Abolition Convergence: Inreach Committee
The Abolition Convergence, scheduled for May 2020 but postponed until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, looks at the root causes of the prison industrial complex and carceral system, and seeks to imagine futures that are decolonial and abolitionist. The purpose of the convergence's Inreach Committee is to prioritize those who are currently (and formerly) incarcerated.
We are folks with lived experience, as well as those who work to support folks on the inside, and those at risk of criminalization. We see this as an opportunity to build relationships and identify additional spaces of connection, resources and supports.
As the Convergence is indefinitely postponed, the Inreach committee is shifting its focus from the physical gathering to the Abolition Journal's website, where a blog called Voices From The Inside gives a platform to people who are currently incarcerated. Groundswell funding will go towards assisting with the costs of communicating with people who are incarcerated (postage, prison telephone and e-communication services) while we work with them to develop pieces for the blog. As these works come together, we will also be using the funding to compensate the authors for their contributions. The relationship-building and development of ideas that this funding facilitates will enable a greater connection between those fighting for abolition and decolonization inside and outside of prison walls.
Afro Van Connect
Afro Van Connect began when we recognized the need for Black community spaces in Vancouver. We've developed our workshops through community gatherings and grassroots engagement. Our aim is to inspire our people to come together and rise. The Remix Café part of Afro Van Connect is focused on engaging youth in practical activities and exercises that stimulate and develop authentic cultural connections through self-expression.
Our monthly gatherings are divided into three components, focused on the Mind, Body, and Soul. We provide opportunity for youth to share and build valuable meaningful relationships that foster safe collaborative spaces. The Remix Café is designed to activate and empower the individuals who participate to become leaders who will create innovative solutions to the challenges they face in their community. Our efforts are to create BLACK SPACES where young people of African Descent can be visible and be offered the opportunity to rise.
Groundswell funding will go towards supporting the Remix Café, dedicated to providing brave spaces for youth of African descent for conversation, creation, and collaboration. The funding will go toward equipment, food, and facilitator fees. During this new shift, we have been hosting The Remix Café in smaller groups. We will be adding a live streamlining element to our gathering to allow people to participate from home.
Butterflies in Spirit
We are a group of Indigenous women survivors and/or family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls on Turtle Island (North America). Lorelei Williams from the Skatin and Sts'Ailes Nations founded the group in 2012 as a survivor of physical and sexual violence, in honour of her aunt, Belinda Williams, missing since 1978, and cousin, Tanya Holyk, murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton in 1996. Similarly, all members of the group have family members who have gone missing or been murdered and/or are survivors themselves, including an elder who is a survivor of psychological, emotional, physical, and sexual violence at residential school.
In addition to being highly involved in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry, we work within our communities to pressure media, police, and the community itself to mobilize in search of missing Indigenous women and girls.
Throughout our performances across the Americas we have learned about the struggle to bring awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) across the Americas and thus would like to create a new piece in collaboration that brings awareness about the colonial violence inflicted on Indigenous communities and how it has particularly targeted women and girls. Groundswell funds will go toward honoraria and studio costs. We want to leverage our ability to do advocacy without becoming direct state targets by solidifying our commitment to the Indigenous groups that we have met along the way, to explore and learn from each other about how to be in solidarity across colonially imposed borders created to divide us, in order to conquer us.
Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network)
Butterfly was formed by sex workers, social workers, legal and health professionals. It provides support to, and advocates for, the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers. The organization is founded upon the belief that sex workers are entitled to respect and basic human rights.
Groundswell funding will help organize migrant sex workers to advocate for their rights, particularly leading the campaign and political lobbying about stopping massage parlour raids and racial profiling, defund bylaw enforcement officers and police, and advocating to stop enforcing the bylaw, which endangers the safety of the workers in massage parlours.
More than 2,000 Asian immigrant women may lose their licenses and jobs if the city of Toronto eliminates the holistic license. The funds will support publishing costs, community meetings, media and lobbying training, leadership building, awareness-raising, and allyship building. Butterfly will also support the organizing and advocacy work of migrant sex workers in other cities, including Hamilton, Kitchener, and London.
