Speaker 0 00:00:08 Welcome to,
Speaker 1 00:00:08 To be continued a stone symposium podcast on today's episode, Jade by our peak and fade Johnstone share stories of queer and trans organizing in the city, along with the challenges and hopes of solidary.
Speaker 1 00:00:29 Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of, to be continued. My name is Ana Shar Hawk, and this podcast series acts as an extension of, to be continued troubling. The queer archives, an art exhibit called curated by car tyranny and myself. That's taking place September to May, 2021 at the Carleton university art gallery, the show and today's conversations, both take place on unceded unsurrendered Algonquin territories. The intention of the show is to amplify honor and celebrate the realities of queer trans black indigenous and people of color. It's been a complex series of relationships to unpack and examine and navigate when we turn to our interactions within and with institutions and galleries sites, in which histories of power, inequities and oppression have materialized and legitimized discourses that produce a monolithic uniform telling of history, memory, and community. Thus, we are tasked to look at the archives through a critical lens and turn our gaze to see what stories are pushed out.
Speaker 1 00:01:29 So, or outright erased from mainstream knowledge productions. As such. This show is specifically designed to think through what intervening or interrupting the archives can look like today. I'm excited to share space with folks who've worked to center the everyday-ness of queer and trans communities. In the context of Ottawa, the theme is all about queer and trans archives and community. How are stories of queer and trans lives generated and shared? What does it mean to produce archives when the mainstream erases or displaces these histories? The show comes out of a desire to contribute to archives of queer trans black indigenous and people of color to center community, and to reorient our relationship to space, place, and memory. What challenges are presented to queer and trans communities. And how do we imagine alternate visions of our communities that are not always reliant on mainstream recognition? How do we share and breathe life to each other? So as to anchor ourselves and ancestors who have crafted and shaped our presence and our presence, what can queer and trans joy look like with that said, I'm going to ask each of you to introduce yourself. They would you like to go first?
Speaker 2 00:02:37 Yeah, for sure. Um, so hi everybody. And, uh, Anna, thank you for having Jade and I here today. I think this is a conversation we're really excited for. Um, so my name is Faye Johnston. I use she and they pronouns. So either one is good, mix it up, keep it fun. Um, and I never know how to introduce myself and I am always awkward and terrible at it. Um, but do like
Speaker 1 00:03:01 Organizing advocacy and a lot of work specifically around these spaces and advocating for improved mental health supports in particular, I think I'll leave it at that Jade,
Speaker 3 00:03:15 Uh, Ana Fe um, uh, what are the old, uh, quickly than a Fiji <inaudible>, uh, hi friends, uh, uh, thank you for having me on, uh, really excited for today. Um, a bit about myself, I'm a African Nova Scotian and you'll knew a woman originally from, uh, <inaudible>, which is now known as a Halifax Nova Scotia. Uh, and, uh, I also am a community organizer, a performance artist, um, as well as a curator. I like to wear many hats, um, and sometimes get lost in them. Uh, but I, I do aspire to be, you know, um, a person who creates spaces, um, and, and using that as an art form and as an art practice. And so, um, that's sort of how I see myself these days. Um, but again, that's always in flux, uh, as many by pocket QT BiPAP folks are.
Speaker 1 00:04:13 Thanks, Jade. Thanks Fe. Um, I think, uh, I would love if, um, each of you first started with just saying, you know, giving us a little bit of background as to how did you come to be in like the Ottawa context. Um, and then we'll go from there. Jade, do you want to go first?
Speaker 3 00:04:33 Uh, yeah. Um, it's a pretty interesting, funny, um, but a little bit, a little bit based in trauma. So I won't, but I won't be explicit, but I will give a trigger warning about depression, but I, uh, I had, uh, prior to I moved to Ottawa in 2018, uh, I had won an election for the Canadian Federation of students as the deputy chairperson, and that required me to move and uproot my entire life in Nova Scotia, uh, and, and, and come to Ottawa. Um, and prior to that, I, I was a, uh, main community organizer in, in the city. I was in the midst of my art practice. I was just finishing my degree at NASCAD university. Uh, I was teaching at institutions, um, and really working with QT BiPAP folks specifically, um, in implementing intersection of feminism, um, in, in a lot of the white feminist movements.
