Save the Date:
March 21-23, 2022
Two days of teach-ins by scholars, activists, artists, and students, followed by a Day of Action!
Scholars Strike Canada (SSC) is hosting its second major labour action on March 21st – 23rd 2022 to Defund, Demilitarize, and Abolish Police, Prisons, and all forms of Carcerality. This will be a three-day labour action that includes two days of virtual teach-ins by scholars, activists, artists, and students and a Day of Action and gathering in Toronto: RECLAIM! ABOLITION TOUR 2022. March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination and Racism as designated by the United Nations. It commemorates the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960—when South African police opened fire on women, children, and men killing 69 people and injuring 180 as they protested Apartheid and its “Pass Laws.”
Scholars Strike Canada was launched in September 2020 by Beverly Bain and Min Sook Lee, who are both scholar activists and organizers, as a labour action to protest the brutality and killings of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people by police in Canada and the US. It followed the Black uprising that took place in Canada, the U.S. and globally that demanded police be defunded and abolished. That global uprising has disrupted the mainstream acceptance of policing and has sparked challenges to the future of policing that felt unimaginable only a few years ago.
The backlash from Canadian Policing institutions has been predictable and vicious, as police budgets keep growing and violence continues apace. Police in so-called Canada shot and killed more people in 2021 than in 2020, and many more died in police custody. Anthony Aust, Moses Erherhie, Trent Firth, Lionel Ernest Grey, Braden Herman, Julian Jones, Jared Lowndes, Sheffield Matthews, Dillon McDonald, Coco Ritchie and Latjor Tuel are among those Black, Indigneous, or racialized people killed by police, or who died in police custody, since the last Scholars Strike. As we call out their names, we acknowledge the many names we do not know, and the ongoing ability of police in so-called Canada to kill people whose names are never known to the public.
The white chauvinist convoy protest that took up public space in much of “Canada” recently, has exposed the workings of the white settler-colonial state as one invested in “freedoms” based on individualism, privatization, and property. The convoy’s organizers included many known white supremacists and anti-immigrant agitators. Participants displayed racist symbols, made mock Indigenous ceremonies, and impeded health care workers and others caring for our most vulnerable populations. On-duty police officers mostly chose not to engage these demonstrators, and organized groups of former soldiers and police officers endorsed their actions.
The “hands off” approach shown by the police and provincial governments towards the convoy demonstrators is rarely afforded to Indigenous, Black, and racialized peoples protesting injustices. Police are revealing which political expressions they value, and which demonstrations and people threaten them. We refuse to entertain the false hope that police discretion can ever protect us.
The Emergencies Act that was passed in the House of Commons on February 14, 2022 and has since been revoked, has far reaching implications for activists and protesters and particularly for Indigenous, Black, racialized and unhoused peoples. These include the right to gather in public places such as parks and to peacefully protest on the streets anywhere in the country. The Act has allowed for expanded powers of police Services, CSIS and the RCMP who may also use these powers to freeze the funds of Indigenous and Black communities engaged in land defence and abolition work. The Emergencies Act will limit the rights of every single person living in Canada who participates in, travels to, or assists with a protest, no matter where it takes place, no matter the issue. We reject all decisions by politicians that provide police and the military with more powers to harm us.
In the year and a half that has passed during the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic, all of us have witnessed an escalation of brutal attacks and invasion by the RCMP of unceded Indigenous territories including Wet’suwet’en, Pacheedaht, and Ditidaht territories. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have maintained ongoing surveillance of land and water defenders at Six Nations of the Grand River. We also continue to see how public and private police forces work together to protect state and corporate interests in their joint surveillance, targeting, and enforcement of quickly obtained injunctions against Indigenous land protectors across the country. Canadian Pacific Police Service (CPPS), a private railroad police, recently targeted Anishinaabekwe land protector Vanessa Gray for her alleged involvement in a non-violent and peaceful Wet’suwet’en solidarity event that was attended by hundreds of people.
Police across the country have engaged in military-style campaigns to destroy encampments of unhoused people, and to arrest and assault all those who resist them, especially the Black, Indigenous, and racialized activists, students, faculty, and those who have continued to provide mutual aid and other forms of support. Last December in Hamilton, police viciously assaulted and arrested several Black feminist activists providing mutual support to those at encampment sites.