Care Team developed as an auxiliary collective within the Bricks & Glitter festival. In response to on-going discussions with disabled, Deaf, neurodivergent, and otherwise marginalized members of that queer, trans, Two-Spirit community, Care Team was developed to improve festival-wide application of accessibility technologies and protocols. This improvement has made it possible for more people who are typically excluded from community organizing, by default, to not only attend the festival but also to perform at the festival, organize events for the festival, and participate in a leadership capacity.
Community Action for Families
We are a brilliant, unapologetic, grassroots movement for social transformation. We are a community of people who are mothers and allies, many of us are people who use drugs, survivors/fighters, sex workers. We are connected through similar harmful experiences of intrusion into the lives of our families, from systems of oppression especially as they relate to the child "welfare" industrial complex.
We recognize that internalized oppression creates harm in our communities and in our families. We are working to build nurturing and thriving communities and stronger supportive networks for our families and children to live, learn, and grow.
CAF will use Groundswell funding to continue making peer support and advocacy meetings accessible and inclusive to everyone who seeks them out. This comes in the form of providing good, nutritious and filling food at each meeting, and tokens to ensure people can afford to get to and from the meeting. Every year CAF receives presentation requests from front-line workers, students, and other professionals. CAF supports mothers to share their experiences and insights. Money from the grant will be used to cover their travel costs and speaking honorariums.
Due to the pandemic, all of our meetings and speaking engagements have been online. We have also been leading some advocacy work with front-line service providers in response to the cancellation of all in-person supervised visits between parents and children at access centres.
We do hope to transition our monthly meetings to socially distant and safe gatherings in outdoor spaces, at which time we would need to purchase single serving food to provide a safe meal. In these uncertain times, access to safe transportation, cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment and good food is even more scarce. Due to this, a portion of the funds will be used to provide direct support to women and children facing these issues.
#ExposeUWindsor is a coalition of Black UWindsor students, faculty, alumni, and staff who are reclaiming the culture of our university, starting with the rampant prevalence of anti-Black discrimination within UWindsor's administrative team. The fight against institutional racism at UWindsor must begin with adherence to measurable structured procedure and the exchange of confidentiality for integrity and transparency.
Our mission is to enforce this reformation of our campus. Our website lists the profiles of administrative members known to be discriminating against UWindsor members of colour, the facts, details, and evidence of their discriminatory behaviour, and, for each member
identified, an outline of the appropriate remedy.
Groundswell funding will go directly towards the cost of pro-Black advocacy efforts on UWindsor campus, including costs of Freedom of Information requests into records concerning the treatment of Black members of the University; printing costs of campaign posters and t-shirts; web advertising costs for our campaign; software, web domain, and hosting costs.
LesBond: Asian Queer Women Migrants Support Project
LesBond is an Asian queer migrant group in Toronto, supporting queer women and migrants coming from Asian countries, who have been through the immigration process, and who are looking for a community in Canada. Most of our members are directly affected by the issues of isolation, racism, homophobia, and lack of resources and networks.
Racialized queer women migrants' needs have been ignored by current community/settlement services under heteronormative, male, and white dominant worldviews. Through connecting Asian queer women migrants who share common concerns and struggles, we can develop our strategies of dealing with oppression, racism, and challenges.
Groundswell funding will support monthly gatherings to bring the community together, share ideas, and build the power of solidarity; peer-led workshops to discuss challenges and frustrations faced when using or approaching resources - topics will include challenges in immigration experiences, cultural differences and sexual identities, family, intimate relationships, and current resources; and collecting newcomer stories about immigration and lived experiences, challenges of approaching settlement and LGBTQ resources, and reflections on how Western concepts of sexuality affect identity. We hope to share these stories with other members and services providers in order to eliminate the barriers and increase accessibility.
Money on the Books (MOTB$)
Money on the Books is an education-based platform that represents young Black men/fathers who have been reintroduced to society from the justice system. We have lived experience in correctional facilities and saw firsthand how rare it was to see books, art and literature that represented us. We have consulted with other young men with similar histories and all have agreed that relevant books/art would have been extremely beneficial in the constant lockdowns, especially as facilities generally do not have enough programming.
We know that reading, art, and expression are tools for growth. By giving us tools to help navigate through oppression, discrimination, false narratives, and judgements, books expose us to so many areas for rehabilitation: the importance of food and diet, financial literacy, economic sovereignty, knowledge of self, the art of communication, and more. We want to help give people from oppressed communities an outlet to learn more about themselves and the opportunity to broaden their overall outlook of who they are and what they would like to represent in their communities/society.
Groundswell funding will support curating art, literature, and other books for inmates in Ontario correctional institutions by providing a modest hourly wage for the team to connect with justice system librarians and source donations, photocopy (upon approval) works by Black authors (many books aren't approved in detention centres), and hold a book drive.
Migrante Ottawa / Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada
Migrante Ottawa is a cause-oriented organization that promotes the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants in Canada and supports the struggles of the Filipino people to address political, social and economic conditions that lead to forced migration. It is now estimated that over 6,000 Filipinos leave the Philippines every day to find jobs overseas so their families can survive. The majority of those who leave are women, leaving their own families behind.
While Migrante Ottawa advocates for the rights and welfare of migrants in Canada, its ultimate goal is to stop the labour export policy in the Philippines that has been in place since the 1970s, calling on the Philippine government to implement fundamental changes that would enable building of national industries, redistribution of land from a handful of wealthy families to landless peasants, and upholding democracy by respecting the political, social and economic rights of the Filipino people.
Informed by ongoing outreach and community feedback, Migrante Ottawa will use Groundswell funding to support expanding programming and broadening impact through the following initiatives:
Community Fora: Open to Filipino migrant workers, their families, and allies, workshops and discussion groups will empower newcomers to advocate for their own rights in a complex immigration system, and in the labour market where they often find themselves in vulnerable situations.
Youth Fora: Recognizing a gap in initiatives led by and for migrant youth, activities will include songwriting, zine-making, painting, and movie and discussion nights to help overcome cultural and social isolation.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Migrante Ottawa will be mainly using online platforms for community outreach while physical distancing restrictions are in place.
No More Silence
No More Silence (NMS) aims to develop an inter/national network to support the work being done by activists, academics, researchers, agencies, and communities to stop the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women, girls, trans and Two-Spirit people. NMS is made up of Indigenous women and Two-Spirit people and their allies. We take our direction from our Elder, Wanda Whitebird, cis, and trans women working on the frontlines to end violence against Indigenous women and girls and Two-Spirit people across Turtle Island.
Groundswell funding will help support our upcoming Disability Justice Through Indigenous Ceremony. We plan to consult with disabled Indigenous community members to identify their access needs and the barriers and challenges they face. We will provide virtual pipe ceremonies throughout the course of the project and create a semi-permanent accessible sweat lodge. The lodge will be run by an Elder who has been using a motorized wheelchair since suffering a spinal cord injury. We will document this Elder's journey and create a short film addressing ableism and Indigenous concepts of ability that counter mainstream concepts of disability to be used as an educational tool by the community and mainstream agencies with the goal of improving access to culture and services.
Prison Free Press (PFP)
PFP is a not-for-profit organization that publishes two free quarterly magazines by and for prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their loved ones in Canada. These publications provide a space for those in prisons and their supporters to communicate with each other and the broader public about the issues and experiences prisoners face through art, poetry, stories, news, support resources, health and harm reduction information. Content for each publication promotes an ongoing critique of the crime/punishment industry in Canada, raising awareness through reportage of the race/class/gender bias, and opens dialogues for healing and growth.
The Groundswell grant will be used for website and post office box costs, as well as for physical production and distribution costs to mail directly to prisoners at no cost two quarterly 16-page magazines: "Class Action News," a prisoner support magazine by and for all prisoners in general, and "Women's Prison Network," a prisoner support magazine by and for women, trans-identified, and youth prisoners.
Prisoner Correspondence Project
The Prisoner Correspondence Project Toronto is a collectively-run initiative that coordinates a direct-correspondence program for gay, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, gendervariant, two-spirit, intersex, bisexual, questioning and queer inmates in Canada and the United States, linking these inmates with people from these same communities outside of prison. In addition, it coordinates a resource library of information regarding harm reduction practice (safer sex, safer drug-use, clean needle care), HIV and HEPC prevention, homophobia, transphobia, coming out, etc.
