“Don’t we want to be able to imagine the expansion of freedom and justice in the world…?”
Leading up to Angela Davis appearance at the Orpheum Theatre on November 29th, 2017, BWSS asked local activists to share how they envision a world of freedom and justice. Here’s what an urban planner, book seller, advocate for women’s liberation, CEO, Indigenous lawyer, Poet and a member from BLM Vancouver have to say…
“When I was growing up, the ideals of justice and freedom were discussed on a regular basis in my home. On my mother’s side we are descended from enslaved Africans stolen from their homeland and forced to spend the duration of their lives in a foreign place, never seeing their native soil again; tortured, raped, and stripped of their language, names, and entire way of being in the world. It’s a history my mother ensured that we knew from a very young age so that we would stay grounded in where we came from, to never forget the thousands of lives that were bought and paid for so that I may have the freedoms I enjoy today.
And while a tremendous distance has been traveled by my ancestors to deliver me to this point in history, from inside the holding cells at the Door of No Return on the West coast of Africa to the life I live today, people of African descent, Indigenous and racialized people are still not fully free; justice remains just beyond reach. The reminders are daily that tell me to keep going, to keep dreaming, and to stay in pursuit of freedom and justice. From the daily pin pricks of micro-aggression’s that positions one as “other” for having thick hair, brown skin, or a non-Eurocentric culture, to the denial of economic opportunities that have a lasting impact on the trajectory of one’s life, we must continue to work towards the ideals of freedom and justice. People of African descent and Indigenous peoples are uniquely positioned to lead what one of our greatest modern inspirations, Nelson Mandela, called the Long Walk to Freedom. Let’s keep going.”
Stephanie Allen is Vice President of Project Planning and Partnerships for Catalyst Community Developments Society. She is finishing a Masters of Urban Studies and advocates for affordable housing as a means to create more just societies.
“I think a world of freedom and justice begins in the most intimate areas of our lives, from our personal relationships to our communities, where people work to support one another, but also stand together against the systems and social constructs that work to oppress us. I imagine a world like this would be the outcome of individual healing and the masses rising up, where humans have been liberated from all forms of oppression.”
Patricia Massy is of Cree/English descent and is the proprietor of Massy Books, a new and used bookstore that is 100% Indigenous owned and operated. She believes stories have the power to heal and connect us to our humanity.
“What does a world of freedom and justice look like? To me, a world of freedom and justice empowers and allows all women, minorities and victims of assault/abuse to speak truths without fear. It offers us the freedom to be who we are and justly persecutes those who threaten or violate that freedom. This world provides the respect and security that should be granted to all people regardless of gender, sexual orientation or skin color. I am saddened, angered and frustrated that this is has to be a question…A world of freedom and justice should not be imagined, it should be a given and I am hopeful that this world is now becoming possible with the concerted efforts of many!”
Jessica Ly has been a supporter of women and girls rights since she could speak (and protest!). She believes women and girls are the agents of change in this world and she is honored to have the opportunity to work with all the amazing women striving to make a difference and supporting one another on this journey.
“When I imagine a world of freedom and justice, I imagine a world in which all people, including all women, are safe, where basic health and social services are assured, where suitable, affordable housing is in abundance, where jobs, reliable income and opportunities are at hand, where arts and recreation flourish, where neighbours are connected, and everyone, including all our children, can learn and play in a caring community in which we all belong.”
Jennifer Johnstone is the President & CEO of Central City Foundation, an organization that has been working to improve lives in Vancouver’s inner city since 1907 and is proud to serve as a member of the BWSS Board of Directors.
“More and more we are arriving at the realization that our liberty is tied to one another, that an injury to one is an injury to all, and if we truly value our own emancipation and well-being we must ensure it for others.”
Shain Jackson is a Coast Salish artist and former Indigenous rights lawyer.
“In a world of justice and freedom, first our minds would be set free to do the work of building into our communities instead of focusing outwards to resist the systems that oppress us.”
Amal Rana is a queer Pakistani Poet, Performer and Educator working currently with cambiumarts.com, amongst others. In a time when even exhaling while being Muslim is considered a crime, she conjures poetry as an act of collective liberation.
“A world with freedom and justice would be euphoric. A world were children are protected, cared loved. a world were with equity and equality for all races, sexes and genders. A place where everyone has the same opportunity and access to make something of themselves. Justice being served to those committing crimes and getting away with it. Our environmental situation being better than what it is now, protecting the wilderness. Treating each other with kindness and respect.”
Ariam Yetbarek, is a member of Black Lives Matter Vancouver who also works on immigrant and refugees issues.
“A world with freedom and justice would be to walk with no fear as an Indigenous Woman in Canada and for my daughter to be raised with no fear of being stolen. A world with freedom and justice would be for Indigenous women to be treated as equals in society at all levels including education and employment. Also where Indigenous women feel included and not excluded. Where we are not judged when we walk down the street, apply for work or for how we take care of our children. Where we can feel safe in our homes and not fear violence or be targets of violence. This is what freedom and justice look like to me”
Annita Mcphee , Coscuya from the Tahltan/Tlingit Nations is a Motivational Speaker, International Human Rights Advocate and Activist. An expert in Lateral Violence and Communications, Annita has facilitated numerous conferences and workshops at the community, regional and national levels for First Nations and government. As an Advocate to stop violence against Indigenous Women, Annita attended the United Nations Global Leadership School for Indigenous Women and received her Diploma in International Studies on Human Rights and Advocacy Skills at Columbia University in New York. Annita’s academic background also includes having a Degree in Law and a Bachelor of Social Work with Public Relations.
Angela Marie MacDougall
“Imagining a world with freedom and justice is where we meet our highest aspirations. It is where we stand in the global context and tell the truth about environmental degradation, climate change, structural oppression and interpersonal violence. It is also where we seek and take action to redress these harms through grounding ourselves in progressive movements, building on community-based organizing and away from individualism. It is everyday resistance and resilience.”
Angela Marie MacDougall is executive director at Battered Women’s Support Services.
“A world of freedom and justice would give us the opportunity to live free without fear, to connect deeper with one-another. A world where women would be able to self-determine and to dream without holding back.”
Rona Amiri is the violence prevention coordinator at Battered Women’s Support Services
“Imagining a world with freedom and justice would be a world where we would not need to imagine, we all would be living it and thriving.
It would be a world where there was no need for marches, rallies, and movements. No need for groups to walk the streets to demand that their lives matter, their safety matters, their rights as humans matter. No need for women’s groups to have to prove the “worth” of their work ongoing to receive government funding support, to have their work deemed essential.
It would be a world where the 99% were in power to make decisions rather than the 1%. It would be a world were all were acknowledged, valued, and included to what is needed. It would be a world were ones who choose to abuse, rape, and be corrupt are held accountable. It would be a world where every individual was part of a community, a safe community, where they had enough food, affordable housing, a livable wage, and where they belonged.
Until that time, until that world, I have immense gratitude and respect for the many individuals, groups, and organizations working tirelessly giving their blood, sweat, and tears for a world with freedom and justice”.
Samantha Kearney is Manager of Retail Services and Programs at Battered Women’s Support Services
“Don’t we want to be able to imagine the expansion of freedom and justice in the world…?”
Angela Davis feminist and writer. Through her activism and scholarship over many decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world. Her work as an educator –both at the university level and in the larger public sphere –has always emphasized the importance of building communities of struggle for economic, racial, and gender justice.
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- The Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures at SFU
- John Fluevog Shoes.
- Massy Books
- VanCity Community Foundation
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