News

2019 DAVI Board Candidate Slate

DA VICTORIA AND THE ISLANDS CHAPTER (DAVI)

CANDIDATE SLATE - 2019

CHAPTER CHAIR -

  • Provides agenda and chairs regular Chapter Board meetings

  • Provides leadership for GOTV initiatives

  • Chairs the Chapter AGM every two years

  • Represents the Chapter at the DA Canada (DACA) monthly Board meetings

Candidates:

  1. Heidi Burch: “I’ve been active in DAVI since 2012 as a Member-at-large, helping to set up events to foster the DAVI community and Get Out the Vote, such as the Sticky Wicket Pub meetups, registration events at the Victoria Public Library and setting up the annual Tax Seminar. I have also been active with DA Canada, where I am currently Exec Vice-Chair, and with DA Intl, where I am continuing in my role as chair of the GOTV team.”

VICE CHAIR -

  • Chairs Chapter Board meetings in the absence of the Chair

  • Assists in providing leadership for GOTV initiatives

  • Steps in for Chair as needed


Candidates:

  1. Jim Ham: “I'm a US/Canada dual citizen living in Victoria BC since 1972 working as a musical instrument craftsman. I was born in Augusta GA but vote in my last place of US residence, Bellevue WA. I have a long standing interest in US politics and have felt a strong concern for the recent horrible developments in my birth country. While I do vote I feel like I need to do more, working with Democrats Abroad seems like a good way for me to contribute. I do have experience serving as a board member, I have served on the board of the Civic Orchestra of Victoria for many years (where I also play the violin). In the days leading up to the mid-term election I did canvassing with DA board member Jena Magnus in WA district 8 for candidate Kim Schrier.”

SECRETARY - Jena Magnus (Acting) (Aug 2018 - March 2019)

  • Schedules regular Chapter Board meetings

  • Takes minutes of Chapter Board meetings and distribute them to the Board


Candidates:

  1. Jena Magnus: “I have served as the DAVI Secretary since August 2018. As a RN I worked as Admin Support for several large interdisciplinary provincial healthcare teams. I ensured people had the right information at the right time, members were kept up to date, & our activities stayed on track. I look forward to bringing my experience working with high performance teams to the DAVI.”

TREASURER - Jon Scheer (Acting) (Aug 2018-March 2019)

  • Provides Chapter financial reports at regular Board meetings and at the biannual AGM

  • Manages and maintains Chapter bank account, donations (cash and online) and Chapter expenses

Candidates:

  1. Jon Scheer: "I have served as DAV Treasurer since August, 2018. I have over 20 years experience as a tax accountant and have been in prior years Treasurer for 2 non-profit theatre groups, one here in Victoria and the other in Denver. I currently act as bookkeeper for Langham Court Theatre."

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY -

  • Works with the DA Canada Membership Secretary on annual Membership Verification

  • Learns to use the DA Nation Builder online membership management system

  • Send welcome message to new members via email (template)

Candidates:

  1. Marilyn Mahan

COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR -

  • Sends event invitations and updates to DAV members, using the DA Nation Builder online email system

  • Updates and maintains the DAVI Facebook page

  • Updates the DAVI events web page in Nation Builder

Candidates: None

STUDENT OUTREACH COORDINATOR -

  • Raises awareness of Democrats Abroad on campuses in the Chapter area

  • Coordinates on-campus voter registration events

  • Coordinates outreach to US citizens on-campus (non-DA members)

  • Liaises with the DA Canada point person on the DA Global Study Abroad Youth Outreach Team

  • Initiate and support DAVI-affiliated clubs on campus

Candidates: None

MEMBERS AT LARGE:

Attend regular Chapter Board meetings and the biannual AGM

  • Contribute skills and experience in support of GOTV initiatives

  • Work on planning events and help to run events: GOTV, tax seminars, biannual AGM, Thanksgiving Dinner, election-year debate nights, etc.

Candidates: None

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Annual General Meeting

To All DAVI Members:

The Victoria and the Islands Chapter of Democrats Abroad (DAVI) will be holding its 2019 Annual General Meeting and Election of Officers:

DATE: March 17, 2019
TIME: 3:00 PM

PLACE: Sticky Wicket Pub, 919 Douglas St, Victoria, BC (MAP)

Free parking both on street and in the Broughton St Parkade

Please RSVP by email to: davictoriachapter@gmail.com

It is possible to attend by Skype or Webex as well. If you’d like to use that option, please let us know in your RSVP 

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ONE DAY LEFT TO SUBMIT YOUR NOMINATION!