The project also aims to make prisoner justice and prisoner solidarity a priority within queer movements on the outside, through events like film screenings, workshops, and panel discussions touching on the broader issues related to criminalization and incarceration of queers and transfolk.
Groundswell funding will go towards postage, accessibility, and database upkeep. This will support PCP work in three key areas: pen pal matching, resource requests, and informational sessions. Finding avenues to increase the number of new pen pals we can recruit each year is our primary goal. Since the main request of incarcerated LGBTQ people who contact us is a pen pal, we allocate a great deal of our energy and organizing to matching pen pals. We also fill resource requests sent to us by incarcerated queer/trans people. Ensuring that individuals have access to crucial legal and harm reduction materials unavailable in prisons is of central importance to our project. We also host several community events each year, which are important opportunities to recruit potential pen pals.
The ReSistering Garden Project is made up of Indigenous community members, elders, and knowledge keepers from diverse nations living in and around Tkaronto, with the leadership of Two-Spirit people. The project began in 2019 when community members planted a Three Sisters ceremonial garden along the Humber River, as grief ceremony and land reclamation in response to the release of the MMIWG report. We seek to affirm the historical role of Indigenous peoples in stewarding and protecting these traditional lands.
ReSistering is dedicated to underserved Indigenous communities, such as Two-Spirit youth, low-income, and racialized Indigenous folks, who are often targeted when gathering in ceremony/land reclamation, specifically in gentrified and setter occupied spaces and thus have issues of safety and access.
Groundswell funding will be used to expand the growing space and mentorship opportunities, in the form of honoraria, tools, wood, and food. It takes some time and resources to birth and establish new mounds, built for good growth, and, most importantly to engage community throughout the process so that our people are actively experiencing this spirit work, including implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols throughout. We will further and deepen our praxis of caring for the land, by collectively tending the ecosystem.
A key example is the reclaimed traditional practices of using fish caught from Kobechenonk ~ Niwa'ah Onega'gaih'ih ~ the Humber River. We require organized resources to implement and host community gathering for this cultural work, in order to pass on this and many more critical practices, so that our Indigenous community can revive their culture, as well as contribute to sustainability of global food diversity.
Sanctuary Students Solidarity & Support (S4) Collective
The Sanctuary Students Solidarity and Support (S4) Collective works to address ongoing and emerging challenges identified by precarious migrant and newcomer students (sanctuary students) that prevent full and equitable participation in secondary and post-secondary education in Ontario. Sanctuary students, for us, are people for whom immigration status and/or settlement stressors act, or have acted, as a barrier to accessing their educational goals.
We recognize access to meaningful education to be a social determinant of health, and seek to address the ways in which precarious immigration status intersects with other aspects of identity such as race, class, language, gender identity, sexual orientation and (dis)ability to further entrench the barriers facing sanctuary students. Our main objectives are to support sanctuary students navigating various levels of education in Ontario and support programs and institutions to increase equitable access. Members participating in the collective have described feeling more connected, supported, and equipped with important knowledge and skill sets.
Groundswell funding will enable a part-time coordinator to support members' organizing by facilitating spaces for direct activism, as well as advocacy when safety is a concern due to immigration status. This community-driven space offers opportunities for sanctuary students to connect, share experiences, organize, and build personal and collective capacity. We will advocate at the institutional level to decrease barriers and increase access for sanctuary students at Ontario colleges and universities. Funds will also go towards decreasing barriers to participation and creating advocacy materials.
Scarborough Youth United (SYU)
SYU is a grassroots youth group that provides space for immigrant/migrant youth to share their concerns and take leadership in engaging with their communities to address those concerns. SYU strongly believes in capacity building and infusing leadership training opportunities in every project for the youth to practice their skills, develop knowledge and reflect on their lived experiences to realize their power and potential.
Groundswell funds will be used to support SYU's Political Education for Racialized Immigrant Communities: A Photovoice Project with High School Students, a youth-led community initiative that aims to weave political education workshops with photovoice. Photovoice allows youth to explore storytelling and community-building through the photos they take. Workshop topics include interrogating racism and fighting white supremacy; Indigenous history and our relation as racialized immigrant settlers; racialization of poverty and precarious work; decolonization and environmental justice. The content will be interactive and accessible, and the intent is for youth to critically examine their personal and families' struggles through a structural lens and politicize the struggles to build community resistance. This project is running online from June to August 2020, culminating in a virtual photo exhibit in late August. The funds will go towards honoraria, Zoom, virtual exhibit platform, and student gifts (prints and frames).
