With conditions under capitalism quickly deteriorating for the overwhelming majority of young people, it is no surprise that there is a thirst for an alternative. This has raised interest in socialism to new heights. This heightened interest was on full display in September, when Socialist Fightback Students (SFS) organized a spate of events across the country.
In total, SFS held major events on seventeen campuses across five provinces. Activists organized at the important core campuses of Ryerson, Toronto, UofT, McGill, Concordia, and the University of Alberta, and many more.
With the healthcare system collapsing due to the Kenney government’s botched response to COVID-19, it is not shocking that interest in alternatives to the capitalist system are gaining traction in Alberta. At the University of Alberta, SFS activists organized our first major in-person event on campus in two years.
With over 100 people in attendance, this was the largest of our events this fall. The vast majority of the attendees were newly politicized and radicalized students. Laine Sheldon-Houle, Socialist Fightback activist, gave a fiery talk on the failures of the capitalist system to respond to the current crisis. He lambasted billionaires like Jeff Bezos who profited massively off of the pandemic, living comfortably while workers starved.
“While people were dying in the streets, the billionaires were taking their phallic spaceships on an interstellar joy ride,” Laine said, highlighting the hypocrisy of a system which produces massive wealth while increasing poverty.
After the talk, there was a passionate discussion where many students raised points on climate change, imperialism, and the need for workers’ democracy. SFS looks forward to holding more events at the University of Alberta in the future.
In Montreal, Socialist Fightback Students held their first event of the year at McGill University. With 90 people in attendance, Julien Arseanau gave a rousing speech on the failures of the capitalist system in the province, and in Canada at large. Despite the ruling class insisting that “We are all in this together,” it has been working people who were punished during the pandemic, not the bosses. With a packed room, the discussion period was filled with questions surrounding the nature of the capitalist crisis and how we can organize to overthrow the system.
This event was followed by another at Concordia a few weeks later, on the environmental crisis. With 60 people in attendance, activist Sakif Khan explained why we need to take a class approach to environmental issues. The emphasis has to be placed on holding the corporate elite accountable for their pollution, not laying the blame on working class people for the climate crisis. The discussion was vibrant, with many young students raising examples of the unfolding climate catastrophe in various parts of the world.
Similarly, on francophone campuses like UdeM and UQAM, similar SFS events were held in French. At UQAM, student activist Simon Berger gave a presentation on the failures of the capitalist system. Simon focused on socialism as an alternative, pointing out that 35 per cent of Canadians are now opposed to capitalism. This was reflected in the room, with a radical mood among the participants—many of whom will be more involved in SFS in the future.
At UdeM, organizer and UdeM alum Vincent Monaghan spoke on the climate crisis. He explained to a crowd of a few dozen students that despite the climate anxiety that is running rampant among the youth, there is hope for the future. With socialist planning, we can combat climate change.
In Toronto, Socialist Fightback Students were active on four campuses—York University, Ryerson, University of Toronto, and Sheridan college—where we held events and tabled, meeting hundreds of new students. During the first tabling at Ryerson University in over two years, we received more than 200 sign ups, highlighting the continued popularity of socialist ideas. The COVID crisis has only increased the desire for an alternative to the capitalist system.
In the rest of the province we held more events on more campuses than ever. This included events at McMaster University, Waterloo, University of Ottawa, and Guelph. Socialist ideas are spreading to different parts of the province, taken up by students everywhere.
At Waterloo, we held our biggest event ever on the campus with 40 students in attendance. An organizer with SFS, Renu Brar, spoke at length about the need for in particular the youth to get involved in the revolution. She ended the talk with a call for students to join the struggle, which received an enthusiastic response.
At the University of Ottawa, SFS launched its first ever event. National Organizer Marco LaGrotta spoke at length on the need for an organized struggle against capitalism. The event had over 40 people in attendance, most of whom were young students. SFS is now organizing actively in Ottawa, and gaining traction among the young students and activists in the city and on campus.
Last but not least, in southern Ontario, SFS also launched a brand new club at the University of Guelph. With humble beginnings, the Marxist students on the campus held their first ever event which drew out 15 students. This will no doubt be the beginning of a vibrant club on campus and beyond in Guelph at large.
On the west coast, we also saw our work reach a new level. We held our biggest event ever at the University of Victoria, with over 40 in attendance. In Vancouver, we held our first couple of events at the University of British Columbia with over 30 students attending. The discussion on these campuses revolved around the failure of capitalism to deal with either COVID or the environmental crisis, an important point for the mostly young crowd in attendance.
This marks a new stage in the development of the fight for socialist ideas on Canadian campuses, with active clubs on two campuses in the two most important cities on the west coast. These developments show that interest in socialism is picking up across the country—there is no better time to get involved!
On the other side of the country, we have also now made inroads into organizing at Dalhousie University in Halifax, where we held our first event. With a new club on the campus, our activists on the ground organized tablings, a socialist pub night and an event on the crisis of capitalism and the need for a revolution.
Through the development of our campus club at Dalhousie, we can now truly claim to have a presence from coast to coast! This is also important as it represents a toehold for the building of socialist student clubs in the Maritimes. Forward to student clubs on every campus in every maritime province!
For socialism in our lifetime – Join Socialist Fightback Students today!
This explosion of interest on so many campuses is not an accident, but a reflection of capitalism’s decay. Young people feel their future being robbed from them, and are demanding action. SFS chapters now organize on 20 campuses across the country, but this is not enough. The only way to overturn capitalism is with an organization that spans Canada from coast to coast. Our goal is to organize our forces on every campus in the country.
If you want to help us with this important work, feel free to reach out to us and we can help you set up an SFS chapter on your campus!
Where do we organize?
- York University
- University of Toronto
- Sheridan College
- Ryerson University
- University of Waterloo
- University of McMaster
- University of Guelph
- University of Ottawa
- Université de Montréal
- Université du Québec à Montréal
- Université Laval
- Université de Sherbrooke
- Concordia University
- University of McGill
- University of Alberta
- University of Victoria
- Dalhousie University
- Lakehead University
- University of British Columbia
- Queen’s University