We contributed a detailed timeline of Ottawa police violence to the new issue of the The Leveller. We developed this timeline in preparation for the upcoming trial of Constable Daniel Montison, who was charged with manslaughter following the death of Abdirahman Abdi in July 2016. While the timeline is obviously incomplete, we hope it’s helpful in creating a context for understanding specific incidents of police violence in our city. Stay tuned for the longer, in-depth article we will be releasing soon!
In recent months, Punch Up Collective members have been interviewed twice about our political approach, our activities, and particularly our efforts to support other people in starting collectives. You can listen to Amanda and Dan on Talking Radical Radio and Alexis and Chris on From Embers.
Things are really hard for a lot of us right now. Alongside thinking that it’s important for us all to take good care of ourselves and each other, Punch Up is committed to supporting social infrastructure for collective liberation. So we made a map of Ottawa that we hope will be useful! It has a handy list of meeting and event places for when you want to plan something along with info about them, descriptions of outdoor spaces with the same, and more than twenty of the targets for protests or political interventions available in town.
Let us know what we’ve missed! Please share!
During 2017, Punch Up Collective spent several months developing curriculum for a four-hour workshop we call “Getting It Together: Organizing Collectives for the Real World.” In early 2018, we facilitated this workshop for the first time and also wrote “Getting It Together: Ideas for Organizing Collectives,” a companion article which Briarpatch Magazine published.
We were primarily motivated by what we see as the demands of this political moment. As Toronto-based organizer Syed Hussan writes, “If there is a hope in hell of us transforming our society, and building the kinds of worlds we want to live in, we need masses of people organized, disciplined and militant. It may seem that media moments are where change happens, but that is fleeting. Large scale movements rise up and dissipate. Organizations, collectives, affinity groups are needed to build up to them and beyond them.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Our hope, in developing these materials, was to create easily-shareable resources to support and encourage the development of collectives. We crafted the workshop curriculum to be clear and accessible, we included detailed notes and options for facilitators, and we designed a helpful handout and sample planning timeline as well. We revised all of these further after our experience of facilitating the workshop. We encourage you to take these materials, modify them, and run collective-building workshops where you live.
Again, find our curriculum here, our handout here, our planning timeline here, and our article here. We’ve also listed some further readings below. These may be texts you want to incorporate into the workshop (for example, as preparatory reading for participants) or use as stand alone resources.
We sincerely hope that what we’ve put together is useful to you! If you have any thoughts on these resources, or the workshop itself, we’d love to hear it – drop us a line at email@example.com.
- Cold B and T Barnacle, Building a Solidarity Network Guide
- Virginia Coover, Ellen Deacon, Charles Esser, and Christopher Moore, Resource Manual for a Living Revolution: A Handbook of Skills & Tools for Social Change Activists, 4th ed. (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1985)
- Chris Crass, “Strategic Opportunities: White Anti-Racist Organizing and Building Left Organization and Movement: An Interview with the Heads Up Collective,” in Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy (Oakland: PM Press, 2013), 179-196
- Chris Dixon, “‘Vehicles for movement-building’: Creating Organizations,” in Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements (Oakland: University of California Press, 2014), 199-219
- S.K. Hussan, “You can’t change the world alone, but all of us can together”
- Bruce Kokopeli and George Lakey, Leadership for Change: Toward a Feminist Model (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1984)
- Jeremy Louzao, Someday We’ll Be Ready, and We’ll Be Enough: Building Anti-Authoritarian Movements With the Size and Resilience to Win
- Starhawk, The Empowerment Manual (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2011)
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project, SRLP Collective Member Handbook
- Harsha Walia, “Overgrowing Hegemony: Grassroots Theory,” in Undoing Border Imperialism (Oakland: AK Press, 2013), 173-202
Punch Up is super excited to announce the launch of the Radical Events Ottawa (REO) List, a weekly email announcement list for radical protests, meetings, events, workshops and other activities in our region!
Yep, we’re going old school with a legit listserv to help organizations keep people informed while avoiding some of the pitfalls of social media. That darn social media can definitely be handy, but it’s also often a real drag. Plus, not everyone’s on here, and how are they going to hear about your cool event?
If you sign up, you’ll receive one email a week, each Monday, containing details on upcoming events and actions in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Your email won’t be shared with anyone and won’t appear publicly anywhere. And please note the REO List is not a discussion forum; the only email you’ll receive will be the once-weekly events email from Punch Up. You can unsubscribe anytime.
If you’re part of an organization or group, please start submitting events! You’ll find details on how to do so via the link.
We’re really looking forward to helping spread the word about the fantastic community organizing you all are up to!