Social Assistance Coalition of Scarborough (SACS)
SACS is a Scarborough-focused, social assistance recipient-led group that pushes for improvements to OW and ODSP so that people receiving social assistance and people with disabilities can live with justice and dignity. Membership is open to recipients of social assistance and those who support people living on social assistance in Scarborough.
Groundswell funding will be used for ongoing monthly meetings, to plan for events, and to host four on-line training sessions co-led by recipients, which allows community members to continue to build capacity as grassroots activists. We will also use the money for outreach in order to increase membership. Lastly, it will be used to pay recipients to co-write a report on work disincentives, including being cut off social assistance for reporting income.
Tools for Change - Direct Action Workshop Series
Tools for Change is a Toronto-based collective made up of representatives from Greenpeace, George Brown College's Student Action Centre, and OPIRG Toronto. We have partnerships with OPSEU and No One Is Illegal-Toronto. Tools for Change gives workshops in hard skills, practice, and experience to build communities of activists, organizers and revolutionaries. Many of these workshops are also about politics and oppression to raise consciousness.
Our aim to provide sliding cost workshops in organizing is to build confidence, especially with communities that have been told systemically that they can never hold any power. For this reason, we prioritize trainers with lived experience of oppression. We rely on a community of trainers who give advice and suggestions for workshops and also send out yearly surveys to assess what training is needed in the community.
Groundswell funding will be used to develop and hold direct action workshops and training in Toronto. These workshops will prioritize Black, Indigenous, and POC activists, to build stronger multi-racial forms of disruption. The money will be used to pay for space, materials, facilitation fees, food, transportation, childcare, and administration, as well as to offer honoraria/scholarships for participants attending the workshops.
Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers Rights (CDWCR)
CDWCR's membership includes current and former migrant caregivers, domestic workers, and community supporters. We believe migrant care workers' temporary immigration status makes them vulnerable to abuses related to labour issues, like working long hours, not receiving overtime pay and not receiving proper wages; some workers also experience mental and physical abuse. CDWCR believes the only way to provide social justice, fairness, and protection for care workers is to allow them to come to Canada as permanent residents.
We educate and empower care workers by giving them current and updated information to ensure that they understand their rights. We influence policymakers through advocacy, collaboration with other organizations, and lobbying.
The Groundswell grant will fund our Fall 2020 English as Second Language (ESL) class for migrant care workers. We provide this class to help migrant care workers prepare for their language proficiency test, one requirement to apply for permanent residency. The class also helps migrant care workers develop their assertive communication skills and boost their self-confidence. As teaching tools, the teacher uses topics of political and social relevance to increase awareness among participants.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adjust the delivery of our ESL class. The recently completed Spring ESL class was offered virtually. Unless the pandemic is resolved, we plan to continue to offer the ESL class in the Fall using the on-line or similar virtual format. The fund will cover the honorarium for the ESL teacher, on-line platform, and other logistic/incidental costs.
Where Are You From Collective (WAYF)
WAYF Collective began as an art-based and activism program for people identifying within the Pan-Asian spectrum. Our work seeks to address issues of agency that Asians living on Turtle Island experience in defining our identities, visibility, and representation by offering workshops, events, and creating an online platform for self-representation. We work from an intersectional, anti-oppression framework to empower Asians to develop critical art practices and build activist spaces that challenge dominant culture after decades of collective silence.
We want to expand the communities we serve to communities beyond the Pan-Asian experience, including those of the Black community and Indigenous community. For this reason, we have decided to launch the Decolonizing Gender project, a workshop series to foster ways of approaching gender and trans-ness beyond the western framework; and aims to allow racialized trans people to have opportunities of developing a sense of identity and community beyond western notions of gender.
Groundswell funding will provide honorariums for racialized facilitators of Indigenous, Black, and Asian descent, as well as food for the workshops, and funding for WAYF part-time staff to make these workshops a reality. Our goal is to connect and build solidarity with other marginalized and racialized communities so that we can create intentional dialogue that disrupts status quo.