Never before has the strength of the Democrats Abroad been more important to ensure voices of Americans living abroad are heard and our votes are counted!

Please consider joining the Democrats Abroad National Board, Canada. The deadline for submission is Wednesday February 13th, 2019 at 11:59pm

Here is a refresh of the positions up for election:

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

Democrats Abroad Canada invites you to nominate
candidates to the Board of Directors

On Sunday, March 31st, 2019 Democrats Abroad Canada [DACA] will hold its Annual General Meeting [AGM] to elect our Canadian officers.

As we prepare for the 2020 Presidential Election cycle, we need your help in identifying a slate of candidates to lead DACA for the next two years. Any DACA member may nominate themselves or any DACA member for any office.

A nominee must:

- Be a member of Democrats Abroad Canada

- Be a US citizen, a resident of Canada and willing and able to handle the duties of the office

- Give his or her consent to stand for election

Your Nominations & Elections Committee invites nominations for the following offices:

- Country Committee Chair

- Executive Vice Chair

- Vice Chairs [2 positions]

- Secretary

- Treasurer

- Membership Secretary

- IT Manager

- Counsel

- Members-at-Large [3 positions]

- Democratic Party Committee Abroad [DPCA] Voting Representatives [12 positions]

Descriptions of the specific responsibilities for each position can be viewed by clicking on the Officer position on the Nomination form at the link below. A short supporting statement describing the nominee's skills and experience pertinent to the office is requested.

Nominations open with this mailing and will close at 11:59PM EST on February 13, 2019.

CLICK HERE to access the candidate nomination form

Thank you - your participation is greatly appreciated!

Democratically yours,

DemsAbroad Canada Nominations & Elections Committee

Bodil Geyer, Chair, Vancouver, BC

Starla Goggins, Toronto, ON

Randi Weitzner, Teller of Elections, Montreal, QC

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Call for Nominations, Democrats Abroad Canada Board of Directors!

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS

Democrats Abroad Canada invites you to nominate
candidates to the Board of Directors

On Sunday, March 31st, 2019 Democrats Abroad Canada [DACA] will hold its Annual General Meeting [AGM] to elect our Canadian officers.

As we prepare for the 2020 Presidential Election cycle, we need your help in identifying a slate of candidates to lead DACA for the next two years. Any DACA member may nominate themselves or any DACA member for any office.

A nominee must:

- Be a member of Democrats Abroad Canada

- Be a US citizen, a resident of Canada and willing and able to handle the duties of the office

- Give his or her consent to stand for election

Your Nominations & Elections Committee invites nominations for the following offices:

- Country Committee Chair

- Executive Vice Chair

- Vice Chairs [2 positions]

- Secretary

- Treasurer

- Membership Secretary

- IT Manager

- Counsel

- Members-at-Large [3 positions]

- Democratic Party Committee Abroad [DPCA] Voting Representatives [12 positions]

Descriptions of the specific responsibilities for each position can be viewed by clicking on the Officer position on the Nomination form at the link below. A short supporting statement describing the nominee's skills and experience pertinent to the office is requested.

Nominations open with this mailing and will close at 11:59PM EST on February 13, 2019.

CLICK HERE to access the candidate nomination form

Thank you - your participation is greatly appreciated!

Democratically yours,

DemsAbroad Canada Nominations & Elections Committee

Bodil Geyer, Chair, Vancouver, BC

Starla Goggins, Toronto, ON

Randi Weitzner, Teller of Elections, Montreal, QC

CLICK HERE to access the candidate nomination form

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Membership Verification 2019-We hate to see you go!

Every January all of DA's country committees must report the numbers of their verified members as a part of our internal governance. 

Verified members are those who we can confirm are still living in Canada. A large number of our members move back to the States every year and are no longer abroad, which means they can no longer be a member. Verification is determined by members' RSVPs to our events posted on the website, requesting ballots through votefromabroad.org, contact through phone banking, snail mailing and email exchanges with local committees. 

Membership profiles risk being deleted if we cannot verify, at least every four years. 

