Today kicks off Black History Month! This is a time to ensure members of the Black communities are seen and heard, that our histories are amplified, and that we remind ourselves and others of where we have been and where we are going. Our roots are deep, and we rest and rise on mighty shoulders!
Firstly, I am so grateful to our allies at CUPE National, OFL, CUPE Ontario, and CBTU for honouring me this month as an advocate for Black communities.
Each month, CUPE honours a Black ancestor for their commitment to fighting anti-Black racism, and for the first time they've chosen to celebrate a living person! I am deeply thankful - albeit humbled - for this recognition and will ensure I continue to live up to its meaning through my advocacy work alongside so many others!
You can order your free CUPE BHM materials here!
Stay tuned for more from OFL & CBTU too!
I am additionally grateful to be able to use my position as an elected official to advocate for needed change. MPP Dr. Laura Mae Lindo and I have joined together to renew our call for mandatory Africentric education in Ontario.
Across our communities, we've seen and felt the devastating effects of anti-Black racism. We need to combat this hate with education. Ultimately, we know that education matters, and that all students deserve to see themselves and their histories reflected in the curriculum. Together, we can make this happen!
Throughout February, I'm inviting you to share with us some of your favourite books written by Black authors! Send us a photo of you reading it, or just send us the title - but most importantly: let us know why it's your book pick!
We will be sharing submissions throughout the month of February!
Please consider shopping local and supporting a Black-owned bookstore (shout out to the iconic Burke's Bookstore) or visiting any of our local St. Paul's Toronto Public Library branches that are always ready to welcome you!
Today's book recommendation comes from Kaitlin, who suggests The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. Jemisin is the first Black author to win a Hugo Award in the category "Best Novel," the first novelist to win the award three years in a row, as well as the first novelist to win for all three books in a trilogy.
The Fifth Season uses the fantasy genre to explore themes of climate catastrophe and systems of oppression - very timely! Learn more about N. K. Jemisin here, and be sure to order her book from a local bookstore or borrow it from your favourite Toronto Public Library branch!
This past weekend, MP Carolyn Bennett honoured me and many others with an Outstanding Neighbour Award. Congratulations to the other recipients! I felt very lucky to know so many of them and that I was able to share in their joy.
What a wonderful testament to the vibrancy of our community here in St. Paul's. I deeply appreciate this opportunity MP Bennett made to recognize my efforts and those of our community members!
Last week, an article in the Toronto Star highlighted a member of our St. Paul's community as another tale showing just how deep the housing crisis has become. In her case, she was given effectively a moment's notice to leave the AirBnB property her and her family have called home while her husband worked as a visiting professor at the University of Toronto on a short-term contract. Sadly, she is not alone. In fact, her family's circumstance is exemplary of the gaps in protection that thousands of Ontarians face in trying to find a suitable place to live in a province that makes that more difficult by the day.
While there are municipal rules surrounding short-term rental stays of 28 days or less and clearly outlined laws under the Residential Tenancies Act for longer term tenants signed to a lease (or sublease), there is a glaring gap for mid-long term stays found on hosting websites like AirBnb that need to be addressed.
Myself, MPP Bell of University-Rosedale and our Housing Critic, and our Ontario NDP are calling on this government to do just that. Ford needs to crack down on AirBnB and greedy hosts that want to have their cake (stable profits of long-term stays) and to eat it too (withholding the tenant protections that come with it).
A big thanks goes out to the advocacy organization, FairBnB who have been working since 2016 to shine light on these shady antics and demand better for Ontarians who need and deserve a stable roof over their head.
Read our press release here.
On March 4, I will be participating as a panelist at the screening of Below the Belt - a documentary about endometriosis produced by Hillary Clinton, Rosario Dawson, Corinne Foxx, and Mae Whitman.
As critic for women's issues, I was proud to stand in the legislature in support of naming March endometriosis month of awareness. Raising awareness around endometriosis is an important piece of advocacy work for all folks who menstruate, including transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community members who have a long history of experiencing inequity in the health care system.
This important film highlights the discrimination experienced by people assigned female at birth and the many social taboos that surround menstruation to this day.
I hope you'll consider joining us in what I'm sure will be a lively and informative discussion!
Until March 31, Unison's Oakwood-Vaughan location will be offering an integrated care clinic on Monday evenings from 5:30-8:30PM. Members of the community can drop in to receive COVID vaccines, blood pressure checks, mental health and harm reduction support, and be seen by a physician - no health card required!
On Saturday, February 4 from 2-10PM, Oakwood Village BIA will launched their new endeavor, "Honouring Black History in Our Community."
Come on down to 473 Oakwood Avenue to learn the legacy of local businesses with Black history and heritage!
The wonderful folks at The Linden School have launched a Healthy Valentine's Day project, which offers downloadable Valentines expressing body positivity, consent, and healthy relations. Be sure to download yours soon to share with loved ones!
Our friends at Canadian Women's Foundation are hosting an art contest for youth aged 7 to 16! Create a piece of art based on this prompt: What does helping someone in an unsafe situation look like? The deadline is February 6 at 12PM. Find more information here!
A reminder to get your tickets to see Jesse Ryan & Kaiso Street Collective on February 17 at 7PM. See here!
Our friends at Sending Sunshine have reached out to request help from you! These lovely folks are working to combat social isolation and loneliness among senior community members by providing them with handwritten cards.
If you've got a stamp to spare, consider writing an uplifting note to an elder Ontarian to spread a little of our famous Toronto-St. Paul's joy!
The spectacular Holy Blossom Temple Out of the Cold Community Dinner commenced last night and will be running EVERY THURSDAY at 5PM until March 30th at 1950 Bathurst St (entrance on Dewbourne Avenue)! Spread the word to folks in need!!!! Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who make services like this possible!
See here for more info!
Doors open each Thursday at 5PM and close at 7PM.