Return to “Normal” 15   Leave a comment

Returning to normal after pandemic isn’t good enough

By David Suzuki with contributions from Senior Editor and Writer Ian Hanington

After months of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people just want to get back to “normal.” We will overcome this crisis. But “normal” means continued climate disruption and species extinction, growing inequalities, increasing pollution and health risks and the possibility of further new disease outbreaks.

Gray oil rig during golden hour

More information on this can be found at:

https://davidsuzuki.org/story/returning-to-normal-after-pandemic-isnt-good-enough/

Posted September 13, 2020 by allanbaker in Environment, Politics

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Return to “Normal” 14

Toronto’s COVID-19 recovery must address the climate crisis

Recovery plan should accelerate transition to zero-carbon city, write activists

 JUL 27, 2020 BY MICHAEL POLANYI  

Published in TORONTO.COM

Michael Polanyi

Michael Polanyi is a climate campaigner at Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Recent extreme heat, drought and flooding in Toronto and southern Ontario are stark reminders that we must not forget the mounting climate crisis as we forge a recovery from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has hurt people who have the fewest options to protect themselves — those who are homeless or underhoused, people living in long-term care, and front-line service workers who lack the option of working at home. In Toronto, these tend to be Black, Indigenous, racialized, low-income people, and the elderly.

Extreme heat — and other climate impacts — pose a major threat to these same populations. 

Both COVID-19 — and the climate crisis — challenge us to model a recovery plan that addresses deep-seated inequities and improves the health and well-being of all Toronto residents. 

Mayors around the world are rebuilding and reimagining their cities. Paris is installing 650 kilometres of new bike lanes. Seattle is banning tenant evictions for six months. Berlin is expanding access to urban food gardens to 50,000 residents. Milan is planting 3 million trees. 

Torontonians see some signs of hope that the recovery from COVID-19 will bring positive change here, too.

In May, Mayor John Tory joined other large-city Mayors in signing the C40 Cities COVID-19 Recovery declaration, committing to address the climate crisis, and “do everything in our power … to ensure that the recovery from COVID-19 is healthy, equitable and sustainable.” 

Also in May, the new Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild was mandated to include climate change and resilience in its recommendations this fall to City Council. Council also agreed to quickly complete the long-debated, 15-km Bloor-Danforth bike lane, and this month Mayor Tory indicated his support for fast-tracked construction of at least two of five proposed bus express lanes (on Eglinton East and Jane).

Now, the City needs to build on these important first steps by ensuring its COVID-19 recovery plan accelerates the transition to an equitable and resilient zero-carbon city.

We believe there is an unprecedented opportunity to forge an economic recovery that also reduces inequity and protects us from future climate shocks. 

Alongside member groups of the Toronto Climate Action Network, we are calling on Mayor Tory and city council to implement — with support from provincial and federal governments — the following cost-effective actions to kick-start a fair and sustainable economic recovery:

● launch a low-carbon jobs strategy focused on training and hiring equity-seeking groups including racialized youth; 

● ramp up energy efficiency retrofits of multi-residential buildings to reduce emissions, improve living conditions and create new jobs;

● expand green space, tree cover, and green roofs, especially in neighbourhoods most vulnerable to extreme weather;

● expand community-based gardens and food programs; 

● provide safe transit options by ensuring accessible and equitable transit service, protected bike lanes, and expanded Bike Share rentals;

● strengthen resilience and emergency preparedness by supporting neighbourhood-based hubs and resident networks. 

Our city will no doubt experience more harsh shocks in the future, whether from climate change or pandemics. Now is the time to build a more equitable and sustainable city that prepares us for what lies ahead.

Michael Polanyi, a climate campaigner at Toronto Environmental Alliance (michael@torontoenvironment.org), wrote this with Lyn Adamson, co-chair of ClimateFast (lyn@climatefast.ca); and Madelyn Webb, director of community engagement at CREW Toronto (thecrew@crewtoronto.ca).

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16 July 2020

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, Deputy Minister Freeland, Minister Morneau and Minister Guilbeault:

We represent tens of thousands of artists, writers, technicians, and performers from many backgrounds and regions across Canada. Our voices are united; we call upon the Government of Canada to ensure the financial well-being of all residents by implementing a permanent Basic Income Guarantee.

The pandemic’s wrath on lives has been swift. Millions are still out of work. Those whose financial situation was not previously precarious find themselves sinking into financial quicksand, their lives instantly upended through no fault of their own. The arts, culture, heritage, tourism, and creative industries have been deeply affected: productions have been canceled, venues shuttered, and livelihoods lost. In these unprecedented times, millions of Canadians, including those in the arts and culture sector, exist in a precarious reality. In this new reality, we are all vulnerable to unexpected changes in circumstances and unexpected hardships. Poverty can become a reality for all of us, abruptly, without warning.

Financial insecurity and the cracks in our health- and social-support systems have been highlighted by the pandemic, but they were always present. Structural inequalities disproportionately affect vulnerable and marginalized communities, making it more likely for people with disabilities, LGBTQ2+, Black, Indigenous, people of colour, refugees and immigrants, women, single mothers and others to slip into systemic cycles of poverty and poor health.

Many support programs have been eroded during the last few decades, with federal, provincial and territorial income assistance and disability support systems consistently failing to provide economic dignity or meet basic human needs. Furthermore, employment-insurance programs have not adapted to the realities of the gig economy or the self-employed, and a large proportion of workers do not meet their required criteria, which is often based on full-time work. If workers do qualify, they often face barriers to re-entering the labour force in the form of reduced support when short-term employment opportunities arise.

The gig economy is undermining decades of worker protections. As participants, many arts-and-culture-sector workers are subject to precarious short-term contracts, without access to benefits, paid sick leave, or even employment insurance. Today, the world of general labour is looking a lot like the way art labour has looked for decades. We write to express our collective concern regarding the precarious state of labour that is in urgent need of reform and redress.