We recently sent 1700 emails to non-verified members and are attempting to phone those for whom we no longer have a good an email address.  If you received this email or a phone call,  and are still in Canada wishing to stay in touch with us, please send us an email today!to let us know that you want to stay with us! info@democratsabroad.ca

 

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2019 Taxation Questionnaire and update on DemsAbroad Efforts on Residency Based Taxation

Democrats Abroad is launching our 2019 Non-Resident Taxation Research Project to generate information we will use to advocate for reforms to relieve the burden of tax, banking, financial account reporting, securities and other laws that discriminate against Americans living abroad. Please contribute to our research by filling out this questionnaire. It will be open for submissions until midnight EST on Sunday February 3, 2019.

It is a lengthy questionnaire, but you should only be presented with questions relevant to your situation, as specified in your responses. The survey is anonymous. All questions are optional.

Please share this email with other Americans abroad impacted by U.S. tax obligations and/or share this link on your social media channels. Thank you for your support with this important research and our work to persuade Congress we need urgent tax relief.

If you follow the work of Democrats Abroad advocating for tax relief for Americans abroad you know that a major milestone was reached in December 2018 with the introduction of the Tax Fairness for Americans Abroad Act, a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would enact a switch from the current U.S. system of Citizenship based taxation (CBT) to the global norm of Residency based taxation (RBT). The bill wasn’t perfect, but it does provide an excellent framework for building a proposal for enacting RBT that can be embraced by members of Congress on all sides of politics. Our work on such a proposal continues from where we left off last year and we need your help to execute our advocacy program. CLICK HERE for a 1 pager about the bill and CLICK HERE for a description of the provisions.

Congress has a very poor understanding of the Americans abroad community, and that probably goes double for the freshman members. In order to persuade them to relieve us of the onerous and unfair burden imposed by Citizenship based taxation we need to educate them about who we are and how we are suffering because of discriminatory tax policy.

To that end, Democrats Abroad announces the 2019 Non-Resident Taxation Research Project aimed at building a profile of the Americans abroad community and describing how we are impacted by the many ways U.S. tax, securities, banking and other laws cause us serious personal and financial hardship. We hope you will help by taking part in the research by completing this questionnaire.

The questionnaire is comprehensive in its penetration into the many types of discrimination we Americans abroad face. It is divided into these main sections:

Non-resident citizen profile – demographic information describing who we are and where and how we live

Offshore Banking, Saving and Investing – compiling information about how we are impacted by financial account reporting requirements and the punitive tax treatment of savings, pension and investment programs.

U.S. Banking, Saving and Investing – compiling information about how our non-residency impacts our ability to manage our U.S.-based financial affairs

U.S. Tax Filing – recording our experiences managing the tax consequences of offshore residency

U.S. Tax Compliance – recording our experience maintaining compliance with U.S. tax filing obligations, including our experience with the programs set up to help non-filing Americans come into tax compliance.

Social Security Benefit impairment – gathering information from those whose U.S. Social Security benefits are unjustly reduced because a portion of their working life was spent abroad employed by organizations that don’t participate in the U.S. Social Security system.

Tax Cuts & Jobs Act impacts – for the first time, generating data on how Americans abroad who have ownership in foreign companies are enduring the two new taxes imposed upon them by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

It is a lengthy questionnaire. We estimate it will take 10 minutes to prepare.

But all questions are OPTIONAL.

We trust you will consider the tax, banking, investing and securities laws and regulations that have the most harmful impact on you and put your effort into responding to the questions that relate to those matters.

Please send us any questions or comments – 2019ExpatTaxResearch@gmail.com

Thanks in advance for your support with this research and for our advocacy work generally.

If you are interested in getting more frequent updates on our expat tax advocacy work, including advice on our grassroots Congressional outreach campaigns, please click here to sign up.

If you are interested in donating to support the work of DA in advocating for reforms to U.S. tax and banking laws you can do so by clicking here.

Thanks again!

