Blog > Hamilton Virtual Take Back the Night Transcript

Hamilton Virtual Take Back the Night Transcript

September 17, 2020

Intro:

At Take Back the Night we have loud­ly pro­claimed that We Believe Sur­vivors’, we have Cel­e­brat­ed Indige­nous Women’, we have gath­ered in Joy­ful Rev­o­lu­tion Always’ and this year we will Reimag­ine, Resist, and Rebuild’ together.

Take back the night! Take back the night! Take back the night! Take back the night! We believe sur­vivors! We believe survivors!

We believe sur­vivors! We believe sur­vivors! We believe sur­vivors! We believe sur­vivors! We believe sur­vivors! Whooo!

Land Acknowl­edge­ment:

We want to start today with a land acknowl­edge­ment and say­ing thank you to the land we are on and to the Indige­nous peo­ples, the Anishi­naabe and Hau­denosaunee Peo­ples who have been car­ing for this land and water for thou­sands of years. 

This land is gov­erned by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt, which rep­re­sents a treaty rela­tion­ship between the Hau­denosaunee Con­fed­er­a­cy and Anishi­naabe with respect to shar­ing the land and resources. The intent of this agree­ment is for all nations shar­ing this ter­ri­to­ry to do so respon­si­bly, respect­ful­ly, and sus­tain­ably. To not take more than we need, to not hurt the land or each oth­er. And we see that today this agree­ment is not being upheld be set­tlers on this land. We see the ongo­ing vio­lence against the land and against the Indige­nous peo­ples who have been defend­ing the land and water. We know that vio­lence against the land direct­ly caus­es vio­lence against Indige­nous peoples. 

And today at TBTN when our con­ver­sa­tions are about gen­der-based vio­lence, sex­u­al vio­lence, and oppres­sion we need to need to remem­ber that Indige­nous peo­ples dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly face these vio­lence as a result of colo­nial­ism and white suprema­cy. Indige­nous peo­ple regard­less of gen­der face dis­pro­por­tion rates of sex­u­al vio­lence, about 50% of all Indige­nous peo­ple will expe­ri­ence sex­u­al vio­lence at some point in their lives. Indige­nous women and girls expe­ri­ence sex­u­al vio­lence at 3 times the rate of non-Indige­nous women and girls. And Two-Spir­it and Indiqueer folks face again high­er rates of vio­lence than oth­ers in the Queer and Trans com­mu­ni­ty, and face addi­tion­al oppres­sion in the QT com­mu­ni­ty for also being Indige­nous. Today we ask the set­tlers who are here tonight to reflect on not just these sta­tis­tics but also the ways that we ben­e­fit from colo­nial­ism and the ways that colo­nial­ism allows us to be com­fort­able when Indige­nous peo­ple are fac­ing such high rates of vio­lence. Ask your­self what would it take for you to give up your com­fort to actu­al­ly active­ly work toward decol­o­niza­tion? Because that is a com­mit­ment we all need to make. 

And to the Indige­nous peo­ple who are join­ing us today, thank you again for your ongo­ing care for the land we are on and water that con­tin­ues to give us life. Thank you.

Open­ing Per­for­mance by Spir­it Vision Singers and Drummers: 

I am hap­py to intro­duce Spir­it Vision Singers and Drum­mers who will begin our Take Back The Night with an Hon­our song. 

I am Luke Johns, I am from Cayu­ga Nation, Killdeer Clan. I am Scot Nor­ton, Ojib­we and Anishi­naabe. Tony John­son, Six Nations and Cayu­ga. And I am Jamie Johns and we all sing with Spir­it Vision. 

We are about to do a song for the women who take back the night and hon­our for, also the miss­ing abo­rig­i­nal women. This song is an hon­our song that came to my heart all day when we were asked to do this. It was on my mind to put this togeth­er to do jus­tice and then hon­our our miss­ing abo­rig­i­nal women, young and old. We are men that are hus­bands our­selves, soon to be grand­pas, we are also fathers. And we under­stand how it means to be walk­ing with a clear heart, clear mind and walk­ing this way of hav­ing a good hon­our in every­thing we do. So we want to sing this song for this time. –miss­ing word- Miig­wetch. Thank you. 

Drum beat in uni­son. Singing hon­our song.

Wel­come to Hamil­ton Vir­tu­al Take Back the Night:

Hel­lo and wel­come to Take Back the Night! This year we are vir­tu­al for the first time ever! And hon­est­ly I’m hop­ing it will be the last because we can­not wait to be able to gath­er again, to march, to ral­ly and to feel all around us the strength, resilien­cy and pow­er in our com­mu­ni­ty But this is still going to be a great and pow­er­ful night! And we hope that you have gath­ered with you, with your house­hold or social bub­ble to join us so you can feel that TBTN ener­gy as we share in this vir­tu­al event. And since you’ll will be see­ing my face pop up a few times tonight I guess I should intro­duce myself. My name is Miran­da and I am the Pub­lic edu­ca­tion coor­di­na­tor at SACHA. And now for more impor­tant things, this year for TBTN we asked folks in the com­mu­ni­ty to Reimag­ine, Resist, and Rebuild, to envi­sion a world free of vio­lence and oppres­sion and what it would take to make that image a real­i­ty. And tonight we give space to the com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and orga­ni­za­tions who have shared with us the ways they are Reimag­in­ing, Resist­ing, and Rebuild­ing. And as you take part tonight know that this was a com­mu­ni­ty effort, it took so many peo­ple to get here and that we invite all mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ty to on reflect on what Reimag­ine, Resist, Rebuild means to you because a bet­ter world is not pos­si­ble if we do not envi­sion it And now I am hap­py to intro­duce you to Sarah, one of our coun­sel­lors at SACHA who can tell you more about why this theme was chosen.

Reimag­ine, Resist, Rebuild: 

