View from the summit


A review of Resist! by Jen Chang Et Al.

Published on April 1, 2002

Jen Chang Et Al.

Fernwood Publishing

Negotiations for a Free Trade Area of the Americas at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City last April took place behind several kilometres of fence guarded by 6,000 riot police armed with large quantities of tear gas. Some 60,000 people from all over North and South America came to Quebec City to protest both the FTAA and the secrecy with which it was being negotiated. Two new books bring us the voices of some of those protesters.

Resist! is a collection of mostly first person accounts of the protests, together with photographs and luckily not too much poetry, by some 45 young people. A collection of so many voices will be somewhat uneven, of course, but on the whole there’s a real immediacy to the writing. For most of the writers – as probably for the protesters generally – the Quebec summit was a defining moment in their activist lives, largely as a result of the violence of the police response, which despite the quantity of foreshadowing, came as a shock – this is Canada, after all. We who were not there were led by much of the mainstream media to believe the riot police were trying to keep a lid on the anarchists (there’s a funny piece by Norman Nawrocki on the subject of the anarchist presence) and that their response was both justified and restrained. The accounts in this book, and the many photographs, tell a different story.

As a balance to the frontline action stories, Resist! gives us also some analyses of the globalization movement in Canada, its problems and challenges. Sexism and racism within the movement are discussed, for example, though you wouldn’t want to overstate these (admittedly very real) issues – they exist in all areas of life. It is encouraging that they are given such careful consideration here, however, and characteristic of the earnest and conscientious attitude of the editorial collective. mRb

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