Community News Update - March 9, 2024

Dear Community, 

First, let me apologize for not sending out my usual Friday update. It's been a busy week full of International Women's Day events, which are continuing into the weekend.  As such, today's newsletter will be brief. Please expect a full update on Monday with a recap of this week's Queen's Park news, updates, and upcoming events. 

For now, I want to thank everyone who came out to my International Women's Day Community Conversation last night! Thank you to our fantastic panelists Nicole Chrysostom-MurrayFranceta Johnson, and Megan Kee for such an insightful panel discussion on the meaning of IWD, womanhood, the relevance of feminism today, how empowerment manifests for you in your professional and personal lives, and the notion of freedom. We also discussed many of the issues facing women, BIPOC, and gender-diverse community members, and validated the benefits of rest, self-care, self-reflection, and showing up as our authentic selves. 

We began the evening with a screening of Nicole's short film Boxed In. If you haven't seen it, check it out! We were also blessed to have Franceta's fashion colouring books to help promote self-care. Franceta has artwork on display at Reset - go check it out! Thank you, Megan for your advocacy through No Demovictions. Without secure, sustainable and affordable housing nothing else can properly fall into place. 

I'd also like to thank Reset for graciously hosting us in their space. Community, please visit their Community Living Room nestled in the heart of Oakwood Village at 634 Vaughan Road. We're truly blessed to have this space for work, play, organizing, and social connection in the heart of our community. Lastly, thank you to Joanne at Vegwood for the delicious plant-based appetizers! Seriously, the skewers were so good. 

International Women's Day may have been yesterday, but its themes ring true all year. We must cut through our differences, learn from them, and figure out ways forward that liberate all of us. Especially to women and gender-diverse folks who find themselves on the margins, I celebrate your strength, brilliance, joy, anger, grace, and determination. There remain too many who doubt their own power and continue to bear the weight of beastly forms of oppression. To everyone working towards dismantling patriarchy, racism, and all forms of injustice - keep at it. This work cannot be confined to a single day. No one is free until we are all free.

I began International Women's Day on the picket line with my CUPE 3903 community members at York University. These workers are the backbone of every student experience at York U. Most of them are students too, who are struggling to pay rent, juggling increasing workloads, anxiety, and little rest. Many are having to rely on food banks. 

They deserve higher wages. Wages that keep up with inflation. They deserve better benefits, and healthy and safe working conditions. They do NOT deserve to have their pickets overpoliced or to have members arrested for peaceful picketing. 

Make no mistake - labour rights are a feminist issue. Workers' rights are women's rights. In case you didn't know, many of these lines are women and gender diverse people. Many are racialized folks. As end International Women's Day, please think of them and consider joining them and donating to their strike fund if you can. 

It was also an honour to join OPSEU for their International Women's Day event yesterday afternoon. I participated in a fireside chat about representation in politics and ways to bring more strong female voices, especially BIPOC voices, to the table. Thank you to the OPSEU team for having me!

On that note, take a look at the photo below taken this week. This is a photo of the women and gender diverse MPPs at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. This picture includes MPPs from across political parties. 

There are 124 MPPs who sit in this legislature. Do the math and reflect on those numbers. 

Let us continue to strategize and build opportunities to ensure more deeply progressive, social-justice oriented women and gender-diverse people consider running for office. And when they are elected, let's ensure they have the support they need to be successful. Being elected is not the only way to create change, but it is certainly a crucial one. I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.

Before I sign off, I also want recognize that this week is Black Mental Health Week. I was proud to rise in the Legislature earlier this week speak to this week's importance and highlight some incredible community members and organizations delivering programming this week. I also took the opportunity to call on this government once again to declare this week formally as Black Mental Health Week across the province of Ontario. Watch my full statement here

Thank you Tropicana Community ServicesStrides TorontoDelta Family Resource CentreBlack Health AllianceWomen's Health in Women's Hands, and TAIBU Community Health Centre for your work in ensuring our community's voices are heard. Special thank you to the City of Toronto's Confronting Anti-Black Racism Advisory Committee. Thank you Kemba, your team, community partners and advisors for your HEARTwork! 

I look forward to attending the closing ceremony here in Toronto—St. Paul's this Sunday, March 10th at the Toronto Archives (255 Spadina Rd). Click here to learn more about this week's programming. 

Once again, my full community news update will be coming to your inboxes on Monday featuring more International Women's Day highlights, Queen's Park news, community updates, and upcoming events.

I hope everyone has a safe and restful weekend. 


In solidarity, 

Dr. Jill Andrew, Ph.D

MPP Toronto—St. Paul's

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