Speaker 3 00:05:31 Um, and a lot of the transphobia that was prevalent in Nova Scotia. Um, it's a, it's a very large turf community, um, there. And so a lot of us, um, there was a lot of community building and community spaces that were being built in order to, um, support each other. Um, and at that time I was living in a trans house, um, a BiPAP trans house that was created and curated by each participant who had lived in this house. Then we would try to create extra rooms and spaces for trans folks that were homeless and able to sort of find community. And, and so for me, um, leaving that place, um, you know, and, and sort of moving that behind to, um, do advocacy in the student movement, um, was wasn't a place where I was at my most depressed period of time, uh, came to Ottawa.
Speaker 3 00:06:23 And I had come to Ottawa several times, uh, in the, over the past three years due to having various positions, um, in CFS. Uh, I spent a lot of time in my own student union, um, fighting for advocacy very much based off the frustration that I was going to an arts institution, um, which was five minutes away from a black community. Um, and yet I was one of three African Nova Scotians, and I would have probably about 13 black people in total, um, that went to this institution. And there was no, uh, until now there is, but there wasn't any African Nova Scotian let alone any African methodologies or any sorts of histories that were there. Um, and there was only recently one indigenous studies that were offered at the institution. And so my frustration of sort of lack of seeing my people in post-secondary sort of got me really into this, this, the student movement, uh, route, um, that became something completely different than what I intended it to be both for worse and for better, in some cases.
Speaker 3 00:07:22 Um, but it sorta led me sort of here in Ottawa, um, and, uh, and, and sort of, you know, and I mean, I ran an election, um, as, as a populist for, in the student movement, I didn't expect to win. I was depressed. I was encouraged to go by a lot of white people saying, you should run, you should run, you should run, you should run. We love your voice. Cause you know, I was frustrated by systems that were just not saying one thing, but not doing the exact thing that they were saying that they should be doing and I want an upset election. And so it sort of, I couldn't back out. So I had to, so I had, um, moved, you know, moved my life. Um, uh, my cigarette addiction increased. I quit now. Um, but at the time that we were, you know, it was, it was quite difficult and I had moved across the province and arrived in, in, in, in Ottawa as I always lived in Japan, in Nova Scotia, in Halifax. And so, um, I guess let's try to do the short version of it is that you had in 2018 one election and I've been here ever since. Wow,
Speaker 1 00:08:29 That's a lot to it. Like it's hard enough to move away from what, what is home. Um, but to have to navigate so much of it, like I'm fairly alone, uh, in the midst of like a lot of like mental stressors, that's, that's tremendous Jade. Um, I'm gonna come back to you because I definitely want to know a bit more about those, um, the moments of being here or trying to figure out community. Uh, but I'd love to hear from, from, uh, Faye. And what about you? Like, how did you come to be in Ottawa, uh, or perhaps, uh, are you from Ottawa?
Speaker 2 00:09:10 I, that is a great question. So I am not from Ottawa though. It feels like home, um, more than any other city has. Cause I've been here. I've been here since I was in grade six. So I'm 25 now. And I think that comes together to be about 13 or 14 years or so at this point. Yeah. Which feels a lot longer than it feels shorter and longer than it is. Um, I came to Ottawa specifically, um, because my, my parents are both ex military. Um, and so like I was born in Fredericton, new Brunswick. And from there you go, wherever the military sends you. And so my family, we didn't jump around a ton, but we did a few, a number of like in Canada, the kinds of moves. Um, and the last one of course was the posting to Ottawa. Um, and so we came here, my parents eventually retired from the military. Um, and I've been here ever since. Um, I don't know why I'm still here. Like I like it here. Like I'm more here because I'm here then, because I had a specific desire to be in any particular place. Yeah. Been able to jump, you know, I grew up in new Orleans and the East end and move down in my late teens. If I recall correctly, I was like 19 or 20, um, and have enjoyed living around and in center town ever since.
Speaker 1 00:10:33 Yeah. I know it's very different having grown up in the suburbs, uh, and then making the sort of, I imagine it to be quite different. I haven't ever lived out in the suburbs, but the transition between the suburbs and center town and how, and what community looks like or feels like, um, uh, well, can you expand a little bit more about what that transition looked like for you having, um, having been mostly out on the East end and then coming to more of the center?
Speaker 2 00:11:03 Um, so I think more than anything else, um, I think the transition was, um, you know, I moved out of my parents place and I was, you know, fortunate enough up to that point to, yeah, my parents are middle class and fairly cozy folks. Um, and so like I moved out with a lot of life skills lacking that one normally would have, or that like folks who didn't come from that kind of experience would have. And so, you know, I can remember my first night in a tiny apartment downtown in downtown Ottawa. Um, I was living in somebody's living room actually. Like I, I, um, a pertinent to make it instead of a door. Um, and so my first like six months were very much like, Oh God, how do you cook chicken? Like how, like what, like, how do you, what do you do to live?