Canada is at a crossroads. The government can continue to look the other way, allowing our most vulnerable to fall through the cracks of a systematically broken social safety net and perpetuate a history of economic insecurity, anxiety and fear. Or, we can take this opportunity to bring about much-needed change and make a meaningful difference that will lead to a brighter future. Establishing a Basic Income Guarantee will help to create a healthier, more equitable social safety system that provides financial support, elevating people and ensuring that no one is left behind.

We commend your leadership and the work of the Government of Canada in implementing and extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other measures, including support for the arts, sports, and cultural sectors. However, too many are still being left behind, held back by barriers beyond their control. A Basic Income Guarantee would build on your existing programs, including CERB, and provide financial security to meet people’s basic needs and allow them to participate in society, living with dignity regardless of their work status.

As stakeholders of the arts and culture sector, we ask you to give Canadians the chance not only to survive, but to live.

Towards this:

We, the undersigned, are calling upon the Government of Canada to honour its commitment to poverty reduction and instate a Basic Income Guarantee to make a historic investment in a better tomorrow;

We call upon the Government of Canada to hereby reduce the inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic: to remove the financial obstacles faced by our most vulnerable, to alleviate gender-based poverty, and to address the economic inequality based in persistent racism and colonialism;

We call upon the Government of Canada to implement a universally accessible and unconditional basic income program that guarantees an income floor to anyone in need.

In the pandemic’s wake, the arts communities, versatile and adaptable, are evolving in new and exciting ways. Artists, writers, technicians, and performers will continue to create and to inspire the world around them. Their creation of novel forms of digital culture, music and performance art, online entertainment, movies, literary works, arts and crafts will allow people to weather times of solitude, hardship, and ruptures in social behaviour and contribute to their overall well-being.

We envision a Basic Income Guarantee that ensures financial stability without eroding the existing federal support for arts and culture programs. Unconditional access to a basic income will support the remarkable creative capacity of individuals and provide employment opportunities, bold visions and community inspiration.

Great challenges are often the catalyst to transform societies and our ways of being – the challenges we face today are no exception. We require a Basic Income Guarantee. The opportunity for change is here and now.

Sincerely,

Craig Berggold – Media artist / Team leader, Case for Basic Income and the Arts, Ontario Basic Income Network

Zainub Verjee – Laureate, 2020 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Outstanding Contribution

Clayton Windatt – Independent artist / curator

With, and on behalf of:

Organizations

  1. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE)
  2. Canadian Federation of Musicians / Federation canadienne des musiciens
  3. Canadian Actors’ Equity Association (CAEA)
  4. Fédération culturelle canadienne-française (FCCF)
  5. Kehewin Native Dance Theatre
  6. Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC)
  7. Regroupement des artistes en arts visuels du Québec (RAAV)
  8. Conseil québécois du théâtre (CQT)
  9. Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference / Conférence des collectifs et des Centres d’artistes autogérés
  10. Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC)
  11. Independent Media Arts Alliance / Alliance des arts médiatiques indépendants
  12. Canadian Crafts Federation / Fédération canadienne des métiers d’art
  13. Association acadienne des artistes professionnel.le.s du Nouveau-Brunswick
  14. League of Canadian Poets
  15. Canadian Dance Assembly / L’Assemblée canadienne de la danse (CDA / ACD)
  16. The Writers’ Union of Canada
  17. Dancer Transition Resource Centre/Centre de ressources et transition pour danseurs
  18. Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois (UNEQ)
  19. Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA)
  20. Electric City Culture Council Peterborough
  21. Canadian Federation of Musicians, Ottawa Local 180
  22. CARFAC – Ontario
  23. New Brunswick Crafts Council
  24. Basic Income YYC Arts Collective, Calgary
  25. Prospect Human Services, Studio C
  26. Kingston Arts Council
  27. CARFAC – Alberta
  28. Media Arts Network of Ontario
  29. Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts
  30. Quinte Arts Council
  31. Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists/West
  32. Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists/East
  33. CSARN (Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network)
  34. Associated Designers of Canada

 