Democratically yours,

DEMOCRATS ABROAD TAXATION TASK FORCE

Julia Bryan - ex officio (Czech Republic)
Jennifer Cederwalls (Sweden)
DeeDee Geirow (Sweden)
Carmelan Polce - Chair (New York and Australia)
Michael Ramos (Australia)
Chip Seward (Washington DC and France)
Joe Smallhoover (France)

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Special Meeting of DA Canada Members

This is a formal announcement of a special meeting of members of Democrats Abroad Canada (“DACA”) called for Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 7:30PM EST via WebEx. The purpose of the meeting is to consider passage of a revision to Article 15.2 of the Democrats Abroad Canada Bylaws (the “Bylaws”), proposed by the Board of Directors of DACA.

Article 15 addresses how DACA members become Democratic Party Committee Abroad (“DPCA”) voting representatives. This announcement addresses the reasons the DACA Board is proposing this amendment, what it attempts to do and why we recommend it.

Background

Democrats Abroad (“DA”) is formally known as the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (“DPCA”). DA has a Board of Directors at the international level. Members organize themselves locally into Country Committees (like DACA) and local chapters.

DA calls annual international meetings where certain members of the Country Committees have the power to vote on initiatives related to DA’s governance and activities. These voting members are called “DPCA Voting Representatives”.

DA assigns each Country Committee a number of votes in proportion with the size of its membership. These votes are assigned to each country’s DPCA Voting Representatives. For example, larger Country Committees, like Canada, have more votes at the international meetings.

In Canada, we assign one vote per DPCA Voting Representative. Therefore, we have more DPCA Voting Representatives than most Country Committees.

Why is the Board Proposing this Amendment?

DA’s Charter requires each Country Committee to elect DPCA Voting Representatives nationally. The Charter also requires even sex distribution among the group of DPCA Voting Representatives from each Country Committee (i.e., the DPCA Voting Representatives from Canada must be an equal number of people who identify as female and people who identify as male).

Under the current Article 15.2 of DACA’s Bylaws, DACA’s DPCA Voting Representatives are:

  1. all of the elected officers of the Board; and
  2. Chapter Chairs who are in office as of May 1st each election year.

Article 15.2 does not say anything about sex distribution.

DA has informed the DACA Board that Article 15.2 violates the DA Charter because:

  1. it allows Chapter Chairs to serve as DPCA Voting Representatives and they are not elected nationally (which is required under the DA Charter); and
  2. it does not provide for even sex distribution among the DPCA Voting Representatives from Canada.

Accordingly, DACA has to revise Article 15.2 to be in compliance.

What does the Amendment do?

The Amendment (below) eliminates Article 15.2 and replaces it with new text that does the following:

  1. confirms that the nationally-elected members of the DACA Board of Directors’ Executive Committee (Country Chair, Executive Vice Chair, two (2) Vice Chairs, Secretary, Membership Secretary, IT Manager, Counsel and three (3) Members-at-Large will also serve as DPCA Voting Representatives; and
  2. establishes a process for nationally-electing the remaining DPCA Voting Representatives for DACA in a manner that takes sex distribution into consideration.
  3. The Amendment provides that each national election will follow the following process:
    1. candidates can choose to run for Executive Committee officer positions and/or DPCA Voting Representative;
    2. the votes for the candidates for officer positions will be counted first, and the members of the Executive Committee will be declared;
    3. anyone who ran as an officer and for a DPCA position will be removed from the slate of candidates for DPCA Voting Representative because they will already have a DPCA vote as an elected officer of the Executive Committee;
    4. the votes for the remaining candidates for DPCA Voting Representatives will be tallied;
    5. based on the sex distribution balance of the Executive Committee (e., the number of officers who identify as male, female non-binary, etc.), the DPCA Voting Representatives candidates who will balance the sex distribution of the overall group of DPCA Voting Representatives will be declared according to who received the most votes; and
    6. for the purpose of achieving even sex distribution among the DPCA Voting Representatives, non-binary individuals will be treated as neutral and the sex distribution will be determined based on the self-identified sex of those candidates who identify as male or female.

Why does the DACA Board recommend the Amendment?

The Board recommends this approach for the following reasons:

  1. This Amendment ensures that DACA’s DPCA Voting Representatives are all elected nationally and have even sex distribution as a group. This ensures that we can use all of our Country Committee Votes at each DA annual meeting.
  2. By distributing DPCA Voting Representative responsibilities among the Executive Committee and individuals who only serve as DPCA Voting Representatives, it allows the group to draw on a range of knowledge and experience and national and international involvement while keeping the group at a manageable size.

