On Friday, December 17, from 9:00am-5:00pm, the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program (BHESP), in collaboration with the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) and other local women’s rights and human rights organizations, commemorated International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers.  The gathering in Nairobi will include a silent public procession, starting at Koinange Street, and ending at the Sarakasi Dome, in Ngara, where the rest of the programme will be held. The event will include: a session to share the findings of recent research done on sex worker rights in Kenya; testimonies by sex workers who have experienced violence; edutainment in the form of theatre, music, dance, and spoken word; short speeches by various key human rights defenders; and a candle-light vigil to remember sex workers in Kenya who have lost their lives in the line of duty. All events are free and open to the press. The dress code for this day will be red (sex worker rights) and black (Africa).

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers aims to raise awareness of the violence and abuse perpetrated on sex workers, while remembering those who have been its victims. The goal is to see a global society where sex workers’ safety and basic human rights are protected. While this day is currently marked by over 100 cities around the world, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania will be marking this day for the first time this year.

Nairobi’s celebration will feature several prominent speakers from various organizations, touching on such related topics as human rights, sexual and reproductive health, security, law & policy reform, and the impact of the new Constitution on Kenya’s laws pertaining to sex work and human rights.

When asked to comment on her reasons for organizing this event, Dorothy Ogutu, a sex worker activist, said:

As the saying goes, sex work is the oldest profession, and yet it is the one industry that records the highest rate of violence and brutality. By marking this day, we are calling for an end to violence in a working community that has experienced and continues to experience so much of it. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere, is injustice everywhere.”

For more information, contact Dorothy Ogutu (KESWA), Peninah Mwangi (BHESP) or Zawadi Nyong’o at dec17kenya@gmail.com or 0718122270.

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 I,S.I.S note: these are (some of) the hadithi ya the Q_t werd, of women who dare to be powerful, ase…..

My name is Kyomya Macklean and I am from Uganda. I was born in Masindi district. My father is a polygamous man with seven wives who bore him 19 children, out of which I am the first. My mother gave birth to 6 of these children, so I was blessed with 2 sisters and 3 brothers.

Although we were a very big family, when we were young, my father always made sure that he took care of us. Unfortunately, he used to mistreat my mother and I think it was because she was his first wife, so he took her for granted. He used to beat her and when he would come home with other women, he even made her spread the bed for them. This really affected me and I started hating men.

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was always a good student and remained focused on my studies. I was also a leader from a very young age. In primary school, I was a girl guide, at O-levels, I was a prefect, and in secondary school, I was the head-girl. Despite my commitment, by the time I got to Senior Four[1], there wasn’t enough money to send me to school. I was determined to complete my education, though, so I did whatever I could. That is when a friend of mine introduced me to sex work, which quickly became my source of livelihood. I was really scared at first, but with time I got used to it because I was able to earn the money I needed to pay my school fees, hostel fees, and even pay fees for my younger brothers and sisters. I also made sure I supported my dear mother so that she would not have to depend on my father. It was not easy for me when I started, but despite all the hardships I was going through, I continued to do it because I was committed to making life better for my family. This is what kept me strong whenever I was arrested, tortured by cruel clients, or suffering the bitter cold of the streets at night.

I remember my first experience very well. I had just started living in a hostel with a group of other sex workers who were showing me the ropes. This guy Richard, who worked with the Red Pepper gutter press Ugandan newspaper, used to come and visit us girls all the time, buy us drinks and just have a good time. So when he asked me if I would go with him, I decided I was ready to do it. That night, he picked me up from the hostel and took me to another hotel, but when we got there, he said he wanted to have ‘live’[2] sex with me and pay me 10,000 Ugandan shillings (5 US Dollars). When I refused to do it, he started beating me, filled the bathroom sink with water, and then pushed my head into the sink. As I was fighting back, I remember him saying to me, “I can kill you bitch! After all, you are just a slut who sells your body to earn a living.” He went ahead to say that, “Even if I killed you, nobody would judge me of murder because you are nothing but a prostitute and a kisarani.[3]”

By this point, I was screaming and fighting for my life. After a while, some people heard the screaming and came upstairs so he let go of me and got distracted. As quickly as I could, I grabbed his wallet and found his passport photograph. When he realized what I had done, he started threatening to put my story and naked pictures of me in the Red Pepper. I told him that I didn’t care and that since I also had his photo, I would report him as my client. He got scared and ashamed, and since he was more worried about his wife and family finding out, there was nothing more he could do, so he left.

When I eventually got back to the hostel, I told the other girls what had happened and everyone was furious. They all said that if he ever came back to the hostel, they would hurt him, but he never dared to. We were all so surprised though because this was someone that we had known for a long time, so none of us expected this to happen. We learned a very important lesson that day though – that we could never trust any of our clients. I also wished I had been strong enough to grab him, but I was much smaller and weaker than him, so I couldn’t fight back. That was the last time I ever saw this man, but I still have a scar on my face where the tap cut me near my eye.

