Justice for girls and young women killed in the “Hogar Seguro” Tragedy in Guatemala

On March 18th, the Centre for Gender Advocacy sponsored a commemoration to honour and demand justice for 43 girls and young women who were killed in a fire in the “Hogar Seguro” Tragedy in Guatemala. Below is a video from the action (in Spanish, but there will soon be subtitles in English and French), as well as the solidarity statement written by participants.

[english below / français ci-dessous]

Montreal, Quebec

20 de Marzo de 2017

Encuentro 18 de Marzo en conmemoración de las niñas y adolescentes desaparecidas el 8 de Marzo, Día International de la Mujer, en Guatemala.

Aquí en la comunidad de Montreal estamos en solidaridad con las niñas y adolescentes asesinadas en el ¨Hogar Seguro¨ Virgen de la Asunción en Guatemala. Estamos de luto con ustedes, y también exigimos justicia de parte de las autoridades guatemaltecas, y la denuncia inmediata de la Comunidad Internacional.

El estado de Guatemala conocía la violencia a la que estaban siendo sometidas las niñas, a el abuso emocional y físico y sexual, conocían el horror en que vivían, y no hizo nada.

Las quemaron, y siguen sin hacer nada. Pero nosotrxs estamos acá, y no nos vamos a callar.

Nos unimos en una sola voz para denunciar a todo un sistema violento desde el albergue hasta el Estado represor, hasta los organismos internacionales: Que su silencio es complicidad.

Es importante recordar sus vidas que fueron arrebatadas muy pronto, en el día de la mujer ni mas ni menos, y recordar su vida es también recordar su lucha, su reinvindicación, y que este caso es uno entre muchos, y esta violencia y violación de los derechos humanos y específicamente a niñas y mujeres, es sintomática y continua. Nuestra lucha esta unida con la suya, y su justicia con la nuestra.

No es un caso aislado, y no podemos callarnos ni permitir que esta violencia siga impune.

Vivas nos queremos, libres nos queremos. En amor y rabia y solidaridad con ustedes y con todas.


Montreal, Quebec

March 20, 2017

Commemoration on March 18 to demand justice for the girls and adolescents disappeared on March 8, International Women’s Day, in Guatemala.

In Montreal, we are in solidarity with the girls and adolescents killed in the Virgen de la Asunción “Safe House” in Guatemala. We are in mourning with you and demand justice from Guatemalan authorities. We also call on the international community to denounce this violence.

The Guatemalan state knew of the violence that the girls were being subjected to, including the emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The Guatemalan state knew the horror they were living and did nothing.

They were burned and the state continues to do nothing. But, we are here and we are not going to be silent.

We unite in one voice to denounce the whole violent system, from the shelter to the repressive state, to the international organizations whose silence is complicity.

It’s important to remember the lives that were taken too soon, on International Women’s Day no less. To remember their lives is also to remember their struggle, their assertion of their rights, and that this struggle is one among many. This violence and violation of human rights, specifically of girls and women, is a symptom and continues. Our struggle is united with yours and your justice with ours.

This is not an isolated case and we can’t be silent, nor allow impunity for this violence.

Vivas nos queremos, libres nos queremos. En amor y rabia y solidaridad con ustedes y con todas.


Montréal, Quebec

21 mars 2017

Rencontre du 18 mars en commémoration des filles et adolescentes disparues le 8 mars, Journée internationale des femmes, au Guatemala.

Ici, la communauté de Montréal, nous sommes en solidarité avec les filles et adolescentes assassinées dans le « foyer sécuritaire » Virgen de la Asunción au Guatemala. Nous sommes en deuil avec vous et nous exigeons aussi justice de la part des autorités guatémaltèques, et la dénonciation immédiate de la communauté internationale.

L’État guatémaltèque connaissait la violence à laquelle les filles étaient soumises, l’abus émotionnel, physique et sexuel, il connaissait l’horreur dans lequel elles vivaient, et il n’a rien fait.

Ils les ont brûlées, et ils continuent à ne rien faire. Mais nous, nous sommes ici, et nous n’allons pas nous taire.

Nous nous unissons en une seule voix pour dénoncer tout un système de violence depuis le centre d’hébergement jusqu’à l’État oppresseur, en passant par les organisations internationales : votre silence est de la complicité.