Hel­lo every­one, my name is Sarah Adjekum, and I’m real­ly excit­ed to be wel­com­ing you to SACHA’s TBTN 2020. As you know, SACHA has long been involved in the fight against oppres­sion and against sex­u­al vio­lence, and that’s why the space that we cre­ate through TBTN has been so impor­tant to both us and to the com­mu­ni­ty. Now this past year has high­light­ed so many of the inequal­i­ties that we know our com­mu­ni­ty strug­gles through every sin­gle day. The strug­gles of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who are home­less, pre­car­i­ous­ly housed and liv­ing in pover­ty, all of whom con­tin­ue to face increased chal­lenges as a result of the pan­dem­ic. The many sup­port work­ers, ser­vice work­ers, health­care work­ers, the major­i­ty of whom are women, who have been dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly exposed dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, we see you. As well as the racial­ized com­mu­ni­ties who have been dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact­ed. A per­ti­nent and ongo­ing prob­lem that war­rants both our atten­tion and our anger is the sys­temic vio­lence that we con­tin­ue to see fac­ing our Black and Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. Now this vio­lence is his­tor­i­cal and it stems from Canada’s lega­cy of vio­lence against Black, Indige­nous, and POC, and this year has brought renewed focus to very spe­cif­ic ways that racism in our polic­ing and in our carcer­al sys­tems con­tin­ue to impact Black and Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. Black and Indige­nous death at the hands of police is becom­ing a nor­mal­ized spec­ta­cle and the out­rage that we are see­ing in regards to the protests that are tak­ing place in Cana­da and in the US match the crime, which is the loss of human life. This TBTN, we’re ask­ing you to sup­port sur­vivors, while think­ing about what jus­tice for sur­vivors looks like in a sys­tem that does not val­ue the lives of Black and Indige­nous peo­ples, and does not val­ue the lives of racial­ized peo­ple. We’ve seen the fail­ures of such a sys­tem, over and over again, espe­cial­ly when we remem­ber the hun­dreds of miss­ing and mur­dered Indige­nous women and girls and we know that Black and racial­ized Indige­nous sur­vivors are treat­ed as less cred­i­ble and are less like­ly to be believed when they report their expe­ri­ences of sex­u­al vio­lence. Racial­ized peo­ple of dis­abil­i­ties are also espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble, and at the same time, dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly more like­ly to have fatal encoun­ters with law enforce­ment. Those are the short­com­ings of a sys­tem that is not inter­sec­tion­al and is not anti-racist, and in fact has been anti­thet­i­cal to those very ideas. Those are the short­com­ings of a sys­tem pred­i­cat­ed on colo­nial vio­lence, and the deval­u­a­tion of racial­ized bod­ies and expe­ri­ences and at the same time, frames those bod­ies, of peo­ple of colour, as sites of vio­lence or as per­pe­tra­tors of vio­lence. Now despite the inequitable access to jus­tice, be it through skep­ti­cal law enforce­ment, biased courts, or calls for police pro­tec­tion that often turn fatal, we know it is the sto­ries of sur­vivors that are often co-opt­ed to jus­ti­fy why a bet­ter crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem isn’t pos­si­ble, why rad­i­cal­ly trans­form­ing the police isn’t pos­si­ble, why abo­li­tion isn’t pos­si­ble. This TBTN, we want you to envi­sion what we need to build healthy, safe, and thriv­ing com­mu­ni­ties. Com­mu­ni­ties that cen­ter Black lib­er­a­tion, Indige­nous sov­er­eign­ty, and decol­o­niza­tion. We name jus­tice as a path to health and we name jus­tice as a path to safe­ty. Jus­tice shouldn’t be a dream and it should not be a utopia for sur­vivors to have equi­table access to sup­port regard­less of their race, dis­abil­i­ty sta­tus, gen­der iden­ti­ty or sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion. We chal­lenge you to think about what this could look like and what we need to get us there. We chal­lenge you to envi­sion a com­mu­ni­ty that you would want to live in and the sys­tems we would need to make this a real­i­ty. Every year that we’ve marched togeth­er, we’ve tak­en up space and it has always been about demand­ing jus­tice on our terms, tak­ing back our streets, tak­ing back our com­mu­ni­ties, tak­ing back our lives. Dar­ing to dream itself is a rad­i­cal act and we know that a bet­ter world is not pos­si­ble unless we envi­sion it. So this year we are ask­ing every­one to envi­sion the kind of world we could have. The kind of world where we are safe to walk down our streets at night and not be afraid, and we’re ask­ing you to envi­sion a kind of world where Black, Indige­nous, and all POC feel safe. Thank you so much.

Com­mu­ni­ty Showcase: 

Next up, we have our com­mu­ni­ty show­case and we were amazed with the sub­mis­sions that came in and the pow­er­ful mes­sages they con­veyed with their art. Our com­mu­ni­ties are so full of tal­ent, so please enjoy these next per­for­mances. Whoooo!

Lisa Shen:

Lisa Shen is a 21-year old Chi­nese-Cana­di­an spo­ken word poet from Mis­sis­sauga, Ontario. Her work focus­es on two core themes: expres­sion of thought and beau­ty in the incon­se­quen­tial. She writes to explore ideas that are impor­tant to her, or to sim­ply cap­ture a beau­ti­ful moment using paper and ink. Lisa has been fre­quent­ing online poet­ry events in the era of COVID-19. You can fol­low her work using @lisashenthepoet on Insta­gram. Today she will be per­form­ing her poem To the Boy with Teardrop Eyes’

To the boy with teardrop eyes who sang me siren songs of sui­cide: If you choose to leave this world, I do not want to read the note. I will not hold the gun. I do not know if this is a let­ter or a eulo­gy; I do not know if you have slipped beneath the earth or into anoth­er’s body — But I will not devote my eyes to water­ing your grave. I will not call your cof­fin sar­coph­a­gus”. So do not list me as one of your rea­sons why. Do not use your last breath to whis­per my name. I did not con­sent to being your only rea­son not to pull a trig­ger — to be life jack­et — to be any­thing but fight­ing for myself. So if I am to feel sor­row, it will only be for myself. Con­tent warn­ing: abu­sive rela­tion­ships and sui­cide If I am to feel guilt, it will only be for myself. What you are hear­ing, in place of me beg­ging for your life, is the sound my mouth makes when its stitch­es have come undone. What you are hear­ing, in place of my body fold­ing into a shield, is the beau­ty my hand cre­ates when it is no longer twist­ed around yours. What you are hear­ing, is the song of a once-cap­tive bird, released at sea, flut­ter­ing back to shore.

Saf­fron A.:

Saf­fron A is a fem­i­nist musi­cian based in Brant­ford Ontario, Cana­da. She accom­pa­nies her­self on tenor gui­tar and octave man­dolin. Her music sits where emo­tion and intel­lect inter­sect, tack­ling themes of sex­u­al vio­lence, trau­ma, men­tal health and empow­er­ment with sen­si­tiv­i­ty and strength. Saf­fron A embod­ies the raw hon­esty of Janis Ian, the phras­ing of Court­ney Bar­nett and the emo­tion­al range of Mitski.

I thought the tide had grown so high

That I would be pulled down

It takes so much to stay alive

Some­times, I thought I’d drown

But now the sun evaporates

Away some of the water

So I will learn to keep my place

So they won’t pull me under

Lift­ed high, falling low

I can sense the undertow

I watch the rhythm, feel the pace

Brace myself for impact

And ride the wave

The water that I’m wad­ing in was warm, but now is cold

I’m look­ing for a way that I can drift back to the shore

The clouds are rain­ing down on me, I feel

My body shivering

But soon the storm will pass over me

I was so resis­tant to the water and the waves

I was so con­sis­tent in ignor­ing all the rain

Once I tried to fight the cur­rent and the tide

Now I’ve learned to let go and just ride

Hel­lo every­one, my name is Saf­fron A. and I am so hap­py to get to per­form for all of you. This next song is called Sur­vivor.

