Scholar Strike 2022: Why teachers, students will take to the streets
The intersection of Bond and Gould streets in Toronto, which housed the statue of Egerton Ryerson for 132 years only to see it toppled last year, will be the starting point for a walking tour on Wednesday.
Call it our own tower of resistance, marking the latest in the three-day academics’ strike which begins on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Racism. This is a labor action where scholars, activists and students from across the country will first participate in two days of free, open-to-the-public virtual ‘teaching’, then roam downtown at various venues. histories of resistance to oppression.
They will protest state violence against black, indigenous and racialized people and demand, among other things, the defunding and abolition of the police and prisons, and the defunding of institutions such as aid societies. childhood, instead transferring funds to communities that provide affordable care and housing. , and working to eradicate poverty.
A recurring theme throughout the three-day strike is to break down silos and make connections – between academics and street organizers, between historical and current resistance movements, between anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles, between those who are oppressed and those who are not.
“We want to be able to say that this resistance movement is not against you. It’s about finding ways to be together,” said Mikinaak Migwans, Assistant Professor of Contemporary Indigenous Art in Canada and Curator at the Art Museum, University of Toronto. The walking tour is the brainchild of Migwans. Migwans are Anishinaabekwe from Wikwemikong Unceded Territory.
In the wake of the 2020 Black Uprisings, the names Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Eishia Hudson, Chantel Moore, D’Andre Campbell, Ejaz Choudry were among those who began circulating in Canada to humanize and remember victims of police brutality . Two years later, not only are they all forgotten by many – we all go from one crisis to the next brilliant crisis – but new names, new bodies have piled onto the deck.
Anthony Aust, Moses Erhirhie, Trent Firth, Lionel Ernest Grey, Braden Herman, Julian Jones are among them. Just like Jared Lowndes, Sheffield Matthews, Dillon McDonald, Coco Ritchie and Latjor Tuel.
They are among those Black, Indigenous or racialized people killed by police, or died in police custody since the 2020 count, which University of Toronto organizers believe is the genesis of this second strike by academics.
Tuel was suffering from mental distress when he was killed by Edmonton police in February, even as various officers treated the often violent convoy protesters from Ottawa with protective gloves. Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team is investigating Tuel’s murder. Edmonton police say they followed all protocols. They always say that.
Given the worsening global backdrop of a lingering pandemic, growing authoritarianism, war and climate change, the academics’ strike kicks off with a discussion of the rise of far-right fascism, racism and white ethno-nationalism, said Beverly Bain, professor of women and gender studies in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, who is one of the main organizers.
Approximately 40 speakers will address topics such as harm reduction, migrants and borders, and the invasion of Indigenous territories. These sessions provide a way to connect the ivory tower to the street.
“We can no longer afford to have this bifurcation of the university as a knowledge-only site and community and activism as something different,” Bain said. “Many of us in universities are academic activists and organizers.”
Since the first academic strike Bain co-organized in 2020 that called for defunding the police, police budgets have grown. The Toronto Police’s operating budget stands at $1.1 billion in 2022 after the city approved a $25 million increase.
Police shootings and killings across the country have continued unabated. More than half of the 64 police shootings in 2021 involved Indigenous people.
Justice-seeking protests can be dismissed as a series of disjointed events that allow people to vent or vent their anger at a particular incident or project, when in fact they are continuous and linked together. to others through history and geography.
The United Nations has designated March 21 as a day against racial discrimination because it commemorates the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, when South African police killed 69 people and injured 180 during a peaceful protest against the ‘apartheid.
The March 23 walking tour also offers to connect current movements with historical resistance.
“There has always been resistance in our communities from the moment they arrived,” said organizer Kristen Bos, assistant professor of historical studies and the Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, who is Métis. “That’s what the police exist for, isn’t it?” Like, that’s why they were literally created just in this country to eradicate native resistance.
Landmarks include Trinity Bellwoods and Alexandra Park, where police violently destroyed encampments of homeless people last year. Also, Christie Pits, who in 1933 saw violence erupt between a predominantly Jewish baseball team against members of what was called the Swastika Club, who told the Toronto Daily Star that they then wanted “to get the Jews out of the park “.
Speakers at each site will address injustices and connect them to broader movements.
For example, speakers will protest at Queen’s Park, the site of the North West Rebellion’s monument to officers who died putting down an uprising led by Métis leader Louis Riel in 1885. Riel was tried and executed after being captured.
In 1920, when the RCMP was created from the North West Mounted Police, the division’s former headquarters was in the post office building at 6 Charles Street East in Toronto. Here, speakers will mark the century since the RCMP blocked Six Nations resistance to the dissolution of traditional governance and connected it to what is now 1492 Landback Lane, where Ontario encroaches and supports a real estate development project on the traditional lands of the Six Nations of the Grand River, near what we now call Caledonia.
On Yonge and College Streets, the site of the 1992 Yonge Street Uprising following the police killing of Raymond Lawrence, speakers including activist journalist Desmond Cole will talk about the history of the Black Action Defense Committee.
A big part of this tour, Bos said, is “remembering our collective history and reclaiming public space. For us to be free to feel safe in parks as Black and Indigenous peoples, on campuses and on the streets.
It ends at the University of Toronto, where Bain will challenge the university’s reliance on institutions such as the police in its approach to mental health issues and the disproportionate retention of students of color, and demand a police-free campus.
“Our overall goals for this are to build a collective memory and strengthen the collective ability to be together safely and in solidarity on this earth,” Migwans said.