Individuals

  1. Moridja Kitenge Banza – 2020 Sobey Art Award – Quebec / Multidisciplinary Artist
  2. Ruth Cuthand – 2020 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Visual Artist
  3. Jorge Lozano – 2020 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Filmmaker
  4. Anna Torma – 2020 Saidye Bronfman Award / 2020 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts
  5. Marlene Creates – 2019 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Lifetime Artistic Achievement
  6. Alison Duke – 2019 ByBlacks People’s Choice Award Winner, Best Film Director
  7. Ali Kazimi – 2019 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Filmmaker and Media Artist
  8. Gertrude Kearns – 2019 Member of the Order of Canada / Visual Artist
  9. Andrew James Paterson – 2019 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts
  10. Midi Onodera – 2018 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Media Artist
  11. Adrian Stimson – 2018 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Visual and Performance Artist
  12. Marcus Youssef – 2017 Siminovitch Prize for Theatre Laureate, Playwright
  13. George Elliot Clarke – 2017-16 Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate
  14. Mike Hoolboom – 2017 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Filmmaker
  15. Christopher House, C.M. – 2017 Member of the Order of Canada / Choreographer
  16. Glenn Lewis – 2017 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Visual Artist
  17. Colleen Murphy – 2016 & 2007 Governor General’s Award for Literary Merit, Drama
  18. Emma Donoghue – 2016 Nominated for Academy Award – Best Adapted Screenplay / 2010 Finalist, Man Booker Prize
  19. Jayce Salloum – 2014 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Media Artist
  20. Peggy Baker CM, O.Ont, LLD, Dlitt  2009 Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance
  21. Adrianne Pieczonka, O.C. FRSC – 2008 Officer of the Order of Canada / Opera Singer / Chair in Voice, Glenn Gould School, Royal Conservatory of Music
  22. Lata Pada – 2008 Member of the Order of Canada, Choreographer / Dancer
  23. Eric Metcalfe, R.C.A., LL, lit – 2008 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Interdisciplinary Artist
  24. Vera Frenkel – 2006 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Multidisciplinary Artist
  25. Paul Wong – 2005 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Video Artist
  26. Vern Thiessen  2003 Governor General’s Award for Literary Merit, Drama
  27. Jamelie Hassan – 2001 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Visual Artist
  28. Djanet Sears – 1998 Governor General’s Award for Literary Merit, Drama
  29. Colleen Wagner – 1996 Governor General’s Award for Literary Merit, Drama
  30. Judy Rebick – Writer
  31. Lillian Allen – Poet / Writer / Performer
  32. Rosa John – Artistic Director, Kehewin Native Dance Theatre
  33. John Greyson – Video / Film Artist
  34. Richard Fung – Professor Emeritus, Ontario College of Art & Design Univ.
  35. Carole Conde – Independent Artist
  36. Karl Beveridge – Independent Artist
  37. Min Sook Lee – Filmmaker / Teacher
  38. Indu Vashist – Director, South Asian Visual Arts Centre
  39. Peter Morin – Faculty of Art, Ontario College of Art & Design University
  40. Giovanna Riccio – Poet
  41. Krisztina Szabo – Opera Singer
  42. Carol Podedworny – Director, McMaster Museum of Art
  43. Devyani Saltzman – Director of Programming, Art Gallery of Ontario
  44. Gerald Beaulieu – Visual Artist / Former President CARFAC National
  45. Peter McGillivray – Baritone / Opera Singer / Council Member, Canadian Actor’s Equity Assoc.
  46. Sylvie Meste Directrice générale, Conseil Québécois du Théâtre
  47. Anne Bertrand – Director, Artist-Run Centres and Collectives Conference
  48. April Britski – National Executive Director, CARFAC
  49. Maegen Black – Director, Canadian Crafts Federation / Freelance Author
  50. Scott McLeod – Editor, Prefix Magazine
  51. Sarindar Dhaliwal – Visual Artist
  52. Florence MacDonald – Playwright
  53. Andrea Fatona – Professor, Ontario College of Art & Design University
  54. Peter Flemming – Actor
  55. Pierre-André Doucet – Pianist / Co-directeur artistique, Été musical de Barachois
  56. Julien LeBlanc – Concert Pianist / Co-Artistic Director, Barachois Summer Music
  57. Chris Tolley – Playwright / Artistic Director, Expect Theatre
  58. Narendra Pachkhede – Writer / Artist
  59. Clive Robertson – Artist / retired Art History Professor, Queens University
  60. Judith Marcuse, LL.D.(Hon.) International Centre of Art for Social Change
  61. Marie Magistry – Singer
  62. Dot Tuer – Writer / Cultural Historia
  63. Brenda Longfellow – Independent Artist
  64. Glen Richards – Independent Artist
  65. Lisa Myers – Artist / Curator / Ass. Professor, York University
  66. Chantal Dionne – Soprano / Voice Teacher
  67. Kyo Maclear – Writer
  68. Lee Williams – Interdisciplinary Artist
  69. John Farah – Musician
  70. Stéphanie Pothier – Mezzo-Soprano / Classical Singer
  71. Elisa Paloschi – Filmmaker
  72. Jennifer Dysart – Filmmaker
  73. Sky Gilbert – Writer
  74. Catherine Hahn – Designer
  75. Paul Kirby – Caravan Stage Society
  76. Adriana Kelder – Caravan Stage Society
  77. Susan Lord – Professor, Queens University, Cultural Studies
  78. Ron Burnett – Writer / Media Practitioner
  79. Hank Bull – Independent Artist
  80. Penny Joy – Documentary Video Producer
  81. Ron Benner – Film / Design
  82. Velcrow Ripper – Filmmaker
  83. Nova Ami – Filmmaker
  84. Marcia Johnson – Playwright / Actor / Dramaturge / Audiobook director / Activist
  85. Alexis O’Hara – Interdisciplinary Artist
  86. Sydney Lancaster – Artist
  87. Dennis Day – Artist/ Editor/ Educator
  88. Yael – Media / Visual Artist, Ontario College of Art & Design University
  89. Antoine Bourges – Film Director, University of British Columbia
  90. Jessie Golem – Photographer
  91. Pam Patterson –  Performance / Visual Artist, Ontario College of Art & Design Univ.
  92. Andrea Cohen-B – Director, Meta4films
  93. Dirk Van Stralen – Independent Artist / Theatre Practitioner
  94. Atefeh Khademolreza – Video Artist
  95. Sally Lee – Musician / Arts Manager / Board Member, Wavelength, and CONTACT Photography Festival
  96. Elaine Brière – Filmmaker / Photographer
  97. Jude Griebel – Visual Artist
  98. Henry Tsang – Artist / Assoc. Professor, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
  99. Reid Shier – Director / Curator, Polygon Gallery
  100. Cornelia Wyngaarden – Independent Artist
  101. Mark Parlett – Independent Artist / Musician
  102. Liz Park – Curator, UB Buffalo Art Galleries
  103. Tazeen Qayyum – Independent Visual Artist
  104. Marc Glassman – Writer / Editor
  105. Judy Wolfe – Writer
  106. Demetra Christakos – Director / Curator
  107. Rina Fraticelli – Director
  108. Stefan St-Laurent – Artist / Curator / Adjunct Professor, University of Ottawa
  109. Bryan Mulvihill – Independent Artist / Curator
  110. Julia Hutchings – Filmmaker
  111. Joanne Tod – Independent Artist
  112. Scott Marsden – Independent Curator
  113. Phinder Dulai – Author / Editor
  114. Nadia Myre – Independent Artist
  115. Shawna Dempsey – Independent Artist
  116. Lorri Millan – Independent Artist
  117. Bogdan Luca – Painter
  118. Rafael Goldchain – Photographer / Professor, Sheridan College, Faculty of Animation Arts and Design
  119. Gary Kibbins – Video Artist / Teacher, Queens University, Film & Media
  120. Brian Kelly – Independent Artist
  121. Barbara Evans – Filmmaker / Professor
  122. Catherine Osborne – Writer / Editor
  123. Ananya Ohri – Independent Cultural Worker / Producer
  124. Aaron Rotenberg – Media Artist / Spiritual Leader
  125. Faisal Anwar – New Media / Interactive Artist
  126. Rosemary Heather – Arts Journalist
  127. Lynne Fernie – Artist / Filmmaker / Programmer
  128. Makiko Hara – Independent Curator
  129. Gary Varro – Artistic Director, Q City Cinema and Performatorium
