On February 14th, 2017 RWC/MAG made a banner and brought it down to the Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls (boys, men and trans people). It is always a very moving and sad ceremony. But good to be able to show up and give support and acknowledgement to the dire impacts of colonialism on Indigenous communities.
Red Wagon Collective/Monday Art Group members joined with OCAP in the Sleepover at John Tory’s to protest the 18 million $$$ that the city is supposed to put into affordable housing and more shelter space, but instead is being put into some unused fund! A small group of us brought our Tent Project installation work with us, but due to police overdoing their jobs, we weren’t able to put it up. Instead we lay the quilt on the ground and worked on some knitting and crochet. Before long we were joined by some folks who wanted to get in on the yarn action.
It was a cold, cold night. But the vibes were so great at the sleepover that it made the cold endurable. OCAP served amazing food and there was music, singing and drumming and great speeches!
We also had our homelessness flag displayed, it always gets a lot of attention. We still talk about the politically dubious image of the flag – we think about turning it upside down as a way to symbolically decolonize it. We’ve had mixed views on this.
RWC/MAG were very happy to be part of this action.
It was a very sunny day when some of us from MAG went to this OCAP demonstration. It felt good to hit the streets and do our bit to let Toronto know that affordable housing needs to be a priority. The marchers had pizza, coleslaw, bean salad and watermelon a la OCAP in the park behind 51 division and then headed down to the Distillery district where the Panam had a booth for tourists – there we chanted and let the tourists know that Toronto is not taking responsibility for the conditions of un-affordability in the city and that the cost of the Panam doesn’t help…..We also handed out a postcard with our homelessness flag on it that people could mail in to John Tory demanding more rent geared to income housing…
“….We will be staging actions… throughout the summer. Contact the Office of the Mayor at (416) 397-2489 or firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know you demand adequate provision for the needs of the homeless and that you oppose their removal from the central part of the City. There will be no peace for the wealthy while the attack on vital services continues unabated.”
For what it’s worth my letter to John Tory
Hello John Tory,
I am writing in protest of the scaling back of shelters in the downtown core and any plan that would see shelters moved to inner suburban areas. While it may be necessary to add shelters to areas outside the downtown core, removing shelters from downtown Toronto would cause immeasurable harm to the homelessness community.
I live in a community with a women’s shelter close to downtown Toronto. I have also been involved in an arts group in the shelter for the past 5 years. This shelter is an important part of the community along with the other low income housing. unfortunately, gentrification is shrinking the low income inhabitation of the neighbourhood and thus the cultural and class diversity is also diminishing. This is really disheartening. As a society, I believe we benefit from the scant opportunities we have to share space across class difference and learn from the different paths we each walk. I am unmeasurably enriched by the work and conversations with women at the shelter in terms of my understanding of the society in which we live. Homelessness and poverty are ethical problem which we must face politically and as a society. Pushing these issues out of our sight will only increase the vulnerability of those who are already the most vulnerable. What we should be moving towards is greater supports and inclusion for homeless and low income folks.
Red Wagon Collective
John Tory’s response:
Thank you for your email regarding Toronto shelters. My office receives many letters from residents of Toronto with ideas on how we can make our city a better place to live, work and play. I will pass your thoughts onto staff in my office who deal with our Shelter Support and Housing policy files for their consideration.
We live in a good city, a really good city. My goal in the next four years is to unite us as one Toronto and turn a good city into a truly great one.
Thank you again for taking the time to write and share your ideas.
Mayor of Toronto
This response in no way indicates a commitment to low income inhabitation in the city of Toronto. What is John Tory’s idea of a truly great city? a mega city with mega events and tons of condo’s and fancy parks? play for who? we know who… not us.
Attacks on the rights of poor and disabled people: