OCAP | Speaking Series
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty is a direct action anti-poverty organization that fights for more shelter beds, social housing, and a raise in social assistance rates.
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Resisting Revitalized Bigotry in the Downtown East

Thursday, October 17 | 6pm-8pm | CRC, 40 Oak Street
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access, and tokens]
Facebook Event

Toronto’s downtown east is changing rapidly. The historic Regent Park social housing is being reduced to rubble and the “mixed-income” imagination of politicians is coming alive. Towers with a combination of ownership condos and rental units for former social housing tenants have risen, with more on the way.

Mitchell Cohen, the president of Daniel’s Corporation, sold his company’s revitalization plan as one that would make “tenants and owners feel at home with each other and in their community.” But the residents of Daniel’s new building at Parliament and Dundas installed spikes on the large tree planters downstairs. Neighbours and passerby’s would sit around those planters to rest, drink coffee or have conversations. Now they can’t.

Not far away, Dundas and Sherbourne has turned into a battleground. Residents who control the Cabbagetown South Residents’ Association want to shut down a health centre and respite site that serve the homeless at that corner. They don’t want poor people in crisis in the area. The City responded with more police, the Province cut funding for the overdose prevention site, the health centre put up a fence, and the respite site cut its capacity. Not satisfied, the Association now collaborates with Toronto Sun’s Sue Ann Levy who writes articles denigrating poor people as dirty, drug-addicted and dangerous.

Area residents have two choices: we either build solidarity or escalate hostility. We invite all those who choose the former to join us to discuss how we can do so.

Speakers: Gaetan Heroux and A.J. Withers

Gaetan Heroux has worked in the downtown east for over three decades, a longtime organizer with OCAP, and co-author of Toronto’s Poor: A Rebellious History.

A.J. Withers is an longtime OCAP organizer and author of stillmyrevolution.org, and two books: Radical Disability Politics and Theory and A Violent History of Benevolence.

No Freedom to Hate: Resisting Racism

Thursday, July 18 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childminding, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event

The resurgence of the far-right has intensified existing racism in society. Violence and hate crimes against Jews and Muslims have been particularly notable in their brazenness. The perpetrators of this hatred draw inspiration from, and in turn form the enthusiastic base of, politicians like Doug Ford, Jason Kenney, Andrew Scheer, Maxime Bernier and others.

Such politicians favour dog-whistles over explicit racism to signal their support for racist ideas while trying to remain acceptable to the broader public. The result is a bizarre reversal where the incitement of hate is justified as free speech and opposition to it is panned as intolerance.

Our best shot at defeating the escalating attacks on everything from our income, housing, to our very existence lies in unity. But in order to build it, we must understand how hate is being mobilized to grow division, recognize how it infiltrates our lives, and learn to challenge it effectively.

Speakers: Azeezah Kanji, Daniel Karasik and Cedar

Azeezah is a legal analyst and writer based in Toronto. She is also the director of programming at the Noor Cultural Centre.

Daniel is an organizer with IfNotNow Toronto, a writer, and co-facilitator of the new network Artists For Climate & Migrant Justice and Indigenous Sovereignty.

Cedar is a Hamilton-based activist who was recently arrested for speaking out about police complicity in enabling far-right violence.

This event is part of OCAP’s monthly Speakers Series. It’s where we discuss issues critical to the success of poor people’s movements.

Doug Ford’s War On The Poor

Thursday, April 18 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event | Audio/Video Archive

The Ford government’s first budget came out on Thursday, April 11. It is bad news for the people. But the populist Premiere knows that bad news must be delivered with a smile, and confusing rhetoric.

So join us to make sense of how the budget will impact our lives, from education to healthcare to legal representation, to social assistance, and more.

Then let’s figure out how to build a resistance movement that can become Dougie’s worst nightmare.

Speakers:

Natalie Mehra, Ontario Health Coalition
Amina Vance, Students Say No
Jackie Esmonde, Income Security Advocacy Centre
Shelagh Pizey-Allen, TTC Riders
Kelly White, Street Health Overdose Prevention Site
John Clarke, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

Natalie Mehra is the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Amina Vance is a high school student and one of the lead organizers of the Ontario-wide student walkouts.

Jackie Esmonde is a staff lawyer with a legal aid clinic, the Income Security Advocacy Centre and a member of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen is the executive direction of TTC Riders.

Kelly White volunteered with the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society and now serves as Coordinator of the Overdose Prevention Site at Street Health.

John Clarke has been active in anti-poverty struggles for over 40 years, and is a member of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty.

Gathering Forces: Fighting Austerity Beyond Elections

Thursday, October 18 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event | Download Flyer | Audio Archive

With the elections rigged in favour of the wealthy, the real power to successfully stop
cut backs rests with social movements. With dramatic cuts to social assistance, min wage, healthcare, transit, and more expected, it’s time to gather our forces.

So come hear from movements that are fighting to defend our people.

Speakers: John Clarke (OCAP), Anna Willats (RadTO & thecitywefightfor initiative), Em Carl (Toronto Overdose Prevention Society), Andrew Peters (No One Is Illegal-Toronto), Edgar Godoy (Ontario Health Coalition), and Anna Lermer (TTCRiders).

John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, a poor people’s direct-action organization fighting to win since 1990.
Anna Willats is member of RadTO, which just launched the visionary thecitywefightfor platform for the kind of city we must fight to build, regardless of who wins the municipal elections.
Em Carl is a member of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, which has been engaged in a gutsy and lifesaving fight to address the overdose crisis.
Andrew Peters is a member of No One Is Illegal-Toronto – an immigrant justice organization that is mobilizing to block attempts by white supremacists Steve Bannon and David Frum to speak in Toronto.
Egdar Godoy is the campaigns manager at the Ontario Health Coalition, which is organizing a province-wide mobilization at Queens Park next week.
 
Anna Lermer is with the TTCRiders – an organization fighting to expand access to transit and stop its privatization.

 

The monthly Speakers Series is where we gather to discuss issues that are critical to the success of poor people’s movements. It’s where we build our capacity to fight to win. 

Speakers Series: Rent Strikes, Expropriations & More: Resisting Gentrification

Rent Strikes, Expropriations & More: Resisting Gentrification
Thursday, September 20 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event | Download Flyer | Audio Archive

Bringing together struggles against gentrification unfolding in neighbourhoods in Toronto and Hamilton, this Speakers Series will profile successful models of resistance people are using to push back and win. Join us!

Speakers: Julia Manzo, Linda Habibi, Bjarke Risager, , and Gaetan Heroux

Julia Manzo is a resident of Parkdale, and one of the organizers of the successful rent strike in Parkdale last year. She is also a member of Parkdale Organize.

Linda Habibi is a tenant and strike captain in the Stoney Creek Towers in Hamilton, where tenants are currently on a rent strike. Details about their rent strike can be found here: facebook.com/hamiltontenantssolidarity/ and here: hamiltontenantssolidarity.ca

Bjarke Risager is an organizer with the Hamilton Tenants Solidarity Network.

Gaetan Heroux is a member of OCAP and has worked and fought for housing in the downtown east end of Toronto for over three decades.

The monthly Speakers Series is where we gather to discuss issues that are critical to the success of poor people’s movements. It’s where we build our capacity to fight to win. 

Speakers Series Resumes in September

The monthly Speakers Series is taking a break for the month’s of July and August, and will resume again in September.

For newer visitors to the website, the Speakers Series is an event we organize in Regent Park on the third Thursday of every month. There is a community meal and a talk on issues that are critical to the success of poor people’s movements. The Speakers Series is where we build our capacity to fight to win.

It’s a bit spotty, but you can access the audio archive of some of our past events here.

Speakers Series: Policing Black Lives

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present
Thursday, June 21 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event | Speakers Series Audio Archive

Delving behind Canada’s veneer of multiculturalism and tolerance, this talk will trace the violent realities of anti-Black racism from the slave ships to prisons, classrooms and beyond, providing a comprehensive account of nearly four hundred years of state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization and punishment off Black lives in Canada.

Speaker: Robyn Maynard

Robyn is a Black feminist writer, grassroots community organizer and intellectual based in Montreal. Her work has appeared in the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette, World Policy Journal and Canadian Women Studies Journal.

The monthly Speakers Series is where we gather to discuss issues that are critical to the success of poor people’s movements. It’s where we build our capacity to fight to win. 

Speakers Series: Defeating Doug Ford

Defeating Doug Ford
Thursday, May 17 | 6pm – 8pm | CRC, 40 Oak St.
[Free event with meal, childcare, wheelchair access and tokens]
Facebook event | Speakers Series Audio Archive

The upcoming provincial election in June could put Doug Ford in power. If that happens, attacks on poor and working class people will escalate sharply. Defeating his aggression is possible with planning, appropriate actions, and by drawing lessons from our past.

There are obvious comparisons to be made to the Mike Harris Tory regime that held power from 1995 to 2003. When they first took power, there was a stunned demobilization that lost us time and momentum and, when the Days of Action strikes and mass protests got underway, as impressive as they were, there were serious limitations in how they were conducted.

Let’s talk now so we are prepared to #FightToWin, no matter who takes power. Join us!

Speakers: John Clarke and Megan Whitfield

John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and has been active in poor people’s movements since 1983.

Megan Whitfield is the president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ (CUPW) Toronto local. CUPW played a pivotal role in the resistance to the Mike Harris Tories in the 90s.

Read OCAP’s full statement on the implications of a Doug Ford victory here.

The monthly Speakers Series is where we gather to discuss issues that are critical to the success of poor people’s movements. It’s where we build our capacity to fight to win.