CURRENT ARTICLE 15 Democratic Party Committee Abroad Voting Representatives (DPCA Voting Representatives)

15.1 The DPCA Voting Representatives shall represent the views of DACA at the international meetings of the DPCA. The number of voting members is based on country membership and other factors and is determined by the DPCA. The Country Chair and the Executive Vice Chair are Voting Representatives by virtue of their offices. All DPCA voting members pledge to attend the Annual DPCA meetings or may timely proxy their vote to another board member or a member of their chapter board.

15.2 DACA voting representatives to the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) shall be members of the DACA Board, its Officers, Members at Large, IT Manager and Chapter Chairs who are in office May 1st of each election year. Each voting representative shall share an equal portion of the voting allocation assigned to it by the DPCA in February of the same year.

PROPOSED ARTICLE 15 Democratic Party Committee Abroad Voting Representatives (DPCA Voting Representatives)

15.1 The DPCA Voting Representatives shall represent the views of DACA at the international meetings of the DPCA. The number of voting members is based on country membership and other factors and is determined by the DPCA. The Country Chair and the Executive Vice Chair are Voting Representatives by virtue of their offices. All DPCA voting members pledge to attend the Annual DPCA meetings or may timely proxy their vote to another board member or a member of their chapter board.

15.2 The following 12 board members upon election would automatically become DPCA Voting Representatives: Country Chair, Executive Vice Chair, two (2) additional Vice Chairs, Secretary, Membership Secretary, IT Manager, Treasurer, Counsel, and 3 At-Large Members.

To elect the remaining DPCA Voting Reps there will be one slate of female, male and non-binary candidates. Candidates can run for both a Board position and on the DPCA slate.

DA Canada members vote for the Board positions, and for up to 12 on the DPCA slate.

Once the Board positions have been declared elected, two things will happen:

  1. The elected names, if also appearing on the slate of DPCA candidates, will be removed.
  2. Based on the declared sex distribution of the Board, the candidates with the most votes of each sex will be declared winners such that the DPCA representation is sex balanced. If the number of allowed DPCA reps for Canada is an odd number, the imbalance on the elected DPCA Voting Reps shall be of the opposite sex to the larger sex makeup of the Board. If the number of elected DPCA Voting Representatives is an odd number, the final DPCA Voting Representative position will go to the candidate who received the most votes.

In the event that a DPCA rep cannot fulfill their position, a candidate of the same sex as the departing rep shall be elected as an acting DPCA rep by a vote of the Executive Committee. The candidate shall be selected in voted order from the previous DPCA slate.

In the event of non-binary DPCA Voting Representatives, they shall not be counted for the purposes of gender parity, and the remainder of the delegation shall be equally divided.

This proposal will be voted on electronically, with the ballot being distributed no later than 15 days prior to the special meeting. The ballot will also have instructions for how to access the special meeting on WebEx.

If you have questions or concerns about the Amendment, please reach out to Steve Nardi at chair@democratsabroad.ca.

Democratically yours,

Board of Directors
Democrats Abroad Canada

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THANK YOU TO OUR VOLUNTEERS!

Today, December 5th, is International Volunteer Day. International Volunteer Day was designated by the United Nations in 1985 as an international observance day to celebrate the power and potential of volunteerism.

This year dedicated DA Canada volunteers have shown their power and potential in many ways.

Democrats Abroad is 100% volunteer run, we could not do any of our great work without you. We are very proud and grateful for the dedication and time that our volunteers contribute.

In 2018, through street festivals, rallies, pop-up events, and phone-banking, across Canada hundreds of volunteers contributed over a thousand hours of time to support GOTV. The GOTV Campaign Office in Toronto was a unique opportunity for us to see volunteers in action. We were amazed by the dedication, skill and enthusiasm of the volunteers who made this office a success!

We overcame insurmountable odds and your hard work made an impact on many historic Democrat victories. You helped to flip the House Blue!

Thank you!

There are some outstanding volunteers who we would like to give some special recognition for going above and beyond this year to get out the vote!

Debra Lazar was nominated by her chapter. She is a long time member of Democrats Abroad and has been critical helping to organize chapter activities. Thank you Debra!

Cameron Mitchell was nominated by his chapter. Cameron stepped forward and filled a critical role as a bilingual media contact. He also created and led a successful “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day” media event. We are grateful that he worked so hard to get out the word that Americans in Canada can vote in the US elections!

