Dare to struggle, dare to win: Envisioning a socialist Canada

Community News & Features Jun 23, 2017 at 4:50 pm
Members of Anakbayan- Montreal re-enacted the  Cry of Pugadlawin.

Members of Anakbayan-
Montreal re-enacted the
Cry of Pugadlawin.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution

By Joyce Valbuena

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the first socialist revolution in Russia which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the eventual rise of the Soviet Union. It was on October 25, 1917 (Nov. 7 in the Gregorian calendar) when the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers led by the Bolsheviks seized power from the Russian big bourgeoisie. It was the historical event when the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a communist state in Russia.

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in Quebec together with the Peoples’ Resource for International Solidarity and Mass Mobilization (PRISM) organized a forum to envision what a socialist society will look like in Canada, and how to get there.

Louisa Worrel of ILPS-Quebec opened the morning session by discussing about the legacy of the Russian October Revolution. She said that all socialist and anti-imperialist forces have to intensify efforts in raising public awareness about the October Revolution’s continuing legacy in order to raise the level of unity against monopoly capitalism and for socialism.

Members of the Filipino Indigenous People Organization in Quebec (FIPOQ) danced with their gongs.

Members of the Filipino Indigenous People Organization in Quebec (FIPOQ) danced with their gongs.

David Bach from the Immigrant Workers Centre discussed the importance of the Russian revolution to the anti-imperialists and progressives of today. As Bach put it, “Is it possible that we Canadians can have our demands such as $15 minimum wage and free day care? The answer is yes, but this will not easily happen in a capitalist society.” Bach explained that in a planified economy in Russia after the revolution, the needs of the people determines what will be produced and not vice versa.

Joey Calugay from BAYAN-Canada shared the story of the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonial rule from 1896 to 1898. Calugay stressed that the uprising began with the masses through Katipunan, a secret revolutionary mass-based organization. Calugay also answered the questions raised by the audience about the Martial Law that was recently declared by President Duterte in Mindanao. He explained that the declaration of another Martial Law shows that the revolution in the Philippines is not yet finished. Majority of the Filipinos are landless and poor. Poverty, lack of development, and violation of the ancestral rights of the Bangsamoro (indigenous people), which are the root causes of the armed conflict continue to exist.

The Filipino organizations provided the cultural presentation. Members of Anakbayan-Montreal delivered a theatrical performance of the Cry of Pugadlawin to present to the audience the event that took place when members of Katipunan, led by Andres Bonifacio, tear their tax certificates to signal their revolt to fight for independence against the Spaniards. Likewise, members of the Filipino Indigenous People Organization in Quebec (FIPOQ) performed a traditional Ifugao dance.

Joey Calugay of BAYAN-Canada and Centre for Philippine Concerns shared about the Filipinos revolt against the Spaniards in 1898 and today’s Martial law in Mindanao. (Photos and captions by Joyce Valbuena)

Joey Calugay of BAYAN-Canada and Centre for Philippine Concerns shared about the Filipinos revolt against the Spaniards in 1898 and today’s Martial law in Mindanao.
(Photos and captions by Joyce Valbuena)

In the afternoon, small group workshops were held to discuss in focus about economy, justice, international solidarity, indigenous autonomy; and education and culture.
At the plenary, the following points summarize the outcome of the workshops.

Because there is continuing struggle against US imperialism and other imperialist groups, International Solidarity is important to continue to learn from each other and build a stronger united front.

Cultural work is very important – ideas have to be propagated. Cultural work can unite people around their collective interests — theatre, media, visuals, songs, as well as virtual propaganda.
It is important to organize the youth. One of major demands of the youth is free education to all. Regardless of how much you make, education is a fundamental right and should be accessible to all, including the indigenous youth.

Participants also envisioned changing the economic and political situation in every country so that people are not forced to leave their own country. Members of PINAY and Association of Temporary Foreign Workers in Quebec shared their sentiments on the precarious situation of caregivers and temporary foreign workers – where they receive low salaries and suffer from poor working conditions and yet unable to get permanent residency status which force many to return home.

In addition, there were also stories shared by First Nations in Ontario who are now doing a hunger strike to express their demands on their right to their ancestral domain. Homeless people living in Tent City in Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario) also attended the forum to speak about gentrification and unaffordable housing in southwest Ontario.

Given all these, the participants vowed to win the struggles and envision Canada in a Socialist state where the country’s resources would be put into the community, and not on war.
Indeed, the October Revolution continues to inspire generations of the working class to fight for socialism and unite with the peasantry in the struggle for democracy and against all forms of oppression in many parts of the world.

In the end, the forum served as an inspiring platform to openly discuss among various progressive groups to aim for a socialist Canada. How we can achieve this state would need more discussions, more actions and more organizing.