I continued to do sex work, but never told any of my relatives about the kind of work I was doing. I could not even tell my mother where I was getting the money to look after myself and the family. Instead, I told her I was working at Hajji’s place, where we made a curry powder called kawomera. Unfortunately, my secret was eventually exposed when I made the mistake of going with a man who knew my dad and took it upon himself to tell him about the work I was doing. My father was extremely annoyed. He cursed me, chased me out of his home, and told me never to come back. This was in 2002 when I had just completed my Senior 4.

I decided to leave Masindi, my home district, and came to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda where I continued to do sex work for the next two years. I managed to finish my Senior 6 with the money I was getting from my job, and supported myself throughout this time. Back then, my earnings depended on the season, the areas where I would operate, and the kind of clients I was able to get. Speke Hotel was my favorite at the time, and I also liked going to Club Panther on Rubaga road and Sax pub. Some of these places are demolished now, and the competition at Speke is too high so sex is cheaper there now than it was before.

We used to charge 20,000-50,000 Ugandan shillings (10-26 US Dollars) for an hour, and 50,000-100,000 Ugandan shillings (26-53 US Dollars) for a night, depending on our negotiating power. For 15-20 minutes, we would charge 5,000-10,000 Ugandan shillings (2.5-5 US Dollars) and I would have an average of 6-8 clients per night, earning between 50,000-200,000 Ugandan shillings (26-105 US Dollars) per night. Nowadays, however, sex has become really cheap because unemployment and poverty rates are increasing, younger girls are entering the trade, the supply is higher, and sex workers are more desperate than they were before.

The highest I have ever been paid by a single client is 190,000 Ugandan shillings (100 US Dollars), which was paid by a Belgian man called Americo who I met in Club Panther where I used to strip dance. He saw me at the club one night, liked me and made an appointment for the next day. I told Americo that I didn’t know many hotels, that I was new to Kampala, and I asked him if he knew any private places where we could go to talk. The following morning we travelled to Mukono Collins hotel for the weekend, where we had a wonderful time. He was really cool and kind and he treated me really well. He gave me all this money because I was really gentle with him and I pretended I that I was new to sex work and that I was still very innocent. Because of my soft voice and tiny body, he believed everything I said, and in no time I had this man wrapped around my little finger. He even told me he had a daughter who was like me.

This is a trick I have since used with many clients. I pretend to be a young, innocent girl who has gone through a hard life and I tell my clients that I am looking for someone to take care of me. They look at me, my size, and they always want to go with me – I never get rejected because of it. I have come a long way in the industry though, and it has taken a lot for me to get to where I am now. Things were much harder when I used to work on the streets and in the strip club. Back then, my friend Peter, who was working at Grand Imperial Hotel, used to connect me to clients. Unfortunately, Peter passed away in 2008 – may his soul rest in peace. Working on the streets was the worst experience though, so I needed to find an alternative.

It was also very difficult for my family to accept that I was a sex worker. My father never forgave me and he blamed my mother for giving birth to a slut like me. He mistreated her even more than before and it broke my heart. This pushed me to save and try to find another job so that I could increase my income and do something for my mother to make her happy. While in Kampala, I got a job with the Kampala City Council where I was recommended by one of my clients who was working as the Personnel Assistant to the mayor at the time. I started to work as a fuel supervisor at Central Division in Kampala and I was being paid 200,000 Ugandan shillings (105 US Dollars) per month, which was to cover all my expenses such as food, transport and medication. Before long, my boss also took an interest in me and started making advances. He asked me out several times, and I made the mistake of going. He started buying me things and before long he was asking me for sex, but each time I made an excuse and said that I was feeling sick, or something. He was annoyed that I was not easy, and even though I was doing sex work at the time, I didn’t want to get involved with him because I had been introduced to him by my father and I didn’t want people at work to find out. It was a difficult situation, but eventually I told him. Before long, others found out and my fellow employees started talking about me and calling me names. They would call me a slut, kisarani, and worst of all, a “de-toother” or Mukuzi in Luganda which means someone who extracts money from people like a con man or woman. It was just too much for me, but after enduring a lot of abuse, I decided I had to defend myself. Men would come and abuse me and I would respond, “You are lucky you were warned before I de-toothed you!” They were shocked because I didn’t look like the kind of woman who would speak in such a bold and harsh manner. When I was at work, I dressed smart, always did what I was supposed to do, and always minded my own business, so they did not know what I was capable of.

I really tried to concentrate on the job, but I could not pay my bills and support my mother and siblings with the money I was getting, so it was impossible for me to quit sex work. I started working on the phone so my clients would just call me, make appointments, and we would meet. This is still how I conduct my business.

After several years in the trade, I realize how difficult it is to quit sex work, especially now that I have become a professional sex worker. I have learned how to negotiate for safer sex, I value my health, I know that sex work can be “work” for which I have learned to negotiate good pay, I have a positive self-esteem and I’ve learned how to save. Sex work can also be a lot of fun, but this only happens when you are your own boss, when you know what you want, know how to save, and can decide when, how, and who you want to have sex for money with. These lessons have not come easily though, and I thank all the women who I’ve shared difficult times and learning experiences with in this work.

Looking back at my experience with the man who tried to drown me in the hotel, after everything I have gone through and learned, I would react very differently. I would try to be kind to the man and get as much personal information from him as possible. I would ask him what he does, find out details about his family, and then afterwards I would go to the police and report the case. I would share the experience with the media and expose this man to shame him. With all the information I would have collected, there is no way he would be able to deny that I was with him. I also have a phone with a camera, so I would take pictures of him without his knowledge, and even record his voice for evidence. This is what I do with new clients that I don’t know and trust. I make sure that I am really nice to them while I am with them, gain their trust so that they don’t suspect anything, and get as much information as I can about them. If I’m really paranoid, sometimes I even hide my phone under the bed and leave the voice recorder on while I am working.

One of the turning points in my life was in 2002 when one of the girls in our hostel was raped by a client. The man who raped her had a special stone which he had sharpened, as sharp as a hunting knife, and he threatened to cut her neck and insert the stone into her vagina if she screamed. He raped her then he and some other men took her shoes, her bag, her money and everything else that she had. When this man left, we were all very terrified. The girl was very badly affected. She got pregnant and when her father who was an engineer found out, he chased her away from their home. We were afraid of reporting the story to the police or telling others because we were afraid of being criminalized for our sex work, so we kept the story to ourselves. The girl started getting increasingly sick, so eventually we decided to go and see a doctor and told the matron of the hostel. The matron abused us and blamed us for the rape. In the end, the girl decided to go back to her mother and grandmother in the village where she gave birth and in the process discovered she was HIV positive. She went through counseling, got saved and is now living positively with her baby.

After hearing many horrifying stories of abuse and exploitation, I decided that I wanted to help other sex workers like myself overcome these challenges. That was when I got a job with an organization which was working for sex workers in Uganda. Unfortunately, this didn’t last long because even there, I felt that we were being exploited. The boss was not representing the interests of the sex workers and he was running the whole show by himself. This one man was the director, program manager and account manager of the organization, so at the end of the day, he was the organization. Around that time, I was also invited to a pan African sex workers conference, organized by SWEAT in South Africa. For the first time in my life I was exposed to other powerful sex worker activists from all over Africa. I was really inspired when I realized that even as sex workers we actually had strength in numbers. The fire started burning inside me and I decided that I had to do something about it. I came back to Uganda with so many ideas but my boss said that we didn’t have money. I asked him if we could write proposals and raise the money but he simply said no, so my dreams were being crushed.

That was when I remembered a powerful story that one of the sex workers had shared at the conference. One night, she was picked up by a white man in a nice car who said he wanted to take her for a ride. She got in the car and they drove off. After a while, he asked her if he could touch her boobs, and she said yes. Then she said he could do whatever he wanted with her, so he continued to play with her body. This continued for a while, but then he suddenly stopped the car and told her to get out. She said he would have to pay her first because she was a sex worker. The man was shocked and said that he couldn’t pay her the 4,000 Rand she was demanding from him. By this point, she had noticed that there was a beautiful bed cover in the back seat, so she asked him if she could take it as payment for her services. The man then told her that the bed cover wasn’t his, and that she couldn’t have it. Without batting an eye-lid she responded to him, “Well, the boobs you were touching were not yours either!” She grabbed the bed cover, threatened to scream, and because the man was afraid of being embarrassed, he couldn’t do anything to stop her. I was so inspired by this story, I decided that nothing would stop me from doing what I thought was right.

I realized the man leading our organization was exploiting us, that what he was doing was wrong, and that I needed to do something about it. At the same time, those of us who had come out of the closet, because of our work, were experiencing increasing stigma and discrimination, so we decided to break off and become independent. I was also inspired by fellow sex workers from the group Sisonke in South Africa, a Kenyan sister who was a peer educator working with ICRH in Mombasa, and other sex worker activists from groups like Survivors in Busia, who I met in other networking and leadership building spaces such those organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA). I also started to interact closely and benefit from the mentorship of several people who continue to support me in my activism. People like Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe, the Executive Director of AMwA, Sylvia Tamale from the Faculty of Law in Makerere University, Mercy Berlin from New York, Devi Leiper from Sweden, Maria Nassali the Executive Director of FIDA-Uganda, Eric Harper the Director of SWEAT, and Hope Chigudu were amongst the people who were instrumental in my activist journey.

All this support made it possible for us to form the Women’s Organization Network for Human Right Advocacy (WONETHA) in 2008. WONETHA is a sex worker led organization established by three passionate and determined sexworkers who have faced harassment, insults, stigma, discrimination, and arrest without trial. We have been stirred into responsive action to address the plight of other sexworkers in the same working environment. Our vision is to have, ‘‘A legal adult sex work industry in Uganda, to improve our living and working conditions and to fight for equal access to rights so that sex workers’ human rights are defended and protected.”

I still do sex work but I am able to operate with just a few clients. I have one steady client that I have had for almost two years now. He used to work in the private sector, and is now a manager of another company. The first time we met, though, he thought I was a good girl, so he asked me out. That night he wanted to have sex with me, but when I told him that I only had sex for money, he was totally shocked. He didn’t believe what I was telling him, but I told him it was true and asked him if we could negotiate a price. He said that he couldn’t do it, and that no woman had ever said anything like this to him. He looked at me and said, “Other women would hide it, but how can you be so straight and direct about it?” I told him, “That is how I make a living and I am not ashamed of it.” We left it at that, but since we had exchanged telephone numbers, he later called me, we became friends, and he eventually became one of my clients. I guess he could do it in the end.

I am able to stand tall and proud as a professional sex worker, an activist, and a human rights defender because I believe in myself and I don’t let anyone put me down or let anyone take away my joy. I think being small in size made me this way. People look at me and expect me to be humble – they don’t expect me to be strong. When I speak in public, some people even say that I am not Ugandan, or that I am paid to say the things I do. I speak out without fear and ask others to respect sex workers just like they do other professionals. I believe in myself and I am proud of what I have managed to achieve in my life as a sex worker. I always say that “if you feel uncomfortable being with me or near me then that is your problem.”

I have managed to stand against the insults, stigma and discrimination and I have turned a deaf ear to what people say about me. I used to cry before, but now I mind on my own affairs. Whenever I make presentations or do media advocacy, for example, people ask me all kinds of stupid questions. One of the most popular questions is, “How many men have you had sex with?” This question used to bother me, but now I just tell them, “I can’t really tell, but roughly I would estimate about three full Fuso[4]’s with a few more men running after them and trying to squeeze in!” When a Fuso truck gets full like a matatu in Nairobi, people still run after it even when it is at maximum capacity. So I tell them that I am like a Fuso, with hundreds of men running after me even when I have no space or time for them. These are the kinds of responses I am forced to give men who ask me silly questions just to piss me off. I mean, if I have already told them that I started doing sex work 10 years ago, “how the hell would I know how many men I have had sex with?” One time, I was even asked who my clients were. We were having a session in parliament so I told them that my clients included MP’s, and that some of them were even there that day. Everyone went quiet and nobody dared to ask me any more questions.

My dream is to see all sex workers come out of the closet and join the struggle to claim our human rights. I would also like to have sex work be legally recognized as work. In the meantime, this is what I advise other sex workers:

“Go for regular health check-ups, always have safe sex, seek justice when tortured, learn how to save and invest, and learn when to take leave and when to work.”

In WONETHA we always say, “Work wise and always be prepared before you go to work.”

Despite life’s pressures, I always try take time off to relax and restore myself. I swim, go out with friends, and spend quality time with my fellow sex workers who are my primary support system. I also love reading, listening to country and slow music, and once in a while I go for a walk in the forest, or spend some time at the beach.

When people tell me I should get ‘saved’ I tell them that I am saved and that I also want to save others. If I was a ‘good woman’ how would I interact with all the ‘bad women’? You can only help others if you are able to put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their situation. I also tell people that sex work is not all bad, and that it is the environment which makes it difficult for us, and which makes society look at it negatively. It is a job that we do by choice to earn a living like any other professional, though the level and nature of choice varies with each individual. I really believe that sex work should be compared to the legal profession. People say lawyers are thieves because they use lies to win cases, sometimes even convicting the poor or the innocent. This analysis is not 100% right, but people are still being trained to become professional lawyers. So why can’t we be allowed to become professional sex workers, even if some people may not agree entirely with what we do?

What is important to me as a sex worker is to have faith. If I believe there that is a Creator, then I think I am already ‘saved’ and I don’t need any man to bless or judge me. It is the Creator’s responsibility to decide whether I am evil or not. No man has the right to judge another man. I also believe that what I do with my body for a living has nothing to do with my faith. After all, “my body is my business.” All I need to do is look after myself, make sure I have the right skills to do my job well, continuously build my self esteem, and fight for my freedom and respect in society.

I identify as a Christian so I go to church and pray for protection and ask God to send me rich and kind clients who can pay me well so that I can save, invest and plan for my future and my retirement. Unfortunately, the church is not always a safe place for sex workers like me. When I go to church and the pastor asks for money for different development projects, for example, I give what I can to support the causes that move me. When we make our contributions, you hear the pastor saying, “In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, I bless you!” So I take this to mean that his is blessing the work that provides me with the money to support myself and others. After all, even Jesus Christ was an activist. But then in these are the same people who abuse us when they find out what we do for a living. I think this is extremely hypocritical.

source (http://africansexworkeralliance.org/stories/%E2%80%9Cwhen-i-dare-be-powerful%E2%80%A6)

I,S.I.S note: and in other parts of the world, Bredrin And Dadas In Solidarity, also took mo’ public action and dared to be powerful….stories like these make me so happy…..I give thanks for all the warriors spreading love, hope and positivity in abundance

Justice Ministers’ Strategy Ignores Violence Against Sex Workers
Open letter calls for action from Canada’s governments

VANCOUVER, December 17, 2010 -On the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex worker groups and supporters have issued an open letter calling on Canada’s Justice Ministers to include Canadian sex workers in their national strategy on missing and murdered women.

“We are completely stunned that our governments have ignored violence against sex workers in their long-awaited national strategy,” says Susan Davis, Coordinator of the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities.”

The letter demands that governments immediately initiate discussions with Canadian sex worker organizations to address sex workers’ urgent and critical needs for safety and protection on the local, provincial, and national level.

Davis pointed to the tri-lateral governments’ research report on missing and murdered women that was commissioned in 2006 to consider: “the effective identification, investigation and prosecution of cases involving serial killers who target persons living a high risk lifestyle, including but not limited to the sex trade.” Subsequently, the report authors were told to consider: “particular concerns related to missing Aboriginal women.”

The report’s 52 recommendations are the foundation for the national strategy that governments announced in mid-October, but not a single recommendation addresses the prevention of violence against sex workers. Later in October, the federal government announced $10 million in national strategy funding, but not a single dollar was allocated to sex worker safety needs.

The necessity to deal with violence against sex workers was overwhelmingly brought home by the Missing Women’s Case, which concerns the murders of’ 65 women sex industry workers in Vancouver during the 1990s. The Open Letter notes thatthe criminal justice system has made few, if any, changes to protect women and youth from the violence, sexual predation and murder prevalent in the street-based sex industry.

“We know that the physical and sexual violence faced by women in the sex industry is not isolated to major urban centres, says Esther Shannon, a member of FIRST, the national feminist coalition that support sex worker rights. It happens in all Canadian communities, including rural communities, and this isespecially true for street-based sex workers who experience exponentially high rates of violence.”

While critical of sex worker exclusion from the governments’ plans, the groups are fully in support of the resources the strategy will provide for Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women and First Nations communities. The Open Letter also strongly calls for renewed funding to the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Sisters in Spirit initiative.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers, as well as to the critical need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by customs and laws that have made violence against sex-workers acceptable. The red umbrella, adopted in 2002 by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march, symbolizes resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.

Signatories to the Open Letter:

BC Coalition of Experiential Communities

Exotic Dancers for Cancer

FIRST Decriminalize Sex Work

Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women

HUSTLE: Men on the Move

The Naked Truth Entertainment

PACE Providing Alternatives Counseling & Education Society

PEERS Vancouver

Pivot Legal Society

POWER Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist

Stepping Stone, Halifax

West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals

WISH Drop-in Centre Society

 

ase, ase……

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 We have to admit that life, in a global view of tings, in the past few weeks en moons has been getting mysterious en mysteriouser, as more (open) secrets continue to be dramatically re-discovered, en the urgency of changing constitutions en shifting paradigms rises

 [read as: the elephant in the ‘political’ world is the symbolism of wikileaks latest ‘data’ dump and the ‘witch-hunting’ of Julian Assange and the Pandora of an advisory board and network. Even though there’s nothing new that those cables revealed so far…., that we haven’t already witnessed and understood from the U.S of A’s government’s assaults in ‘other’ indigenus lands already. The rest of the herd in dis story are the queer/trans Afrikans murdered in hate crimes, those that we can and can not YET  talk about]

as we re/claim the powah of silence, in the spaces between truth and propaganda….

I give thanks for our ancestors, for all the dismantling of the masters houses that has laid the foundation for us to continue rebuilding  learning communities…..I give thanks for warriors and god/desse/s of love that spread hope en abundance

and I pray that the lessons of the tragedies of those whose lives were taken brutally, those that we can name en the ones whose names we do not mention yet,  in public,  don’t have to repeat themselves….

because some of our truth remains as an open secret still, en those of us who know of heinous crimes, are tied by the consideration of the ethics of the ‘closet’ and the safety we need to maintain for our bredrin en dadas

the trouble with secrets is that they’re oxymorons,  in the spaces between oppression and radical transformation, one of the many questions lies in how we can use them most powerfully to co-create positive safe spaces that can mediate their passage into open dialogue

I give thanks for the mysteries of life/death/life cycles, and the continued resistance and renewal of knowledge coming (back) into riddin with these cycles…

http://www.blacklooks.org/2010/12/lesbian-activist-ncumisa-mzamelo-found-murdered/

This open letter, to my beloved peeps, is a eulogy for bredrin en dadas that are victims of hate (a litany of our collective resistance and survival).

Dis letter is another  call-out to networks of comrades, friends and relatives across many spaces to deepen and harvest our connecshuns with/in grassroots networks, amongst the intersections of social movements, wherever we find ourselves with rafikis, to co-create communities of liberatory pratice, and continue to hold to (ac)count all perpertrators of injustice…

http://notuhuru.com/?p=68

like, jus from the drama jus in the past few weeks,  top nominations of people to be charged with appropriately classified crimes,  include tom flanagan, raila odinga and the UN General Assembly Human Rights Committee

[http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/Opinion/Raila%20owes%20Kenyans%20an%20apology/-/440808/1066846/-/mnntwv/-/index.html]

julian assange’s life is in danger, and already we know of (+)1 ‘closeted’ person(s) brutally killed in Kenya in the last week, after the Prime Minister so shamelessly exploited hateful western constructions of homophobia that were institutionalised to suppress indigenus traditions, forbidden (but not forgotten) in neo-colonial regimes, funded by christian fundamentalists and defended by kin still….

the bigger point though isthe  not the culprits, because our thriving depends on the ones who facilitate positive transformation, ofcourse….

what continues to inspire en ground me, and many others, are the growing numbers of warriors joining circles and networks of liberatory causes and spreading healing en love in abundance….

so, dear beloved peeps, given all that we DO  have, how do we (continue to) co-create mo containers to harvest the powah of all those intersections of our diversity,across diverse spaces?

how do we transform the trauma of the latest events to galvanise our working on our own UNITY first, not only the continent but most significantly, with di diaspora?

Ẹni tí eégún ńlé kó máa rọ́jú; bó ti ńrẹ ará ayé, bẹ́ẹ̀ ní ńrẹ ará ọ̀run.

The person being chased by a masquerader should persevere; just as an earthling tires, so does the being from heaven.

(Perseverance solves all problems.)

Yoruba Proverb

ase, ase…..

check dis…where I learned, that this is American Indian Heritage Month

http://imperfect-black.blogspot.com/2010/11/native-american-history-in-north.html

check dis too…..

Toronto Indigenous Sovereignty Week 2010 – Resistance and Renewal

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21

 5pm-7pm

Ceremonial opening

Native Canadian Centre of Toronto – 16 Spadina Road, just north of Bloor.

Join us as we open Indigenous Sovereignty Week with drum, song, and food, and an opening address by Lee Maracle (Stó:lō) and Derek Bressette. Performers will include Zainab Amadahy (Tsalagi) and a big drum (TBA).

 

7pm-9pm

“The Scars of Mercury”

A film about Grassy Narrows

Native Canadian Centre of Toronto – 16 Spadina Road, just north of Bloor.

Please join us to watch a documentary film about Grassy Narrows, and to mark the opening of Indigenous Sovereignty Week.

‘The Scars of Mercury’ explores the processes that threaten the destruction of a traditional and contemporary Indigenous hunting, fishing and gathering way of life, through residential schools, relocation, treaty violations, and clear-cutting, with a special focus on mercury poisoning.

The Grassy Narrows community has fought decades for justice on mercury issues, and is home to the longest running blockade in Canada – established to stop clearcut logging of their forests.  Grassroots people are working tirelessly to heal their community, revive their culture, and take control of their lives and territory.

See the film website.

 

Stay informed and to take action in support of Grassy Narrows

 

 

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22

7pm-9pm

Fighting for Indigenous education

UTS, 371 Bloor Street West, between Huron and Spadina (to be confirmed)

Speakers:

Joanna Anaquod (Anishinaabe), organizer of the 1989 hunger strike  to protect post-secondary education funding for status Indians

Ruth Koleszar-Green (Kanienkehaka), Academic Support Advisor at Aboriginal Student Services, Ryerson University (on leave)

Others TBA

Moderator: Lee Maracle (Stó:lō), well-known poet, thinker, feminist, elder-in-residence at U of T, and long-time Indigenous sovereignty activist

Canada’s education system has been a pillar of Canadian colonialism – it has been a primary weapon of cultural genocide in Canada; it has shaped racist images of Indigenous peoples in public discourse; and it has disappeared Canada’s history of colonialism, so that non-Native people do not see or understand their role in Canadian colonialism.

Generations of Indigenous people were forced to go to residential schools, where they were brutalized and forced to forget their languages, customs, and cultures. Today, the reality of most education for status Indians is that it is underfunded and inadequate. Governments spend much less on education for on-reserve Native students than they do for non-Natives. And they are doing little to address issues of language loss and cultural alienation. Meanwhile, post-secondary funding for Indian students is being threatened for the first time in 20 years.

Learn about the history of education in Canadian colonialism, and about how Indigenous people are fighting attacks on their access to education, while at the same time creating Indigenous models of education that are part of a process of decolonizing Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike.

 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23

7pm-9pm

Every inch of our land is who we are: protecting mother Earth, protecting traditional knowledge

Fitzgerald Building, Room 103, University of Toronto – 150 College Street

Land, life, and language are inseparable from the identity of First Nations. Many First Nations still live in a traditional subsistence economy – gathering food and medicines, hunting and trapping for food and clothing, and building shelter on their traditional territories. Over thousands of years of living on and caring for the land, Indigenous Peoples have developed a vast and sensitive knowledge of their territories and the beings that live within them. Destruction of traditional food sources threatens the survival of Indigenous Peoples and their knowledge – but destruction of Indigenous Peoples also threatens the survival of the planet.

Aamjiwnaang First Nation, in Chemical Valley near Sarnia, has been devastated by toxins produced in the petrochemical plants near the community. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation in Northern BC is fighting the building of a pipeline to carry tar sands oil through their territory. Our speakers will talk about the struggles for environmental justice on these territories, and on strategies for preserving traditional ecological knowledge for future generations.

Speakers:

Ron Plain (Aamjiwnaang), has been a leader in environmental justice struggles by First Nations, particularly in his home community of Aamjiwnaang

Toghestiy Wet’suwet’en (Wet’suwet’en), hereditary title holder in the Wet’suwet’en nation

Leanne Simpson (to be confirmed), professor of Native Studies at Trent University

Moderator: Sylvia Plain (Aamjiwnang), organizer with the Native Students Association

 

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24

6pm-9pm

Igniting resistance through Indigenous Bodies: Sexuality, Two-Spirit and Creativity

Native Canadian Centre of Toronto – 16 Spadina Road, Toronto

This evening will focus on a discussion and a workshop around resistance through Indigenous bodies in the creative spaces that they exist. Topics will include self-determination, youth empowerment, sex and the crucial role of two-spirit people in the fight for sovereignty. Join us for refreshments, intense conversations, and fun!

6:00pm-7:30pm

Erin Konsmo (Saulteaux), Indigenous feminist, artist, and Alberta representative on the National Aboriginal Youth Council on HIV/AIDS (NAYCHA).

Krysta WIlliams, Lead Youth Advocate for the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, an Indigenous Feminist and Turtle clan from Moravian of the Thames First Nation.

Louis Cruz (Mi’kmaq)

7:30pm-9:00pm

Dana Wesley (Cree)

Shanee Qua (Plains Cree) Two-spirit Trans Aboriginal who speaks on behalf of Two Spirit, HIV/AIDS, Trans and Native Issues.

Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee)

Cosponsored by the Centre for Women and Trans People (U of T)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25

11 AM – Peaceful march on child welfare issues

Meet at Queen’s Park at 11AM. There will be a feast at the end of the march.

Hosted by Grass Roots Committee of Ontario

A call out to all supporters, warriors, leadership and community members for accountability and changes to the subsequent attacks on native people in this society. We want CAS (Children’s Aid Society) off our communities and replaced by our own services as developed by our own people both on/off reserve level. Do our First Nation leadership have control of these programs? No, so we demand answers.

7pm-9pm

The Privatization of Reserve Lands: the Conservative shortcut to assimilation of status Indians?

Music Room at Hart House (University of Toronto), 7 Hart House Circle

Accessible: Yes, for more information, see: http://www.harthouse.utoronto.ca/accessibility

Speakers:

Arthur Manuel (Secwepemc), veteran of the Sun Peaks struggle, former chief of Neskonlith First Nation, and spokesperson for Defenders of the Land and Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade

Armand Mackenzie (Innu), Innu Lawyer for the Council of Nitassinan, has been defending his nation from low-level military flights and hydro projects for over 15 years.

Bertha Wilson (Coast Salish), continues to fight the Tsawassen treaty which privatized her people’s land

Pamela Palmater (Mi’kmaq),  chair in Indigenous Governance and Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University

Moderator: Heather Dorries (Anishinaabe)

Since the 1800s, Canada has been seeking to terminate Indigenous Peoples and extinguish their title to their lands. From the 1850s on, a favoured strategy has been the conversion of reserve lands into “fee simple” lands that can be bought and sold like other lands – including to non-Native people. This idea was most clearly put forward in the infamous White Paper of 1969, and the Buffalo Jump memo of the 1980s, a cabinet memo that described how “fee simple”, among other policy tools, would channel Indigenous Peoples to voluntary termination and extinguishment. Today, in a massive push by the Department of Indian Affairs and high-powered Conservative thinkers close to Stephen Harper – including the Fraser Institute and Harper’s mentor Tom Flanagan – the idea of fee simple is again being peddled to Indians as a panacea.

