Back to Chile, 2016, Vignette # 6

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Algunos detestan las grandes ciudades. Mis estudiantes en St. Catherines admitieron odiar a Toronto. Algunas personas no van a la capital y se quedan en el pueblo por miedo y muchas veces por la pobreza. La cuidad es un monstro para mucho, como el Defectuoso (DF) y según aquí le dicen Santiasco.

Las ciudades son el reflejo del resto del país y ahora mas y mas de lo global y la concentración de muchas almas y sueños juntos.

Comprando palomitas en la calle se acercó una familia musulmana no sé de qué país. Fui a una tienda Colombiana y casi les dio un infarto a las trabajadoras ahí porque justo llegaron inspectores de la cuidad para ver el patente de negocio. Pero ellas pensaron que eran de la migra que les iba a pedir papeles, permisos de trabajo. Fui a un centro de llamadas de propietarios Peruanos. En la calle los venezolanos venden sus arepas cuando salen los chilenos del trabajo.

Un joven Haitiano me saludo en el camino al súper. El mesero en ese lugar donde no me pude tomar el café entero y donde deje la mitad del pastel de mil hojas sin llevarmelo al depa, por seguro que era colombiano. Fui a la Costanera Centre y pensé que estaba en el Eaton Centre.

Cada cuidad tiene su parte de Miami en carcamonia, conectando con lo gringo. Recordé el Metro Centro en Managua y Angelopolis en Puebla. Había hasta un Taco Bell y casi todos con quien hable pidiendo opciones vegetarianas eran de afuera de Chile. Esta el sur aquí, esta lo global y está en una ciudad como que cae el mundo. Me siento en casa porque aunque soy de aquí también soy como una migrante mas cultivando el pertenecer.

Disfruto Santiago así como el DF aunque me quedaron los ojos rojos hoy por el smog que se atrapa por la cordilla. Y aunque me tuve que bajarme del metro en pleno “rush hour” asi como lo he hecho en la Cuidad de México por lo llenísimo que estaba. No faltan los que se aprovechan de esos espacios íntimos donde todo se tocan y se encuentran-no gracias.

Observo y vivo todo, los pasajes y personajes, recuerdo el campo que alimentan las ciudades. Y así me preparo para enseñar sobre ciudades globales en el siglo 21 con los desafíos de un capitalismo global salvaje. Con mis nuevos estudiantes quisiera contemplar el derecho a la cuidad, aire puro, agua pura, vivienda y trabajo digno, transporte acesible, seguro y ambiental. Y siempre enseñare sobre el derecho a soñar para ciudades y un mundo mejor.


Back to Chile, 2016, Vignette # 5

14358714_10154410313180915_8274888083551957432_nIn the altitudes of Bella Vista I was contemplating how Valparaiso was built. The architecture defies gravity. The hills are incredibly steep. There are old palaces of houses all over that particular historic area. Then I looked into the ocean and contemplated the global, all those routes connecting Chile to the world before the Panama Canal came to be. Global merchants and sailors descended into this port for centuries, with many staying. They were the early immigrants joining the creole and colonizers. The English brought us tea time (once) which is still a daily ritual for most Chilean families. I started to get the same feeling while in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico–the feeling of wonder and depth of the past as its own very universe, the concept of circular time. There is so much history we do not know. But I can feel the expansiveness of all and everything that happened here. The past made this present before me. And then I realized, I am just one more soul among the innumerable others who most likely looked into the ocean and into the sunset contemplating “home”.


Back to Chile, 2016, Vignette # 4

Ya no me dicen niña, ya no me dicen señorita. Ahora soy la señora que camina por los cerros con mucho más conocimiento de varios pueblos, fronteras y experiencias recorridas. Las palabras y nombres de calles y referencias no siempre las recuerdo. Vivi aquí hasta los 5 años de edad. No recuerdo bien los nombres de las calles, que micros tomar, menos de las flores y fauna que eran parte de mi infancia. Pero regreso a los sentidos, a los olores y sabores de mi puerto. Hoy camine por unos vendedores de flores y mis sentidos me detuvieron en el paso. De repente me llego toda mi infancia en un aliento. Estando cerca del mar, la sal purifica todo y lo respiro profundo. Le digo a mis estudiantes que aprendan y aprendimos con todos los sentidos, con cuerpo, espíritu y mente. Y aveces la profesora necesita recordar esto mismo. En un solo aliento, soy niña, senorita, y señora a la misma vez …