Riley Nielson-Baker was nominated as an outstanding volunteer by their chapter for helping to get out the student vote this year. Riley is a university student and has worked hard to get Democrats Abroad visible on campus. Thank you Riley!

Danielle Stampley was nominated by her chapter. Danielle's leadership, knowledge and caring personality make her and an invaluable member of her chapter. We are grateful that even with her busy schedule she can give so much time to DA.

Michael Stevenson was nominated by the GOTV Team for his outstanding dedication to phone-banking. Michael made thousands of calls and had 1422 conversations with members during this year’s election!

Tracy Hudson was nominated by DA Canada IT. Tracy has dedicated many hours as our national Facebook Page Administrator. Her amazing work on our page has been praised by the DA international social media team.

Tracy was also nominated by her chapter as a skilled communicator who ensures all chapter events are posted and promoted to members. She is a talented photographer, her photos are regularly published in local media promoting Democrats Abroad. Tracy also was the co-lead for a voters information table at the American Women’s club.

Phone-banking is the most effective way Democrats Abroad can reach out to Americans living overseas to get out the vote! The following are volunteers who went the extra mile this year, and their incredible GOTV conversation totals!

Stephanie Perry 964
Mari Rutka 774
Lorraine Scott 720
Allenna Leonard 481
Janette McCabe 379
Melek Ortabasi 357
Elizabeth Shropshire 340
Kenneth Sherman 339
Carol Donohue 313
Erin Campeau 281
Letitia O’Connell 259
Nargess Khosrowshahi 248
Reg Charney 247
Beverly Wellman 235
Carol Ricker Wilson 212

On this International Volunteer Day, the leadership of Democrats Abroad Canada wishes to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all of our volunteers. Your efforts truly helped in making the difference in these midterm elections.

Democratically yours,

Jamey Shick, 

Director of Volunteers DA Canada 


Viet Nam Project: 50 Years of Striving for Peace and Justice

                                                                              Originally posted July 24 2018

Latest Update December 17 2018

In its Vietnam War history project, Democrats Abroad Toronto is gathering the stories and personal reflections of members who moved to Canada from the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Links to these stories can be found below and we will update this article as meetings happen and stories are added.

The motivations for these moves were often related in some way to the social upheaval caused by U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam.

Ken Sherman discusses his anti-war activism in an interview with him that appears under the News tab on the Democrats Abroad Canada website. Ken has held a number of roles in DA, including that of International Chair. He is currently the chair of the Hamilton chapter and a member of the Democratic National Committee.  Click here to read the article: Views from Canada: Apocalypse Then - Looking Back at the Vietnam War after Half a Century.

Long time DA volunteer, Beverly Fay looks back on her family’s move from the U.S. to Canada in 1969. Click here to read the article:  A Cross Border Journey

 We realize that not everyone who has a story about the era is comfortable sharing it authored. This story was submitted with the ask that it be posted anonymously. We are honored to share "A hard decision to defy the draft"  with you. 

**New story added Setp 24, 2018** A Momentous Border Crossing ~anonymous

**New story added Dec 17, 2018** Fifty Years, a story from Toronto Board Member, J David Markham, serving in 'Nam

The project has had two meetings up to now, in late April and late May. Planning is now under way for a public meeting in the fall.

Many Americans who came to Canada put down roots in the country and became permanent residents. At the same time, they remained loyal to their identities as Americans and never lost their hope that the U.S. would fully realize the belief of its founders that "all men are created equal."

Half a century after the eruption of the Vietnam War as major conflict, members of Democrats Abroad want to talk about ways to gather some of the stories of those who came to Canada during that period. We want to do the gathering in a way that reveals events and motives, but at the same time protects the privacy of the story tellers. There are two purposes for this initiative: to develop a record of our personal and political lives, and to discover the contemporary relevance of resistance to the Vietnam War and other wars.

 

If you would like more information about this project, please contact Virginia Smith at peace@democratsabroad.ca

Below is a list of articles in the order that they were posted. You can click on each link to read each article.  