Here’s where you found me

Here’s where they left me

For all these years I’ve been quiet

I have tak­en the weight of silence

The secrets I buried

The ones that I car­ried alone

They didn’t believe me

Refused to hear me

When some­one they knew

Vio­lat­ed me

The secret I buried

The one that I car­ried alone

Now you’re not alone

Now you’ve found your home

You’re call­ing, scream­ing out

I see you, I hear you now

The secrets you buried

The ones that you car­ried alone

There are no more secrets

You don’t have to keep it alone

I believe you

There’s no need to explain all the pain that you’re going through

Thank you for putting your trust in me

Let me know what you need me to do

Is there any sup­port that I can provide

Or is this all that you need

I believe you

Thank you for trust­ing me

I believe you

And although oth­ers doubt

Ask you ques­tions about what happened

They think they’re helpful

Telling you to move on

Cause they can’t see what’s wrong with that sentiment

Peo­ple don’t know

We all need to grow

And edu­cate ourselves

I believe you

Oth­ers do as well

I believe you

There’s no need to explain

And oth­ers do as well

I believe you

With­out a doubt

I believe you

I always like to throw in I Believe You at the end of that song. This next one I’m going to play is about con­sent and it’s very much the basics of con­sent. It’s called Con­sent 101, if you will. And our under­stand­ing of these con­cepts is very, very basic and there’s a lot of nuance to it and I kind of throw that in a bit of that at the end.

No means no, yes means yes

We will not set­tle for less

You can want me, 

but if you want to touch me

My con­sent is mandatory

No means no, yes means yes

I like you, but I don’t know you yet

I’m fine to kiss, but that’s it

Don’t push me any further

Than what I have consented

I like you, but I don’t know you yet

I thought this would be fine,

But now it’s not

When you feel my body freeze 

that means stop

I don’t know just what I want right now

hold me till I’m fig­ured out

I thought this would be fine

But now it’s not

No means no, yes means yes

We will not set­tle for less

This is my body

I decide who touch­es me

No means no, yes means yes

I’ve got one more and it’s called Pat­terns Repeat­ing and it’s talk­ing about the pat­terns that we find in our rela­tion­ships. And you know some can be real­ly great: some­times we have fan­tas­tic peo­ple around us, but then oth­er times we can real­ize that we don’t always have peo­ple that are close to us that treat us with all the love and respect and care that we deserve. And once we notice that we can, you know, make a change, have con­ver­sa­tions, fig­ure ways out, and you know, do a lot of work with­in our­selves, and we’re nev­er ful­ly stuck.

Learn­ing to receive a touch

With­out expect­ing expectation

Fear­ing to give too much

Emo­tion­al energy 

Get­ting invested

Will leave you depressed and lonely

All the things I am unlearning

When I have you with me

My feel­ings are not too much

And you see me grow­ing stronger

I’m won­der­ing when this ride

Will col­lapse and falter

I’m ter­ri­fied of find­ing myself

In famil­iar situations 

All the fears I am unlearning

When I have you with me

Sud­den­ly you’re gone and I’m left over reeling

How can I come down from those elec­tric feelings

I thought that you were safe for me

I guess I’m just too trusting

All the things I am unlearning

Peo­ple you love can leave you hurting 

Some­times what is nor­mal is not right

Some­times feel­ing com­fort­able is a sign 

That some­thing about the per­son your with

Is a pat­tern repeating

All the things that we are learning

All the pain we’re overcoming

Thank you again for hav­ing me. Every­one deserves to feel safe, and secure, and cared for, and like they can be their full selves, espe­cial­ly when walk­ing at night. So I hope all of you have a fan­tas­tic iso­lat­ed TBTN. Bye-bye!

Sab­ri­na Reid-Smith: 

Sab­ri­na Reid-Smith is a third year stu­dent tak­ing Human Behav­iour at McMas­ter who spends most of her time hug­ging her dog and teach­ing music. She iden­ti­fies as some­one with a dis­abil­i­ty and is hop­ing to pur­sue law school to con­tin­ue fight­ing for a more just world. Sab­ri­na has released two sin­gles in the last year and paused an album release due to COVID but is cur­rent­ly work­ing on an acoustic quar­an­tine EP so stay tuned!

Hi, my name is Sab­ri­na Reid-Smith, and I’ll be per­form­ing an orig­i­nal as well as a few cov­ers. This first one’s an orig­i­nal and its called Me Too.

Do you hear me

Do you under­stand the words I’m saying

Do you lis­ten to any­thing but the sound of your own voice

For years I pre­tend­ed you didn’t hear me 

For years I tried to con­vince myself you weren’t that type

But the more I think about how quick they are to shut this kind of thing down the more I freak out

And when I hear about how you’re still out there doing this even now

It shakes me to the core

And I don’t wan­na dig up the past

But its still haunt­ing me at night

I don’t wan­na go through the motions

To have them say you were in the right

Cuz I can’t bear one more moment of this hell

You put me through

And I can’t sit here silent­ly and pre­tend it doesn’t kill me

How you all hide the truth

Don’t you all 

Ignore it when we say

Me too

Don’t you all brush it off when we say

Me too

Don’t you all make your jokes 

Don’t you all show it with your votes

You don’t care

Do you

I look in the mir­ror bro­ken and tried

Ask myself what I’m sup­posed to do

What more can I go through

But what do I owe the next girl

What do I owe the next guy

It feels hope­less but I could change your mind

I could save a life 

And I don’t wan­na dig up the past

But its still haunt­ing me at night

I don’t wan­na go through the motions

And have them say you were in the right

Cuz I can’t bear one more moment of this hell

You put me through

And I can’t sit here silent­ly and pre­tend it doesn’t kill me

How you all hide the truth

Don’t you all 

Ignore it when we say

Me too

Don’t you all brush it off when we say

Me too

Don’t you all make your jokes 

Don’t you all show it with your votes

You don’t care

Do you?

Don’t you all 

Ignore it when we say

Me too

Don’t you all brush it off when we say

Me too

Don’t you all make your jokes 

Don’t you all show it with your votes

You don’t care

Do you?

This one is Per­fect by P!nk.

Made a wrong turn

Once or twice

Dug my way out

Blood and fire

Bad deci­sions

That’s alright

Wel­come to my sil­ly life

Mis­treat­ed

Mis­placed

Mis­un­der­stood

Miss no way it’s all good

It did­n’t slow me down.

Mis­tak­en

Always sec­ond guessing

Under­es­ti­mat­ed

Look I’m still around

Pret­ty, pret­ty please

Don’t you ever, ever feel

Like you’re less than

Less than perfect

Pret­ty, pret­ty please

If you ever, ever feel

Like you’re nothing

You are perfect

To me

You’re so mean

When you talk

About your­self, you were wrong

Change the voic­es in your head

Make them like you instead

So com­pli­cat­ed

Look how we all make it

Filled with so much hatred

Such a tired game

It’s enough

I’ve done all I can think of

Chased down all my demons

I’ll see you do the same

Pret­ty, pret­ty please

Don’t you ever, ever feel

Like you’re less than

Less than perfect

Pret­ty, pret­ty please

If you ever, ever feel

Like you’re nothing

You are perfect

To me

Whole world scared so I swal­lowed the fear

The only thing I should be drink­ing is an ice-cold beer

So cool in lying and we try, try, try but we try too hard

It’s a waste of my time

Done look­ing for the crit­ics, cause they’re everywhere

They don’t like my jeans, they don’t get my hair

Exchange our­selves and we do it all the time

Why do I do that, why do I do that?

Yeah, oh

Oh pret­ty pret­ty please

Pret­ty, pret­ty please

Don’t you ever, ever feel

Like you’re less than

Less than perfect

Pret­ty, pret­ty please

If you ever, ever feel

Like you’re nothing

You are perfect

To me

This one’s called Sky­scraper by Demi Lovato.