Speaker 2 00:11:50 Doesn't like kill you when you cook it. Like, I know that there's whole thing about me. Like very much, like imagine somebody who has never, like, I didn't know what I was doing and nobody knows what they're doing when they're 20. Like, I think that's pretty fair statement. Um, you know, I think I spent the transition was most marked by me trying to figure out a where the nearest pizza pizza was and B um, what it means to, you know, cook food in general, but more like cultural, I think like, you know, shifting downtown brought me closer to people, um, that I related to those, the community brought me closer to, um, the spaces and places that I wanted to be connected to. And so, you know, I think, um, the suburbs are, um, I like to lovingly call them fairly bland and fairly, you know, it's cookie cutter and there's, you know, a lot of nuance to that. And it's probably not a good thing that that suburbs are what they are. Um, I think the downtown experience, um, you know, I, I love the culture that we have. I love the community that is possible when folks are like located near each other. Like there's a whole thing in Ottawa, like center town, gays, who are all of our friends are like eight blocks from our own apartments. Right. And I, I love those kinds of things.
Speaker 1 00:13:02 Yeah. There is something about the intimacy of the, of the geography of center town that feels even if you're not necessarily, I mean, especially with COVID, there is no one SOS the physical proximity as much as it sucks, but there's some, there's a sense of feeling that you are close to your, your, like most, um, the most center of the humans that you surround yourself with. Um, and there's something comforting about that even when we aren't able to have that physical proximity. Thank you for that. Um, Jade, I'm wondering, like, you know, you signal to being a young black male mob person coming from the East coast context and, um, the East coast itself has, and you've, you've made mention of this, you know, such a complicated history in terms of like African and indigenous histories, um, and, and having to grapple with like, uh, um, institutional racism. And, um, what does it feel like to inherit the ghost of a city, like coming to Ottawa with its own set of hauntings, but you're bringing with you this other archive, right? How do, what sort of challenges, um, did you encounter, what stories did you find as a, as a black make mob person in the context of Ottawa didn't adequately reflect your own experiences?
Speaker 3 00:14:26 Yeah. Oh, that is a loaded question. And I think one that I will not take up this entire time discussing, but definitely one that I think is, is, is, is very loaded and nuanced. Um, I think coming from, coming from Halifax and coming from my community is that I was basically raised by BiPAP queer folks in their thirties, late, you know, early, late forties. And most of the people that were, you know, young and queer and BiPAP, I wasn't necessarily around, or they weren't out, or, or I saw them in school and we became friends, but it was part of, sort of this, this much larger community that then it just expanded. And, and, and so you had so much, I think the key phrase of Halifax is solidarity. You know, if you knew a BiPAP person, they probably knew a bunch of white folks in the union who are going to show up in solidarity.
Speaker 3 00:15:20 You knew a bunch of other folks that would, should everyone sort of had each other's back. There was a sense of scarcity that exists in Nova Scotia that I think people don't understand outside of. You know, I think other people do from smaller places understand, but Ontario is a very wealthy province. Um, and, and that includes BiPAP folks as well here. And, you know, I also have the privilege of growing up, you know, in an abusive family and that's not a privilege, but I grew up in a, still a middle-class family in a poverty stricken, you know, a larger family. Right. So I was, you know, my, my, my, uh, my mom's husband was also, you know, my dad, but he's not my biological father, but he raised me. He's a white man. Uh, and he was in the military. Right. Um, and so there was that, that extra bit of wealth that allowed, you know, me to be able to sort of, you know, have a bit of stability, um, even though if they came from not so great things in my childhood.
Speaker 3 00:16:16 Um, but one of those, but, but there was a point, I guess I should say there was a rejection of my family, you know, I have a good relationship with them now. Um, but there was a process of me discovering my biological father's family, um, you know, uh, exploring myself as a black and real new person. And so very much of me, you know, having a disagreement, my family, and really, you know, being able to explore and being held by, you know, queer women of color and an older queer folks. Um, and, and it was focused on healing because a lot of these, you know, folks went through so much difficulties in their twenties and they didn't want me to make the same mistakes. Right. And so I got so many lessons and I carried that when I, because many people told me don't come to Ottawa, don't go to Ottawa.
