joel marion (dot) blogspot (dot) com
My name is Joel. This is my Blog.

Monday, March 03, 2008
Exploring Canada's Role in the World
For the last two months I have been working as an intern on a project called "Canada's World." Below is a brief summary of the project.

For more information please contact me at joel(a) or visit the website


Canada’s World is a national citizens’ dialogue on international policy. It is not an organization, but a collaboration of many academic institutions, organizations and individuals who wish to enhance Canada’s international reputation and who seek to articulate and advance a new international policy for Canada – a policy that:
  • builds on Canadian values, assets and interests;
  • demonstrates a strong understanding of the complexities of international relations;
  • acknowledges the different actors involved in Canada’s international relations;
  • addresses some of the key global challenges;
  • reflects the diversity of Canadian society and;
  • is future-oriented, compelling and effective.
Canada’s World has elaborated a detailed rationale in a longer overview – here
are some of the highlights:
  • Canada’s profile and position internationally has eroded leaving many confused about Canadian international policy.
  • The gap between perception and reality of Canada’s place in the world is growing.
  • International policy is fundamental to every aspect of our daily lives, but few Canadians know or understand much about it.
  • Former consultations have been led by government, have been narrow in scope and have not embraced the changing nature of Canadian society.
  • Discussions about international policy are becoming increasingly polarized.
  • Our perceptions of ourselves as a nation are evolving.
  • The actors shaping our international policy are shifting and as a consequence the nature of government decision-making is changing.
  • Unlike traditional policy reviews and consultations led by government, this initiative is led by citizens and organizations and funded by individuals, businesses, international organizations and foundations who wish to enhance Canada’s international reputation.
  • The initiative has been designed to bridge dialogue across generations, sectors and ideologies.
  • Canada’s World uses an “open source” approach to policy development and interactive technology to enhance dialogue (e.g. social networking sites like Facebook, as well as online dialogues and blogs).
  • Canada’s World recognizes that the demographic make up of Canada has changed. Special efforts are focused on reflecting the views of Canada’s diverse communities.
  • The dialogue is shaped around the “new realities” that Canada is facing in the international arena.

Research and Development

In the development phase, Canada’s World approached key academic, private and non-profit organizations to join us as collaborators in the initiative. Each collaborating organization has played a role in shaping the Canada’s World programme.

In the fall of 2007, Canada’s World conducted research on the “new realities facing Canada in the international arena”. Research included an online dialogue on Facebook, ten roundtable sessions and interviews with over a hundred Canadians. Based on the research, the Canada’s World Advisory committee selected nine new realities as themes to focus the citizens’ dialogue. Canada’s World will also field a poll of Canadian attitudes towards international policy. The poll will be led by Environics and will build on their 25 years of research in the field.


In January, with the technical and financial support of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Canada’s World will launch a sophisticated website that will include online forums, quizzes and a timeline on Canadian foreign policy. It will be a key communication vehicle for each component of the initiative.

Deliberative Dialogue Process
Canada’s World will organize eight regional dialogues across the country. Thirty Canadians will be randomly selected to participate in each two-day dialogue. Each dialogue will focus on three of the ‘new realities’ that Canada is facing in the international arena. Reports generated following each session will feed into a national virtual dialogue that will take place in the spring of 2008.

Self-organized dialogues

In addition to the deliberative dialogue process, dozens of organizations, business groups and academic institutions will host their own dialogues, kitchen roundtables, events and fora with their members and constituencies. Canada’s World has specifically designed a targeted campaign to reach out to ethnocultural and youth organizations and ensure that they are fully engaged in
the initiative. Canada’s World is also developing materials to help support organizations that would like to run their own dialogue.

In the Fall of 2008, the regional and sector-wide dialogues will culminate in a national dialogue. The outcome of this national event will be a Citizens’ Agenda, as well as a book that will highlight the views expressed during the dialogue process.

Advancing the Citizens’ Policy Agenda
In the last year of the initiative, the focus of Canada’s World will shift from engaging Canadians in the dialogue to communicating the outcomes of the initiative to government, the media and key policy stakeholders with the aim of modernizing our international policy and enhancing Canada’s leadership role internationally.

- Read the POLL on how Canadians see our role in the world
- Join the Conversation
- Learn More about your Country and the World
- Volunteer with us
- What is this great conversation?