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Back to Chile, 2016, Vignette # 3

The good, the bad and the ugly: I wanted to rest from my phone but being without one makes it hard to coordinate. I can’t use google maps when I am lost. Everyone and their grandpa has one here even though you can get killed and robbed for one. Without a phone I can be more fully present and it forces me to speak to others and ask for directions, hence be more connected and social in the traditional way. Remember those days?


Just when I was re-thinking my no technology/cellphone policy in class and in moments of life I get (part) of this message from one of my former students through twitter. We always get the messages we need.

“I want to thank you for not allowing us to use our phones in class. I forgot what it was like to actually listen to people and experience all the beauty the world has to offer. Gracias!”


Back to Chile, 2016, Vignette # 2

14264035_10154386434495915_5347854708699472846_nPara los y las migrantes en Canada …

No les he olvidado. Vine aquí para fortalezerme y seguír caminando a su lado. De aquí fui arancada de raíz y toda mi vida he luchado para pertenecer y crear comunidad entre los y las excluida/os.

Aquí en este mar que me vio nacer vuelvo a vivir y sentir otravez… #migrantdreams#harvestingfreedom #J4MWChile ????

—Soy del puerto, soy del mar, soy del Pacifico,
de #Valparaiso.


Back to Chile, 2016, Vignette # 1

Soy de aqui

En la micro a Valparaiso-

“Disculpe me avisa cuando pasamos por la calle Uruguay, por favor” Le pregunto al chofer.
“Ya, pero me recuerda otravez eso si.”
“Si, yo le recuerdo.”
“Y ud. de donde es?
“Yo soy de aqui, por alla arriba”
And I innocently point to my cerro that seems to be up in the sky from the flats of Valpo.
“Y si es de aqui porque anda perdida?” pregunta el chofer.

Los dos caimos en risa…
Pusha con mi acento y preguntas, ya saben …


Back to my roots: Chile!

After a long hiatus, I am finally going back to Chile this fall. I bought my ticket last night.
Gracias a la vida! It’s finally time.

For over 15 years I have dedicated my life to organising in rural Ontario, Mexico and Guatemala. I was supposed to do all my PhD work on Chile but it never came to be with all that I saw I needed to do here. How could I walk away from the connections I built among migrant workers? I decided to stay and continue working with the migrant community. I lived with many families back in Mexico, on and off, and lived a transnational life of my own with deep ties to all of mesoamerica.

Now, I need to reconnect with my roots and strengthen my spirit.

I do not believe in blinding nationalism, but I do believe our roots are important.
For some reason, my soul took the elevator down through Chile to be here in this world.

I acknowledge the mountains, the ocean and its breeze that were my first sights and breaths. I recognise how Chile radicalised me with the dreams and pains of an aborted revolution in the early 1970s.

I will be part of the march on September 11th on the streets of Santiago, honouring all those who were killed, disappeared and exiled.

I am part of that in-between generation, struggling to find roots and belonging after being uprooted through imperialism and fascism that moulded much of the world in the 70s and 80s. The 80s is the lost decade for the Global South. The 70s foresaw the implementation of neoliberalism with Chile being the first country to be used as  a laboratory experiment for this late stage of unfettered capital accumulation. I wrote over 100 pages of a Masters Thesis about the contradictions of the free-market triumphalism in the Chile. The free-market model could not have been possible without violence, displacement, horrible human rights violations and environmental destruction.

Living in Canada, not feeling like I belong,  I have held onto many questions and longings within me due to forced migration that have fueled my scholarship and community organising. I transmuted my pain to create anew, to strengthen community and to build movements.

I am transnational, of many pueblos, but my blood and heart are from this place called Chile. I will wear my beloved huipiles from Mexico and Guatemala because this is who I am.  Because mesoamerican pueblos and lands have imprinted my body and spirit.