Speaker 3 00:17:02 You know, don't, don't don't. And I was like, well, I sorta ha you know, I have to, I'd made a commitment. This is what I'm going to do. And, and that lingered with me coming to Ottawa, because all of my networks, my art practice basically ceased for, you know, a great period of time. You know, the, you know, my, you know, I had a sense of community and well-being and healing that completely sort of, you know, I was like a fish out of water. Right. Um, and also I'm a very different type of black person. And that was, I think, one of the biggest waves. And I had already sort of experienced this because, you know, I, I, we traveled to Ottawa and Toronto quite a bit for work and travel across the country for work, but now being centralized where your people are not, you know, as an African Nova Scotian, we have our own bag of worms that nobody understands, you know, outside of ODMs, outside of Nova Scotia, maybe, you know, some folks in Montreal and, and, and, you know, black pioneers in the prairies, but, you know, and maybe some folks from Southern Ontario who come from the underground railroad.
Speaker 3 00:18:01 Right. But besides that, you know, a lot of the black experience here in Ontario comes from the 1960s and onwards and, and, and those roots. And so you have a different culture when it comes to music, you have a different culture when it comes to the way that blackness is, you know, Nova Scotia was more about a class struggle than a colorism struggle, um, because it was based off your last names and who you are and where you're from, what community you're from, because your black community North Preston has been there for 300 years. White people are, I don't go to North Preston because you're, you're, you're going to get, you know, you're going to get shot. And there's these rumors, and these, these, these, these sort of, you know, deep rooted, racist, and, and systemic racism that has kept, you know, my people in the crack epidemic, since the eighties, continuous, you know, continuously going to prison, these are not new issues.
Speaker 3 00:18:49 And so coming to Ottawa, I had to strike a balance between, you know, being a black person who's, you know, who was very much prominent in and working on anti-black, you know, fighting against anti-blackness, but also recognizing that, you know, auto was not my home, both as an indigenous person. I am also, you know, I am a visitor here because I make my doesn't mean I'm now in a position of a colonizer. Um, and, you know, and, and also I happened to be black. Um, but I'm now having to defend my blackness, um, because I happened to be light-skinned. Um, but I'm also having to defend my people because I'm being consistently Oh, where you're really from where you really
Speaker 4 00:19:27 From, Oh, you're Oh, Oh, African,
Speaker 3 00:19:29 Oh, you're, you're just another co colonized black pro you know, these were sort of, you know, so where the, where the intersections of people, either immigrants of black folks coming to Nova Scotia, there was a place of compassion while in Ottawa, there was that compassion that I found, but it was, so it was so it's like someone is trying to, you know, you're rock climbing and this community, but someone has put liquid all on the rock, so you keep slipping down and, and, and that, and the city sorta does this because, you know, I met so many wonderful people through Carlton and through, uh, you know, you, you, university of Ottawa, especially since I first came, you know, I no longer in the student movement, uh, but I was at the time and I met so many amazing BiPAP folks that were around my age that reminded me of, of, of who I was, you know, and who I was surrounded with back home.
Speaker 3 00:20:19 And so I sorta, you know, became, you know, really sought that out and clung to that when I first got here. But I realized those lessons that were learned that I was taught, many of these people did not have. And so I watched those communities implode and explode within themselves and, and sort of being stuck in that, you know, in that framework, while at the same time sort of having to reconcile, you know, me being an activist and community organizer, I have to take several seats in Ottawa in certain cases, because my, you know, it is, you know, there is a responsibility that I had as, you know, as a black person, as an indigenous person who is in solidarity with movements, but at the same time, recognizing, you know, I am not, you know, I don't my people, my, my, my identities do not make the majority of the people who are suffering in this particular province in this particular city, in this particular community, outside of, you know, being trans and, and what those experiences look like.
Speaker 3 00:21:16 But at the same time, you know, having to reconcile, you know, and part of it, you know, was also having to consistently defend my identity and my people, um, in, in an intern, you know, in a national black movement that is very Toronto centric and doesn't really make room for anybody outside of that ideology while still trying to work within those movements as I have done for, you know, so it's kind of balance all of that out. So finding community, you know, most is that I can never re replicate what I had in Halifax. And so really trying to start from scratch and trying to imitate those things is that you can't, you know, one city and one community is completely different than the others. And I sort of, you know, as a young person, I'm 25 now, too. I sort of learned that the hard way.
