A. Information about the Festival and the Canadian delegation
B. Articles about Festival organizing
1. A Call to Youth and Students
2. Canadian Youth heading to South Africa
3. Preparations full-speed ahead for Festival
4. South Africa Ready to Host Festival
1. Information about the Festival and the Canadian delegation
Check out the main international festival website here
Visit the South African host comittee's website here
The main Canadian website will be online soon!
Download the Festival Newsletters
2. Articles about Festival organizing
A Call to Youth and Students
RYERSON FREE PRESS
“In the winter of 2010, a delegation of young activists from across Canada will join with over 20 000 youth in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS). For an entire week -- the largest gathering of progressive youth and students in the world!
... We call on all youth supporting justice, friendship and internationalism; who desire a better Canada and a better world without exploitation, oppression, racism, sexism and homophobia, colonialism and war; who support aboriginal peoples' national rights to sovereignty and self-determination; who wish to reinforce the struggle for peace, solidarity and social transformation. Join us!”
Thus begins the declaration and all-Canadian call-out to a remarkable and magnificent event. As the cold fall winds begin to blow around Ryerson campus, students and youth from across the city are making plans to head somewhere warmer. But the adventure of participating in the Canadian delegation to the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students in South Africa isn’t about a sun tan. It is probably the most powerful and broad international political expression of solidarity with all the struggles of the youth, for peace and social progress.
The youth who are building for the festival will be gathering at a critical movement. The environment faces enormous threats. The imperialist war in Afghanistan drags on. As the economic crisis drags on, major victories have been achieved for people’s struggles in Latin America, and Europe is rising up in mass strikes. Yet elsewhere there have been dangerous signs – a re-doubling of efforts by the far-right, not just in the USA with the Tea party but even closer to home here in Toronto.
Yet the vast majority of the youth around the world, the festival movement says, have not given up. They continue the long rebellious tradition of the young people – demanding new ideas, better futures, to realizing dreams and hopes of justice in our lifetime. It is easy to forget that past. Just a few weeks ago, Remembrance Day passed by, re-branded by the Canadian Harper government. These war “hawks” would rather we forget history. But the fact is, the young women and men who fought in World War II ended that conflict with a sentiment that was deeply pro-peace.
Roots of the WFYS
Sixty-five years ago, young people had perhaps suffered the most in terms of casualties, and it was the youth who were at the core of the partisan movements who had fought fascism. A massive conference of these young women and men in London, from all countries of the world, launched the first efforts to build a festival of students and young people that sent a powerful demand for lasting peace, democracy and friendship.
The young people who gathered were on the edge of the nuclear age. But they bravely rejected the politics of the cold war, the bomb, and the arms race. They denounced the racialization and demonization of all those who resisted imperialism around the world, choosing to stand with the peoples and countries breaking from colonization and forging a new future. The best way to do this, they felt, was through a giant progressive festival.
For a better world
Over the next six and a half decades, the festival movement has brought as many as 30,000 youth together at one time. With a special orientation towards youth in the global south, youth festivals have occurred in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The festival’s became a unique platform where youth could meet face to face and overcome an “information blockade” about their struggles for a better world.
Each festival, young people have learnt the facts about major struggles of their time -- like about the Vietnam war from Vietnamese youth; or Apartheid from black South Africans; or meet the General Union of Palestinian Students and hear their perspectives; or talk to youth from Chile during the hopeful times of Allende – and after. Fighters like Yasir Arafat and Angela Davis attended festivals. Hundreds of thousands of grass-roots activists have come. The last WFYS took place in Venezuela. Youth could see with their own eyes the process of the Bolivarian Revolution.
This year’s festival will also occur on another historic anniversary – twenty years since the release of Nelson Mandela and the beginning of the end of one of the most repressive regimes in human history, South African Apartheid. This will be a special context to discuss today’s genocide of the Palestinian peoples with South African activists drawing convincing parallels between the two struggles.
A magnificent event
The 17th WFYS will be truly a fantastic opportunity for progressive young people. It is not to late to get involved.
Delegates will participate in much more than a conference. Four conferences will take place over the festival, as well as a large number of regionally-themed seminars from the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asian and the Pacific; there will be sports events including a soccer contest against imperialism, and a marathon for peace; and poetry, hip hop, music, photography, and painting contests.
There will also be fourteen inter-exchange meetings – large gatherings where youth from different struggles and communities from all around the world can compare their experiences – including aboriginal youth, young trade unionists, youth of faith for peace, students, young artists, recent detainees, independent media, young artists, youth involved in municipal politics, and young women.
The schedule of the 17th WFYS is perhaps best described as magnificent. The programme comprehensively covers a wide-range of youth and people’s struggles for peace, sovereignty and self-determination, sustainability and socialism, and against war, racism, sexism, homophobia, racism, xenophobia and other social malaise caused by imperialism.
