Monday, April 28, 2008

Two letters

[I have rediscovered the value of posting my various letters to politicians, newspapers, etc. So, here you are. I have included some informational links where appropriate.]

Letter #1
Dear Dalton McGuinty,
I have just been informed that SWAT teams are amassing around the Tyendinaga Mohawk reclaimation site. I am emailing you to ask that you please honour the Tyendinaga Mohawk land, and call off the OPP. Please do not risk these precious people's lives for a gravel pit the government has already acknowledged is on Mohawk land! In this regard, please release all the prisoners associated with the Tyendinaga reclaimation.
Sincerely and Respectfully,

Letter #2
Dear Secretary,
I am emailing you to express my concern for the safety of all Los Llanos state prisoners who belong to or support La Voz de los Llanos. According to the Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, the members of La Voz de los Llanos have suffered ill-treatment and harassment on several occasions. I hope that the members of La Voz de los Llanos will be given immediate access to all the medical care they may require. Please do whatever is in your power to guarantee the safety of those at risk. Please bring about an impartial and prompt investigation into the reported beatings and ill-treatment suffered by the group.
Sincerely and Respectfully,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Letter to the Chronicle Herald

Although I’m writing to you from Montreal, my home is in Upper Leitches Creek, Cape Breton. I am writing with regards to Laura Fraser’s article ‘Citizens vs. strip mining: 'Civil disobedience only option left'. There is no question in my mind, since the premier receives campaign contributions from Pioneer Coal, he has forgotten and ignored the well-being of the island. If Cape Breton is to have any future at all, there must be a moratorium on open and near surface mining, a.k.a. strip mining.
Countless letters, from all over, have protested the destruction of the Cape Breton forests and hills, but the government is in the pocket of a few mainland-based natural resource profiteers.
Compared to monkey wrenching, civil disobedience is a less dangerous way to protect the environment and communities of Cape Breton from unregulated destruction. I agree with Elizabeth May's comments.

Timothy Schwinghamer, PhD candidate, McGill University

Thursday, April 17, 2008


A march for immigrant justice, and against poverty, racism & racial profiling

SUNDAY, MAY 4th, 12:30pm
Starting Point: Corner of Victoria & Van Hornein COTE-DES-NEIGES
(metro Plamondon, Van Horne exit)
This is a child-friendly demonstration.
Food and drinks will be available.
There will be vehicles on-hand for those with reduced mobility.

As part of a National Day of Action for immigrant rights, Solidarity Across Borders is again taking to the streets, with our allies, to demand justice and dignity for all migrants. In opposition to deportations and detentions, we demand STATUS FOR ALL! There is no such thing as an "illegal" human being, only illegitimate laws and governments. Daily, we resist deportations and detentions, we fight for justice in the workplace, we demand safe and secure housing, and we oppose racism and racial profiling. In contrast to the xenophobia promoted by the false"reasonable accommodation" debate in Quebec, we take to the streets to celebrate our collective struggles for justice and dignity in all its diversity and strength. This year, we march through the streets of Cote-des-Neiges, a predominantly poor, working class and immigrant neighbourhood. Our march will mark the culmination of "Mayworks!", a festival of working class and immigrant culture, organized by the Immigrant Workers Center (IWC). Our march is also part of the Mayday tradition, as we celebrate the struggles of working people locally and throughout the world. Join us - with your friends, family, co-workers and neighbours - on Sunday, May 4, and add your voice and presence to the growing numbers of people in Montreal and beyond who are demanding "STATUS FOR ALL!"

for more info about how you can help support the march. The poster for the May 4 Status for All march is linked at:

Organized by Solidarity Across Borders, in collaboration with the Immigrant Workers Center(IWC) and Mayworks!*