Facilitated by the Punch Up Collective, this workshop is for anyone interested in starting a collective, or those keen to discuss how to make a collective they’re already a part of more effective and sustainable.
This workshop will be capped at a maximum of 30 participants. This post contains a range of details about the event, but should you have additional questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Punch Up Collective
1. Event Description and Details
6. About Punch Up Collective
7. Contact Information
1. Event Description and Details
Saturday, February 3rd, 2018
1-5pm (doors open at 12:30pm)
Room 101, Jack Purcell Community Centre
320 Jack Purcell Lane
Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin territory
Number of participants: 30
We live in a frightening and unpredictable period, faced with the growing challenges of climate catastrophe, ongoing economic austerity and state violence, and emboldened white supremacy. Countering these challenges will take widespread, powerful, and resilient social movements that can sustain themselves over the long haul. But how do we get from here to there, when so many of our organizations and projects seem temporary, ad hoc, and dysfunctional?
We think building vibrant, sustainable collectives in our communities might be a good place to start. This workshop hopes to help start that conversation in Ottawa. Some topics the workshop will cover include:
- what exactly is a collective?
- why meaningful anti-oppression analysis and practice is essential for collectives
- tools and features of effective collectives
- how are collectives structured?
- plus plenty of time for discussion and reflection on the experiences of participants
The workshop will last 4 hours (with breaks, of course) and be facilitated by the members of the Punch Up Collective. It will be capped at 30 participants.
There will be drinks and snacks available with vegan, kosher and gluten-free options. There will be no nut products, but we cannot guarantee a nut-free environment. Please contact us if you have specific dietary needs. Also, please see accessibility info below.
To register, please fill out this form. Because this workshop has limited attendance, we would like people to register by Wednesday, January 24th. If you’ve registered but won’t be able to attend, please also tell us that by emailing us.
There is no cost to participate in this event, however donations to cover costs associated with the workshop are appreciated.
It’s not necessary but, if you’re a keener who wants to do some advance reading, we recommend Syed Hussan’s short but vital article “You can’t change the world alone, but all of us can together” which you can find here.
- Childminding is available. If you require childminding, please email us by Saturday, January 27th.
- The room where the workshop is taking place is on the first floor and is wheelchair accessible.
- The first floor has gender-segregated wheelchair accessible washrooms. On the 2nd floor, there is a washroom that is wheelchair accessible and unisex (gender neutral).
- Bus tickets will be available for transportation.
- We request all participants refrain from wearing scents to better allow people with chemical sensitivities to attend.
- Portions of this event will be recorded. Participants can ask not to be recorded.
- If you have any other accessibility needs not listed here, please get in touch with us.
6. About Punch Up Collective
Punch Up is a small anarchist collective based in Ottawa, Ontario, on unceded Algonquin land. A more detailed description of the collective is available on our website.
7. Contact Information
The Punch Up Collective can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the past year, we’ve seen the rise of emboldened white supremacist groups and networks globally. In response we’re also seen a resurgence of anti-fascist organizing. To help us make sense of these developments in the context of recent, and not-so-recent history, Punch Up Collective is very excited to be bringing organizer, historian, and writer Mark Bray to Ottawa.
Thursday Oct 19th
7:00 pm (door open at 6:30)
Room 31, Dalhousie Community Centre
755 Somerset Street West
Ottawa, on unceded Algonquin territory
(Facebook event here)
Mark will be speaking about his new book Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook. He will focus on the history of anti-fascism, exploring its development from resistance to Mussolini and Hitler in the 1920s and 1930s into contemporary struggles against white supremacists. Based on interviews with anti-fascists from around the world, Antifa details the tactics and ideas of the movement, offering insight into the growing but little-understood resistance fighting back against fascism in all its guises.
We’ll also hear a presentation from a former member of Toronto Anti-Racist Action (ARA), a group that actively organized against white supremacists in the Toronto area and in Ontario more broadly during the 1990s and early 2000s. This speaker will share recent regional history of anti-fascist and anti-racist organizing in our context, drawing out lessons for today’s struggles.
Following the speakers, there will be lots of space to think and talk together about how these histories are relevant to our lives today.
Endorsed by Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Movement Ottawa, CUPE 4600, COPE 225 SEPB, Ottawa-Outaouais Industrial Workers of the World, Solidarity Ottawa, Criminalization and Punishment Education Project, and Ottawa Against Fascism
- There is an elevator up to the 3rd floor.
- ASL translation and French whisper translation is available. Please email us (email@example.com) if you require translation by October 6th.
- Childminding is available. Please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you require childminding by October 6th.