On the ground
Organization is moving ahead. The festival movement received a strong boost earlier this fall as Latin American leftists Fidel Castro, Socorro Gomez (president of the World Peace Council) Manuel Zelaya and Hugo Chavez all endorsed the cultural, social, and intellectual meeting of activists. This WFYS will be the first festival held in an English-speaking country since the festival movement began at the end of the Second World War and the first in sub-Saharan Africa.
On the ground in Johannesburg, an international organizing committee is busy with preparations, visiting and reviewing internal mass transit, sites for accommodation, conference centers, halls for seminars and inter-exchange meetings, and spaces for the solidarity fairs, information fairs, as well as sports and cultural events.
A reflection of youth activism
The challenge for the all-Canada organizing committee is to build a delegation that reflects the diversity of the youth and student activism across the country, and that returns with a stronger, fighting sense of being part of a youth movement. These ideas are expressed in a declaration of the Canadian delegation.
Efforts to build a cross-Canada delegation have resulted in local committees in Halifax, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Guelph, as well as a Quebec National committee in Montreal. Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara will also launching committees soon and work is beginning in Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Youth interested in promoting or attending the WFYS should get in touch with the local committees; or write directly to the festival co-chairs: David Molenhuis (
) or Johan Boyden (
). Financial supporters should be advised that donations to the Youth Festival are eligible for a tax receipt as the festival is working with a registered charity (make cheques payable to the Marty Skup Memorial Fund and send them to S. Skup, 56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton, ON, L7E 1S4).
Most recently the Canadian Festival Committee received a warm endorsement from the International Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions conference in Montreal; joining a growing list of student organizations, peace, environmental and other activist groups, trade unions and labour councils, have endorsed the Festival and are building towards the event with excitement!
Canadian Youth heading to South Africa
PEOPLE'S VOICE NEWSPAPER
The 17th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) is coming!
The Festival is being held this December in Johannesburg, South Africa, just weeks from now. Youth from around the world will meet and discuss the fight for peace, democracy, anti‑imperialist solidarity, and socialism. More than 20,000 youth will attend ‑ in the homeland of Nelson Mandela, international hero and icon in the struggle against racism and apartheid.
A proud history
The World Festival of Youth and Students has a proud history going back to the end of WWII. That's when (contrary to the re-branding of the Harper Conservative government around Remembrance day) the youth of the world gathered in a conference to demand "a lasting, just peace."
The international meeting brought together veterans of the allied armies, partisans, people from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America ‑ including Canada. They decided the best way to continue the spirit of friendship between all nations was to organize a giant festival of sports, culture, music, conferences, discussions, debates and planning for action.
Sixty‑five years later, youth are still gathering with these hopes and aspirations. People's Voice will carry updates on the work to build the largest gathering of anti‑imperialist and pro‑peace youth in the world.
National preparatory committees have been formed in over 120 countries, including Angola, Brazil, France, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela. Promoters of the Festival are travelling around the world, and some are facing harsh resistance.
Most recently, festival promoters, including a member of the European Parliament and the leader of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, were deported from Morocco trying to reach a protest camp in the occupied territories of Western Sahara. On a more positive note, festival promoters in Latin America appeared on La Nueva Televisora del Sur ‑ the new TV Network of the South, broadcast throughout Latin America from Caracas, which is also promoting the festival.
Last October, the International Organizing Committee of the 17th WFYS had its inaugural meeting at Burger's Park Hotel, in Pretoria, South Africa. Since then, the committee has been busy visiting festival locations and sites in weekly meetings. The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has been made the honourary president of the IOC. The IOC has also held special meetings with the South African Communist Party and the Young Communist League of South Africa, about the political reality of the youth and students in the country. A logistical committee has been set up to accredit all delegates at Oliver Tambo airport upon arrival.
The conferences at the festival will be facilitated by speakers from South Africa, and will include presentations from the International Organizing Committee, as well as one speaker per each region (Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Middle East) to present a regional or national perspective. There will also be workshops, seminars, an anti‑Imperialist Court and Tribunal; cultural activities and sports activities; and a friendship fair.
Delegates will be able to visit locations related to South Africa's history of liberation struggles. There will be direct shuttles from the Festival venues to those places, with admittance at low rates or free.
The cross‑Canada committee is working hard to bring together a Canadian delegation that reflects the youth and student movement in our country. It will be a once in a lifetime experience for each member of the All‑Canada delegation, something we will never forget.
As People's Voice readers know from previous Festivals, the WFYS is an experience that brings home young activists ready and willing to add their weight to the struggle for peace, democracy, anti‑imperialist solidarity, and socialism here in Canada. Over the last six decades, many Festival alumni have made important contributions to the fight for peace and disarmament, for medicare and universal social programs, for civil, democratic and labour rights, and for fundamental social change in Canada and globally.