Police have also repeatedly targeted Black and Indigenous people who publicly mourn the deaths of their loved ones, or who gather to draw attention to police brutality. In November 2020, police attacked Algonquin and Black people during a street demonstration to defund Ottawa police. In May 2021, Toronto police assaulted people marching in remembrance of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and targeted Korchinski-Paquet’s family members and Black organizers.
As scholars, activists, artists and organizers, we acknowledge that daily state violence does not always result in immediate death, but nevertheless further entrenches white supremacist settler-colonial violence. We are committed to engaging in conversations and actions that bring attention to the global escalation of fascism, white ethnonationalism, racism, militarization, and the capitalist carceral expansion of institutions notable here, including our universities that threaten our survivability and liveability.
Many of us have found ways to continuously push back against the criminalization of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people, especially those in our jails, prisons, immigration detention facilities, and health care sites. We honour the struggles of children apprehended by the state, of communities without clean drinking water, of workers who are underpaid, unprotected, and abused.
SSC 2022 is a labour action by scholars, artists and activists around the country. We will be participating in virtual teach-ins with our students instead of holding regular classes and performing administrative tasks. This will offer us an opportunity to engage, highlight, acknowledge, and honour the ongoing decolonial work, victories, and partnerships taking place on these stolen territories. Mutual aid efforts continue to save lives; campaigns to defund police are growing and connecting with each other; students are organizing to get police out of their schools; land defenders continue shows of solidarity and reciprocity across thousands of kilometers; when hateful gatherings take up public space, counter-demonstrations are organized to model alternatives to policing.
Our virtual teach-ins will bring together scholars, artists activists and students doing work on land defence across borders, harm reduction, defunding and abolishing police and prisons, global extractivism, care and accountability, cops off campus and pandemic policing. We will open the first day of the event with a teach-in titled "This demands an Abolitionist Reckoning: Racism, Fascism, the Convoy Protest and the Global Expansion of White Supremacy and White Ethnonationalism." The final day of the labour action will be a series of gatherings. Information for the third day will be available at a later date.
We urge all faculty to postpone their teachings, research, and administrative work from March 21st- 23rd and join the teach-ins and day of gatherings and protest.
Scholars Strike Canada
We demand that all police forces be defunded immediately by at least 50% and these resources be transferred to community-based groups.
We demand that police and prisons and all forms of carceral institutions be abolished.
We demand an end to the Coastal Gas Link project on Wet’suwet’en lands.
We demand an end to the invasion by the RCMP of unceded Indigenous territories including Wet’suwet’en, Pacheedaht, and Ditidaht and all Six Nation Territories.
We demand that there be no more transfer of funds to institutions such as Children’s Aid Societies, Canadian Association of Mental Health Services and other organizations that perpetuate carceral relations. Instead, these monies should go to communities engaged in sustainable mutual care, the creation of safer affordable housing, and ending systemic poverty.
We demand that universities including the University of Toronto issue statements in support of Indigenous, Black, racialized, students, faculty, and staff whose lives are made more vulnerable in this growing militarized, white supremacist and white ethnonationalist settler-colonial context and provide additional resources for mental health and student creation of safe spaces.
We demand that universities including the University of Toronto issue statements denouncing the escalating police violence and arrests of Black, Indigenous and racialized students and faculty arrested during protests.
We demand that universities including the University of Toronto recognize the escalation in militarization, increased police personnel, police budgets and the danger this poses for Indigenous, Black, racialized, LGBTQ2S+, and otherwise marginalized students, Faculty and Staff on Campus and remove all cops from all campuses.
We demand that the University of Toronto stop silencing, censoring and disciplining scholarship and activism on Palestine.
We demand that the charges against Vanessa Gray and other Indigenous, Black, and racialized students, researchers, and activists arrested in protests as land defenders and supporters of encampments be dropped.
We demand justice for Latjor Tuel, a Black Sudanese man, who was killed in Calgary by Police on February 19, 2022 and Moses Erhirhie, a 35-year-old Black man, killed in Markham by police on January 21, 2022. Both of these police killings occurred during the period of the convoy protest in Ottawa where we witnessed the exceptional restraint of police towards the protesters. Had Tuel and Erhirhie been granted the same discretion by police in Calgary and Ontario—they would both be alive today.
For inquiries and media, please contact Beverly Bain and Kristen Bos of Scholar Strike Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org