report-back

20 Years and Our First: An Overdue Dispatch from the 20th MTL Anarchist Bookfair

Back in May. we wrote the following report-back, but due to some shifts in focus since then, haven’t gotten to post it. So, here it is for your reading pleasure.

For the first time since the revitalization of our General Defence Committee, Local 6 gathered up our materials and members to head on over to Montreal for the 20th Anarchist Bookfair. As you might have noticed from our online output lately, we’ve been working to build up locally revised and wholly original resources for our community in the form of zines, posters, and other radical swag. The fair was the first opportunity to get feedback on a lot of these new materials and exchange information, knowledges, and practices with our comrades from all over.

Day 1: Tired Defenders Get Setup… for Tabling

We left in the early hours of the morning to make the trek from Ottawa on the first day of the Fair. Arriving mostly on time, we quickly setup our tabling space next to our comrades from the Montreal IWW GMB. Further down the way from us were two tables (Look Mum! and the Tower, both Hamilton-based) which had some members of the Hamilton IWW GMB gathered together. Together, we created a bit of a wobbly corner in the George Vanier Cultural Centre—A Few Big Tables for One Big Union! (aha). Like our supply of puns, we had a large and varied crowd swing by our tabling space with interests ranging from anti-repression and anti-fascism to classic workers rights’ defence. 
As noted on social media during the Fair, however, we ran into some sizing issues for our Daloy Politzey t-shirts. Our local distributor kinda fucked up our order and left us with a less ranging set of sizes than we had prepared for. Since our distributor was unwilling to work with us on the issue, we’ll be re-implementing our online store for future shirt and other uses. The site (still in progress) will be located at ottawagdc.store and if you use the promo code MTLBKF19, you’ll get a discount on our shirt merch!

One of the amazing things about the bookfair is being able to spend time reconnecting with comrades and meeting brand new ones. Catching up with folks from all kind of different groups and seeing how things are working in their respective locales really provides perspective on the areas of work that we at the GDC take on. 

At the end of the day, we settled into rest with our lovely, amazing hosts for the weekend. They and their wonderful pets kept our crew fed and was a wonderful group for some of us to reconnect with and others to meet for the first time. Without their wonderful hospitality, the trip just wouldn’t have been the same.

Day 2: From more Defenders to Drivin’ with Joe Hill

On our second day, more defenders from Ottawa were able to join us and we each spent some fantastic time visiting other tables, checking out workshops, and holding down our own wobble corner. We also had the chance to make a few more great connections through the day. We got to talkin’ with our fellow workers at the Tower about their really amazing press (The Tower InPrint) and floated some ways in which we might use their excellent services down the line. Also, look at their stickers, I mean… so great.

We also had a chance to talk more with folks from the Halifax IWW GMB which was amazing. Meanwhile, at the GDC’s table, we continued to distribute a load of t-shirts and zines while getting into some fantastic conversations with anarchists and socialists from all over the world. From discussions on anti-fascist tactics to friendly debates on the merits of syndicalism, conversation at the Bookfair is always an excellent way to reflect on the development of our shared politics as revolutionary syndicalists. 

During the midpoint of the second day, the Fair was closed for a moment of ritual and reflection on those lost in the struggle Spaces for grief, remembrance, and carrying the struggle forward are sometimes rare in spaces like these. The [COLLECTIVE’S NAME] led members in an impactful ritual which named the various individuals lost and systemic forces which create those losses. Many of our members felt deeply inspired by this act and it will surely inform our own discussions of giving space for such needs within our community.

Following this, members attended further workshops and assisted in the facilitation of some as well. In one instance, an Ottawa defender assisted in facilitating a space focused on longer-term strategy. While their section on anti-colonialism and anti-fascism was small in numbers, it was a wide ranging and fruitful conversation.
And then, we were at an end for this year’s bookfair. We packed things away but took some time before we departed to get as many of us wobblies present to take One Big Family Photo outside the main building of the Bookfair at CEDA. With that good energy with us, our Ottawa crew hopped in our vehicle and started Talkin’ Union (link to buy poster) with Joe Hill and shouting one final Daloy Politzey as song filled our car and we left Montreal.

See you all next year, fellow defenders!