- The ground floor has a unisex (gender neutral) wheelchair accessible washroom. The washrooms on the 3rd floor are wheelchair accessible but gender-segregated.
- Bus tickets will be available for transportation.
- We request all participants refrain from wearing scents to better allow people with chemical sensitivities to attend.
- This event will not be recorded.
- If you have any other accessibility needs not listed here, please get in touch.
Who is Mark Bray?
Mark Bray is a historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe who is currently a lecturer at Dartmouth College. He was one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street, and is the author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, and the co-editor of Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader. He has published widely, and he has appeared on major news programs, including CNN and NBC News, to speak about radical politics and movements. You can find out more about Mark at his website: markmbray.wordpress.com.
Who is Punch Up?
Punch Up is a small anarchist collective based in Ottawa, Ontario, on unceded Algonquin land. You can find out more about Punch Up at our website.
The Punch Up Collective endorses the No On Prison Expansion (NOPE) initiative and their call for a nation-wide moratorium on all prison expansion projects.
The NOPE initiative, a campaign by the Criminalization & Punishment Education Project (CPEP), monitors prison expansion projects across Canada and works to increase understanding of the negative impacts of human warehouseing.
Punch Up is in full agreement with NOPE’s statement that:
It is undeniable that prisons disproportionality impact racialized minorities, most notably Indigenous peoples, as well as other marginalized groups including the poor. Imprisonment is also an ineffective way to address the needs of those in conflict with the law, survivors of criminalized harms, as well as their loved ones and communities.
NOPE engages in prison justice work through a variety of avenues, including:
- promoting carceral divestment strategies to diminish the use of incarceration, such as the decriminalization of prohibited drugs and supporting the transition of prisoners into their communities
- encouraging the reinvestment of government funding away from human warehousing and into projects that address the social inequalities that give rise to ‘crime’
- building capacities for restorative and transformative justice alternatives
Punch Up rejects the idea that mass incarceration is an effective means of securing and sustaining justice and dignity for individuals and communities. Human warehousing runs counter to this stated goal of the prison system, by creating the conditions for recurring cycles of harm, marginalization, criminalization, and punishment that can affect individuals, families, and communities for decades.
We also strongly support NOPE’s calls for public funds invested in prison expansion to be redirected towards restorative and transformative justice projects. Lasting healing and justice are possible when we have the capacity to create processes of accountability that address the needs of all those affected by social conflict, including survivors, perpetrators, and their communities.
We encourage all organizations and collectives to endorse NOPE’s important work. You can learn more about the campaign here.
No More Prisons!
The Punch Up Collective
The 2017 Manning Centre Conference starts today, February 23rd, 2017, in Ottawa. In it, we can see some of the worst ideas and most despicable plans brewing amongst Canada’s conservative elite (though they are also importing a bunch of people from the U.S. to speak).
The Manning Centre is a “think tank” aiming to help conservatives network with each other, train to be more politically effective, and research things that matter to them. Their annual conference is an important event for them.
This year the theme is “Take the lead,” and that aspiration is sponsored by (among others) Facebook, Twitter, Air Canada, Rogers, and the Canadian Real Estate Association. Sessions address: “Leading the Response to Islamist Extremism and its Ideology in Canada,” a session that was advertised with the image of a bomb in a backpack; uber-elite Doug Ford speaking on how to understand the “rise in anti-establishment sentiment”; why conservatives might be okay with defunding public schooling; how hard it is to be a conservative student at university; why we should embrace hydrocarbons; and whether it’s time to kill the CBC.
Particularly chilling is the session called “A Trump Movement in Canada? Can Trumpism be exported to Canada? Or is it already here?” This has been the question Conservative candidates have been circling around for months: How can they mobilize the people in Canada who oppose immigration, who want to kill environmental protections, who support increasing our dependence on petrochemicals, and who are on board with a future in which only rich white people flourish? While Kellie Leitch has been most blunt about her interest in becoming “Canada’s Trump,” the tendency towards far-right conservatism is ascendant.
This tendency did not simply arise among conservatives, and it is not only in response to Donald Trump’s election. Justin Trudeau’s response to Trump’s agenda has been one of warmth and collegiality, alongside an almost gleeful escalation of a pro-pipeline, anti-Indigenous, anti-refugee policies. Trudeau’s visit with Trump in Washington helped to normalize and legitimize the hateful politics and actions of his opposite number. We should care much less about whether Trudeau won the handshake battle and much more about the ways he is reneging on every promise he made about electoral reform, the environment, and nation-to-nation respect for Indigenous people.
