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2011: A Shameless Retrospective

December 20th, 2011     by Team Shameless     Comments

What a year! People say that every year as they bid the previous one adieu but 2011 has been full of world events that have shocked and touched us. Worry is one of the words that comes to mind when we think about 2011. From worry over the economy to fretting about our political climate, it’s clear the past year was fraught with events that, despite the fast pace of our lives, has caused us to pause and reflect. However, many events have given us lots of reason to hope and to be proud.

Here are just a few of the events and items of the past year that have caught the attention of some of your Shameless team members. We throw it to you to leave links, comments and discussion-starters in the comment section.

In keeping with the themes of the three print issues Shameless released this year, we offer you some jumping-off points:

Music in 2011

Wild Flag (self-titled album): One of Rolling Stone’s best albums of the year, including former members of Sleater Kinney, Mary Timony (ex-riot grrrl bands). [Co-founder Nicole Cohen says: “I am obsessed with this album; so so so good.”]

On a Mission, Katy B: A major breakthrough in the dubstep music genre, as it crossed over into pop consciousness. A UK release. [Web director Julia Horel can’t stop listening to it.]

What music did you love this year?

Politics in 2011:

The Northern Ontario Indigenous community of Attawapiskat declared a state of emergency in light of a housing and supply crisis … and no one came. Help has since been slow in coming and has been mostly inappropriate and inadequate. This is a humanitarian crisis, but it’s also political because it has occurred due to colonial government policies.

In Toronto, Mayor Rob Ford took office and immediately launched attacks on the public services he’d promised to spare. Stop the Cuts was created as a community effort to (you guessed it) stop the cuts. Public deputations to city council have been both tragic and incredibly inspiring. Public response to Ford has varied, including both valid and invalid criticisms.

A Tunisian fruit seller who set himself on fire sparked a wave of revolution that was dubbed the “Arab Spring.” As political uprisings and violent crackdowns on protests continue, we can expect to see more stories coming from the region in 2012. Check out Shameless’ feature here.

Upon hearing news of Osama Bin Laden’s death, Americans took to the street to celebrate.

Jack Layton’s death touched Canadians on a level similar to Pierre Trudeau. People who had never met Jack or even supported him politically were affected by his passing in August. Layton captured the nation’s minds and hearts as we watched his popularity soar and cheered on the Orange Crush (the New Democratic Party’s huge surge in popularity in the 2011 Canadian federal election). We wrote words of encouragement when he announced he was stepping down as NDP leader for the summer to fight a cancer that had come back and finally we shed tears and wrote tribute messages over his untimely death.

In Ontario, there was a provincial election that included a horrifyingly transphobic and queerphobic ad campaign launched by an organization called “Canadian Values.” (Ad here.) A counter-campaign was launched and continues on Facebook.

What affected you politically this year?

Labour in 2011, and, in anticipation of our upcoming issue, Economics in 2011:

The Occupy movement swept the world after beginning in New York on Wall Street. The impact has been far-reaching and is on-going.

At the Women’s Worlds conference in Ottawa in July, there was a strong prohibition of sex work agenda that left sex workers and allies feeling alienated and unsafe.

Youth unemployment reached an all-time high in Canada and around the world.

The spread of unpaid internships getting increased attention and activism around this issue (Internsheep in Canada, Carrotworkers Collective in UK).

Youth realizing the importance of unions: H&M in Scarborough first in Canada to be unionized.

Women are still earning less than men everywhere in all jobs.

Whether you like or hate Apple, Steve Jobs’ death had an impact on techies all over. As news of his passing spread, we witnessed an international outpouring of grief.

What labour issues did you note this year?

And a few other notable events of 2011:

Activists facing charges related to the G20 made a plea deal and several are now serving jail time.

The Vancouver riot following the Canucks’ Stanley Cup loss.

SlutWalk, founded in Toronto and spread worldwide.

Natural disasters (Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Slave Lake fire, Manitoba flooding, and more …

This list is far from exhaustive, so now it’s your turn. Tell us, readers: what did 2011 mean to you?

Tags: activist report, arts, media savvy, news flash, on the job, playlist, politics

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