Building the Whirlwind

Grounding Concepts

Why this report

People across Canada face significant threats and challenges, and yet are building social movements capable of offering collective visions backed by collective action. The climate movement is one valuable example.

We wanted to identify the strategies and the practices that grow movements today. We wanted to understand how and why collective demands generated in movements surge at certain moments, creating tectonic shifts in society, particularly in a Canadian context.

Our inquiry needed to be focused on one such instance to capture the complexity of one such surge and look at how it was propelled forward, so we dove into where we saw a rich story to hear, capture, and tell.

We also understood that movements have no one leader or spokesperson able to tell the story of an effort that is by definition collective and plural, bringing together disparate groups for one objective. We applied this principle to our inquiry, from researching collaboratively to our approach to interviewing movement builders to writing this report.

As a result, this report features many voices who speak to the experience and insights of many sectors, coalitions, organizations and collectives. While recognizing that our interviews did not include everyone or every group involved, we offer these voices who operated and collaborated in an ecosystem which gave the historic Montreal climate protests of 2019.



You must register to see this content
Register or Login

Grounding concepts 

Social movements emerge as a result of the efforts of purposeful actors (individuals, organizations) to assert new public values, form new relationships rooted in those values, and mobilize the political, economic, and cultural power to translate these values into action.”Marshall Ganz

Organizing and mobilizing

Not the same as doing community-based advocacy work or mobilizing, we understand organizing is a foundational activity and leadership practice for movement building. 

Organizing is rooted in a place and happens when people think collectively about the problems they face and their cause, and then together develop strategies for changing their situation by improving conditions. This builds powerful relationships.

Constituencies that are organized, they are groups of people with bonds based on shared interests, can be mobilized for specific collective actions. Protests are an example of mobilization. 

Relational power 

The relationship between the individual and the collective is indivisible, essential to life and to social change.

Shifting power relations is necessary for righting power imbalances that produce racial, gender, and class injustices, among others. People and groups persistently marginalized are inherently valuable and capable...