  130. Sue Donaldson – Arts Administrator
  131. Christian Bernard – Singer, Independent Artist
  132. Scott Miller Berry – Filmmaker / Cultural Worker
  133. Frances Loeffler – Curator
  134. Ann MacDonald – Director / Curator
  135. Peggy Gale – Independent Curator / Arts Writer
  136. Penelope Stewart – Visual Artist
  137. Bruce Barber – Independent Artist
  138. David Lester – Graphic Novelist
  139. Taien Ng-Chan – Independent Artist
  140. Flavio Belli – Independent Artist / Curator / Collector
  141. Jason St-Laurent – Curator
  142. Lisa Deanne Smith – Curator, Onsite Gallery
  143. Milly Ristvedt – Self-employed Visual Artist
  144. Michelle Gay – Independent Artist / Educator
  145. Shannon Coates, DMA – Voice Educator
  146. Sharlene Bamboat – Artist / Cultural Worker
  147. Su Ditta – Curator / Arts Administrator
  148. Don Bouzek – 2014 City of Edmonton Award of Excellence / 2005 Alberta Centennial Medal / Artist
  149. Elia Kirby – Great Northern Way Scene Shop and Arts Factory Society
  150. Vincenzo Pietropaolo – Photographer / Writer
  151. Pam Harris – Documentary Photographer / Writer
  152. Shirley Yanover – Visual Artist
  153. Steve Stober – Photographer
  154. Karen Knights – Archive Manager, VIVO Media Arts Centre
  155. Rahul Verma – Playwright / Theatre Director, Teesri Duniya
  156. Betty Julian – Independent Curator / Adjunct Curator, Prefix ICA
  157. Ashes Withyman – Visual Artist
  158. Susan Crean – Writer
  159. Hamal Docter – Arts Policy Consultant
  160. Gita Hashemi – Independent Artist / Curator / Writer
  161. Francesca Vivenza – Mixed-media Artist
  162. Gary Magwood – Belleville Downtown Documentary Film Festival
  163. Michael Mirolla – Writer / Publisher, Guernica Editions
  164. Bryant Didier – Evolutionary Music Cooperative – EvMc
  165. Meg MacKay – Screenwriter
  166. Jennifer Smith – Distribution, Video Pool Media Arts Centre / Independent Curator
  167. Michael Trommer – Sound Artist, Ontario College of Art & Design University
  168. Camille Turner – Media and Performance Artist / Curator
  169. Erin Ball – Circus Artist / Owner, Kingston Circus Arts
  170. Jason Britski – Filmmaker
  171. Christine Swintak – Artist / Educator / Creative Consultant
  172. Kevin Barrett – Musician, CFM Toronto Local 149
  173. Robin Moir – President, CFM, Local 518
  174. Susie Moore – Kingston Musicians’ Union, Local 518
  175. Claudia Leduc – Multi-media Coordinator
  176. Sky Goodden – Publisher of Momus, Editor / Critic
  177. Norm Foster – Playwright / Actor
  178. Anna Chatterton Playwright
  179. Sunny Drake 2019 Stratford Festival Playwright in-residence
  180. Pierre-Luc Landry – Writer
  181. Colin Miner – Artist / Educator
  182. Steve Bates – Artist / Musician
  183. Denise Young – Picture this…Film Festival, Calgary
  184. Jeffrey Stonehouse – Flutist / Artistic Director, Ensemble Paramirabo
  185. Kristina Lemieux – Executive Director, Generator
  186. Carmen Gibbs – Directrice générale, Association acadienne des artistes professionnel.le.s du Nouveau-Brunswick
  187. Eleanor King – Independent Artist / Teacher
  188. Catherine Ballachey – President, LMDA Canada Board
  189. Matt McGeachy – Company Dramaturge, Factory Theatre
  190. Megan Johnson – Performance Scholar / Dramaturg
  191. Marie Barlizo – Playwright
  192. David Geary – Playwright / Dramaturg / Educator, Capilano University
  193. Joanna Garfinkel – Freelance Dramaturg
  194. Lindsay Lachance – Artistic Associate, National Arts Centre, Indigenous Theatre
  195. Pearl Van Geest – Independent Artist / Teacher
  196. Paula Murray – Independent Artist
  197. Alexandra Gelis – Independent Media Artist
  198. Judy Radul – Artist /Professor, School of Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser Univ.
  199. Tam-Ca Vo-Van – Director, SAW Gallery
  200. Karen Kaeja – 2019 Dance Ontario’s Lifetime Achievement Award
  201. Allen Kaeja – 2019 Dance Ontario’s Lifetime Achievement Award
  202. Andrea Donaldson – Artistic Director, Nightwood Theatre
  203. Melissa R Knive – Artist, Wolf Ears Art
  204. Allison Cushing – Music Yukon / Yukon Arts Foundation,
  205. Andrea Clark – Caravan Stage Company
  206. Dave Babcock – Musician
  207. Maria Dunn – 2017 Juno-nominated Songwriter, Edmonton Music Prize Artist
  208. Bob Tildesley – Musician
  209. Dana Wylie – 2018 Canadian Folk Music Award-nominated Musician
  210. Patricia Darbasie – Actor
  211. Jane Heather – Theatre Artist
  212. Brooke Leifso – Theatre Artist
  213. Mieko Ouchi – Theatre Artist / Writer
  214. Kate Ryan – Actor / Theatre Director
  215. Brian Deedrick – Opera and Theatre Director
  216. Tim Yakimec – Artistic Director, Edmonton Opera
  217. Karen Bishop – Visual Artist / Alberta Arts Action
  218. Jill Thomson – Visual Artist / Co-founder Alberta Arts Action
  219. Trisia Eddy – Visual Artist / Writer / Alberta Arts Action
  220. Mary Joyce – Visual Artist
  221. Jannie Edwards – Writer / Editor/ Teacher
  222. Paula E. Kirman – Writer / Photographer / Musician
  223. Myrna Kostash – Writer
  224. Alice Major – First Poet Laureate City of Edmonton / Founder, Edmonton Poetry Festival
  225. Lorna Thomas – Chair, Documentary Organization of Canada-Alberta / Filmmaker
  226. Ava Karvonen – Filmmaker
  227. Conni Massing – Playwright / Screenwriter
  228. Kenneth T. Williams – Playwright / Dramaturg
  229. Denise Roy – Arts Manager, Alberta Arts Action
  230. Debbie Houle – 2005 Juno Nominee for Aboriginal Recording of the Year as a member of Asani
  231. Anna Marie Sewell – 2011 Poet Laureate City of Edmonton
  232. Marek Tyler – 2020 Juno Nominee Indigenous Music Album of the Year as a member of nêhiyawak
  233. Sophy Romvari Film / Design
  234. Justine A. Chambers – Contemporary Dance Artist
  235. Daniel Akira Stadnicki – Musician
  236. Yvonne Ng – 2016 Jacqueline Lemieux Award, Canada Council for the Arts
  237. Belinda Cornish – Actor / Writer
  238. Collette “Coco” Murray – 2019 Toronto Arts Foundation Community Arts Award / Dance Educator
  239. Johanna Householder – Artist / Professor Emerita, OCAD University
  240. Pamela Tzeng – Independent Artist / Dancers’ Studio West
  241. Kristi Hanson – Actor
  242. P. Megan Andrews – Dance Artist
  243. Jason Hardwick – Actor
  244. Ame Henderson – Choreographer
  245. Robert Binet – Creative Producer of CreativAction, The National Ballet of Canada
  246. Kevin Ormsby – Dance Artist / Choreographer / Artistic Director, KasheDance
  247. Sheldon Elter – Actor
  248. Mary Jo Major – Writer
  249. Christine Hanson – Cellist / Composer
  250. Caterina Edwards – Writer
  251. Colleen Huston – Visual Artist
  252. Marce Merrell – Writer
  253. Sydney Lancaster – Visual Artist
  254. Miriam Dunn – Poet
  255. Maurice Mierau – Poet
  256. Lana St-Louis
  257. Valentin Brown – Independent Artist
  258. Mitchell Ellam – Executive Director, White Water Gallery, North Bay
  259. Ayumi Goto – Independent Artist
  260. Cari Green – Film Producer
  261. Michelle van Beusekom – Executive Director, Documentary Organization of Canada
  262. Anna Mae Alexander – Producer / Actor
  263. Maggie MacKenzie – Actor
  264. Kurt Archer – Playwright / Director / Actor
  265. Aurora Borin – Musician
  266. Ariella Pahlke – Video artist / Curator
  267. Jessica Hallenbeck – Lantern Films
  268. Bill Kimball – Public Energy: Artistic and Executive Director Performing Arts
  269. Gabe Pollock – Journalist
  270. Chad Hogan – Market Hall Performing Arts
  271. Kate Story – Dancer / Writer / Actor / Director
  272. Peg McCraken – Peterborough Singers
  273. Vonnie Von Helmolt – Film Producer
  274. Nadine Changfoot – Professor Trent University, Art and Disability / Dance / Film
  275. Alex Bierk – Visual Artist
  276. Elisha Rubacha – Writer / Publisher
  277. Lesley Fletcher – Executive Director, League of Canadian Poets
  278. Rajinderpal S. Pal – Poet
  279. Colin Wolf – Artistic Director, Gwaandak Theatre, Whitehorse