Additionally, a key component of the Conference is a Conservative Party Leadership Debate on Friday evening, featuring 14 candidates. Among them will be Kellie Leitch, key architect of the Harper-era “Barbaric Cultural Practices” snitchline, and currently campaigning on a plan to charge potential immigrants for the cost of enduring a “Canadian values” screening test. Kevin O’Leary will be there, perhaps expanding on his plan to make unions illegal and throw union members in jail, or maybe posting more insensitive and violent home videos. Most of the 14 leadership hopefuls, including Leitch, O’Leary, Maxime Bernier, and Lisa Raitt, are all vocally opposing Motion 103 (M-103), which calls on the federal government to develop a plan to combat systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia. That’s just too much for most of the candidates attending the upcoming Leadership Debate, who’ve responded to M-103 with a series of racist dog whistles, falsely claiming that it would limit free speech or bring about Sharia Law.
Events like the Manning Centre Conference are dangerous because they work to normalize and legitimize hateful, disgusting ideas that lead to real harm and violence. These views are part of a broader conservative agenda that endangers our communities and makes our world worse. Consider Alexandre Bissonnette, who murdered at least six people at the Centre culturel Islamique de Québec; he was part of the far-right, white supremacist movement that has been bubbling in the Canadian political landscape for a long time. (Another recent event shows us some of what might be in store for us in Ottawa this week: Rebel Media’s Freedom Rally).
Conferences and events like these take place under the guise of freedom of speech and respect for a diversity of opinions. But freedom of speech does not require that the Shaw Centre allow their venue to be booked, it does not require that Ottawa Westin and Les Suites Hotel Ottawa provide special conference rates for attendees, and it does not require that the Conservative Party of Canada deem it an appropriate event at which to hold a leadership debate. The Manning Centre and its conference should be opposed and denounced for cultivating and nurturing a politics based in racism, Islamophobia, environmental devastation, and unbridled economic war on ordinary people.
Also, can we just say that the closing session is actually just kinda sad? Live taping of the Mark Steyn CRTV show (a guy whose main claim to fame is that he’s a friend of Conrad Black), with a live musical performance from Tal Bachman (another guy whose hit single “She’s so high” came out seven years ago – you probably don’t remember it, but it’s bascially is a paean to women who don’t have breast implants and deign to notice Tal Bachman).
Two years ago, we encountered several stories about sexual assaults among activists in our city, Ottawa. We were disturbed and, sadly, not surprised about what we heard. From our perspective, what was extra difficult was seeing that many people in the radical activist scene here, including ourselves, didn’t know how to respond effectively to this violence.
Punch Up is a small anarchist collective trying to help generate fierce, effective, and loving transformative movements. We believe that sexual assault among activists is not only a terrible harm, but also a major impediment to building durable movements. In what follows, we’d like to share a little about how we’ve tried to learn and respond in our city, and about the unresolved questions with which we’re still wrestling. We offer these reflections and experiences in the hope that they may be useful to others.
Responding to harm and looking for “community”
We saw activists, including ourselves, relating with these sexual assaults in two main ways: on the one hand, personal conversations and, on the other hand, public but frequently vague call-outs on social media. In the call-outs, people often appealed to “the community” to do something. While these two approaches have value in many circumstances, they didn’t seem sufficient to us. In fact, the revelations about sexual assault in the Ottawa radical activist scene brought up a lot of questions for us about what “community” means. In this way, our experience resonates strongly with what the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective describe in their “Pods and Pod Mapping Worksheet”:
we found that, not surprisingly, many people do not feel connected to a “community” and, even more so, most people did not know what “community” meant or had wildly different definitions and understandings of “community.” For some, “community” was an overarching term that encompassed huge numbers of people based on identity (e.g. “the feminist community”); while for others “community,” referred to a specific set of arbitrary values, practices and/or relationships (e.g. “I don’t know them well, but we’re in community with each other”); or some defined “community” simply by geographic location, regardless of relationship or identity (e.g. “the Bay Area community”). We found that people romanticized community; or though they felt connected to a community at large, they only had significant and trustworthy relationships with very few actual people who may or may not be part of that community.
Looking seriously at the Ottawa radical activist scene, we didn’t see anything like a coherent “community” capable of following up on accusations and holding anyone accountable, much less establishing expectations for how people should treat one another. However, influenced by materials in The Revolution Starts at Home and Accounting for Ourselves, we started examining our context more closely. What we noticed was a range of formations – activist groups, collective houses, left-leaning trade unions and student organizations, and others – in which people have ongoing working relationships, generate group expectations, and carry out collective activities. We began wondering about what potential these formations, with all of their limits and imperfections, might have for responding to harm in transformative ways.