Despite the legacy of colonialism and racism surrounding the creation of reserve lands, reserve lands have served to anchor Indigenous Peoples in their traditional territories. Fee simple has only one goal – the alienation of reserve lands, the extinguishment of Aboriginal title, and the termination of Indigenous Peoples. Hear how the government is trying to roll out this policy, and how it can be stopped.

Sponsored by Indigenous Law Journal, University of Toronto Initiative on Indigenous Governance, Aboriginal Law Students Association, Barriere Lake Solidarity

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26

1pm-3:30pm

Tkaronto – Film Screening

University College Room 179, 15 Kings College Circle

… a reflective and provoking exploration of two Aboriginal 30-somethings, Ray and Jolene, who make an unexpected connection at the pinnacle of a common struggle: to stake claim to their urban Aboriginal identity…

Director Shane Belcourt will be in attendance!

Sponsored by the departments of Geography and Planning and Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto

4pm-6pm

The Aboriginal City – panel discussion

University College Room 179, 15 Kings College Circle

What does it mean to work with, for and/or in the Aboriginal city? What would a decolonizing city look like? How do we get there?

Panelists:

Shane Belcourt (Director, ‘Tkaronto’), Heather Howard (University of Michigan), Evelyn Peters (University of Winnipeg), Lee Maracle (University of Toronto)

Moderator: Shiri Pasternak (University of Toronto)

Light refreshments will be provided.

Sponsored by the departments of Canadian Studies and Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto.

7pm-9pm

Indigenous Law, Justice, Governance

Wilson Hall 1016, New College, University of Toronto

Speakers: Toby Decoursay, elder, Algonquins of Barriere Lake; others TBA

Aaaron Mills, (Anishnabe – Couchiching First Nation)

Moderator: Dawnis Kennedy (Anishinaabe – Roseau River)

Join us for an evening of learning about the legal, constitutional, and justice systems of Indigenous peoples. While some of these customary traditions were buried throughout periods of colonial repression, unbroken lines of knowledge continue to pass along between generations and continue to govern the social orders of communities across this land.

Sponsored by Indigenous Law Journal, University of Toronto Initiative on Indigenous Governance, Aboriginal Law Students Association, Barriere Lake Solidarity

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27

11am-2pm

Mobilizing support for Canada to implement the United Nations Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples

Bowing to intense political pressure, Canada has finally signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – with caveats and provisos. KAIROS Canada has chosen to make the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples its major focus for 2010-2011. Come learn about the UNDRIP, its background, and how you can be part of the campaign to get Canada to implement it.

Speaker: Arthur Manuel (Secwepemc), Defenders of the Land & Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade

2pm-5pm

Great Indian Bus Tour

The Native Canadian Centre

16 Spadina Road – north of Bloor

Get on the bus! A real tour of the Indigenous history of Toronto!

HOSTED BY THE TORONTO NATIVE HISTORY PROJECT

The Toronto Native History Project at The Native Canadian Centre in partnership with Indigenous Sovereignty Week is proud to present The Great Indian Bus Tour.

2:00pm to 5:00pm (Arrive 10 minutes early to get seated)

The Bus tour will depart from and return to The Native Canadian Centre (NCC) on Saturday Nov. 27 located at 16 Spadina ROAD, north of Bloor.

Seating must be reserved and paid in advance by contacting Tannis Nielson at the NCC 416-964-9087 ext. 326. We recommend booking and paying for your seat early to guarantee your spot. Payment must be made to Tannis no later than Thursday Nov. 25.

Ticket cost is $20 per person

Cash payment only

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=148694568510339&num_event_invites=0

7pm-10pm

MUSKRAT magazine Launch & Creation Tales

Walnut Studios, 83 Walnut Avenue (near Bathurst and King)

With Special Guest Storytellers:

Come sit around the fire and listen to The Anishinabek Creation Story (inspired by Muskrat) and told by Mnijikining storyteller, Mark Douglas

Witness Creation, a Video Performance by Métis Visual Artist, Tannis Neilson

New Works showcase by:

Visual Artist Travis Shilling & Filmmaker & Photographer Keesic Douglas

The MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture, and living magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28

9:30am-5:00pm

Symposium on building new relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and working in solidarity, including:

Canada’s termination policy – an overview by Roger Obonsawin (Abenaki)

Building Indigenous unity -a workshop with Roger Obonsawin

Learning lessons from the past and present of solidarity organizing with Ed Bianchi (KAIROS)

Indigenous Solidarity for people of colour

Closing debrief circle

Further details TBA

CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE REGULARLY FOR UPDATES: http://www.defendersoftheland.org/toronto

FIND US ON FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/event.php?eid=170827162936733