OCASI In The Field 100th Issue

November 2020 / Toronto

It is the early morning after votes have been cast in the USA and unsurprisingly the election results are too close to determine a winner with millions of ballots still to be counted. The usual bombast from the sitting President has been heard and hopefully ignored as it should. I have vowed to myself for months that I would not expend any energy on the US election. But it’s difficult to turn away from our neighbour to the south as the body politic wrestles amongst itself for the nation’s collective soul. History will be the judge.

Fall or Autumn as I pretentiously call it to myself (I love the sound and the spelling of it) is my favourite season. It is a time of completion. A time of pause, of maintenance of what needs to continue while clearing debris to allow for the space and time for new ideas and thoughts to emerge and to percolate, maybe becoming a plan or a project some months down the road when we welcome Spring and begin our time of renewal.

* Click on the images to enlarge the photos.

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As I write this, I am reminded that this is my one hundredth rant – give or take a couple of repeats over the past eight plus years. It is the 100th issue of OCASI In The Field – OITF. It is an accomplishment and a moment for reflection and celebration. It is a celebratory time for us at the Council as we came through our first virtual Forum and Annual General Meeting with flying colours, joined by upwards of six hundred guests for our keynote speaker, some from the US, another reminder of the borderless engagement we have with each other as geographical neighbours.

Now it is time for a pause. A slowing down from the franticness (so to speak) that I/we have experienced over the past months as rage and hope and incredulity and fear all fought for primacy as we bore collective witness to the racist and transphobic violence against Black, Indigenous and Trans bodies. We’ve spent the last half a year on panels and roundtables all on a screen, bemoaning the significant increases we are seeing and hearing in misogynistic violence including in intimate partnerships. Meanwhile the health pandemic continues its march through our elder populations, our poor and racialized and migrant populations, seemingly unabated. The rising numbers here in Ontario and across the country tell the tale.

In any and all movements of resistance, there must be time for review and reflection and communion. Time and attention to the souls and hearts and minds of those doing the heavy lifting on the ground. Time and space for those who bear the brunt of the violence- the witnesses and targets of the nooses that show up on the construction sites in the Toronto area and elsewhere for example; the debaters of abolitionism or reformism, while police continue to kill and harm Black, Indigenous and many suffering with mental illness, with impunity (demonstrated by the light sentence recently handed down to the Toronto policeman who brutally assaulted a young Black man); the anti-poverty activists and community health champions who bury the sometimes nameless victims,  of an opioid pandemic without fanfare knowing that more poor and unhoused bodies daily face the same predicament.

There are thousands living with uncertainty and great concern, here and abroad, waiting for news about spousal and other sponsorship results, work and study permits and closed borders. These too are pressing concerns and need an urgent fix.

Using these un-cold days of Autumn (I prefer it capitalized) for pause isn’t about ignoring or wishing away the very real socio-economic injustices we must collectively work to address and redress, but instead it is a time to re-fuel, to rejuvenate, to refresh with new energies to pick up and continue the resistance for the long haul – the arc of history and all that.

So I invite you to join me in exhaling as we take a walk through images in my neighbourhood. My slice of joy in this time of heightened tensions and growing resistance to the status quo.

In solidarity