Statement on Sorry Not Sorry: Unapologetically Working for Social Justice
We are pleased to celebrate 100 years by partnering with the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute in a discussion about working together to create a truly just society. This amazing panel of activists, Linda Sarsour, Nora Loreto, and Tasha Spillett, will share their successes and perspectives on making the changes that challenge the status quo and addresses bias. A moderated question and answer session is scheduled to allow the conversation to be community based.
Guiding questions/themes for the panel:
- Organizing across communities/cultures
- The role of education in movement building
- Intergenerational communication
- How to survive and grow through controversy
Panel Speaker Biographies:
Tasha Spillett draws her strength from both her Nehiyaw & Trinidadian bloodlines. She is a celebrated educator, poet and emerging scholar, but is most heart-tied to contributing to community lead work that centers land and water defence, and the protection of Indigenous women and girls.
Tasha is currently working on her PhD in Education through the University of Saskatchewan, where she holds a Vanier Canada Award. In her work as a doctoral student, she is weaving in her cultural identity, and commitment to community to produce a body of research that echoes Indigenous women’s demands for justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People, and is a continuation of the resistance against the assault of colonialism that she has inherited.
Nora Loreto is a writer, musician and activist based in Québec City. She is the author of From Demonized to Organized, Building the New Union Movement and is the editor of the Canadian Association of Labour Media. She writes regularly for blogs and magazines, and wrote a chapter in Canada After Harper, released by Lorimer Publishers in August 2015.
Linda Sarsour is an award winning racial justice and civil rights activist, community organizer, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare and mother of three. She is a Palestinian-Muslim-American born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is the former Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and the co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change. She is a member of the Justice League NYC, a leading force of activists, artists, youth and formerly incarcerated individuals committed to criminal justice reform through direct action and policy advocacy.
Most recently, she was one of the national co-chairs of the largest single day protest in US history, the Women’s March on Washington. She has been named amongst 500 of the most influential Muslims in the world. She has won numerous awards including Champion of Change from the Obama Administration. She was recognized as one of Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders and featured as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2017. She is a frequent media commentator on issues impacting Muslim communities, Middle East affairs and criminal justice reform and most recognized for her transformative intersectional organizing work and movement building.
Below are links to some articles on the controversies:
- Linda Sarsour Apologizes to Woman’s March Jewish Members for Slow Response to anti-Semitism
- Eight of Linda Sarsour’s Most Controversial Tweets
- 7 Facts About Linda Sarsour You Probably Didn’t Know
- Canada’s right-wing rage machine vs. Nora Loreto
Why Ms. Sarsour?
We think Ms. Sarsour will contribute to the conversation which is about how to make the necessary societal and systemic changes needed to create a truly just society. She has been involved and lead organizing efforts on a multitude of issues. Some of her very successful campaigns include the Arab American Association of New York and Black Lives Matter (specifically bringing about an end to ‘stop and frisk’ policy by NY police), has been recognized by the Obama White House as a “Champion of Change”.
This conversation is about doing work that makes people uncomfortable. For those learning about this work, it means addressing bias, processing why we respond in particular ways and figuring out a good way forward. It’s important to have these conversations together across communities and support each other in this process.
On accusations of Anti-Semitism:
SPCW holds that it is possible to support Palestinians, a Palestinian homeland, criticize the Israeli government and not be anti-Semitic. Having thoughtful voices heard from different perspectives is essential to serious and nuanced discussion. We find it very difficult to believe that the Obama administration would grant an award to someone with anti-Semitic views.
It is also important to note that colonialism played a role in the establishment of Israel. Recognizing this does not in anyway seek to minimize the horror of the Holocaust or that the then world’s leaders failed to act in support of the Jewish People. However, the Palestinians claim equal rights and history to that same land. Here in Canada, our history of colonialism has also done significant harm and created division. Connecting the dots between the processes and recognizing the similarities of these local and distant struggles should help us not repeat this history.
On rifts within the Women’s March:
Given how the march and resulting organization came together so quickly and spread so widely, expecting one perfectly coalesced broad movement is unrealistic. Ms. Sarsour’s work speaks to the difficult conversations that have to be fleshed out for movements to be keep moving forward.
Why Ms. Loreto?
Ms. Loreto received an inordinate amount of negative reaction due to a tweet taken out of context surrounding the Humboldt bus crash tragedy. Ms. Loreto regularly comments on current events in Canada. She is actively writing on topics including labour, politics, public policy and current affairs. She commented on the tragedy as many others did. In a series of tweets, she both expressed sorrow and support for the victims and she did not say that the victims of that crash should not receive help. She simply pointed out that other groups have not received that same sort of support.
Article: We Mourned Humboldt Differently Than Other Tragedies. Let’s Talk About That
Why Ms. Spillett?
Ms. Spillett is a tremendous community advocate. Her work is always grounded in facts while it is infused with her innate humanity and deep sense of responsibility to speak out against injustice.
At our 100th, we recognize that we must all be open to changing how we have approached inequity and injustice if we are truly to achieve our vision of a sustainable community that is just, equitable and caring. We hope that you will come out and be part of the discussion.
Tickets are available for purchase at the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg (432 Ellice Ave) and Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (201-61 Juno St.) or online via Eventbrite.
Ps. New venue to be announced soon.
Should you have any further questions or concerns, you are invited to contact Kate Kehler at email@example.com