Fringe News: Staff Reflections and Resources

Approximately one year after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and shortly after the publication of Fringe's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Audit, we as a staff wished to take some time to reflect on the past year, the changes we have observed in our community, and ones we have made in our own lives. 

We recognize that framing the fight against long-standing systems of oppression solely as personal growth narratives can be harmful, and often trivialize movements that exist far beyond an individualistic sphere. This is not what we aim to do in this post.  

Instead, we aim to spotlight resources and organization that have touched us as individuals over the last year that we hope will also be meaningful and resonate with the folks in our organization’s community. We believe that activism must begin on an individual level. 

This compilation is also a reminder to us and to our community that when fighting systems of oppression that are this large and deeply rooted, consistency is key. There will always be more to do and we have to keep working to make our communities a safer, more accepting, and more accessible place.  


RESOURCES:

The following resources have been compiled by Fringe staff and were published in a newsletter on June 11, 2021.

REFLECTIONS:

The following reflections from Fringe staff were published in a newsletter on July 11, 2021. 

Ellen Reade, Future Makers Intern
Treaty 6 Outreach

“I used to operate under the false assumptions that my time and donations were best directed entirely towards non-profits and charities, but this past year I became aware of how important it is to support local, grassroots, mutual aid networks. One network in my home city (amiskwaciwâskahikan/Edmonton) is doing a lot of important work in harm reduction, advocacy, and street outreach is Treaty 6 Outreach. They regularly post mutual aid requests on their social media, and are always accepting donations at treaty6outreach@gmail.com. 

I encourage everyone to look for similar networks where they live and find ways to contribute. There are many barriers to reaching nonprofit or charity status, and this shouldn’t discourage your support. Additionally, mutual aid vitally operates outside of capitalist notions of “organization.” Mutual aid is about getting people the things they need, without the judgment or slow bureaucracy of “organizations.” Networks like Treaty 6 Outreach are able use your donations immediately and meaningfully, in ways that directly benefit members of your community.”


Suzanne Wilkie, Festival Management Intern
FoodShare

“I've learned that an important part of my own personal anti-racism work has been to shift what I do day-to-day and re-evaluate where my money is going and who it's supporting.  FoodShare is an organization that walks their talk and lives their values as a company through their programs and initiatives, pay and hiring practices. I've chosen to show my support by ordering their weekly produce box, proceeds of which go towards supporting Toronto's most nutritionally vulnerable through their diverse programs and initiatives.  After a year of subscribing to their produce box and newsletter, it has solidified for me how important it is to find the organizations that are already doing the work to dismantle oppressive systems and support them (with $$$) so they can continue to have the resources they need.”


Isabela Solis-Lozano, Outreach Coordinator
Creato

“This past year I have learned how important it is to be an active member of my community, both in order to positively impact change, as well as to find support with people who have similar life experiences. I had never felt particularly connected to the Latine community and found myself craving a sense of closeness with a culture I had distanced myself from as an impressionable teenager trying to fit into white-dominated spaces. 

During this time of self-discovery and unlearning my own biases, I came across Creato, an amazing community group for Latine creatives in Canada. Joining this community was such a joy, the folks who run the initiative truly care for everyone. They often host creative sharing events and also run a Slack (messaging app) for folks looking to connect with other creatives. Engaging with my peers who have similar cultural and identity baggage as I do has been instrumental as I unpack and challenge my own internalized racism.”


Claire Wynveen, Communications Manager
Indigenous Canada

“This course, which I took last fall, changed my perspective on so many things. Now I find myself armed with the vocabulary, the legal definitions, and the treaty details I needed to be a more informed, educated ally. Now it's my responsibility to learn more and dig deeper. I found myself pausing the lectures after every statement to write it all down. “I must learn this. I must not forget this. I must teach this to my children.” From stalemate legal battles between First Nations communities and the federal government to the difference between land titles and treaties, this course helped me re-write my own version of Canadian history. In the months since, I’ve gone back to my notes numerous times. I’m so grateful this free resource exists.”


Tessa Cernik, Projects & Operations Manager 
Jonny Appleseed 

“Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead follows a young two-spirit Indiqueer man finding his way in Winnipeg. Over the last year, many of us non-BIPOC folks have been searching out and consuming fiction by BIPOC writers, which brings up the question of whether we are consuming these stories with ethical curiosity and support, or for “literary voyeurism” to others’ trauma. Jonny Appleseed was published in 2018, but was named the 2021 Canada Reads novel by CBC, spotlighting it as an excellent example of contemporary Indigenous literature. Are people reading it out of guilt, or to see and understand how settler colonialism continues to especially hurt the most vulnerable within Indigenous communities? I have been coming back to Jonny over and over again over the last year, and especially with the finding of the 215 remains in Kamloops. As Whitehead says, 'Jonny embodies history and futurity in equilibrium, witness his wickedness and his vulnerability'.”


Laura Paduch, Managing Director
SURJ Toronto

"June 2021 finds me frankly, feeling the weight. Our world has been heating up, literally, and otherwise, and the racist colonial systems that this nation was built upon have been cooking and bubbling up and are boiling over in violent and traumatic attacks and clashes; an endless wave of intolerance, discrimination, and injustice demonstrated over and over again. I am a settler, descended from a Chinese-Caribbean immigrant and a first-generation Eastern European settler. I can pass in this body, I have a European last name, but I don’t need to be directly attacked before I am moved to join the counter anti-[insert any non-dominant race] movements. White supremacy is baked into our western society, and relentlessly indoctrinates new generations and even new arrivals – it is the most harmful and toxic pandemic of our age.

You already know this. And you know that the work to undo and rebuild is far from done, only just beginning. So I offer ways you can act: SURJ (Standing Up For Racial Justice) Toronto is a grassroots organization based in the GTA that organizes white folx in anti-racist action and moves to dismantle white supremacy and colonialism. They offer many levels of ways to engage, support, and take action, and provide opportunities to learn and develop skills to become racial justice activists. No action is too small towards change."


Lucy Eveleigh, Executive Director
Me & White Supremacy and My Grandmother's Hands

“Shortly after the horrific murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020 I was invited to join a group; Students of Anti-Racism (SOAR). A group of people got together and individuals stepped up to host weekly sessions to discuss the book Me & White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad. I met with 9 others, some strangers, some acquaintances, some Canadian, some American and me, the Brit. I am so grateful to have had that space to discuss my thoughts and feelings in a safe space with people I have grown to trust very deeply. So much so that we decided to continue on as a group with another book, My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem.

I had intended to write something about the last year and the changes I have made in my life, but mostly my thoughts are focused on the horrific hate crime that occurred in London this past week. My partner and his family are Muslim and live in London, Ontario. My heart breaks for the Salman family and all those that mourn. The senseless violence and hate that we have seen since time began feels like it will never end. We have made progress but it is so slow and it is so not enough.

I know change starts on a personal level, so I do all I can to live by my beliefs, to educate my children, my peers, my family and to be a leader of an organization that does better to represent the city we live in and make sure everyone has access to the arts.

So I encourage anyone who is unsure of what to do, especially if you exist in a white body, to just start. We are already too late. Read the books (there are so many, the two I mention are a great start). Make sure they are written by BIPOC folks and do not be afraid to get it wrong. Be open to learning and listening. Change is coming. It’s started. But we have to keep working and we have to keep the faith.”