Skies are cry­ing, I am watching

Catch­ing tear drops in my hands

Only silence as it’s ending

Like we nev­er had a chance

Do you have to make me feel like

There’s noth­ing left of me?

You can take every­thing I have

You can break every­thing I am

Like I’m made of glass

Like I’m made of paper

Go on and try to tear me down

I will be ris­ing from the ground

Like a skyscraper

Like a skyscraper

As the smoke clears, I awaken

And untan­gle you from me

Would it make you feel better

To watch me while I bleed?

All my win­dows still are broken

But I’m stand­ing on my feet

You can take every­thing I have

You can break every­thing I am

Like I’m made of glass

Like I’m made of paper

Go on and try to tear me down

I will be ris­ing from the ground

Like a skyscraper

Like a skyscraper

Go run, run, run

I’m gonna stay right here,

Watch you disappear

Yeah

Go run, run, run

Yeah, it’s a long way down

But I am clos­er to the clouds up here

You can take every­thing I have

You can break every­thing I am

Like I’m made of glass

Like I’m made of paper

Go on and try to tear me down

I will be ris­ing from the ground

Like a skyscraper

Like a skyscraper

Calvin Pro­cy­on:

Calvin Pro­cy­on is a life­long res­i­dent of Hamil­ton, friend of rac­coons every­where, plant dad, mom to two cats, and occa­sion­al musi­cian. Their music explores their expe­ri­ences with dis­abil­i­ty, chron­ic ill­ness, Mad­ness & psy­chi­a­triza­tion, non-bina­ry iden­ti­ty, and queer­ness. Their first song, Queer­ing Craft,” is a love song for com­mu­ni­ty. It explores com­mu­ni­ty as a method­ol­o­gy for cre­at­ing new pos­si­bil­i­ties to revi­sion and recre­ate the world. Their sec­ond song, Dark­ness,” is about watch­ing the world fall apart around you.

Through queer­ing-craft

And crip (dis)spelling,

We weave our webs of Madgic.

By vision­ing futures,

We bewitch, we trans/​form;

We breathe them from our bodies;

We bring them into being.

And I, I nev­er wanted

To be here with­out you;

To leave you behind;

To leave your side.

I, I wouldn’t be who

I am, with­out your love;

I am, with­out your care;

With­out your pride.

And after all these years

Of watch­ing all my fears come true,

You help me wipe my tears;

The only place I’m safe is with you.

Through queer­ing-craft

And crip (dis)spelling,

We weave our webs of Madgic.

By vision­ing futures,

We bewitch, we trans/​form;

We breathe them from our bodies;

We bring them into being;

We build a bet­ter world.

I saw the dark­ness parading

With in tow, an army of bro­ken hearts

I felt the city come cav­ing down

The walls still stand­ing sound

Father, please

Help me

My friends are still inside

My friends are gonna die

I felt my lover fading

I laid his tired heart to rest

You know, there’s no use debating

Red is red, and dead is dead

Moth­er, please

Calm me

I think I’m going to cry

I think we’re going to die

I saw the sun­rise retreating

To safe­ty, out of sight and out of mind

I felt the dark­ness over­take me

The smell of smoke in my insides

Lover, please

Hold me

Tell me that we’re fine

Tell me we’ll be alright

Tell me that

Tell me that

Tell me that sto­ry again

Back when you were ten 

You fell out of a tree 

And hurt your knee

But when we grow up

And the going gets rough

I guess we’ve run out of blood to bleed

I guess we’ve run out of blood

We See You, We Believe You: 

Hel­lo and a big thank you for join­ing us at Hamil­ton Vir­tu­al Take Back the Night for 2020. My name is Jes­si­ca Bonil­la-Damptey and I am the Direc­tor at SACHA. This year has looked very dif­fer­ent for every­one and there have been a lot of changes. One of the biggest changes was the advice to stay home and iso­late as much as pos­si­ble. We know this is dif­fi­cult for a lot of peo­ple but for some it is more than dif­fi­cult, it is actu­al­ly dan­ger­ous or even impos­si­ble. For some stay­ing home means being iso­lat­ed with an abuser.

We know that dur­ing COVID-19 the rates of vio­lence in the home have increased includ­ing sex­u­al, gen­der-based, and child vio­lence. In addi­tion to increas­ing rates of vio­lence we also know that sur­vivors have been left with few­er sup­ports. For many, the sup­ports that do remain are inac­ces­si­ble due to bar­ri­ers like access­ing a pri­vate space or con­sis­tent access to a com­put­er with a reli­able inter­net connection.

And for many, the finan­cial bur­dens that COVID-19 has cre­at­ed have also meant sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges for leav­ing abu­sive sit­u­a­tions par­tic­u­lar­ly if finan­cial inde­pen­dence is not pos­si­ble at this time. We know that for many peo­ple being reliant on an abu­sive part­ner for finan­cial well­be­ing is a bar­ri­er with­out the COVID-19 but the pan­dem­ic has exas­per­at­ed this sit­u­a­tion and has increased the under­stand­able fears and con­cerns about access­ing shel­ters and hous­ing sup­ports. We know that for many sur­vivors sup­port IS acces­si­ble hous­ing and finan­cial inde­pen­dence. We can­not sup­port sur­vivors and ignore the social inequal­i­ties that leaves some peo­ple unable to leave abu­sive sit­u­a­tions and begin to heal. We can­not end sex­u­al vio­lence with­out end­ing the oppres­sion and pover­ty that takes away a person’s right to choose and their abil­i­ty to devel­op to their full potential.

At SACHA we have also heard from sur­vivors that the cur­rent pan­dem­ic has influ­enced their men­tal health. Feel­ings of anx­i­ety have increased and it became more dif­fi­cult to cope dur­ing a pan­dem­ic. Sur­vivors are left with­out their usu­al sup­ports, their access to loved ones, and the free­dom to be in spaces that are safe for them. An increased police pres­ences dur­ing the pan­dem­ic has also left some sur­vivors to feel unsafe out­side of their home. We under­stand that these fears are real and they can have pro­found impacts on a survivor’s well­be­ing. But through this all we have also seen great resilience and com­mu­ni­ties com­ing togeth­er to pro­vide sup­port and sol­i­dar­i­ty. It is absolute­ly an incred­i­bly hard time for all of us folks and espe­cial­ly sur­vivors but we see you, we see the ways you are fight­ing through this, we stand with you and are we here if you need support.

We ask the com­mu­ni­ty, regard­less of what the future holds to be mind­ful of the unique sit­u­a­tions that sur­vivors face. Know that if some­one is unable to iso­late and stay home as much as you think they should there may be a very impor­tant rea­son for this. If some­one is hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty cop­ing dur­ing this time know that there are very valid rea­sons for this too. We need to treat each oth­er with respect and kind­ness and under­stand that the cir­cum­stances of stay­ing home and the pan­dem­ic are not the same for every­one. We need to be non-judg­men­tal, and we need to believe sur­vivors and sup­port them regard­less of their cir­cum­stances. To all sur­vivors and to sur­vivors who have faced addi­tion­al chal­lenges, hard­ships, and anx­i­eties dur­ing this time of COVID-19, please know that we at SACHA, we see you, we believe you and you are not alone.

Hap­py Take Back the Night 2020. Let’s do this.

