Regular Talking Circles on the West Coast of Newfoundland to Address the Systemic Causes of Social and Environmental Injustice in the Province – First Talking Circle (March 17th)
The first in a series of Talking Circles (to rotate between St. Georges and Corner Brook) will be held on Sunday, March 17th starting at 2 pm in the Cultural Centre, St Georges. These circles will be aimed at addressing the systemic causes of social and environmental injustice in the Newfoundland and Labrador.
A talking circle is used as a way to organize group discussions in an egalitarian manner. Group members typically sit in a circle and discuss issues with simple rules: the talking stick, or other object, is passed around the circle, and the person holding the talking stick may speak though the "holder" may allow interjection. It can be a place where people come together for personal healing in search for new directions or to make amends. People participating are there to deal with whatever the subject is and talking stick encourages effective speaking and listening/acknowledging.
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The stage is set for a bitter round of union-government negotiations in the coming months. All the signs are suggesting government wants to play hardball -- for example, shuffling Kennedy in for negotiations. It is clear he intends to use the tactics of the economic hit-man in the form of a narrative of fiscal crisis and deficit. The crisis is, by association, to be blamed on public sector employees. This is a tired old tactic that seeks to sap the people's support for unions and the labour movement.
The problem with the narrative of crisis is that it is out of context. If there is a crisis it is not because of average people working and paying into pension funds (it always sounds so silly when they say it). The crisis NL faces is the result of decisions that were made, decisions that very often favored those few with the most wealth and influence. Decisions were made to allow multinational corporations to operate in NL and haul away the natural resources while contributing only a pittance to the public purse. Decisions were made to hastily sanction the biggest expenditure of public funds in the province's history just as the crisis became clear. This is something of what it means to speak of the 1% that disproportionately benefits, while everybody else is left to foot the bill.