Jan 30-Apr 10 Thick Skin: reflections on race, gender and political resistance

Starts: Friday, January 30th 2015 at 6:00 pm
Ends: Friday, April 10th 2015 at 9:00 pm

Thick Skin: reflections on race, gender and political resistance

Thick skin series 2015 FB banner

2015 edition: with a focus on women of colour and reproductive justice!

**A lecture series presented by the Centre for Gender Advocacy**

Community organizers, educators and activists pose challenges and
responses to gender oppression, racism, systemic violence and threats
to reproductive justice in Quebec, Canada, and beyond. Free of charge
and open to the public.

All events take place on the SGW Downtown Concordia University campus **unless otherwise indicated** and are wheelchair accessible. Childcare available with 48 hours notice. Whisper translation from English to French available.

The Racial and Cultural Politics of Adoption: adoptee perspectives
With Annette Kassaye & Nakuset
Friday January 30th, 6-8pm
EV 1.605, 1515 Ste-Catherine Street West

A discussion with two adoptees on their personal experiences and
adoption advocacy, racial and cultural politics within adopted
families, barriers to accessing personal cultural birth information,
the role of governments and adoption agencies, and more.

Annette-Kassaye is a tranracial adoptee from Ethiopia. She writes for
an adoptee-centric online magazine called Gazillion Voices and Lost
Daughters, a blog dedicated to the voices of women adoptees. More
recently, she co-founded Ethiopian Adoptees of the Diaspora with
Aselefech Evans, an Ethiopian-American adoptee. Annette-Kassaye was
adopted from the Gondar region of Ethiopia at the age of 1 into an
English-speaking family living in the Eastern Townships, Quebec. Her
adoption was arranged via private contacts her parents had who were
doing relief work during the famine and war of 1984-85. Due to the
limited information available about her background which she believes
is tied in with the cultural and political landscapes of Ethiopia,
Annette-Kassaye views adoption as extremely political and being an
adoptee a unique political experience. She believes that adoptees,
especially women, occupy a special position in societies and that they
have powerful and compelling messages which need to shared, heard and
listen to in order to bring about more social and political justice.
Annette-Kassaye holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a
minor in Human Rights Studies from Concordia University.

Nakuset, the Executive Director of the Native Women’s Shelter of
Montréal, is Cree from Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan. She has three
beautiful boys, Kistin, Mahkisis and Mahihkan. She was adopted by a
Jewish family in Montréal and draws on her adoptee experience for
insight on her work advocating for the Aboriginal children in care.
She is the co-president of the Montréal Urban Aboriginal Community
Strategy Network.  Her most recent accomplishment was creating,
producing and hosting the television series “Indigenous Power”.  She
is dedicated to improving the lives of urban aboriginals.

Annual Memorial March for Missing & Murdered Women
Saturday February 14th, 3-6pm
Cabot Square (Atwater and Sainte-Catherine)

This march was founded in Vancouver in 1991 by a group of Native women
and frontline workers in response to the negligent response by police
in the case of the murder of a Coast Salish woman. In it’s 6th year in
Montreal, the purpose of the march is to commemorate the lives of
missing and murdered women and girls of all backgrounds, but with a
particular emphasis on Native women and girls, as this brutal violence
affects their communities disproportionately. The march will also seek
to raise awareness among the general population and in the media about
the deeply systemic nature of this gendered and racial violence. Guest speakers TBA.