Endorsed and supported by:
The"Accommodate This!" Campaign * Les Apatrides Anonymes * L'Association deslocataires de Villeray (ALV) * Bloquez l'empire Montréal * Le Centre desfemmes d'ici et d'ailleurs * Center for Philippine Concerns * Le CollectifOpposé à la brutalité policière (COBP) * Le Comité pour les droits humainsen Amérique latine (CDHAL) * Le Comité des sans-emploi Montréal-centre * Committee in support of Abdelkader Belaouni * La Coalition Justice pour AdilCharkaoui * La Coalition Justice pour Anas * DIRA Bibliothèque Anarchiste * Ici La Otra Montréal * Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee * Lamour Workers Support Committee * March 8th Committee of Women of Diverse Origins * Midnight Kitchen * No One Is Illegal-Montreal * People's Global Action Bloc (Montréal & Ottawa) * La Pointe Libertaire * PINAY (The Filipina Women's Organization of Montreal) * Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC)* Quebec Public Interest Research Group (QPIRG Concordia & McGill)*Q-Team Montréal * Les Sorcières * South Asian Women's Community Center (SAWCC) * STELLA Sex Workers Organization * Tadamon! Montréal * Tamil Elders Association of Quebec * Tamil Women's Association of Quebec * Union Localede Montréal - NEFAC


For background to previous migrant justice marches in Montreal (2003-2007), visit:

We encourage your group and organization to endorse the May 4 "STATUS FORALL" demonstration, and to mobilize within your networks. If you endorse the demonstration, please let us know at or514-848-7583. We also encourage you to announce the demonstration on your e-mail lists, blogs and websites, and at your meetings and events. If you would like to invite someone from Solidarity Across Borders to address your group, please get in touch! We can offer presentations about issues concerning migration, poverty and racism, ranging from 10 minutes to full 2-hour workshops. If you need flyers and posters to mobilize within your networks, you canvisit QPIRG-Concordia (1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, #204, métro Guy-Concordia,tel: 514-848-7583) or the Immigrant Workers Center (6420 Victoria, #9, métroPlamondon, tel: 514-342-2111). We also have promotional materials in Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, Tamil, Farsi, Russian and other languages; get in touch to access these materials.

We encourage you to get involved in the organizing of the May 4 "STATUS FORALL" march and demonstration. We have an active OUTREACH committee that is meeting people door-to-door in the Cote-des-Neiges area, as well as actively flyering and postering throughout Montreal. As well, we have an ART committee that will be creating images and banners to carry our message during the demonstration. To get involved, e-mail or phone 514-848-7583. You can also meet us face-to-face at our weekly meetings at the Immigrant Worker's Center (6420 Victoria, #9, métro Plamondon), on MONDAY, APRIL 21 and MONDAY, APRIL 28 at 6:30pm. We also encourage you to join us at our next COMMUNITY DINNER this FRIDAY, APRIL 18 at 6:30pm at the Cote-des-Neiges Community Center (5347 cheminCôte-des-Neiges, métro Côte-des Neiges). There will be tasty food, music, films and good company, as we together share our struggles of resistance andsurvival.

The Status for All March will include several contingents in support of immigrant justice that will also highlight issues supported by SolidarityAcross Borders. Confirmed contingents include: The

RED UMBRELLA Bloc: The red umbrella symbolizes opposition to violence against sex workers, including migrant sex workers. Organized by Stella, a sex workers' support and justice organization, by and for sex workers. Info:

The PINK Bloc: The pink bloc is a contingent made up of queer-trans-allies marching as members of, and in solidarity with, migrant communities. We are committed to understanding systems of power and domination as interlinked. We're coming out, in pink, to denounce all oppressions, and demand status for all!! Folks are invited to wear pink and join the pink bloc! Organized by Q-Team. Info:

JUSTICE FOR ADIL Bloc: The Justice For Adil Bloc will highlight oppositionto racial profiling, Islamophobia secret trials and two-tiered justice. Organized by the Justice for Adil Charkaoui Coalition. Info:

JUSTICE FOR KADER Bloc: Kader Belaouni, a refugee claimant originally from Algeria, has been in sanctuary in the Saint-Gabriel's Church in Point-St-Charles for more than two years. Kader can't attend the Status forAll demonstration, but his supporters will, marching together as part of the Justice for Kader Bloc. Organized by the Committee to Support Abdelkader Belaouni. Info:

The PALESTINE SOLIDARITY Bloc: In opposition to Israeli apartheid, in support of Palestinian refugees, and in defence of the right of return of all Palestinians to their homeland, we will march together as part of the Palestine Solidarity Bloc. Organized by Tadamon! Montreal.