For more information please contact me at joel(a) or visit the website
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Bayamulenge Tutsi Community in Congo Threatened with Genocide

Five Thousand Tribal Militia Threaten Genocide against Tutsi Bayamulenge in Congo
Washington, DC July 10, 2007 Five thousand armed Interahamwe, tribal Militia (Mai-Mai), and Congolese regular Army are currently encircling Banyamulenge villages located in the high mountains of Sud-Kivu province with the intent of carrying out acts of genocide akin to that of 1996, when they selectively massacred Banyamulenge in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The most recent massacre against the Banyamulenge people took place in August 2004 in Gatumba.

For the planners of this pending genocide, this period is chosen because of its sensitivity for the Banyamulenge, who are commemorating the 2004 Banyamulenge massacre that occurred in Gatumba.

We call upon United States of America, United Nations, European Union, and Human Right Watch, to stop this planned Genocide. We call for help to stop this genocidal ideology of Kabila, Interahamwe, and general Masunzu. We ask the International Court for Crimes against Humanity to put them on trial for their plans to exterminate the Banyamulenge Community.

The pretext that President Kabila uses to mislead the international Community regarding the presence of these armed groups in and all around Banyamulenge village is to fight less than a hundred Banyamulenge militaries who want to negotiate the conditions to join the regular army because in 1998 all the militaries Banyamulenge who were serving in the regular army in other provinces than North and South Kivu were systematically disarmed and executed. More recently in February 2007, when negotiations were about to be signed, President Kabila gave the orders to Gal Masunzu to attack and kill these skeptical Banyamulenge militaries, increasing their doubt that they would be sent to isolated areas without knowing why their fellows were killed by the regular Army.

These thousands of Interahamwe, Mai-Mai tribal militia, and the Congolese army want to kill the Banyamulenge population under the pretense that they are fighting against a resistant armed Banyamulenge group. According to the population who had the chance to escape, 4 men were already killed resisting Interahamwe, who were destroying their farms and cattle to get food. The Mission of the UN in Congo (MONUC) has demonstrated indifference to this obvious intention of massacring Banyamulenge, and are failing to protect the civilian population.

Today we are informed of the rape of Banyamulenge women by these armed groups, who are sent to our villages without food or shelter by the government. They claim they have received orders to use anything that belongs to the Banyamulenge Community. Among the dire consequences: farms are devastated; people are forced to leave their houses; and cattle are killed. Rape and the fear of rape are preventing Banyamulenge women from getting out from their houses to look for food for themselves and their children. This causes panic and distress for our brothers and sisters who are encircled by the armed groups who carried out the massacres and genocide of few months and a few years ago.

We ask you to please help us spread this emergent news, to save lives, to promote peace building, true love and respect of human rights for every human being in DRC. While there is still a way lets do something, tomorrow may be too late for many lives. Thank you for taking action to save lives.

Friday, June 01, 2007
Podcast Production
Before I got into it I figured podcast production would be fairly straightforward: record the audio, host it online, make a feed linking to the audio. How hard could that be? Well, after three weeks of grueling audio editing, uploading, formatting, coding, and validating I finally produced my first podcast for the Human Rights and Social Justice Conference at the University of Winnipeg.

On top of building the podcast, I got the opportunity to take advantage of, a cool site dedicated to preserving digital history. They were immensely helpful in navigating their labyrinthian site and its mysterious codes, and even created a special collection page for the conference.

So, if you are interested in listening to any of the 27 sessions that took place during the Human Rights and Social Justice Conference at the University of Winnipeg (Feb 23-25, 2007), check it out at there is a full index of all the sessions, as well as an XML podcast feed to download everything, for you iTunes junkies. All the sessions are available free of charge.

Saturday, April 14, 2007
Habermas must just love this stuff
check out this story on
Habermas must just love this stuff. Sounds like the beginnings of a formalized discursive democracy; which leads me to wonder, who's controlling all of this? I worry that by leaving it to site administrators and corporate interest we may sqaunder the potential. Or perhaps our democratic tendencies have matured enough to geniunely decentralize control. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will be lulled by the patina while proprietary rights and marketing once again destroy a potentially productive social space.
this all leads me to want to learn more about copyright, digital rights management, and digital democracy.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Don't read this if you don't want to know how horrible War really is
Because some of the readers of my blog are here for other reasons I offer a warning:

Don't read this if you don't want to know how horrible War really is.
Don't read this if you can't stomach hearing the kinds of pain and suffering happening every day in the world (in graphic detail).

This is not an appeal. This is not a plea. This is just one of millions of stories that happened to cross my path.

I received this email this morning.