Speaker 3 00:22:00 Um, and you know, so there's a lot of, so while Ottawa has been a great place of meeting a lot of new people, um, it, it is a lot different because people, you know, a lot of folks who I would meet in Halifax were coming from a place of scarcity. Well, the people that I was meeting in Ottawa while they've already had the privilege to attain post-secondary and, and sort of access in and creating spaces, so a lot, so there was a privilege that I think that was that it was not acknowledged here in Ottawa, um, that, that, you know, even though oppression exists heavily here for many of the people, it was a lot different, um, in terms of, you know, and, and I had to recheck myself to my own social capital, um, heavily coming here as well. And so that's part of, uh, you know, that haunting or that, you know, you know, being able to, you know, there was a, I've been having, I've been going through a metal sports Morphosis of self critique, uh, you know, especially recognizing how my privilege has changed in, in just moving a province and not, you know, not being seen as an African Novas.
Speaker 3 00:23:00 You know, most people think I'm an immigrant out here in Nova Scotia. They're like, Oh, you're black Scotian. Right. Well, most people think I just got off the boat now that I'm in Ottawa. So I'm, uh, you know, I mind perceived so much differently, uh, out here, um, even just going in, you know, getting a star, but pre pandemic Starbucks, you know? Um, but I don't want to go on too long, but that's sort of like a little bit of it. I know it's all over the place, but it's kind of the feelings that you know, are held.
Speaker 1 00:23:26 Well, I think like you raised some really important points where, you know, blackness, isn't a static monolithic identity category or a set of experiences that fit. Um, if we're looking in the, in the context of what's currently Canada, you know, um, and the fact that the East coast has a particular history with black and indigenous communities that are so far different and much more complicated, uh, than in the context of how more of the, um, the, the mainstream conceptualization of blackness often gets played out. Um, and, and when you walk into that space where knowing that you had the support in your communities, in the geography that you inhabited before, um, in a way that still sustained you and didn't require you to constantly do the unpacking or the reiterating, um, which in and of itself is so deeply exhausting, um, bef before you, we can even, like, I can't even fathom, like having to try to configure what community or support systems look like in this new geography when that's, when, when you're already on and depletion.
Speaker 3 00:24:35 Can I respond to that? Yeah, sure. Yeah. I, I think that the issue or not the issue, but is that I eventually sort of have found it. Um, but again, I think what has been so interesting is that the people that I have tend to have now tended to draw too, um, are also people who are much older than I am. Um, we're not in post-secondary right now. Um, and, and people who are also going through the same sort of rec what's the word, um, the, the, the, the moment of self critique where you're, you know, we're not only figuring out who you are and, and re-evaluating things, but recognizing that, you know, that you can translate and B you can Transplace yourself and be in a completely different environment. And your, you know, your whole values can be completely upended because those values that you had maybe in the place that you were before may not be the values that people care or, or even see, or even feel, you know, my, you know, and so I surrounded myself by people who prioritize healing as opposed to combating where I was in a place where I could balance both.
Speaker 3 00:25:44 And now I'm still exhausted with combating because I'm constantly up and defending who I am. Um, even amongst, you know, my own community, my own community here, the community that matches who I am. And so I found a lot of space with those who, who focus on healing and education. So there has been, you know, a lot of beautifulness in the city. Um, but you know, it's hard to find. It's like, it's less than sand.
Speaker 1 00:26:08 Yeah. And like, the other end of it is I wonder to what end one, one w only when we're depleted, uh, is there a moment where we start to figure out, or we start to figure out for ourselves, like, how do we sustain nourishment? Right. Um, so that it's not just deficit, it's also the joy, like trying to find where is it that the majority of the things that we do are generated and centered around joy and, and healing and, and, um, and seeing each other right. In a way that's not tearing down. Um, yeah. Um, Faye, what about you, like, how has it been in terms of, um, like I know you write extensively around health and LGBTQ plus lives, um, you know, what sort of brought you into that sphere, what moments have sort of led to that? Um, and that keeps you going, right. The momentum is still going.
Speaker 2 00:27:04 Hmm. Oh, I love that question. Um, I think I almost like fell into it by accident. Um, I think I started volunteering for my first like gay charity when I was 17. And like, it was not at the time, like in retrospect, not the best organization though. It has now come a very, very long way. And as a phenomenal executive director at this time, that is much better than the old one. Um, but you know, I came out, uh, as a little baby gay at 16, and then like, I was very keen and passionate for the gays. It was very wholesome type stuff. Um, but I also, like, I found that I enjoyed it and, um, you know, I used to be a hockey jock and was not used to spaces where things are different than that. And connecting with people on a different level or a deeper level than, you know, what, what team won the last hockey game.
