirely reconciled, was the strong Quebecois sentiment expressed in many of the workshops. That is to say, there were many panelists who spoke of the need for solidarity as Quebecois and as international citizens. Sadly for myself, a multilingual Canadian from a visual minority, who has studied and worked extensively in political science and international relations, there was no mention of this solidarity within a Canadian context. While I understand the nature of Quebec politics and appreciate the struggle and distinct societal difference between this province and the rest of Canada, I couldn’t help but feel a trifle excluded from the main resolutions that came out of this gathering. However, I cannot deny that it was a positive example of the social justice movement’s attempt to create information sharing and forward growth in international development and political reform.
Ce weekend, tous les stagiaires du groupe Menchu ont assisté au Forum Social du Québec. Sans me mettre au milieu du débat altermondialiste, je voulais réfléchir sur le mouvement de la justice sociale au Québec.
En fait, j’ai eu un sens d’être partie d’un vrai assemblage socialiste, qui était aussi plein d’honnêteté et d’espoir. Au même temps j’ai trouvé que les animateurs et les panélistes ont été tellement professionels et bien preparés…Puis je trouve que la conférence était bien faite, et tout le monde se concernait avec des sujets vraiment importants.
J’ai assité à l’atelier de «La démocracie participative en Amérique Latine», qui était attendu par beaucoup de gens et qui a eu lieu en trois langues pour créer un vrai sens d’être internationale. La plupart des panélistes ont souligné l’importance de la participation de chaque citoyen/ne dans le système politique. Cette participation pourrait aider à éliminer les inégalités de classes et de genres, pour que chaque citoyen ait son mot à dire . En tous cas, il y avait un désir fort de lier les processus gouvermentaux (comme développer des nouveaux programmes sociaux) avec ceux de la société civile.