Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia General Meeting

For the past two days, a group of students representing the four member locals of the CFS-NS have been meeting to discuss everything from policy to debt to rape culture. This live blog is of our closing plenary, which is sort of like a council. It’s the time where we will vote on the motions that we created over the weekend, amend bylaws, and hear reports.

Throughout the weekend, many of the delegates have been live tweeting. Check out @ksunion for official-ish things and @zowhatever for ME!

Hannah Kaya says shoutout to Monique Sidebottom.

From local-11 (sponsored by Burger King) (also local-11 is the KSU) (also just kidding about the BK thing) (in case you couldn’t tell) (#blameTaylor), we have 10ish delegates.

It’s 12:12pm and we’re getting started with the elections forum. We just finished the first ever Women’s Constituency meeting, which was incredibly awesome.

Chris Parsons, Chief Returning Officer (and KSU employee) starts us off by explaining the procedure.

First, we’re hearing speeches from candidates for Women’s Liaison. Charlotte from local-34 (MSVUSU) is up first. She is interested in keeping the conversation about feminism going. She focuses on this topic in political and academic work. She also feels it would be good for the Mount to be represented as the Women’s Liaison next year because it would keep them more politically-minded. Their university has a strong history of women in activism and has a good background here. The Mount is in a good position to be more active. She is also the founder of her school’s feminist collective.

Next up, Jessica from local-7 (SUNSCAD) who just encourages us to vote for the other candidates,

Finally, Melina Zaccaria from our very own local-11. (YAY). She is on the executive of Students Advocating for Representative Curricula at King’s, which is looking at expanding the FYP curricula to include more racialized people, indigenous people, and women. She is interested in bringing this work into CFS-NS. She is the Arts rep on the KSU council, so she has a good amount of time to work on this. Being the Arts rep has helped her represent a broad landscape of students. For this position, one has to represent a broad constituency. She also sits on the Dal Arts and Social Sciences Society, which gives her a broader perspective. She spoke with Anika, who’s working with women in politics, and wants to continue this work. Also wants to acknowledge how trans and non-binary people are affected by feminist issues. She also wants to work on consent culture and rape culture on campus. Also wants to do work about body image. Body image issues disproportionately affect women. She also wants to work to learn about the CFS-NS.

Question time! A question is asked about how trans and non-binary folks are represented in Charlotte’s idea. She responds by saying that she is very interested in looking at how no means no and other CFS campaigns intersects with other campaigns, such as Mental Health Matters and others, interested in having a constantly intersectional conversations. Melina says she is also interested in having these discussions, even though it may be difficult. She would love to work with No Means No and Mental health (these are not where they should be on campus. There’s a big support for counselling on campus.

Question about how to represent people that are of groups other than your own. Melina says that she is a white middle class woman, so she can’t understand the problems of more marginalized groups herself, she can listen and bring issues to CFS-NS. She cannot speak for them, but can help bring their ideas to the table. Charlotte says that this representative must be conscious of diverse voices. She will be sure to inform her statements with the needs of diverse people.

Question about what the candidates’ upcoming year of study involves. Charlotte is studying English and Psychology, which she acknowledges sound apolitical but she brings feminism into each of them. Doing her honours thesis will give her time to work on this. Melina says she is going into French, Contemporary Studies, and Philosophy.

Question: are you bilingual? Melina: yes, but not completely fluent. Charlotte: no, not really.

 

Okay! Treasurer elections. Only one candidate: Jon from local 35. He doesn’t have a background in money management, but is studying sociology and brings that background. He’s also worked managing music acts and this has given him the chance to work on budgeting. This work also involved applying for grants and reporting on budgets. Has had conversations with the previous treasurer. Isn’t bilingual but thinks its important to keep the relationship with local 69 (Université St. Anne). The CFS-NS aligns with his particular political beliefs: we should have a free and accessible education for all. He is a stickler for transparency and accountability. Need to be able to explain budget to members, to explain how we’re spending our money.

No questions.

 

12:36pm: we are now on to the deputy chairperson. There is one candidate: Karoline from local 69. Unfortunately she had to leave early so we have no speech or question time.