There is much that is unsettled within me right now at this stage of my life that I have to make sense of by the Andes.

In the winter, I will take off to teach in 4 continents and I need Chile to send me off in wholeness and power.

(Love this song by Mamma Soul-awesome Chilean women’s group, that expresses many of my sentiments of  returning “hacia mi origen”)

Voy hacia mi origen
Nadie me espera alla
Una semana mas
Y no hay nada ni nadie
Si no tu mismo en esto.
Y no hay nada ni nadie
Si no tu mismo en esto

Estemos preparados, quedémonos desnudos
Pero quememos, no pudramos, lo que fuimos
Ardamos, respiremos, en medio a lo absurdo
Despertemos a la gran realidad de estar naciendo ahora y ala ultima hora


The Otter

I was by the river in downtown Calgary. It was my first time there.

Jonathan, in a serious tone, asked “can I ask you something weird?”

I reluctantly agreed, held my breath.  I was just not in the mood for contemplative questions particularly those of the heart.

“What is your favourite animal?”

Relief-I could answer that, I thought to myself.

“Otter” I replied in Spanish, “nutria“.

“But I have never seen one. Here, look these are pictures of otters I have on my phone.”

I just wanted to ensure he knew them since they are creatures of the North and Jonathan being new to these lands just may not have known.

We paused for a moment and I continued to take in the sights and lose myself in the current of the river. Then all of a sudden I see a cute little head of an otter pop up and swim away in the current, right in the flesh….

If this is not a sign of the Creator/Creation, the Divine then I do not know what is.

Jonathan saw it too as it peaked up again. Hence I had another witness to the magic. It was not my imagination and it was surely an otter. 

It is my first sighting of one in the flesh and out of all the things that Jonathan could have asked! 

My friend Robert calls me Otter and made a painting of one for me.

In Vancouver, I was in a spiritual bookstore and I went right to the animal spirit card decks to ask what my spirit animal is, just for fun. I grabbed the deck and one of the cards fell on the floor. I turned it around and yes, it was an Otter.

The otter is my spirit animal and surely spirit was there with me. Ever since I saw one in a film when I was learning about the Canadian wilderness and learning ESL when I was in grade 1, I was immediately hooked.

We all have a spirit animal. What is yours? Maybe it will appear just around the corner. 😉


LabourStart Conference, Toronto, 2016

We presented at LabourStart and met fascinating people working for social change.  Chris Ramsaroop, co-founder of Justicia, also joined our conversations.

VIC203– CHANGING THE FRAME ON MIGRANT WORKER JUSTICE  THROUGH DOCUMENTARY PRAXIS

The relationship between documentary and social movements is discussed in this workshop. For over a decade filmmaker Min Sook Lee has worked in collaboration with migrant justice activist Evelyn Encalada Grez to portray dimensions of the fight for migrant worker justice.  They have worked on three projects: El Contrato (2003), Teo in Toronto (2014)  and Migrant Dreams (2016).  The workshop will focus on the following issues: intersections of labour, border politics, migration, art and social change; and organizing for migrant worker justice.

Evelyn Encalada Grez, co-founder, Justicia for Migrant Workers and Min Sook Lee, filmmaker (www.migrantdreams.ca).

Source: https://labourstarttoronto2016.wordpress.com/

 


Migrant Dreams’ World Premiere at Hot Docs Festival

It has been 3 years in the making and I think of all those weekends, out on the road, in the farms with Min Sook Lee and camera following every step, every word and contact with migrant farmworkers in rural Ontario. Even in rallies and talks beyond the farms, the camera was rolling. There is much that has gone into the making of this new film, Migrant Dreams among many of us. It is a snapshot of the webs that confine people in Canada’s most precarious of Temporary Foreign Worker Programs.

The film is all about migrant women, their voices and stories of defiance against systems of immigration and labour apartheid that are intensifying not only in Canada but throughout the world. The migrant sisters who courageously shared their stories deserve our witnessing. Be there May 1st: Hot Docs

Sun May 1 @ 9:00 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Tue May 3 @ 1:15 pm, Scotiabank Theatre 3
Sun May 8 @ 1:00 pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2