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 “Today, we don’t know the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic or its future impact on transnational economics, government, or societies.

But we do know that things we believed impossible became possible overnight.”

Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners magazine, July 2020, page 17

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Take Responsibility

 

 

 

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The core of Emmay’s thinking on our current context might be summarized in this statement of hers:

Those of us who hold resources and influence, organizationally or personally, need to be willing to have uncomfortable and challenging conversations with our peers, communities, co-workers, employees and supporters – and be willing to listen to racialized people who offer the gift of sharing their experiences with us. It is only through the willingness to linger in a place of discomfort that we can begin to fully understand and address injustice in our society, institutions and communities.

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What are the responsibilities of environmental organizations in building a racially-just society?

At a time when the struggle for racial justice is at the forefront of public discourse, environmental organizations like the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) are compelled to reflect on their roles and responsibilities in addressing the inequity, violence, and systemic oppression experienced by Black, Indigenous and other racialized peoples.

It’s a gross injustice that the burden of “righting” our society continues to be borne by the people who experience the most extreme forms of racism and discrimination. It’s long past time that those of us who hold resources and influence help to share this burden, and this includes the environmental community.

At TEA, our commitment to more deeply embed an equity lens in our work, and build meaningful relationships with racialized communities, is an ongoing process. While I do not claim to have all the answers, I’d like to share some thoughts on what allyship can look like for us and other environmental organizations, and how we can contribute to catalyzing and supporting lasting change.

Use our platforms to express support and solidarity.