Speaker 2 00:27:54 And then, um, I think, you know, it amped up or shifted in a big way after I came out as trans about like five, nine years ago now. Um, and I think that like a lot of what drew me into this kind of work from that point on, and like, what, what has kept me going through it is, is like, frankly, a lot of rage specifically at like the ways in which, you know, navigating the world as a trans person, um, the daily stuff that you are made to go through by a world that isn't all that nice. And specifically, like the way that the world treats trans women and transgender folks in public spaces, um, both in terms of like, you know, media spaces, but more specifically in terms of just like when you were out downtown, you know, going to your convenience store to buy smokes and the kinds of things that you witnessed or experience in those moments.
Speaker 2 00:28:43 That's. So I think, you know, that has been what has really driven me into this work, um, and has, has been like the fuel that has resulted in, you know, me jumping into things like writing or doing more advocacy or organizing work. It's very much like talk about, you know, love and community love. And I think those are like very, very important things. But I also think, like, I think a lot of us, we do this work because we're angry and we channel that in very good, you know, impactful. And I would like to, I think effective ways, like I think we do really good work when we're angry, but I think it's good to own that as well. Cause I don't think, I think that we're often taught to like filter our emotions to filter the way that we think and talk about our experiences.
Speaker 2 00:29:23 Um, and I think it's, it's an honest, like in the world that we live in, we should be able to be honest about our anger and to be honest about the roots of that rate, that is going to be a very good motivator when you're angry. And you want the people who are causing harm to stop hurting you personally, and also hurting the people that you're connected to. Right? Like my community is wrestling you folks. And so everything, you know, our experiences are not homogenous by any measure, but like there is a lot of perfect goes around. I think if you live in spaces where you're connected to commute, like against center town, like everybody, our communities are very, very interconnected, which also means that we all know friends who have struggled with a whole long list of things. And we probably struggle with those things ourselves. So I think, yeah, like the rage, it keeps you going. And I think it keeps people alive too, right? Like we, we, we run off of what we're able to run off of. And sometimes that thing that we can and are able to run off of is, is anchor. Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:30:21 Definitely disenchantment, uh, frustration, anger, uh, a desire to just want to be able to be, without it being a contested site of being is something that like certainly motivates a lot of us to just keep the work going. And I think what, what price that gets paid at, at some point along the lines is that it's a lot of energy to keep fueled and to keep refueling and refilling. Um, and, and like at what point, um, you know, do we call ourselves in to try to find a measure of balance, right. A measure of like, um, letting the rage funnel through and, and produce really active, healthy, like not like productive action, right. So much of the work that you've done and that you're doing does that, um, you know, it's, it's tackling and, and, um, unveiling and addressing a lot of the inequities that exist for queer and trans folks.
Speaker 1 00:31:22 Um, but simultaneously, um, I wonder if, uh, like I wonder if both of you can speak to the nature of how, or is there even a possibility of a space where isn't where it isn't always fueled by the disappointment of the fact that off, like so much, like energy has to go into carving out and holding space, um, when it's not, because it's not so readily always available or made available. Um, and specifically because you both worked in like community organizing, I wonder, um, if you could talk a little bit about that, like how does community organizing, um, help sort of produce those moments?
Speaker 2 00:32:11 I think, no, I think that we organizing it brings people together. Right. And like, there's a whole piece of like, you know, consciousness raising or like community building. And I think, um, again, like a lot of the work, and I think Jane and I both do is around like trans young folks. Right. And like trans folks often don't come into spaces with like trans community where they, like, they have many, most trans kids have not grown up in trans community. Right. Like most trans kids find community. Um, so I think, you know, organizing brings people together. It helps people understand the sh the common shit we've all gone, gone through. But I think the best thing is when it's led by and for like you're in spaces, that will never be perfect by any means. But like, my, my favorite thing to do in organizing is like the, the gathering after the gathering.
Speaker 2 00:32:59 Okay. Let's do a vigil. Well, what happens after who, like, where are we going? Is there going to be food? Like, what is the social experience that can happen there? And what are the friendships that are made in those moments? And those, I think might be, you know, we come together often around anger and rage, as we've said, but I think there are opportunities there to, you know, build connection and build relationships and build community. Yeah. I think it's just hard when we also are all, you know, processing that community. Like, I don't think we're good at community because we've never experienced, or many of us have never experienced what community could or should look like, but we bring our own, our own rage and our own hurt. And those are two very tightly wound emotions. Like those are not, you can't easily take the rage that I've heard or take out of rage.