 

Finally, the chairperson. The one candidate is Michaela Sam, our current chairperson. She is running for reelection. She says that she raves about this province and all of us constantly. she hasn’t always been able to be around this year, but this year has been amazing. The goal of an accessible post-secondary education has been furthered this year. She’s excited to see the history of amazing work here. She wants to keep working on education and training: giving people resources so that our movement is accessible at every level. Wants to make sure we’re doing skills training and building it into everything we do. This has been one of the hardest jobs she’s done and has been a huge learning experience. Wants to work with the exec to really hear what’s going on at each university. We need to continue conversations about women, about international students and more. Pushing equity work to the forefront of everything we do. We have a long way to go and we need to look at where we are not represented.

Question about how Michaela intends to nurture a student movement where we can take care of ourselves. (Also Anika calls Michaela short). Michaela says that this year, for the day of action, we were careful to spread the work around so that no one gets burned out. Marginalized folks often have a huge amount of work put on them.

We all have specific issues and things that speak to us, as locals. However, we can all work on some things in common. At local-11, she did one of the most robust changeovers ever. Need to talk to people to find out their needs.

Question: sometimes students can feel like the CFS works from a top-down system. Some students find advertising forceful. How can we improve the relationship with students and locals? She says that the reason we come together is because we are stronger together. One of the things we’ve done well this year is having meetings and getting people involved. Wants to have conversations outside this room. We may not be the people that are the best suited to every campaign, but we can bring those people in.

Question about how many students do no know they are members of the CFS. How can we spread the word? Michaela says that we can combat this by creating a workshop. Make sure folks know that the federation is there for them and that we are a part of a provincial movement. People may know campaigns but not where they come from. We can have conversations about how to educate.

12:49: we’re having a brief caucus now to discuss how we want to vote as locals. Back in a few!

1:21pm: We’re back ! We have now voted (results later) and eaten wraps. Everything is great. We’re now going into the body of plenary.

Bilan (the deputy chairperson of the WHOLE CFS!!!!!) starts by taking us through how this process will work.

 

We’re starting with a discussion of the campaigns report. Michaela Sam reports. We had a motion about a living wage campaign, a work is work campaign, an ambulance fee campaign, and a fairness for international students campaign. All the motions passed and it was stressed that we want to do these in sync with member locals. The report is passed!

 

Next up, the organizational and services review committee report. They had motions about an aboriginal representative, the women’s liaison, and a motion about the duties of local representatives. The motion to adopt the report carries!

 

Budget committee! They approved the Year to Date report and renamed a budget line to “donations” rather than “solidarity.” They also talked about developing a formal system to approve external organizations we could give donations to. Finally, they recommended a restructuring of per diem structure. The report carries!

 

Other business! First up, elections report.

Chris, our CRO is reporting on elections. Charlotte, Karolyn, Jon, and Michaela have won their respective positions. The results are ratified! the motion to destroy ballots also passes. Go Chris!!!!!11!!!!!1!!!

Okay, the other new business we have is a motion that was created in the women’s constituency meeting. Anika reports that we had a great meeting that involved some sharing about the consent culture forum, personal stories, and discussion of what we are dealing with as people, women, and organizers. We talked about consent, the inclusion of trans women in our movement, and more. The motion we’re voting on is regarding federal Bill C-279. Essentially, it is a bill about trans rights. We are in favour of the main bill but not the amendments, as the main bill would give more rights to trans people whereas the amendments would exclude trans people from single-gender washrooms, correctional facilities, and shelters. Jade from local-7 motivates, saying that she in a Facebook group with trans women in Nova Scotia, and just that group alone has over 350 members. All those women would be forced to use male facilities if these amendments were passed. It’s also causing fear mongering and making trans women seem like a threat when they certainly aren’t. Trans people should be able to use washrooms without being discriminated against. Trans people are the gender they identify as and they should be able to use the washroom without discrimination. This bill is a important moment for people of all genders to stand together to affirm the rights of trans individuals, particularly trans women.

Keisha speaks to this motion, saying that it’s so common for people not to know about the situation of trans people in society. One of the biggest things we can do is make people feel safe in many places, particularly washrooms.

The motion carries!

1:55pm Logistical announcements from Dave, some closing remarks from Michaela and Bilan, and then adjournment.

Peace out, see y’all in September.

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