In the context of the ongoing violence and dehumanizing behaviour experienced by Black and Indigenous communities, staying silent is not an option. Many environmental organizations have public platforms that can and should be used to speak out against injustice and make statements of support and commitment. The intention is not to put environmental organizations at the centre of this discourse, but rather, to support and amplify the voices and messages of those who are at the forefront of the struggle for racial justice.

There can be no climate justice without racial justice.

Build connections to our work.

At TEA, we have a clear purpose – building a greener city for all – which is grounded in the belief that environmental issues impact all residents in our city, and that solutions must consider how to address inequity related to these environmental problems. This does not diminish our important environmental watchdog and policy-advocacy role. On the contrary, by including an equity lens in the in-depth environmental analysis TEA conducts, we aim to do a better job of preventing unintended harms and maximizing the positive benefits of the solutions we put forward.

The analogy that “we are in the same storm but on different boats” has been used to describe the COVID-19 pandemic, and similarly applies to the interconnected nature of climate, economic and racial justice. For example, in our city, there is growing income inequality between racialized and non-racialized populations, and significantly higher rates of poverty among racialized people, including children. Household income can determine where people live and their housing conditions, which in turn impacts how they experience environmental shocks such as extreme heat. Low-income households have very low consumption-based emissions but are made disproportionately vulnerable to climate-related risks.

For several years, accelerating equitable climate action in Toronto has been a core focus for TEA. We consistently advocate for housing retrofits as a climate solution that can reduce emissions, make residents’ housing more resilient in extreme weather, and create good, green job opportunities for equity-seeking people in the skilled trades. We also believe that retrofit programs require safeguards to protect tenants’ rights so that retrofits don’t lead to renovictions.

Illuminate systemic impacts. 

Environmental organizations have a responsibility to understand and situate their work in relation to other systemic issues. We have to recognize that many of the drivers of environmental harm are the same drivers that create systemic inequity and injustice. Data – both statistics and other information provided by communities – can reveal the deep connections between these issues and illuminate systemic solutions that can address harm to people and the planet.

Overlaying environmental data with geographical and race-based data can tell a powerful story. For example, a 2017 US study found that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (from transportation emissions) were 2.7 times higher in neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of racialized people than those with the lowest proportion. This type of work, which highlights the connection between pollution exposure and where racialized people live, can facilitate collaborative advocacy among environmental groups and community members.

Make space for excluded voices.

It’s a painful fact that our political institutions were born out of a colonial system that was designed to keep certain people silent and subordinate. This legacy remains with us today in overt ways – such as the Indian Act and the visible lack of diverse political representatives at all levels of government – and in more insidious ways when it comes to which voices hold influence in how government designs policy, implements programs and allocates resources.

Sadly, the environmental movement has also played a role in perpetuating this legacy. There are historic examples of conservationist beliefs conflated with eugenics, and contemporary examples of environmental campaigns that have chosen to completely disregard the implications for local populations including Indigenous communities. The voices of Indigenous people and other racialized people, who have demonstrated tireless leadership in defending land, water and air, have gone unrecognized, and at times, have been purposefully excluded or undermined.

Given where we’ve come from, and the injustice that continues today, we need to proactively work to build a different path forward. It is important for the environmental movement to recognize and support the work led by Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities, which happens in spaces that are inside and outside of mainstream institutions. Environmental organizations can play a role in amplifying these voices in environmental policy and programs, and broader decision-making and resource allocation processes.

There are encouraging initiatives underway that seek to make space for racialized people in public policy and inside the institutions where decisions are taken. The action-research project led by Adapting Canadian Work & Workplaces (ACW) in collaboration with the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Environmental Racism: The Impact of Climate Change on Racialized Canadian Communities: An Environmental Justice Perspective, focuses on building Black and racialized leadership capacity to address environmental racism and influence public policy on climate. The Urban Alliance on Race Relations recently launched the Black Youth Fellowship, a professional and leadership development program focused on building the next generation of Black public servants, which will place participants in a Toronto Councillor’s office.

As a municipally-focused organization, TEA has intentionally built relationships with organizations who work with diverse communities across the city. We collaborate with these partners to engage more racialized people in civic processes to shape Toronto’s environmental policies and the City Budget. TEA also showcases and shares stories about the work of racialized people leading outstanding environmental work. We are committed to being vocal advocates for meaningful and transparent public participation and believe that our city will benefit from a greater diversity of voices calling for deeper and more equitable environmental action from government.

Face uncomfortable truths and be prepared for a long journey.

For all of us who are committed to sharing the burden of addressing past and present injustice in our society, it will be a long journey. During the first weekend of large-scale protests across the US, ignited by the killing of George Floyd by police, the hashtag #MeanwhileInCanada was trending on social media. Instead of using this moment to try to better understand the experiences of Black people on this side of the border, a significant number of people took to social media to paint an image of contrast between our ‘troubled’ neighbours to the south with our own ‘harmonious’ society.

In my view, a key role for allies is to help people and institutions face the uncomfortable truth that Black, Indigenous and other racialized people are continually treated as less equal and less valued members of our society. This is true here, in the US, and in many other parts of the world. We need to address the cognitive dissonance that can happen when people are confronted with a reality that does not match what they believe to be true – in this case about Canadian society – and use this moment to build greater understanding and empathy, not disassociation.

This brings me back to where I started. Those of us who hold resources and influence, organizationally or personally, need to be willing to have uncomfortable and challenging conversations with our peers, communities, co-workers, employees and supporters – and be willing to listen to racialized people who offer the gift of sharing their experiences with us. It is only through the willingness to linger in a place of discomfort that we can begin to fully understand and address injustice in our society, institutions and communities.

When I discussed writing this blog with my team, they urged me to share some of our challenges as an organization. One of the examples we discussed was how we respond internally to support the people on our team. TEA has a field canvass team, which, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, went door-to-door speaking with residents all over the city and raising critical funds for our work. At present, they do this work on the phone. Over the years, racialized workers on our team have had significantly different experiences than their non-racialized counterparts – whether it’s experiencing subtle mistrust or overtly racist behaviour while interacting with the public.