Speaker 2 00:33:40 That's why I think one of the things that we're all, and I think, I hope we're all trying to learn is how do we hold ourselves close while upholding other people close to, even if we don't always love those folks. Like, I love, like there are people that I don't like, and that's fine, and we can still be in space. We can still be in community, but it depends like community. Isn't always your best friends, like community. Isn't the people that you're always going to want to hang out with on a Friday night community is shit. A lot of the time I'm not okay because at the end of the day community, you know, it it's, it's not actually, it's not always family. It can be, I'm going to be there for you. Um, you know, maybe when your family isn't. Yeah.
Speaker 3 00:34:21 Yay. Yeah. Did you want to add anything to that? I, I, I agree with Fay and I, you know, I think community a lot like family, where there are messy times, there are good times. There are times where family splits there's times where family comes together. Um, and I think that, you know, one of, uh, to sort of address the first thing is that, you know, around the politics of rage, you know, I, I am someone who was very, very angry all the time and, and that stress and that anxiety, you know, pushed me through so much. Um, and then there's the aftershocks of that, of carrying all of that anger and all of that rage that has, you know, significant health consequences. And, and especially when your rage cannot be quenched, because there are no solutions. So over time and time you get sort of exhausted where there are solutions, but again, you're still seeing your community hurt.
Speaker 3 00:35:15 I think that's the hardest thing about a community organizer in and recognizing is that, you know, you have to come to terms that you will fail. You know, you may not fail with your community, but you may fail at achieving the action that you desired. And I, and I also think something that's really hard. And I talk about this with fail all the time is that, you know, there's also cult of personality that I think often wedges and creates issues within our communities, especially when it involves, you know, around economics or, or being able to build something there's always speculation and mistrust, because there have been many people in our communities that have said that they were here for us and then instantly portray community. And so you have that legacy of, of sort of that, that selling out that creates a lot of skepticism when there is organizing being done, or there's a situation where, you know, at some point where you, there is a balance between, you know, not gatekeeping and then also trying to prevent horrible people from creating spaces that are unsafe.
Speaker 3 00:36:20 And, and that may be really harmful. Um, and, and, and striking that balance can cause a lot of problems. Um, and, and at the same time, you know, I, it is, for me, at least, is that let's say mentioned, I think this is very clear is what do you do after you organize something? Wow, what are you doing to nourish replenish and sort of create a cyclical pattern in which, you know, organizing can take place. I view organizing like a video game, uh, you know, uh, let's nerd out for a moment, but you know, this may not make sense to many people, but, you know, typically in an RPG you have a healer, somebody who offers heals and gifts and booms, to be able to make sure that everybody is able to like, make it through and, and sort of survive the battle, whatever that battle may be.
Speaker 3 00:37:05 You know, you have somebody who is defending on the front lines whose really main protection is not to be the mouthpiece, not to, you know, but really just defend the people who are all together and in that way. And then you have the person who's, you know, a little lawyer or whatever, who is the person who is, you know, doing this, you know, being, you know, the voice or the attacker, you know, trying to make it not a violent, you know, but everyone has a different role. And I, yeah, the, the, the expectation of community is that everybody needs to be a warrior. And, and that should not be the case at all. There are people, you know, with many different personalities, many different techniques and strengths, but should be, you know, the, the ability at one point I was an incredible, you know, I, I, you know, I always wanted to, you know, I was like, I had so much energy that I was like, you know, I'm going to take up all the space.
Speaker 3 00:37:51 I'm gonna take all, all the news advertisements. I'm gonna do everything I can do to bring a Mount to my issue. But what I didn't realize is how much power I was accumulating, um, in, in doing so, and then how much, you know, that depending on, if I bat an eyelash the wrong way or let it, Tudhope the wrong way, you know, that is going to be ridiculed. And I have to take responsibility for that because I have now, you know, and I think that is one of the hardest parts about maintaining community is how do you redistribute power? We talking, you know, our communities and BiPAP and QT BiPAP communities are consistently talking about how do we, you know, distribute power, or how do we distribute, you know? And I think it depends on how you create the spaces from the very beginning. Right.