Bleeding geographies: Canada, public schooling, and institutional racism
With Rachel Zellars
Tuesday March 3rd, 6-8pm
H-763, 1455 De Maisonneuve West

This presentation is an attempt to make sense of the bleeding
geographical racial line between the United States and Canada that
Canada has, historically, asserted itself as distinct from and also
simply, to theorize the ways that the past generates a linear pathway
to the present. The site of entry is the Canadian public schooling
system and its history of anti-Black racism–distinct in many ways
from the US, but akin to this neighbor with its fact of institutional
racism nonetheless. This presentation is also an attempt to connect
the past with the present and generate a wider conversation that
elongates this question: Where the past comes to bear on the present,
what are the responsibilities of those of us standing in the present?
And finally, in the context of institutional racism in public
schooling: What are the costs of failing to claim this history? This
final question aims to shot put a discussion of corrective justice
into the center of the field of Canadian critical race theory and set
the stage, eventually, for a much longer, separate discussion about
how wrongs may be made right against Black Canadians. It is my
greatest hope, as well, that this expanding conversation becomes
useful to other groups in Canada impacted by its history of white
settler colonialism.

Rachel Zellars is currently a PhD student in the Department of
Integrated Studies in Education here at McGill. Her research focuses
on children in slavery in Canada, institutional racism in public
schooling, and critical race theory. She founded the first university
wide course on critical race theory in education, a course she
moderates every winter term in her department. She is also a single
mother to three beautiful children, Zora, Ade, and Sade. Six years
ago, she founded a private French Montessori preschool for her
children, focused on anti-racist and environmental education. She is
currently working on a project to expand her school, The Green School,
to a private elementary school focused anti-racist and anti-colonial
education. In another life, she worked as a litigator. Before law
school, she obtained a masters degree from Cornell University and
studied philosophy at Howard University and Georgetown University in
Washington, DC.

KEYNOTE EVENT: Racial Profiling & Police Brutality from North America to Palestine
A collaboration with Israeli Apartheid WeekRadLaw & Justice Palestine.

–NOT-TO-BE-MISSED EVENT!!! Dream Defenders, Black Lives Matter and Ferguson reps recently took a historic trip to Palestine to build solidarity, create links, and share tactics! And two of them are coming to Montreal to share their stories and insights with us!–

With Nargess Mustapha (Montréal Nord Republik), Cherrell Brown (Justice League NYC) & Ahmad Abuznaid (Dream Defenders, Miami)
Tuesday March 10th, 6-8pm
Moot Court, New Chancellor Day Hall, McGill University 3644 Peel (metro Peel)

Representatives at the forefront of the movements for Black lives and racial justice in the US have taken a historic trip to Palestine and two of them are joining us to share their stories in Montreal! A discussion on past and ongoing racial violence and race relations in the United States, Canada, and Occupied Palestine. Systemic links will be drawn across borders, and government tactics and the ways that police and military reproduce colonial mentalities will be explored.

Nargess Mustapha is an anti-police brutality activist, pro-Palestine, anti-racist, anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, and a feminist, and has been advocating for social justice for many years now. She is a member of the Montréal-Nord Républik collective, and has organized many events to raise awareness about the realities in her neighbourhood as well as about the police shooting that took the life of Fredy Villanueva in August 2008. She is also starting a Masters degree in sociology at UQAM. Nargess will speak in French, and there will be simultaneous type-written translation to English projected on screen.

Ahmad Nabil Abuznaid Esq., is a co-founder of the Dream Defenders. The Dream Defenders develop the next generation of radical leaders to realize and exercise our independent collective power; building alternative systems and organizing to disrupt the structures that oppress our communities. Ahmad was born in East Jerusalem, Palestine. It was there growing up while living under a brutal military occupation that he first developed his interest in social justice. Ahmad returned to the US for high school and then attended the Florida State University, where he received his bachelors in International Affairs, with a minor in business in 2006. Ahmad later received his JD from the Florida Coastal School of Law in 2011, and he is a member in good standing of the Florida bar. Ahmad has been a commentator on CNN, MSNBC and has had op-eds published in the National Journal, MSNBC, and other online editorials. Most recently Ahmad co-authored an article that was published in the University of Miami Law Review titled: “Stand Your Ground” Laws: International Human Rights Law Implications. He recently organized a delegation to Palestine with the Dream Defenders, where US organizers from Ferguson, LA, Chicago, and NYC met with Palestinian activists.

