World Social Forum – a Personal Review

I attended the World Social Forum (WSF) in Montreal (Aug 7-14).  It was a memorable, once-in-a-life-time experience to gather with social activists from all over the world.  I was there as a member of the Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) Board of Directors which presented 3 workshops on Palestine.

The World Social Forum started in 2001 in Brazil.  This is the first time that it has met in a developed country in the global north. Unfortunately, WSF organisers say more than half of the expected delegates were denied visas to enter Canada.

I found the Forum a great opportunity to meet with leaders and activists from Palestine Israel as well as from other areas of the world. Dr. Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian elected member of the Israeli Knesset, was one of the participants in our workshops and I had the privilege of meeting him and having conversation with him. The workshops were held in the universities/colleges in the centre of Montreal which meant a lot of walking.  It was impossible to attend all of the events but several Grand Conferences gathered people to focus on specific issues.  I attended a couple of the conferences on Palestine besides the workshops we organized.

The following summary on the World Council of Churches website provides a good overview of the Forum:
A delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) attended the 12th World Social Forum (WSF) in Montreal, Canada, which concluded on 14 August. More than 30,000 participants from around the world gathered to discuss global issues based on their local experiences, network with others working on similar problems, and create new joint initiatives advancing a progressive path forward. Trade, climate change, clean water, clean energy, environmental justice, land reform and agro-ecology, new media, social financing, ending destructive extractive industry and demilitarization were among the broad array of topics discussed in more than 1,200 workshops.

We managed to live stream a couple of the CFOS workshops:

  1. Our Land, Our Hope: Experiences of Dispossession and Theologies/Spiritualities of Liberation
  2. Divesting your Church and Denomination 101

Curtis Marwood

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