In 2020, Groundswell provided larger grants for the first time since our inception. The following groups received Growing Change grants between $10,000 and $70,000 for large scale organizing efforts. Our annual grants were also dispersed to additional groups.
Aamjiwnaang & Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP)
Aamjiwnaang & Sarnia Against Pipelines plays a continued leadership role in the Land and Refinery Website and the Pollution Reporter App. This project is more important than ever to increase information available to community members during spills and releases in Chemical Valley. Information about companies and chemicals is now even more inaccessible because we are now unable to meet together to share information.
Conditions of pollution, pollution regulation, and fossil fuel production are rapidly changing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. While pollution levels overall are dropping and the price of oil hits historic lows, creating unheard of instability for this sector, the Oil and Gas Industry is strongly lobbying for sweeping suspensions to environmental regulations and monitoring in both the U.S. and Canada, with some successes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and in Alberta and Ontario. Refineries and facilities are also operating at lower staff ratios and delaying maintenance, and we have seen an increase in reported releases and accidents since the pandemic began. Moreover, recent research has shown a correlation between exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 deaths that has profound implications for Aamjiwnaang.
We continue to facilitate intergenerational capacity-building through engaging youth and Elders (and the older generation of environmental land protectors) from Aamjiwnaang in environmental data justice and land protection practices. This community-led research dedicated to tracking both changes in Chemical Valley and emerging research during a period of increased instability and precarity, both in terms of industry activity and those who are directly physically affected by pollution in Chemical Valley. Pollution Reporter makes often highly technical environmental information relevant to Chemical Valley more accessible, with an emphasis on supporting community needs and concerns in relation to industry changes.
Every year, in the right circumstances, ASAP organizes gatherings at our community centre to invite Canadians to better understand the reality of the Chemical Valley. This year, however, clearly does not have the right circumstances to engage directly with community members, especially elders and families with small children. ASAP plans to host online documentary screenings about Chemical Valley aiming at kids who will most likely be online learning. COVID-19 has forced our work to be more digital but still informative and educational about the realities of living on the frontline of Canada's brutal environmental racism. This happens by supporting community concerns about their surrounding and continuing to educate Canadians about the ongoing treatment of Aamjiwnaang, our environment and great lakes.
Black Lives Matter | Wildseed Centre for Activism & Art
Black Lives Matter is a movement by us and for us. Made up of Black queer and trans people, and their allies, BLM is largely focused on disability justice and prisoner justice. We are an intergenerational Black radical group striving for a revolution in our lifetime. We are fighting for the self- determination and liberation of all Black peoples, and as the Combahee River Collective reminds us, this would mean the freedom and liberation of all peoples as a result— for when we make the world safer for Black women, and especially for Black disabled trans women, we are making the world safer for all living things.
In 2020, we are opening Wildseed Centre for Activism & Art, a multipurpose community space to support and sustain local Black organizing and activism and art, aimed at fueling and incubating Black radical movements and artists, celebrating Black life and helping to support activist communities more broadly. Groundswell funding will be used to help make our new centre accessible and ready for use, as well as funding for staffing to support national education, outreach and organizing.
Caribbean Solidarity Network
The Caribbean Solidarity Network (CSN) is a growing collective of members from various parts of the Caribbean, and as such are multi-racial and deliberately internationalist in our politics. We are intergenerational and value the wisdom of our elders who have experienced political struggle in the region and in Canada. Our politics are rooted in Caribbean radical thought and contributors to the Black Radical Tradition. We are committed to the principles of Caribbean Liberation and Unity across the region and throughout the Diaspora.
Our objectives are to build community power through the development of political education and outreach in Toronto, work with and support progressive forces and organizations in the Caribbean/Diaspora, and challenge the Canadian state seeking to keep the Caribbean region and its peoples in a dependent position. To date we have held events on Caribbean constitutions, cannabis, reparations, the Grenada Revolution, Black asylum-seekers in Canada, and gentrification – connecting grassroots organizers and academics in conversation with the community.
CSN plans to use Groundswell funding to support the foundational work of community education and media, and national and international solidarity building and networking and internal skill-building and organizational development. In the current context, as we move to remote community discussions and online events, our major priority remains to build a more effective network amongst like-minded organizations locally, to coordinate our education and actions, to lend support to one another, to share resources and to build a stronger city-community of resistance.
Indigenous Climate Action (ICA)
Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) is the only Indigenous-led climate justice organization in Canada. ICA believes that for climate solutions to be just, decolonial, and address the true scale of our social, political, and environmental problems, we need to work with other community members who have and continue to experience oppression. Together, we can transcend the legacy of white supremacy and support each other in our collective struggle for climate justice.