Cherrell Brown has been organizing since her freshman year of college. She worked with Americorps to develop programs to improve retention of first generation college students, interned with the Beloved Community Center working on initiatives ranging from police accountability to environmental justice. In 2011 she led a grassroots campaign that organized hundreds of students to effectively stop the reopening of a city landfill near a residential neighborhood. The march was the largest public action in Greensboro since the 1960’s sit-ins. She currently works as a National Organizer for Equal Justice USA, a national criminal justice reform advocacy non-profit based in Brooklyn, New York, and volunteers with Justice League NYC. She recently traveled to Palestine on a solidarity trip with the Dream Defenders where US activists form Ferguson, LA, Chicago, and NYC met with Palestinian activists to share, build, and learn.

Skin to Skin: Dismantling Birth Barriers for Canadian Wombn of African Descent
With Hirut Eyob
Wednesday March 25th, 6-8pm
H-763, 1455 De Maisonneuve West

What are some of the barriers for Canadian wombn of African descent to
birthing in the sacred, with dignity? Are they really “allowed” to
experience their higher self? What role do health and womb workers
play in creating a nurturing yet hostile experience? What role does
systemic racism, microagression, and cultural norms play in how they
birth and breastfeed? During the talk we’ll examine racially and
culturally based microaggressions in the alternative birthing
communities in Quebec within the context of therapeutic relationships
with midwives, doulas, birthing centers and lactation consultants.

Hirut Eyob is passionate about increasing the visibility and
accessibility of culturally and linguistically diverse breastfeeding
support services and resources. In 2012 she launched her
Montreal-based private practice, Integrated Lactation Consulting to
develop facilities, and enhance workplace breastfeeding culture
through training, policy and procedures. As a doula and reproductive
justice advocate, Hirut applies early intervention strategies and
preventative care models into her work. She believes strongly in
working in collaboration with others to build sustainable networks and
communities that work toward the overall improvement of maternal and
child health in Quebec, nationally, and internationally. The
investigative and reporting work that she has done in the last 17
years has been used by many, including the United Nations to determine
humanitarian aid, and by local players to develop initiatives,
programs and interventions in the area of mental health. She credits
her ancestors, unique background and intersectional identities
(Ethiopian-Jew, Montréalaise, queer, mother of a gifted child with
[dis]abilities) for keeping her grounded and connected. She loves
traveling as a result of having lived/studied/and worked in Africa,
North America and the Middle East.

From Thick Skin to Fierce Femme Armour: On Femme of Color Art, Organizing and Resistance!
With Kama La Mackerel
Friday April 10th, 6-8pm
EV 1.605, 1515 Ste-Catherine Street West

“[They] took control of their bodies— bodies that were radical in their mere existence in this misogynistic, transphobic, elitist world— because their bodies, their wits, their collective legacy of survival, were tools to care for themselves when their families, our government, and our medical establishment turned their backs.” – Janet MockIn this presentation, Kama La Mackerel talks about the legacies of femme of color resilience and resistance. Being a trans femme of color means that you break every single rule of white supremacist domination; being a trans femme of color also means that society has every structure in place to erase/invisibilize/pulverize you… Being a trans femme of color means that the mere existence of your body is revolutionary; being a trans femme of color also means that your “revolutionary” body will be threatened in broad daylight, at every street corner…

How do we, then, as trans femmes and trans women of color, honour our history and legacy of resistance? How do we, then, build thick skins and fierce femme armours in order to thrive? How do we, then, come together and birth a future for the generations of children yet to come? In this talk, Kama La Mackerel grapples with those questions, and also talks about art, healing, femme sisterhood and building a bright future for the coming generations of legendary children.

Kama La Mackerel is an artist, curator, community organizer and movement builder based in Tio’tia:ke, on colonized Kanien’kehá:ka/ territory.