Fundraising across the country!
Fundraising for the festival is taking place across the country. The latest event is in Toronto, on November 27, at the GCDO Hall on 290A Danforth Ave. If you can't come but would like to make a tax deductible donation to support the Canadian delegation, please make your cheque out to "Marty Skup Memorial Fund" and mail to us, c/o Sharon Skup, 56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton, Ontario, L7E 1S4. The Fund is a registered Charitable Organization with Revenue Canada (#11903 4189 RR0001). We greatly appreciate your support!
From Canada, 50 young people will attend, representing youth and students from coast to coast. That will include a National delegation from Quebec, united with the all‑Canada delegation, working to share representation on panels and presentations. An All‑Canada declaration has been released, which calls for troops to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan, and for peace, jobs, democracy and sovereignty.
The call-out from the delegation says, "We are going to the festival to share our experiences, hopes and dreams for a better Canada; to again raise our local campaigns to an international arena; to build our connection between young activists from diverse countries, communities, campuses, and many groups; to strengthen bonds, reach agreements; to have a clearer and more global understanding of the problems and their causes that we face; and to assume a collective commitment ‑ uniting all of our efforts for a better Canada and a better world!"
(Johan Boyden is the co‑Chair of the All‑Canada Festival Committee.)
Preparations Full-speed ahead for festival
PEOPLE'S VOICE NEWSPAPER
Organization for the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) in Johannesburg, South Africa, is steaming ahead. The festival, the largest gathering of progressive, anti-imperialist youth in the world, will come together Dec. 13‑21 under the slogan of "We will defeat imperialism; for peace, solidarity, and social transformation!" Over 20,000 youth are expected to attend.
The festival movement received a strong boost earlier this fall as Latin American leftists Fidel Castro, Socorro Gomez (president of the World Peace Council) Manuel Zelaya and Hugo Chavez all endorsed the cultural, social, and intellectual meeting of activists. Committees have formed in over 120 countries around the world, especially across Africa. This WFYS will be the first festival held in an English‑speaking country since the festival movement began at the end of the Second World War, and the first in sub‑Saharan Africa.
On the ground in Johannesburg, an international organizing committee is busy with preparations, visiting and reviewing internal mass transit, sites for accommodation, conference centers, halls for seminars and inter‑exchange meetings, and spaces for the solidarity fairs, information fairs, as well as sports and cultural events.
The schedule of the 17th WFYS is perhaps best described as magnificent. The programme comprehensively covers a wide‑range of youth and people's struggles for peace, sovereignty and self-determination, sustainability and socialism, and against war, racism, sexism, homophobia, racism, xenophobia and other social malaise caused by imperialism.
Four conferences will take place over the festival, as well as a large number of regionally‑themed seminars from the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asian and the Pacific; there will be sports events including a soccer contest against imperialism, and a marathon for peace; and poetry, hip hop, music, photography, and painting contests.
There will also be fourteen inter‑exchange meetings - large gatherings where youth from different struggles and communities from all around the world can compare their experiences - including aboriginal youth, young trade unionists, youth of faith for peace, students, young artists, recent detainees, independent media, young artists, youth involved in municipal politics, and young women.
This is the challenge set for the all‑Canada organizing committee as well - to build a delegation that reflects the diversity of the youth and student activism across the country, and that returns with a stronger, fighting sense of being part of a youth movement. These ideas are expressed in a declaration of the Canadian delegation being released now.
Efforts to build a cross‑Canada delegation have resulted in local committees in Halifax, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Guelph, as well as a Quebec National committee in Montreal. Toronto, Hamilton and Niagara will also launching committees soon and work is beginning in Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Youth interested in promoting or attending the WFYS should get in touch with the local committees; or write directly to the festival co‑chairs: David Molenhuis chairperson@cfs‑fcee.ca or Johan Boyden johan@ycl‑ljc.ca . Financial supporters should be advised that donations to the Youth Festival are eligible for a tax receipt as the festival is working with a registered charity (make cheques payable to the Marty Skup Memorial Fund and send them to S. Skup, 56 Riverwood Terrace, Bolton, ON, L7E 1S4).
Most recently the Canadian Festival Committee received a warm endorsement from the International Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions conference in Montreal, joining a growing list of student organizations, activist groups, trade unions, and the Young Communist League who have endorsed the Festival and are building towards the event with excitement!
South Africa ready for the Festival!
JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 15 -- South Africa is set and ready to host the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students on Dec. 13- 21, where approximately 30,000 local and international delegates including heads of state are to unite in an effort to promote peace, transformation and solidarity with the struggling masses against imperialism.
The international festival which occurs once in every four years was last held in August 2005 in Caracas, Venezuela, where it managed to attract 25,000 participants from 144 countries.