(rough english translation follows)

On 3/21/07, toussaint BANSI wrote:
Bien aimé dans le Seigneur, c’est avec un plein plaisir dont je viens pour vous atteindre afin de vous relater l’état de ma vie dont l’avenir me semble incertaine, je suis orphelin rescapé de guerre, après avoir perdu toute ma famille dont le papa a été calciné et brûlé pour avoir refuser leurs injonctions de faire des relations sexuelles avec ma sœur aînée dont sa fille, la maman tuée de même pour le refus de na pas manger le corps de papa. Une famille de 5 enfants dont nous sommes pour le moment en vie et les responsabilités mes sont confiées, nous avons quittés le village en pied vers le centre ville à une distance de 350 Km avec toute souffrance, dont nous habitons la capitale de la république démocratique du Congo, l’orphelinat qui nous a accueilli n’a pas une structure viable pour des personnes en détresse, les gens meurent le jour au jour sans encadrement, sans soins de santé sans logement ni médicament, sans nourriture. Nous sommes logés par terre, considérés comme de bouchers humains dans cette ville étrangère où nous ne connaissons personnes. Franchement, j’ai pitié de vous relater ce désarroi dont nous traversons. Je suis étudiant et l’orphelinat qui a voulu me supporter ne parvient pas de payer les frais académiques je suis buté aux problèmes multiple d’ordre financier, médicament, nourriture, et consort. Dans cette hypothèse je viens très humblement auprès de vous solliciter une modeste somme de 1000$ (USA) pour notre survie d’abord ; je vous supplie de jeter un regard de bonté sur moi et mes petits frères et sœurs. votre geste ne passera pas inaperçu devant le seigneur et toutes les bénédictions vous seront accordées.
recevez mes sincères remerciements
Toussaint BANSI
République Démocratique du Congo
Ville Kinshasa .

(my rough attempt at translation, with some help from

Beloved in the Lord, it is with great pleasure that I come to you to relate the state of my life, the future of which seems uncertain. I am an orphan of war, having lost my whole family. My father was burned and charred for having refused injunctions to have sexual relations with my eldest sister, his daughter. My mother was killed the same for having refused to eat my father's body. We are now a family of five surviving children, the responsibility for which falls upon me. We left our village by foot, travelling 350km to the city with all the attendant suffering, and are now living in the capital, Kinshasa. The orphanage that took us in has no viable shelter for distressed people. People die every day unsupervised, with no health care, no medicine, no food. We are sleeping on the floor, treated inhumanely, in this city in which we know no one. Frankly, I am sad to relate to you this disarray that we are undergoing. I am a student at the orphanage, but they cannot pay my school fees, and I am faced with multiple financial, medical, nutritional, and related problems. It is from this situation that I humbly approach you to ask for a sum of (US)$1000 for our survival. I ask you to look favourably on me and my little brothers and sisters. Your gesture will not pass unnoticed before the lord and all the blessings will be accorded to you.
My sincere thanks.
Toussaint BANSI
Democratic Republic of Congo

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
10,000 Days
In a moment of curious daydreaming (and clearly not doing the studying I had sat down for), I found myself wondering about the name of Tool's album, 10,000 days. How long is that, exactly? I thought to myself. And when will I reach this mysterious milestone?
Well, a quick google search later, and I found a website dedicated to answering exactly this question (something for everyone, eh?!). Turns out on my 10,000th day I will be 27 years, 4 months, and 16 days old... and the date will be September 13, 2008.
the irony is perhaps only my own.
Monday, March 05, 2007
A deep breath... a moment set upon contemplation quickly turns to chaos... another breath, this time much shallower... conscious of the tensions holding it back. The discord between this sensation and 'the unbearable lightness of being' exacerbates my discomfort.

The fact that the majority of the stress finds root in my mind does little to improve my situation, except maybe to propose a new perspective.

A large part of my discomfort rests in the distance between my interests and the knowledge lending to their accomplishment. My history still lacks the weight of fact.

To a point, I know how to overcome this lack of confidence. The inquisitive mind, transforming problems into challenges - refusing barriers - undertakes the process of exposition.

But should our subject accept the potentiality of insurmountable obstacles? Tautological paradoxes aside (ie: problems the answer to which logically imply divergence from the terms of supposition), can the case be made either for or against what might be called 'that which is obscured from the potential to be known or understood'?

Can we 'know' anything?... or can we 'know' everything? The case might be easier made for the latter, than the former.

Regardless, even at the most base level, absent positive conceptions of development, the concept of learning - of experientially and/or logically affected intellectual change - is undeniable.

Whether or not the process can be fruitful (ie: lending to private or publicly valued ends), is another question altogether.

More to the point: does the will to an end and the logical appreciation of the means imply access to said means? Would it be too simple to say that the redundant question of access to means can be reduced to a utilitarian approach to structure?