We are seeking to begin this work in partnership with Migrant Workers Alliance for Change / Migrant Rights Network. Two of our other main partners are Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ), who are part of a broader new coalition - It Takes Roots (ITR). ITR is a multiracial effort led by women and gender oppressed people of color and Indigenous Peoples on the frontlines of racial, housing, and climate justice across the United States.
The Groundswell grant will support building capacity and power in Indigenous communities, for our people to be leaders for climate solutions, and to strengthen intersectional movement building for climate justice in Canada. These resources will support distribution of our Indigenous Worldview Climate Change Toolkit (IWCCT) and supplement some ICA leadership salaries so that we can further our work with other Black/Indigenous/People of Color (BIPOC) -led networks to do intersectional movement building.
Kii-Ga-Do-Waak Nookimisuk (Grandmothers Council)
The Kii-Ga-Do-Waak Nookimisuk works to address sexual violence, exploitation and human trafficking in Indigenous communities in Ontario through cultivating and restoring traditional roles and responsibilities. They do this by meeting the needs of Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQ people and their supports by offering healing through traditional ceremonies and counselling, rights of passage, gatherings, education and trainings intended to help raise an understanding of the nature of sexual violence and exploitation happening to Indigenous peoples.
They work with various agencies in both urban and reserve communities across the province, mentoring and encouraging traditional leadership roles amongst Indigenous Grandmothers and young people to support wellness in addressing gender-based violence. The Kii-Ga-Do-Waak Nookimisuk will reclaim their roles as authorities, educators and keepers of important cultural knowledge acting as a vital form of Indigenous governance in communities, assisting in the healing and wellness of Indigenous people through addressing gender-based violence.
Mitigwaaking is a land-based learning space, aimed at strengthening a network around cultural preservation, reclamation, and revitalization efforts by creating space that prioritizes confidence and skill-building, safety and access for Indigenous 2SLGBTQ+ folks and women. Our network is made up of Two Spirit people of Indigenous and mixed race Indigenous experience based within "southern ontario," seeking to restore land-based knowledges and skills in themselves, their families, and communities.
Groundswell Growing Change funds will support us in providing more opportunities to build ancestral hunting and trapping skill sets by providing training, hosting animal tracking and hunting learning opportunities, as well as continuing to build an Indigenous stewarded winter trapline to provide learning opportunities in fur and traditional food harvesting practices. We will host a community sugar bushing week during ziinzibaakwadke-giizis that will provide space to engage in both old and contemporary Anishinaabek sugaring practices. By continuing to nurture and create more cultural land-based learning spaces and opportunities within our shared territories, we promote self-determined collective healing that supports envisioning and building a future in which we see ourselves and future ancestors thriving.
Contact: contact.mtigwaaking [at] gmail.com
Tiny House Warriors (THW)
Tiny House Warriors (THW) currently consists of six tiny houses at two village sites, located at Blue River and Moonbeam Creek, British Columbia. These sites are directly in the pathway of the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMX), strategically placed next to proposed "man camps" intended for temporary pipeline construction workers. At these village sites, we operate under the authority of Secwepemc law to reassert our collective jurisdiction and title over the whole of our unceded territory.
Since establishing the first site in July 2018, these villages have been inhabited by, cared for, and maintained by a core group of women from the Manuel family and Secwepemc community, as well as a formidable network of kin, supporters and volunteers. They are on the frontline of the struggle against TMX, which was purchased by the Canadian government in 2018 to transport diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to the BC coast.
As women warriors living at these villages on reclaimed lands, we encounter both the immediate and systemic violence of settler colonialism—in our daily confrontations with police and local settlers, and in the structural barriers we face in building flourishing, sustainable Secwepemc communities. We are working to foster communities that function outside the carbon-based capitalist economy, beyond our reserves and outside the confines of the Indian Act. The maintenance, operation, and care of these frontline communities in the face of daily oppression takes a significant financial toll. Tasks as simple as fetching food or supplies require travel to specific stores that won't discriminate against us. Monitoring the pipeline route to track construction activities and impacts on our lands further increases our transportation expenses.
With the pandemic, we continue to take precautions in our work, and practice vigilant social distancing with anyone from outside our Tiny House Warriors village site. We are ready to hit the ground running with our Groundswell Growing Change workplan. With a few adjustments made, we are on track with our timeline, and ready to issue a call out for volunteers, start procuring materials, and begin planning our community build, all to be carried out with strict health and safety precautions in place. We have a lead builder who is prepared to start tiny house construction when we are. Once built, the new tiny homes will be delivered to the frontline at Blue River.