Sur­vivor Voices:

TBTN deals with a lot of real­ly heavy themes of sex­u­al vio­lence, gen­der-based vio­lence, and of oppres­sion, but in this next sec­tion, Sur­vivor Voic­es, you’ll be hear­ing in the words of survivor’s com­men­tary on their own expe­ri­ences and we just want to say, if you need to take space right now for your­self and not engage in this con­tent, or do any­thing else it is you need to take care of your­self, please absolute­ly do it. This con­tent can be real­ly hard to hear and we’re here to sup­port you if you need it. Thank you to the sur­vivors who sub­mit­ted for this sec­tion. Your words are pow­er­ful and meaningful.

Anony­mous Anne:

It begins with a set of large, hazel eyes.

The first boy I ever had sex with brought me over to his dorm in res­i­dence. Third floor,

pent­house. Suite style. A palace com­pared to my dingy, shared room.

We were meant to be prac­tic­ing for the debate tour­na­ment next week. My young, naïve

heart, falling for his pair of liq­uid brown iris­es, had sug­gest­ed that I help him fig­ure out

his open­ing speeches.

By the time we had cho­sen our prac­tice top­ic, his pools of caramel were star­ing into

mine. By the time he had half-heart­ed­ly run through his first attempt at a case, his

shoul­der was press­ing against me on the couch. I gave up on the whole endeav­or when

he placed his hand on my thigh.

How excit­ing.

A month and a series of snapchats lat­er, he is stand­ing in my dorm room in jeans and a

T‑shirt.

How won­der­ful to final­ly kiss a boy.

How won­der­ful to final­ly lose myself to someone.

How won­der­ful, that he, gold­en-skinned ado­nis, would have inter­est in touch­ing me.

It had to all hap­pen in the same night. I was afraid he would lose inter­est otherwise.

The kiss was rough — full of unshaved stub­ble and my own inex­pe­ri­enced teeth. He was

in a rush to get cloth­ing off. I had thought there would be more fore­play. Per­haps a

playlist of rock music in the back­ground. But gold­en-skinned ado­nis boy was inside me

with­in the span of twen­ty minutes.

My mem­o­ry of that moment is a flash­bulb of rec­ol­lec­tion, as for sev­er­al min­utes, I

endured the pain of him fuck­ing me. I remem­ber the bright white of the overhead

flu­o­res­cent lights, my hand on the cold mar­ble of the win­dowsill, my head and body

tense and unmov­ing with every thrust, eyes fixed on the ceil­ing, wait­ing for it to be over,

so that I could final­ly tell myself I had achieved the sex I want­ed so des­per­ate­ly to have

had.

Even­tu­al­ly, I told him to stop — it hurt too much. He paused, with­drew, and sat naked on

my sin­gle bed. He joked about blue balls and leav­ing peo­ple hang­ing. He asked me to

blow him. Then, hear­ing my response of dec­li­na­tion, the first boy I ever had sex with

pulled back on his jeans and dis­ap­peared out the door of my dorm room.

That night, I was gid­dy with excite­ment. Nev­er­mind the pain — gold­en-skinned adonis

boy had been mine to touch. I had kissed him, and had entered the mag­i­cal realm of

peo­ple who have had sex.

There were a few more times I will not speak about. A cou­ple blowjobs — his hand

main­tain­ing a slight pres­sure on my head. A cou­ple more sad attempts at fucking.

Sex was entire­ly new to me, and I was ter­ri­bly excit­ed by it. I want­ed to be good at it,

and I want­ed to be desired by him. So in all those times, I remained silent through my

own dis­com­fort.

Even­tu­al­ly, how­ev­er, gold­en-skinned ado­nis boy lost inter­est in me.

And so it is that, two years and eleven months lat­er, I find myself read­ing these words

into the foam cov­er­ing of a microphone.

For much of this time, I have affirmed to myself that I was not sex­u­al­ly abused — because

the whole time, I had agency over my own actions and the abil­i­ty to stop his with a

sin­gle word.

But there is no con­sent in fuck­ing a frozen body.

And so I have come to realise that he took advan­tage of me. That he exploit­ed my

attrac­tion to him and my lack of expe­ri­ence for his own sex­u­al plea­sure — with­out any

con­sid­er­a­tion for my emo­tion­al or phys­i­cal well-being.

The first time you have sex informs the way you con­tin­ue on to love. To this day, no

mat­ter how ten­der the hand, I brace myself for pain. My part­ner can­not touch my head

dur­ing oral sex — not even to run their hands through my hair. He dam­aged my abil­i­ty to

express affec­tion, and I have been fight­ing to get it back.

My weapon of choice has been a sim­ple one: self-respect. The nur­tur­ing of a small voice

inside that says: I deserve better”.

One day, I was sud­den­ly struck with the real­iza­tion that I could no longer remem­ber his

last name. Some­how, the first boy I ever had sex with had been reduced to four letters

and a series of flash­bulb memories.

But there is still work to be done.

I will con­tin­ue on learn­ing to love myself. I will strip away every leaf from this tree of my

life and bloom anew. I will cut him down until he is three let­ters, then two, then one,

then noth­ing.

Beth:

This poem and art piece were cre­at­ed by Beth. The Stun­ning Tree.

The seed is sown 

It splits and sprouts

Eager­ly it shoots up

Break­ing through 

Mak­ing con­tact with light

Slow­ly the seedling grows

Water and sun nourish 

The seedling is 

Hope­ful

Con­fi­dent

Delight­ed

For what lies ahead

But…slowly

…Fog moves in 

Cool­er days approach

Deer graz­ing

Storms rage and plunder 

Inno­cence shaken 

The sapling is confused

Gone are the days

Of soak­ing in the sun 

Only job was to grow

The young tree’s

Bark

Branch­es

Leaves

Become increas­ing­ly

Thick­er

Bruised

Marred

Still it withstands

What nature brings its way

Peo­ple walk by

Mock­ing

For this scarred tree

Stands unap­peal­ing

Many branch­es fallen

Bro­ken

Year after year

Ignored

Weath­ered

Dis­fig­ured

She push­es through 

Swal­lows hard 

For each storm that tests

She’s deter­mined

To con­tin­ue to stand 

As the Sea­sons pass 

She’s per­sis­tent

To find out who she is 

…to shine

Final­ly buds appear

She at last can see 

The storms

The fog

The mock­ing

Have only made her

Fight hard­er

Grow taller

Alas!

Coral flow­ers bloom

Onlook­ers in awe 

For what she has been through 

Blem­ish­es no more 

She’s let go of those times

Let go of the pain

She is stunning 

She is beautiful

She is whole

Anony­mous:

Heal? Grow? With What? 

How am I sup­posed to trust any­one ever again?

How do I re-learn to trust myself?

How am I sup­posed to trust myself to BE with any­one again?

Trust the peo­ple around me or my own reality?

How am I sup­posed to fall in love again?

Trust my own judgement

How am I sup­posed to keep being myself 

When I’ve been bro­ken over and over again

To the point where I gen­uine­ly don’t know who I am or if I’m even a real person

How am i sup­posed to not cry every time I see your face, hear your voice or even your name 

I want to be able to lis­ten to your music again

Because I still love your music

I don’t want to have to erase every­thing that I’ve learned from you

Or every­thing that you had a part in shap­ing in who I am 

I don’t want to erase all our good memories

Because they are a part of who I am today

So how am I sup­posed to heal with­out los­ing those parts of me?