While TEA cannot control individuals’ behaviour towards our team, our organization can ensure that measures are in place that help workers feel supported when such incidents occur. In addition, equipping outreach workers with professional identification and providing supportive verification systems, which we started to do last year at the team’s request, can go a long way in mitigating certain types of harmful and hurtful interactions. Our team is encouraged to exit from situations where harmful views are expressed – whether it’s on the phone in person – since we do not want our workers to be subjected to discrimination nor do we want to recruit supporters with discriminatory views. We have had to face the reality that TEA’s outreach work takes place in a society where racism exists, and we must continually listen to staff and improve on how we support our team as they engage the public.

At TEA, we still have much to do to ensure that our work meaningfully supports the priorities of Black, Indigenous and racialized communities in Toronto. We are part of a growing movement that recognizes the interconnected nature of environmental, economic and racial justice work, which is why we are calling for green and just recovery for Toronto as we emerge from COVID-19. I am hopeful that we collectively can do the work needed to turn this important moment in history into an era where real change happens.

Several years ago, I was conducting a focus group discussion with a community group, and stories were shared by two elder members – one Black and one Jewish. They were commiserating about how there used to be parts of our city where they couldn’t go, and one recalled a sign that was posted in a public place that read “No Blacks or Jews allowed”. This was an important reminder to me about what has happened, in living memory, right here in Toronto. I sincerely hope that these elders will see a profound transformation in their lifetimes – a time when all people are safe, heard and valued.


Emmay Mah is the Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA).   https://www.torontoenvironment.org

 

Return to “Normal” (10)

What do we want “normal” to be when our society is stabilized after the pandemic has passed? How will we treat each other differently, ask just who our institutions serve, and how will we source and use “energy”?

The following “look forward” been composed by Emily Eaton.

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The day after there will be a transition to a new normal. Economies that were fundamentally extractive, linear, and based on theft will be transformed. We will dislodge the power and interests that profit from the extraction and theft inherent in our pre-COVID carbon economies and rebuild ourselves based on reciprocity: caring for one another, both human and non-human.

This transition will be three-dimensional working towards decolonization, democratization and decarbonization.

1) Decolonization will not be understood as a metaphor. It will mean, quite literally, returning land, jurisdiction, and environmental decision-making to Indigenous Nations and communities. We will start with ‘crown lands’ and move on to consider how to return private property. We will manage the commons as if our children’s futures mattered.

2) Democratization will also require redistribution. We will wrestle our economies and our workplaces away from a small elite who are enriching themselves off of our labour and our environments. We will tax and redistribute their wealth, we will strengthen solidarity, cooperative, and socialized economies. We will recognize and value the labour of so many people who had been unpaid and poorly paid (women, undocumented workers, frontline service and care workers, racialized workers, and so on).

3) Decarbonization will be necessary to rescue a habitable world. Climate change is the next curve we will flatten. Supply chains, kin networks, and production will all become more local. Private sufficiency will be augmented by public luxury: fare-free, accessible public transit and low-carbon public amenities. Fossil fuel production will be phased out in a way that allows workers to stay in their communities and enjoy dignified lives.

The day after, when this transition begins, we will draw on the lessons we learned from caring for one another during the COVID-19 pandemic and we will recognize the need for a transformation in all three dimensions.

Emily Eaton is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Regina whose currently research focuses on the influence of the fossil fuels sector in Saskatchewan.

 

Return to “Normal” (9)

The pandemic, and Covid-19, have exposed many fissures in Canadian society. We cannot return to “normal” without seriously addressing many of these issues. If we do, our society will be closer to what we say we value as Canadians. The following article originally appeared in Canadian Dimension.

Why ‘changing minds’ about race

is not enough

“What happened to ‘All Lives Matter’?”, a sign at a protest against Donald Trump in Eugene, Oregon. Photo by David Geitgey Sierralupe/Wikimedia Commons.

Many people are having ‘hard conversations’ right now about anti-Black racism and social change. These conversations with others and ourselves are confronting the routine ways non-Black people rationalize and excuse the violence inflicted on Black people, and then take issue with the protests that periodically erupt in response. Many who are engaging in them see these conversations as necessary for ‘changing hearts and minds’ and ultimately addressing anti-Black racism.

When anti-Black racism is confronted, the responses are typically defensive, derisive, dismissive, and/or deflective. We hear them repeated by countless different sources on news channels and social media feeds. Yet somehow these responses remain so consistent, so patterned, so predictable: You know he had a criminal record? But what did she do to make the officer respond like that? We don’t really know what happened. They should protest peacefully like Martin Luther King Jr. if they want to be heard. Black on Black violence. All lives matter.

Much of the time, we think of these formulaic, anti-Black views as misinformation, prejudice, bias, or ignorance. But they need to be understood in another way as well—namely, as ideology.

The word ideology is used in different ways, but one of the specific ways sociologists and political scientists use it is to point to belief systems and viewpoints that arise from the existing power relations in a society, and that serve to shield and protect those power relations. Ideologies, in this sense, provide us with the ideas and arguments that rationalize and justify our hierarchies, inequalities, and relations of exploitation, or at least allow us to proceed in spite of them. They are beliefs that just happen to secure or advance our material interests. In short, ideology is when the mind comes to the aid of the pocketbook and the property deed.

To think in terms of ideology is to emphasize the function of arguments rather than their content; what the words are doing rather than what they are saying. To think about ideology in the present context is to take seriously that a characteristic set of viewpoints, arguments, excuses, deflections, and rationalizations serve as a front line defense for the many tangible ways non-Black people profit and benefit from the subjugation, exploitation, oppression and brutalization of Black people. We encounter similarly consistent, and often overlapping, sets of responses when confronting misogyny and other forms of oppression and exploitation.