The Status for All March is the culmination of Mayworks, a festival of working class and immigrant culture, based in Cote-des-Neiges, taking place between April 25 to May 4. The full Mayworks! program is linked at:

Immigrant rights are workers rights! No borders, no nations, stop the deportations!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Below is a letter written by my mother to The Honourable Mark Parent

[I encourage you all to read and copy the letter below into an email or snail mail. Send your own copy to the Minister of the Environment, "The Honourable" Mr. Parent, who is infamous for comments made to mining industry executives, i.e., that they need not report their polluting effluents. Send copies to any decision-maker who you think may listen to the desperate cry of our community. Cape Bretoners are suffering terribly, now more than ever, from a lack of real democracy. N.B. my mother did not include the units after "3.9" and I've left it as such here, please edit that for your own letter, as you see fit. Also, you'll notice near the end of the letter, a reference to a dubious "right." That may need editing too. Keep in mind that environmentally-friendly technique is not within the repertoire of industrial mining. For more information about the ongoing extractive destruction of my home by natural resource profiteers, please click the label below the letter.]


The Honourable Mark Parent
Department of Environment & Labour
5151 Terminal Road, 6th. Floor
Halifax NS B3J 2T8

Dear Mr. Parent,

My family & I wish to express our opposition to the application of Riverside Development Limited to operate an aggregate quarry on Highway #223 next to the former Levatte's Construction Gravel Pit.

It is amazing that such an undertaking would even be considered a reasonable development. The fact that it will be 3.9 means this size operation will escape full environmental scrutiny & accountability. I am very sure that the three families in very close proximity have very legitimate concerns regarding the potential harm to every aspect of their water supply. These precious waterways are the streams which constitute George's River, and flow into the Bras D'Or.

This area has more than enough heavy trucks, moving far too quickly, with a history of uncovered loads. We have endured truck traffic coming through our community before 6 a. m. We have given up trying to walk on the Upper Leitche's Creek Road. The little fishing brook is no longer a place where the little ones ride their bikes & sit by the water's edge. The little wooden bridge has been smashed & damaged so many times the Highway Dept. has to keep returning and pound in the side boards.

Any of these accusations can be verified if you check with the vehicle compliance officer for the area or the Dept of Highways. Or for the drive of a lifetime - just take a run up the length of the Upper Leitche's Creek Road. A road so bad that even federal members of the government have written concern over the condition. Now even more trucks will travel the other side - the upgraded side - lucky them. Let's see how long the asphalt stands up over there.

The real problem - the true problem is the reckless attitude of destruction. Sometimes I feel these people hate the countryside & every living plant, tree, animal, bird & person on it.

The days of destructive, extractive industry has to end. We, the people of Cape Breton, pay the price for this lack of responsible stewardship. We only have the right to endure this on-going destruction - in it's many forms. We have the heartbreak of watching the lands around us (many of us here know the story of those lands as it pertains to our people from Scotland) destroyed. There is no mercy for the earth & no consideration for the people who would like to remain on it.

I am reminded of the words of Henry David Thoreau upon watching a woodsman fell a beloved forest: THANK GOD THEY CANNOT CUT DOWN THE CLOUDS.


Sandra Schwinghamer & David Brown
Timothy Schwinghamer

[Here's the email I sent him: Dear Mark Parent, / For the community of Upper Leitches Creek to survive, a mining moratorium on the Hill of Boisdale (Cape Breton Island, NS) is required. The people of Upper Leitches Creek are suffering from the continued heavy truck traffic on the thin and poorly maintained Upper Leitches Creek Road. The forests there on the Hill of Boisdale have become eerily quiet, while the various gravel extracting companies blast, with illegal volume, during thunderstorms (to obscure their activities). The disturbance of everyday life is horrible and relentless. Animals and people alike have little option but to flee. / Upper Leitches Creek used to be a quiet forest retreat! / The people of Upper Leitches Creek are proud people, of Scottish extraction for the most part. I must point out to you that they have suffered enormous monetary losses as a result of the rubber-stamped, effectively unregulated, near and open surface gravel extraction in the area. Their property values have declined precipitously, and their necessary expenses due to repairs owing to the ruined road - and shivering houses - are more than these people can handle, as they are what is known as "working poor". The whole surrounding area has become miserable for those too old or wounded to move. / The situation in Upper Leitches Creek has become a human rights issue, as well as an issue of environmental rights, as the fact that endangered orchids populate the forest here has been entirely disregarded. The government has for too long disregarded this community. / When will you begin to think, Mark? When will you use your position, as such power ought to be employed? Soon, I hope. I hope you will put a moratorium on all mining in Upper Leitches Creek very soon.]