How can I heal when every support

Refus­es to believe that a woman did this to me?

How can I find jus­tice if I don’t want to report?

How am I sup­posed to feel if she goes to prison?

This is not just about main­tain­ing a good self image, trust me

Cause some­times when I see some­thing that belongs to her

I want to break it

I get angry, spite­ful, salty, venge­ful and petty

And it takes all my force of self restraint to put it in a box instead

The only rea­son I don’t break it is cause I’m wor­ried it wont feel as sat­is­fy­ing as my pain is telling me right now 

So damn, does that cup look sooo sat­is­fy­ing to break

Some­day I might let myself smash it

But I think smash­ing your cup is as far as I’m will­ing to go

So how am I sup­posed to find solace

In a world that only encour­ages the worst parts of me to grow?

The only way I’ve been able to sur­vive is by numb­ing myself and drink­ing myself clos­er to death every sin­gle day because I don’t know how else to keep living

How am I sup­posed to just keep walk­ing through the world like everything’s the same

As if I’m still the same

How do I even survive?

By putting up a wall for each les­son I nev­er want­ed to have to learn?

If only those walls were real…

Then at least I wont have to wor­ry about rent, right?

Look, there’s my wall for nev­er trust­ing good things

And there’s the wall for keep­ing my crazy to myself

And there’s the wall for nev­er sleep­ing in the same bed as anoth­er human being again

A thou­sand and one walls would have cer­tain­ly built me a castle

A fortress even 

I’m so tired of build­ing all these walls 

while still hav­ing to pay my damn rent

Locked up in my fortress so long, 

I begin to for­get that there’s even a world outside

With liv­ing beings. 

Peo­ple who also suffer.

In spite of every fibre of my being telling me not to allow myself to be vulnerable

As if what hap­pened to me is a reflec­tion of my fail­ure to to con­trol an uncon­trol­lable situation

In a con­trolled and bro­ken world

The only con­trol that could ever exist is out­side me

Enact upon me

I am the object to its verbs

But some­how I’m the one who needs to heal?

How do I not just be filled with hatred for every­body and fear of every­body and anger at the world that put us in such fucked up sit­u­a­tions to begin with?

How am I sup­posed to out­grow trauma

when trau­ma just keeps hap­pen­ing over and over again

How am I sup­posed to get any way of justice

When my only recourse is lit­er­al­ly to take her to court

Escort­ed by pigs to be locked away

Out of sight out of mind

To have the state enact a pun­ish­ment on her

That I do not desire because

I still care about her as a person

How am I sup­posed to heal in a world that only nour­ish­es my spite?

I don’t know what to live for

cause I don’t want to die but I don’t know how to live either

So tell me, how do I sur­vive? How do I heal? How do I grow? 

All I know is, not like this. 

I’m not look­ing for a cure 

If you believe sur­vivors then you bet­ter as hell 

Believe me when I say: this is not how I heal. 

I can­not heal with­out secure hous­ing. Secure income. Com­mu­ni­ty sup­port. Harm reduc­tion cen­tres. Medi­a­tors, restora­tive and trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice practitioners. 

I can­not heal in a world that finds me and oth­ers to be disposable. 

I can­not heal under whitesupremacy. 

I can­not heal under capitalism. 

I can­not heal on stolen lands. 

I can­not heal when peo­ple are lit­er­al­ly get­ting arrest­ed a few miles from here for assert­ing sov­er­eign­ty over stolen lands. 

Stolen lands that our gov­ern­ment will spend every dime to be able to extract from. 

A stolen land with stolen peo­ple, stolen sis­ters dis­posed of. 

I can­not heal while there are stolen sisters. 

I can­not heal until repa­ra­tions for slav­ery and every act of insti­tu­tion­al anti-Black racism are made. 

I can­not heal in a world with cops and prisons.

I can­not heal in a world with cops and prisons.

I can­not heal in a world with cops and prisons.

I can­not heal under the threat of home­less­ness and poverty. 

I can­not heal in a cis­sex­ist world. 

I can­not heal while ben­e­fit­ing from plun­der and exploit­ed workers. 

I can­not heal while the world is on fire.

I can­not heal with­in a sys­tem that cre­ates the very pow­er dynam­ics that caused my assaults and trau­mas to hap­pen in the first place. 

So one day, when I’m fed up, tired of hop­ing and dream­ing and fighting…

I will walk into a police station. 

And I will file a report.

Against the whole damn system.

TBTN San Fran­cis­co 1990: Excerpts from Sex Work­ers — Brought to you by SWAP: Sex Work­ers Action Pro­gram Hamilton: 

Thank you to the sur­vivors who sub­mit­ted their works for the last sec­tion. Your words were incred­i­bly pow­er­ful and next we’ll be shar­ing footage from the 1990 TBTN in San Fran­cis­co pro­vid­ed by SWAP, the Sex Work­ers Action Pro­gram here in Hamil­ton. This footage illus­trates the ways sex work­ers have his­tor­i­cal­ly been denied space in con­ver­sa­tions about sex­u­al and gen­der-based vio­lence in fem­i­nist” spaces. That’s some­thing that still hap­pens to this day. It also shows the wat oth­ers have labeled them as gen­der-trai­tors for engag­ing in con­sen­su­al work. Con­ver­sa­tions about sex­u­al and gen­der-based vio­lence can­not take place with­out sup­port for and the inclu­sion of sex workers.

She’s got­ta get baaaack! (Get back!)

She’s got­ta get baaaack! (Get back!)

She’s got­ta get baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack (Get back!) the night!

We’re all sex work­ers and we all came down here, hope­ful­ly it won’t be to counter-protest, but if it comes to that, I guess that’s what it’ll be, but we don’t believe that vio­lence against women is per­pet­u­at­ed through pornog­ra­phy and that cen­sor­ship in the name of pro­tect­ing women isn’t actu­al­ly pro­tec­tion at all, in fact, when it’s done in the guise of pro­tect­ing women against vio­lent sex­u­al imagery a lot gets cut out, includ­ing women’s sex­u­al voic­es. There’s a ground-swell of female pro­duced and fem­i­nist pro­duced pornog­ra­phy these days that’s also get­ting silenced by cen­sor­ship and we came down here to say that we’re sex-pos­i­tive sex work­ers and that we do it, we’re not coerced into it and it’s a fun, if only part-time liv­ing for us and that we’re not manip­u­lat­ed or twist­ed by some misog­y­nis­tic cul­ture, though we do live in a misog­y­nis­tic cul­ture to be sex work­ers and for us it’s a pos­i­tive experience.

Every­body says yeah.

Well I’m a big pros­ti­tute, I’ve been a pros­ti­tute in this city for 15 years. A lot of women are say­ing they came here today kin­da ner­vous that TBTN which has a his­to­ry of, say, not doing out­reach to pros­ti­tutes, right? There’s sort of a his­to­ry there, so peo­ple come kind of won­der­ing and I don’t know, I was invit­ed espe­cial­ly, so I’m hap­py so, and I’m a pros­ti­tute, right? I get paid for sex, ok. What about some oth­er sex work­ers here?