Understanding these anti-Black views to be part of an ideology shifts how we think about them in a couple of important ways. First, while we usually think about misinformation, bias, or ignorance as residing in an individual’s mind, we recognize ideology as being rooted in, and emanating from, our collective social relations and political-economic structures.

Second, especially in so-called democratic societies, we often think that the views of the public determine what our public policies and social arrangements look like. In other words, we usually think of our beliefs, values, attitudes and viewpoints as the cause of our relations of oppression and exploitation. It follows that in order to transform an injustice in our society, we need to go to the root cause and change people’s minds. But when we think in terms of ideology, we see that values and viewpoints can also be the effect of existing power relations. They often reflect and reinforce our unequal social arrangements and the distribution of material resources produced by those arrangements.

So what does this shift mean for current attempts to confront anti-Black racism? What it tells us is that we can’t just count on changing people’s minds without simultaneously transforming our collective political-economic structures. The causal arrow of social change doesn’t just go from changed social beliefs to changed power relations. It also goes from changed power relations to changed beliefs.

Of course, enough non-Black people’s minds do need to be changed in order to gain sufficient power to start transforming our political-economic structures. This can and is happening, especially amongst those whose livelihoods are less immediately reliant upon the oppression and exploitation of Black people. This also speaks to the importance of foregrounding the work of Black people in this struggle, as they are the ones who are least likely, relative to others, to be actively invested in reproducing anti-Black ideology and the social arrangements upon which it is based.

For many non-Black people, ‘tough conversations’, while daunting, are more palatable than deep political-economic restructuring of our social arrangements. Reparations, expansive universal social programs, and defunding the police sound far too radical. I’d rather just have a tough talk with my racist uncle.

Those conversations are important. Just keep in mind that the ideological viewpoints and beliefs of many won’t start to give way unless and until we start to transform the social arrangements that make those beliefs materially beneficial to them.

Jakeet Singh is an Assistant Professor of Political Theory at York University in Toronto.

Return to “Normal” (8)

The Pandemic Presents The Chance To End Homelessness In Canada For Good

It’s hard to social-distance at home if you don’t have a home.

 

There is a story about homelessness in HuffPost.ca that is part of After The Curve. This is an ongoing HuffPost Canada series that makes sense of how the COVID-19 crisis could change our country in the months and years ahead, and what opportunities exist to make Canada better. The story can be accessed at:

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/ending-homelessness-canada-covid19_ca_5ef388a3c5b615e5cd380bac

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Doug Johnson Hatlem, a worker at The Sanctuary, a respite centre in Toronto, carries tents to be distributed to members of the homeless community on April 19 2020.

Housing is a human right! Now is the time to use our resources to make truly affordable housing available to everyone in our communities. Governments are demonstrating that there is no shortage of money, just a dearth of “political will”, or what used to be called “intestinal fortitude”.

Return to “Normal” (7)

Is anyone still counting the number of days of “COVID Confinement”? Or, have you moved on to counting the number of weeks, or months?

With our attention currently focused on the pandemic, and systemic racism, the media and others seem to have forgotten that the Earth is concurrently in a climate crisis. Toronto author Tom Rand prefers to label this situation as a time of “climate disruption”[1].

Some aspects of our natural environment have improved while “the economy” has been operating in slow motion. Air quality has improved in many cities because people are driving and flying less; carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have not risen as much this year as in the past years; we hear the birds in the morning rather than traffic, and so on.

Many people are now looking forward to a “return to “normal”. Do you remember what “normal” was doing to the Earth’s environment?

  • A world of species extinction and hyper-consumerism

  • A world of an ever increasing disparity of wealth / equity / and racism

  • A world of the car culture and the combustion engine belching polluting gasses

  • A world of homelessness and lengthy lines at foodbanks

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BUT, we don’t have to return to that “normal”. We can work together to make a better world on three levels: personal, community, and as a society. Now is the opportunity to make a difference because change is in the air, and many people don’t want to return to the “old normal”. As Dr. Kwame McKenzie said in his blog, “Normal was the problem.”[2]

What would the “New Normal” look like? Some examples, for our consideration, are:

  • A society that puts people – and inclusion – first, recognizing our inter-relatedness with all people, and all of creation

  • A society that does not pay $40 Billion in annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry

  • A society that retro-fits housing and other buildings to reduce their carbon footprint

  • A society that uses public street space for additional forms of transportation, such as buses, bicycles and pedestrians

  • A society with a progressive income tax system that includes meaningful taxes on wealth and the elimination of tax loopholes

As Gandhi said, “ Be the change you want to see in the world.”

My question is about how I make this “new normal” happen?

  • How do I want to live as a person of the Christian faith in the “New Normal” – both individually and as a part of my faith community?

  • How can I be effective in advocating for an economy that puts people before profit, and includes people of all cultures and skin colours?

  • How will I live with respect for other people, and the Earth, in the “New Normal”?

  • How will I seek justice for the Earth and its people, love kindness, and walk humbly with the Creator?

“The next few months are precious. Things have changed quickly.

We can imagine the “New Normal”. Naomi Klein

[1]Tom Rand, The Case for Climate Capitalism, ECW Press, 2020

[2]https://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/healthy-communities/the-new-normal-moving-from-surviving-to-thriving/

Return to “Normal” (6)

 Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Day After: Animals

The Day After: Animals marks the first installment in an ongoing curated series from Canadian Dimension that asks contributors to imagine the perils and possibilities that will ground our collective response to or emergence from the COVID-19 crisis.

Canadian Dimension will ask Canada’s leading scholars to respond to questions of human-environment relations to consider our post-COVID future:

  • What opportunities make you hopeful and what risks do you see at the human-nature interface?

  • How can we build an ethic of care for socioecological systems?

For the first in this series that contemplates a new “normal”, go to: https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/the-day-after-animals