Finding resources and developing a framework
We also decided to ask for help. We contacted experienced activists we know and trust, and we asked for things to read, especially formal policies and procedures for conflict resolution and accountability. If we didn’t already have the sense that these are major issues affecting movements and communities in struggle, the deluge of resources we received certainly made this clear. Sifting through the materials and assessing our limited time, we decided to focus our collective attention on the writings we list below. This is a small fraction of what is available, much of which focuses on how to set up response systems for when harm has occurred.
We used these materials, along with conversations and group reflection, to draft our own Conflict Resolution and Accountability Framework – a plan for what we’ll do within our collective if people are having conflict or if someone harms someone else. The difference between these things – conflict and harm – is power-saturated and can be hard to articulate, and we’ve had lots of discussion about this, which we think will be ongoing. We see this as a living document, one that we will continue to revise as we use and modify our procedures in real, messy situations.
Supporting other groups in creating accountability plans
The work of developing this framework was illuminating. It revealed to us how rare it is for groups to do this kind of work before they are confronting a crisis. So, we decided to host a workshop for other groups in Ottawa to come together and begin gathering resources to draft their own structures and processes. We called it “Planning to Be Good to Each Other: Accountability in Organizations,” and we invited groups that are mostly small, autonomous, and committed to some form of anti-authoritarian and feminist practice. Because we hadn’t heard of other workshops like this and because people have since expressed interest in what we did, here we will give some detail about how we approached organizing it.
Two priorities for our collective are only doing work we have capacity for and doing it with very long lead time – trying to be proactive instead of reactive. So, about two months before we planned to have the workshop, we wrote a very long invitation email that we sent out to groups we thought might be interested in sending people. We asked them to register through an online survey, which also let us collect their accessibility and childcare needs. We also set up a “private” Facebook event so that people invited could invite or suggest comrades who should be invited (we struggled with the balance of wanting to have a small enough group for meaningful conversation versus being open to anyone who might be interested in coming). We arranged to have an experienced facilitator, we rented a wheelchair accessible space, offered snacks, and had a small quiet room with a trauma-informed person available in case people wanted to take a break from the workshop or process stuff that was coming up for them. We also budgeted for a sign language interpreter and for childcare, though in the end neither of those was used.
Nine groups sent one or two representatives, and we had a three-hour session. Our aim was to offer some skills and resources that folks could take back to their organizations, not to have them craft a plan in the workshop itself. Feedback on the workshop was positive, though in general people said that they felt it was, indeed, just a beginning. Within our collective, we felt that we had overestimated how much it would be possible to do in a three hour session, and we weren’t satisfied that we had succeeded in giving people the resources they would need to take back to their groups to develop their own policies. Since then, we have been reflecting on what we might do to further support groups in generating their own procedures. (Writing this description of our own process is part of this.)
Responding versus preventing?
One of the things we have thought about a lot, and don’t have a clear approach to change, is the fact that many of the accountability processes and policies that exist are primarily responsive: they are meant to come into play when something bad has happened between people. We believe this is a problem. For sure, it’s better to have a process in place than to be making one up on the fly, in the midst of a confusing and harmful situation. But if we want to really create a world in which sexual harm in particular is not part of our movements or our lives, we need practices in place that make it impossible or very hard for people to assault, manipulate, or dominate one another.
Punch Up, for us, is partly an experiment in accountability. We are trying to build and sustain a formation that can participate in preventing and responding to conflict and harm in our community. We’re accountable to one another, and as a closed collective, we can be transparent with others in our city about who is in our collective in a way that we hope helps others hold us responsible (though we aren’t sure what the mechanism for this would be!). We’re also actively trying to use liberatory practices in our work and to support other formations in Ottawa. But even as we’ve appreciated working in a closed collective, we worry about the effects of being in this formation within the broader context of movement work. We’re actively thinking about how we can meaningfully contribute to the broader ecology of movements and communities in struggle where we live.
Resources we consulted:
Chin-In Chen, Jai Dulani, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, eds., The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence with Activist Communities
Creative Interventions, Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence
Lukayo Faye Estrella, “Facilitating the Creation of Accountability Policies & Procedures” Tip Sheet
Jane Hereth and Chez Rumpf, Community Accountability for Survivors of Sexual Violence Toolkit
Briana Herman-Brand, Draft Proposal for “Community Accountability/Transformative Justice (CA/TJ) Framework for Decolonize/Occupy Seattle”
Esteban Lance Kelly and Jenna Peters-Golden, “Philly Stands Up Portrait of Praxis: An Anatomy of Accountability”
Rock Dove Collective, Dealing with Conflict
AJ Withers, Transformative Justice And/As Harm