When you say something’s degrad­ing toward women it puts women like in a real­ly weak posi­tion and I don’t think that you can- there’s no pos­si­ble way to degrade women, you can’t, you have to allow your­self to be degrad­ed, and so I don’t believe that you know, being naked in front of peo­ple is degrad­ing to women, or as any­thing, you can do what­ev­er you want. You need to allow your­self to be degrad­ed in order to be degraded.

Speak­er off cam­era: you know I feel degrad­ed con­stant­ly in this cul­ture, I’m feel­ing very degrad­ed, you know being a real­ly big woman and I’m forty. I’m going to be forty like next month. I just feel like, you know, life is one big degra­da­tion so the pros­ti­tu­tion some­times, for me it’s expressed aspects of that, but you know, the oth­er hand we all get pow­er from it. Any­body else want to talk about sex work-

Work­ing the sex indus­try has giv­en me a new per­spec­tive on my body and my sex­u­al­i­ty that’s been real­ly pos­i­tive and good and meet­ing all these won­der­ful, intel­li­gent women in the indus­try has real­ly changed my atti­tude about pornog­ra­phy and the sex industry.

I’ve been danc­ing for almost two now and I’ve- it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s real­ly been good for me; it’s been great for me to express myself in that way.

Speak­er off cam­era: Yeah, prostitution’s actu­al­ly been real­ly good for me but now it’s get­ting like, not good. It’s get­ting like one of those things, you know, I want to have a dif­fer­ent job, but I still love being a pros­ti­tute. It’s just maybe doing it less. It’s hard in some ways I find. I don’t know, what’s the hard­est thing?

The hard­est thing about dancing?

Speak­er off cam­era: Or about get­ting along with peo­ple and hav­ing to tell peo­ple, the hard­est thing about the whole schtick.

The hard­est thing about the whole schtick for me is when peo­ple are say­ing to me that that’s degrad­ing to women or, you know, my moth­er said that to me when I first start­ed and I was like real­ly torn about it. I was like ohhh, well yeah, fem­i­nists do sy it’s degrad­ing, is it degrad­ing women, is it not degrad­ing women, aaa”. Now I have no prob­lems with it.

Speak­er 1: Think about this Helen.

Speak­er 2: Imag­ine doing that.

Speak­er 3: I total­ly agree with these women, I hate vio­lent pornog­ra­phy. I just hate what it does to women. I know it’s a big debate in San Fran­cis­co, but as far as I’m con­cerned, this stuff is hate lit­er­a­ture, you know.

Speak­er 1: So what do you think we should do about it?

Speak­er 3: I think we should expose it wher­ev­er we can, you know. Like they’re doing right here.

Speak­er 1: What do you think about women that pose for these?

Speak­er 3: I think they’re trai­tors to their sex. That’s what I think, you know.

Crowd: Hey hey! Ho Ho! The patri­archy has got to go!

Hey hey! Ho Ho! The patri­archy has got to go!

(con­tin­ues)

Speak­er off cam­era: Hey hey! Ho Ho! The patri­archy has got to go, but sex lives on, okay?

(inaudi­ble), but pros­ti­tutes are everywhere!

SACHA in Solidarity:

When I was asked to say a few words today in this impor­tant activ­i­ty, I almost shied away to the offer. I asked myself how is still pos­si­ble that us, women, con­tin­ue to fear vio­lence and mur­der because of our gen­der? But, because I am strong­ly con­vinced that we can­not stop fight­ing for a safer world to all of us I decid­ed I need­ed to be here today. We must con­tin­ue to bring light and actions to the out­go­ing fight against vio­lence against us, but we can­not keep doing it silent­ly. As an exam­ple of the above and dri­ven by the same force, my fel­low sis­ters in my Home­land, Chile, Las Tesis, embarked in their col­lec­tive work and cre­at­ing the NOW, a glob­al anthem that denounces gen­der vio­lence and the patri­ar­chal sys­tem. This is a song where all the women in the world feel iden­ti­fied and they chant it with enthu­si­asm and hope. Cur­rent­ly, Las Tesis, are fight­ing a law­suit orches­trat­ed by the Chilean pol­i­cy and are been accused of ini­ti­at­ing vio­lence and chal­leng­ing author­i­ty. By this, the patri­ar­chal sys­tem is attempt­ing to crim­i­nal­ize and silence a social an artis­tic move­ment. They use harass­ment, intim­i­da­tion and cen­sor­ship. At the same time, Las Tesis work has proven that for US here and the women around the world, we stand togeth­er and fight for the same cause! It is my heart­ful intent this moment, TODAY, and in our dai­ly rou­tines we do not lose our focus which is to always sup­port one anoth­er, our soror­i­ty, in sol­i­dar­i­ty! It has been on my jour­ney as an activist that I have had the good for­tune to meet a vibrant, ener­getic and inclu­sive group of women who walk the talk. They will lead and explain the sym­bol­ism mean­ing for the chore­og­ra­phy and lyrics.

Hi, we are here from Toron­to, from the group Apoy­amos Chile” which is We sup­port Chile”. We are here to sup­port the ladies from Hamil­ton and the ladies around the world. We’ve done this per­for­mance of the Tesis many times. And this per­for­mances’ mean­ing is against vio­lence against women and non-bina­ry (women as well). This is actu­al­ly, the Tesis an altered an anthem for the mil­i­tary anthem. They altered the anthem and they made it as women’s chant, because the patri­archy sys­tem does not work. The Chore­og­ra­phy as well, is a very basic chore­og­ra­phy but it also rep­re­sents how women are mis­treat­ed, they are humil­i­at­ed, they have been raped and mur­dered. They make them take their clothes off, kneel them­selves down. So we are here in sup­port. So we can end the vio­lence against women, non bina­ry as well. And this is why it is impor­tant for all of us to stick togeth­er. So from Toron­to, Apoy­amos Chile, We sup­port Chile, we are here to sup­port all the women in Latin Amer­i­ca and around the world. 

HWDSB Kids Need Help Speak on Polic­ing and Liberation: 

HWDSB Kids Need Help is a group of for­mer and cur­rent HWDSB stu­dents. We act as an advo­ca­cy body for stu­dents and fam­i­lies who are expe­ri­enc­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and injus­tices that are not being addressed by the school board. We oper­ate with­in an anti-racist, anti-cap­i­tal­ist, anti-colo­nial­ist, anti-oppres­sive and rev­o­lu­tion­ary frame­work. We prac­tice this by shar­ing our resources, knowl­edge and pow­er. We are in no way affil­i­at­ed with the school board.

Hel­lo friends!

I’m real­ly hon­oured to be tak­ing part in Take Back the Night 2020. Mak­ing stuff like this work, mak­ing it acces­si­ble through the inter­net — it’s a love­ly and strange for­ay into the world of shared and joy­ful acces­si­ble con­tent that I love to see. So thanks for hav­ing me here, at an event that hon­ours the life-bring­ing forces of gen­der oppressed peo­ple and seeks light and jus­tice for us and with us. So — I’m Ruba­iat, I’ve recent­ly start­ed going by he/​him and I’m here on behalf of HWDSB Kids Need Help.