Apocalypse Then - Looking Back at the Vietnam War after Half a Century. (Ken Sherman) 

 A Cross Border Journey (Beverly Fay)

A hard decision to defy the draft (Anonymous) 

A Momentous Border Crossing (Anonymous)

Fifty Years (J David Markham)

 

 


Views from Canada ~ Apocalypse then: Looking back at the Vietnam War after half a century

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       by: Virginia Smith Feb 13 2018

Many members of Democrats Abroad Canada arrived in Canada during the Vietnam War era, from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. A number of them, including Ken Sherman, were involved in efforts to stop the conflict.

Ken Sherman is the chair of DA Canada’s Hamilton – Burlington chapter and a member of the Democratic National Committee. He has also served as the global chair of Democrats Abroad and the chair of Democrats Abroad Canada.

Ken first became involved in anti-war efforts as a member of Clergy Concerned About Vietnam. He was a founder of the Draft Counselling Centre in Buffalo, New York, and was jailed at least seven times for his resistance activities. He was landed in Canada in 1996 and became a dual citizen soon after.

Ken started spending time in Canada in the early 1970s when his wife, a French national, started living in Ontario. At that time, he helped many Americans to find a place in Canada. After President Jimmy Carter’s amnesty for draft resisters was enacted, Ken drove a friend back to the U.S. The border crossing was publicized on national television as the first return home of an American after the amnesty.

DA Canada recently asked Ken to share some of his reflections about that tumultuous era.

● Tell us about a couple of the ways the Vietnam War changed your life.

The war made me a political activist. I and others began using the electoral system to raise issues to end the Vietnam War and redirect its resources to the urban infrastructure. I ran as a peace candidate for Buffalo City Council in 1969. I worked to support peace candidates in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 Federal elections. In the end, it was Congress that ended the war by not funding it.

The war also made me aware of the role of globalization. My wife to be was a French citizen who moved to Canada. She was looking for progressive politics that matched her views for world peace. We worked out an interpersonal relationship across borders and cultures to raise three children. I think about 90% of the Americans who came to Canada did so for similar reasons of love.

The movement of so many Americans at that time into Canada also changed the Canadian cultural environment and Canadian society.

How did the war affect your commitment to your responsibilities as an American?

The global context of the Vietnam War woke me up to the situation in the Americas. I learned of the realities of U.S. imperialism in Central America / Nicaragua, for instance, and later in Afghanistan. I did coffee picking in Nicaragua in 1984 as part of a peace delegation. I realized then that the U.S. economic engine must have a war to feed its military machine.

Before he left office, President Carter warned that the battles of the future would be focused on the petroleum economy. I organized an energy coop in 1976 as energy conservation was becoming the new political framework. I supervised a staff of ten insulating inner city homes.

At the time of the first Iraq war in 1990, there was a movement to boycott the use of gasoline. I joined a peace demonstration to oppose the invasion. After, I turned to riding my bicycle where I could. My bicycle slipped on ice when returning from church one Sunday, and I broke my hip. I had to have three pins put into my hip. They remind me of the futility of that war.

What has been the ongoing impact of the Vietnam War on U.S. political life?

The war taught me the key role that grassroots political organizing has on social change. Those who have come through the anti-war experience make up much of the progressive base of the Democratic Party today. They form a bloc that has been mobilized by the progressive wing of the party in response to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is now a permanent anti-war movement. The church-based and other political groups that came together in a movement continue to be funded and have support.

This movement is much more diverse now though. Such was noticeable recently in the assembly at the Washington Women’s March the day after the inauguration of President Trump. Everyone’s cause was on display at this march with great joy. The march was so full of love and respect. The movement to end the Vietnam War was composed largely of liberals and the college left.

I was so proud to be a Canadian and an American at the Women’s March.

Are there similarities between the activism of the 1960s and today’s activism?

It is still true that social change comes through grassroots and political organizing. There is no social change without grassroots organizing.

Is U.S. society as polarized now as it was then?

Yes, the country is as polarized now as it was in the 1960s. The war was wound down when the most people realized that there was no redemption in continued fighting and no victory to be won. Right now, Middle America is propping up Donald Trump. Political activism is again needed to mobilize the grassroots citizenry.

What action is needed right now?

The progressive sector of the Democratic Party needs to focus on getting out the vote for the 2018 mid-term elections. We need to turn back the Republican Party from any more gains accomplished by gerrymandering districts in advance of the next U.S. census.

 

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