For the past 65 years, the festival has been organized by the World Federation of Democratic Youth, a left-wing youth organization, in one of its 153 member countries.
The 17th Festival was originally scheduled to be held in Minsk, Belarus, in August 2009. However, after the country withdrew from its commitment to host the event, it was decided that the conference would be organized in the South African city of Johannesburg.
This means that for the first time since the festival was established in 1945 it will be held in the Southern Africa. The theme for this year's conference is "Let's Defeat Imperialism, for a World of Peace, Solidarity and Social Transformation".
"Building on the very successful hosting of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup, South Africa will again be playing host to one of the largest and most significant events on the international calendar.
"South Africa has been chosen to host the 17th World Festival of Youth & Students from 13 - 21 December 2010 following a bidding process which was lead by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)," said Collins Chabane, Minister in the South African Presidency, at a media briefing.
"The World Festival of Youth and Students has a long heritage dating back to 1945 at the end of the Second World War, when international youth and students assembled and adopted a pledge for peace in the world. Since then, the festival has turned into an ongoing forum for progressive youth from all over the world."
According to Chabane, the purpose of the festival this year is to raise critical current issued in order to impact the shaping of policies of government and the world, while at the same time uniting the youth of the world for peace, solidarity and social transformation to create a world free of human rights abuses and create sustainable environments.
Chabane said the event is also a great opportunity for South Africa to market itself as a tourist destination and raise awareness of the country internationally. He added that the conference will also mainstream the African youth agenda.
"In its 64 year history this is the first that this very significant international youth conference will be held in the Southern Africa, and that the conference will have a specific focus on issues relevant to youth from the African continent", Chabane explained.
During the one-week conference next month, the thousands of youth expected to descent into South Africa from all parts of the world are scheduled to focus primarily on social, political and economic issues that are facing the youth of today. Issues such as the right to employment, democratic rights, freedoms and human rights as well as the struggle for peace, sovereignty and solidarity against imperialism are set to top talks at the festival. Another key topic at the conference is set to be the issue of public, free and universal access to education, science, culture and information.
Organizers also have a variety of cultural programs planned for the youth festival, ranging from photography contests, to an international poetry contest as well as an international song contest, to even a soccer tournament and a fun run.
Furthermore, there will be arts and culture manifestations at the event representative of the geographic regions of the festivals. A meeting for young filmmakers has also been scheduled on the pipeline at the youth conference.
"The Festival presents South African youth with an opportunity to make contributions toward the shaping of policies locally and internationally in the interests of advancing solidarity, peace and democracy. This we believe as the Government of South Africa form the foundation for social and economic development," Chabane said.
Chabane said the South African government hopes that the festival would result in increased international partnerships and networking opportunities between like-minded youth leaders from around the world.
He said the country's government also anticipated that the festival would amplify campaigns against xenophobia, racism and other related intolerances.
In addition, Chabane said the South African government hopes that the event would possibly lead to improved consolidation of the country's own national agenda for youth development and empowerment. He added that overall the conference is expected to have economic benefits on South Africa from the foreign spending in the country for the duration of the event.
"As the youth of the world in 1945 pledged themselves to build the unity of youth of the world across all races, all colors, all nationalities, all beliefs; as Government we firmly believe that the Festival will constructively contribute to the advancement Social Cohesion in South Africa. We believe it will lay a foundation for Africa's youth voice to be heard in the world," Chabane said.
The Festival will foster lasting positive relations with countries of the world that will lead to the development of youth in South Africa.
A lot of preparation has been undertaken -- not just in South Africa, but all over the world -- to ensure that the festival is a grant success. Since April, there have been three international preparatory meetings held in Venezuela, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Cyprus respectively.
During the third international preparatory meeting for the festival, held in Cyprus, 20 members from Africa, America, Asia and Middle East were elected by the international Organizing Committee for the successful conduct of the festival, with South African President Jacob Zuma voted as the committee's honorable president.
National Preparatory Committees have also been formed in Africa, America and Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Europe as well as Middle East regions.
The Youth League of South Africa's ruling political party the African National Congress (ANC) and the Young Communist League of South Africa, along with the country's government, have been working together to ensure that the festival is a success. Preparation of accommodation and food for the estimated 30,000 guests expected to take part in the festival have already been settled.
"A lot of preparation has gone into ensuring the success of the Festival. The NYDA is the anchor institution to facilitate the successful hosting of the event. It has appointed a Nation Preparatory Committee (NPC) whose main task is the planning, organization and execution of programs for the event", Chabane pointed out.
"The NPC is constituted of various youth organizations that are affiliated to the World Federation of Democratic Youth and government institutions including the Department of International Relations and Co-operations, The Presidency as well as the City of Johannesburg and supported by the International Organizing Committee."