C’est important de rappeler leurs vies emportées trop tôt, pendant la journée de la femme particulièrement. Se rappeler leurs vies est aussi se rappeler leurs luttes, leurs revendications, et que ce cas est un parmi tant d’autres, cette violence et cette violation des droits humains, particulièrement des femmes et des filles, est systématique et continue. Notre lutte est unie à la vôtre, et votre justice à la nôtre.

Ce n’est pas un cas isolé et nous ne pouvons pas nous taire ni permettre que celle violence reste impunie.

Vivas nos queremos, libres nos queremos. En amor y rabia y solidaridad con ustedes y con todas.

Recording of Fearing the Black Body: A Panel Discussion on Gender, Violence, Misrepresentation & Resistance

""Enjoy this recording of the Fearing the Black Body panel discussion that took place on February 28, 2017 as part of our Thick Skin event series! Recording courtesy of Hannah Besseau at CKUT.

Many thanks to our wonderful speakers Robyn Maynard, Marlihan Lopez and J. Ellise Barbara as well as to our Peer Support Training Coordinator and A Safer Community volunteer, Jada Joseph for facilitating this wonderful discussion.

The panel traced the evolution of anti-Blackness in Canada and discuss the current context, focusing on the realities of Black cisgender and trans women, and gender non-conforming people. Panelists also discussed the ways in which institutions, including the legal system and police, perpetuate gendered and anti-black violence and spoke about local organizing work to address systemic anti-black racism, sexism and transmisogyny.

Speaker Biographies

J. Ellise Barbara is a Montreal-based avant-garde singer-songwriter and artist whose musical output combines elements of brazen 80s funk, late 70s underground, and downtown no wave. A lover of the odd, dark, and overlooked elements in pop music, they find inspiration in unexpected sources, like off-the-radar acts Su Tissue, Kashif, Francis Bebey, and obscure new wave duo Rexy. Rising from artist-run spaces such as La Brique and Drones Club at the turn of the current decade, J. Ellise Barbara has seen their work soar to enduring acclaim in countries such as Japan and France, in a short career whose highlights include duets with Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), and DIY icon R. Stevie Moore. Since going on an indeterminate hiatus, Barbara’s efforts have been partly centered around LGBTQ community organizing (Taking What We Need, ASTTeQ, African Rainbow). They are working on a long-awaited follow-up to 2013’s Soft To The Touch.

Marlihan Lopez is a Black feminist who’s been involved in movements for the rights of women and Afro-descendant people in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Her background includes more than 10 years of experience in community organizing, feminist activism and intercultural education, as well as a Masters in International Studies. She is a community organizer with collectives combatting racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination such as Tout le hood en Parle and Montreal Noir, as well as the president of the Fondation Paroles de femmes, which works to create inclusive spaces for racialized women to speak and take action.

Robyn Maynard is a Black feminist who has spent years documenting racist and gender-based state violence. She has also spent the better part of the decade doing frontline harm-reduction in Montreal and is currently completing her first book Policing the Black Body: State Violence and Black Life in Canada, for Fernwood Publishing. Robyn’s past work has involved full-time street-based outreach with sex workers at Montreal’s non-profit organization Stella, doing harm-reduction, rights-based education and medical, legal, and social service accompaniments surrounding health and anti-violence. A harsh critic of systemic racism in all of its forms, Maynard has been involved in grassroots organizing against police violence. Most recently, she helped co-found Montreal Noir, a Black activist group committed to combatting anti-Black racism in Quebec, and is a part of the Black Indigenous Harm Reduction Alliance.

Statement on bomb threat that targeted Muslim students at Concordia University

""The Centre for Gender Advocacy strongly condemns the March 1st, 2017 bomb threat that directly targeted the Muslim students of Concordia University. We stand in solidarity with Muslim communities.

This bomb threat is a result of Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism, which remain rooted in Quebec and the rest of Canada. Islamophobia is not recent, nor is it perpetuated solely by fringe individuals and hate-groups, but also by government policies and rhetoric which have especially been prevalent after 9/11. Islamophobic discourse during the proposed 2013 Charter of Values, among other bills, was already creating a hostile environment for Muslims and racialized communities in Quebec. The rhetoric around hijabs and niqabs during the 2015 federal election also demonstrated that Islamophobia and xenophobia are not isolated to Quebec, nor are they
the result of merely one political party.

We, at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, remain committed to our mandate to provide a safer and inclusive space for all regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or religion. To uphold our mandate, we stand firmly against all forms of discrimination, including Islamophobia.

Islamophobia, xenophobia and racism are not welcome at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, nor should they ever be tolerated by any institution.