For con­text, HWDSB Kids start­ed in Novem­ber 2017 by four stu­dents at West­dale Sec­ondary in response to police vio­lence against an autis­tic Black, Mus­lim stu­dent who was forcibly hand­cuffed and removed from the school by the HPS. HWDSB Kids act­ed as an advo­cat­ing body for the fam­i­ly, pro­vid­ing them with a pro bono lawyer and con­sis­tent sup­port in address­ing this vio­lence at the school board lev­el. Since then, HWDSB Kids has been involved with stu­dents across the Board, we’ve been to a ton of meet­ings with Board offi­cials, we’ve orga­nized town­halls to cre­ate data around the expe­ri­ences of racial­ized and dis­abled stu­dents in the board, and we’ve con­nect­ed with oth­er stu­dent orga­niz­ers who have gone on to push for change at their schools and in their com­mu­ni­ties as well.

So I’m here to talk to you about polic­ing. Polic­ing, in addi­tion to being colo­nial, racial, ableist vio­lence is gen­dered vio­lence. The stu­dent who was dragged out of West­dale was a young girl. In so-called Cana­da, Black women and girls rep­re­sent 6% of all fed­er­al­ly incar­cer­at­ed female” pris­on­ers, but only 3.1% of Canada’s over­all female” pop­u­la­tion. While Indige­nous women make up less than five per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, they account for 38 per cent of women in prison. Black and Indige­nous women and girls are cur­rent­ly being incar­cer­at­ed at the fastest grow­ing rates than any oth­er part of the populace.

The state does this for a rea­son. At the fore­front of our move­ments towards lib­er­a­tion, at the fore­front of con­ver­sa­tions that shed light on how the state and the state’s agents are respon­si­ble for the sex­u­al and gen­dered vio­lence that we expe­ri­ence, at the fore­front of our community’s heal­ing — are gen­der oppressed people.

Recent­ly, Dr. Pam Palmater, who is a Mi’kmaq lawyer, pro­fes­sor and activist spoke dur­ing the #Schol­arStrike about the his­to­ry of vio­lent polic­ing on this land. She spoke about how the North West Mount­ed Police, Canada’s first ever police force and the police force which would go on to become the RCMP, would col­lab­o­rate with Indi­an agents on reserves to strate­gi­cal­ly starve com­mu­ni­ties by deny­ing food rations. In doing this, North West Mount­ed Police offi­cers would gain access” to women’s bod­ies on reserves because peo­ple were so vul­ner­a­ble and were starv­ing. I share what Dr. Palmater shared dur­ing that lec­ture to say this: there is no col­lec­tive move­ment towards sex­u­al lib­er­a­tion and lib­er­a­tion for all Black, Indige­nous, and racial­ized peo­ple on this land, all dis­abled and deaf peo­ple on this land, all queer and trans peo­ple, all poor peo­ple on this land with­out ABO­LI­TION. The very flesh and bones of polic­ing is white suprema­cy. It’s gen­dered vio­lence. It’s ableism. It’s vio­lence against queer and trans peo­ple. When an insti­tu­tion is nec­es­sar­i­ly found­ed upon this kind of vio­lence, there is no amount of reform — of cul­tur­al com­pe­ten­cy train­ings, of diver­si­ty hires, of work­shops — that can change its over­ar­ch­ing mission.

Abo­li­tion would lead us into a new era of how to talk about sex­u­al vio­lence, about how to address gen­der based violence.

Some of you may remem­ber our his­toric sit-in on June 22nd this year, where because of a well-coor­di­nat­ed cam­paign to put pub­lic pres­sure on the School Board Trustees and in a cul­mi­na­tion of 4 years of stu­dent orga­niz­ing in the board, the stu­dent resource offi­cer pro­gram was ter­mi­nat­ed in the HWDSB. It was a mag­i­cal night, tru­ly. But the orga­niz­ers and com­mu­ni­ty under­stood that it was just a small step in the ulti­mate vision of a world with­out police. Defund­ing the police would cre­ate the resources in our com­mu­ni­ties to address sex­u­al and gen­der based vio­lence, to cre­ate cul­tures of sex pos­i­tiv­i­ty that allow us to move fur­ther towards free­dom for all of us, that could allow inter com­mu­ni­ty con­ver­sa­tions that aren’t taint­ed with fear and mis­trust of one anoth­er. But there’s immense work to be done.

Now more than ever, and def­i­nite­ly more than what I’ve seen in my life, is the moment for our com­mu­ni­ties to come togeth­er. For SACHA to stand with defund­ing and abo­li­tion, for us to under­stand that we can have each oth­er’s backs — not the state. This is our moment to push. Already the cul­ture in the city is chang­ing — it’s just a mat­ter of how we are able to come togeth­er. Our move­ments are inter­twined. Inseparable.

It’s time we under­stood that there is no free­dom for any­one with defund­ing, dis­arm­ing, dis­man­tling and ulti­mate­ly abol­ish­ing the police.

Thank you for your time and thank you to SACHA for invit­ing me to speak on behalf of HWDSB Kids Need Help. If you would like to know more about the work we do or get involved, you can fol­low us on insta­gram, (@hwdsbkidsneedhelp), twit­ter (@hwdsbkids) or Face­book (HWDSB Kids Need Help) and join our mail­ing list for more info on what we’re up to! Thank you, I hope you have a love­ly night and it was an hon­our to speak.

TBTN Shirt Design Reveal: 

Hel­lo SACHA friends and sup­port­ers, I hope you’re ready because it’s time for the TBTN shirt design reveal in 32… 1!

We hope you love this beau­ti­ful shirt design as much as we do! This design was cre­at­ed by Sarah Ade­jkum who in addi­tion to being an amaz­ing artist is also a SACHA Staff. These shirts with will be screen print­ed by Cen­tre 3 using white ink on black t‑shirts will be avail­able in small, medi­um, large, extra larges 2XL and 3XL. Each shirt is for sale for $20 and these funds allow us to con­tin­ue to offer amaz­ing ser­vices and pro­grams at SACHA. To order your TBTN shirt please e‑transfer Htee at htee@​sacha.​ca and in the mes­sage include your con­tact infor­ma­tion and shirt sizes required. You will be con­tact­ed when your shirt or ready for pick up at the SACHA office. Thank you for your SACHA support! 

Com­mu­ni­ty Part­ners Sol­i­dar­i­ty – You Are Not Alone: — Apolo­gies from SACHA that we are miss­ing this sec­tion of the tran­script. We will update this sec­tion as soon as we are able to. 

Thank You… And There’s More!: 

And that’s basic it for Take Back the Night so thank you, thank you, thank you for com­ing. We hope you are feel­ing that amaz­ing Take Back the Night ener­gy as you leave tonight… or I guess don’t leave because you are already in your home. But we do want to let you know there is more com­ing. Next week SACHA will be a part of the Ontario-wide Vir­tu­al Take Back the Night being led by the Ontario Coali­tion of Rape Cri­sis Cen­tres. It’s hap­pen­ing next Thurs­day Sep­tem­ber 24th so please check out our social media as well as the Ontario Coali­tion of Rape Cri­sis Cen­tres social media so you can get all the details and keep this Take Back the Night ener­gy going. Thank you, thank you again and byeeee!

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