We just wanted to send out a quick update on some of what we have been up to, our summer plans but most importantly a note of thanks for your continued support for the work we do.
Our last update was about our April 26th, 2019 panel discussion – Sorry Not Sorry: Unapologetically Working for Social Justice. It was a wonderful event, sold out, and the word attendees most often used to describe it was “inspiring”. The controversy around one of our speakers, Linda Sarsour, did sadly demonstrate that we still have a lot of work to do on building inclusive movements across cultures. We need to be able to have the difficult conversations on what we disagree on so we can move on to common ground. Here is part of how our board president, Tyler Blashko opened the evening’s discussion:
“In this time of reflection around SPCW’s centennial and the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, it’s important that we recognize and honour the fact that the struggle for social justice didn’t start 100 years ago. We live in a region with a history of displacement, broken treaties and violence but also one of resilience, creativity and communities pulling together. We need to hold these histories close to ensure we do better as we move forward in our work for social justice.
In trying to recognize our centennial, SPCW didn’t want to be overly retrospective. Clearly, there is still work to be done around social and economic inclusion, we want to take this moment to look forward, where are we now and where does social justice work have to move in the next 10 and 20 years. Social justice is necessarily disruptive. The status quo is comfortable for some but marginalizing for too many. If social justice is our objective, people’s comfort cannot be prioritized when it sits on a foundation of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, Transphobia, Islamophobia, Homophobia or any other forms of marginalization and violence. The conversation we’re hoping to have tonight and continue beyond this evening are, how to build these movements for social justice across communities, across generations and continue to effectively push forward for a just community.”
We will be continuing this work in the next few months. With both the provincial and federal elections, we will be working to educate people on not only the logistics of voting but also on the facts around key social justice issues. If people feel empowered and informed, they are more likely to vote. Too many feel their vote does not matter but “decisions are made by those that show up. This quote is attributed to everyone from Benjamin Franklin to Woody Allen. What’s important to know is that the politicians pay attention to those that vote!
The end of July will see us involved in a series of events that will develop good, evidenced based, informed discussion on Meth and effective community based responses. The task force has released their report. It has some good recommendations but no consensus was reached on a safe consumption site. In the Winnipeg Street Health Report, the majority, 60%, of those surveyed (people experiencing homelessness) were in favour of one. You may have also read that the City has rescinded the RFP to hire a private contractor to remove the belongings of those experiencing homelessness in public spaces. They are looking to develop a better response and we will be looking for opportunities to address that along with the ongoing issues with security at the Millennium Library.
Immigration Partnership Winnipeg is going strong with all sorts of community events. On National Indigenous Peoples Day alone, 100s came out to a community event, co-hosted with Circles of Reconciliation and the City of Winnipeg, at Freight House. Newcomers to Canada and Indigenous community members came together to share food and cultural practices. We also then hosted a group of new Canadians, in partnership with the Treaty Relations Commissioner, in a discussion on treaties and Indigenous history in Canada, just before they took their Citizenship oath.
We are just finishing up our full annual report and that will be available at our AGM, September 23rd at The Met. We will be showing a short documentary on just some of our history. The formal agenda will be sent out with the full notice closer to the date. Hope to see you there!
I hope your summer is as restful and/or exciting as you wish it to be!