Speaker 3 00:38:35 And, and, and, and how do you not sent her your entire ethos around, how do you create spaces that are dedicated for the people in it and, you know, and, and me, and, uh, so, you know, instead of, you know, yeah, so one of the things is instead of me, you know, going out and, and, and speaking on, you know, every interview about trans issues, you know, I've done it before too. You know, it happens, you know, as people who are doing this work, but how do you take that time and actually create spaces that are dedicated for trans and trans folks to actually just have space to eat and chat and make friends and, you know, and, and the ability where, you know, again, you know, but also making sure that the space is safe enough to hold all the neuro divergencies, the interconnections neces of, of, of, of QT BiPAP.
Speaker 3 00:39:19 And that is a hard thing to do. And especially as somebody who has been working acutely with the LGBTQ community and, and population for a while now, is that I, you know, it, everyone is. So it's, it's almost as if our community is sort of, uh, somebody who is just has an open bleeding wound and every minute you're having to triage it, and every moment is a crisis. And for any organizer in any person who's working, either in a, you know, in a community organization here in Ottawa or across the country is constantly putting pressure on it, on a bleeding room. Um, but are getting known, are getting no, you know, stick, you know, medical appointment in order to sort of patch that up. And so, you know, the best thing we can do is sort of have that triage care. And I think that's sort of what burns a lot of activists and people out is, you know, the, the, the cynicism that is developed by the community because of that actors, and then those who are good actors who are then sort of put in the pressure of trying to not be seen and cynicism and trying to do good work, also not trying to take up space, but also trying to use, you know, the privileges or the power that folks have in order to, you know, who may have, you know, I'm on the fine lines of society, but I have enough, you know, speak, you know, privilege, especially in dialogue to, to make things happen.
Speaker 3 00:40:34 And, and especially if may, and so, you know, having to sort of balance that and, and try to create those spaces and hold all those things in mind, um, you know, that's a lot more than rage in order to be able to sort of do that. It's, you know, and, and it, there's a lot of sort of, you know, compassion that has to take and the compassion to know that you probably will fail. And someone's probably going to be upset with you about something that you've done and having to make it sure that it's not about you. Um, you know, and not taking that personally. And I think that's one of, you know, because we're constantly, organizers are constantly attacked by the people that we are proponents to. And so when you do sort of receive that sort of a talk, you know, if I'm community, which, you know, doesn't happen often, or at least it hasn't happened often to me, but when it does, when that critique happens, you have to take that, you know, with, with your heart, you know, and, and, and sort of, you know, and recognize that again, that's, you know, that, that this is sort of, you know, that, that it's not about you in that moment and that, you know, there's a lesson there and, and, and, you know, even if something was misinterpreted and I think that's, so it's really taking that compassionate with yourself, um, and really trying to create spaces for people to also create their own self-advocacy, um, and, and really be able to have the confidence to speak their own mind, because I, you know, there, there are so many shy and, you know, folks who, again, who are just trying to, you know, go buy their pack of smokes or, or, or, you know, go, you know, I, I don't leave my house with a full face of makeup on, and I, you know, those are my daily ritual, even with a mask, you know, it takes my mask falls off or something of that sort, you know, there are, you know, there are lived experiences that trans people do that we keep to ourselves and, and, and that we do alone, that people, you know, and so I think, you know, it's also really hard to have, you know, there's a lot of expectations of perfectionism, um, that often our communities are, are, are, are, um, are, are pigeonholed into, um, and sometimes we don't meet those needs.
Speaker 1 00:42:33 Thank you for sharing that Jade. I think, you know, when you're talking about, um, even within like the, the world of organizing, and that was a really wonderful, like example of, um, that not everyone, um, not everyone needs to be imagined as like having to lead and that there's so much strength in the sharing and distribution, but also like in, in legacy building, because at one point the person who's tasked with constantly having to be the face or the platform, they, they, they reach a level of that depletion, or they are the other end of it. Um, bear the brunt of when things don't go exactly as expected, right? The, the hope and the wishes for a particular thing that might not actually play out exactly as one had imagined or hoped it to be. Um, and what, you know, in, in a sense, when, um, when that community organizing or the, the levels to which rules are played out, when it gets more distributed or where people's strengths are highlighted, um, and, and shared that there is this possibility of, of building into it as a continuum, um, because so much of, you know, in the context of Ottawa specifically, um, we have such a, um, such a movement of people of coming in, but experiencing depletion or not enough nourishment, because it's a very white town, because it can be very extractive.
Speaker 1 00:44:03 Um, and so people leave. Um, and so for every moment that, uh, you know, queer and trans folks are looking for the archives are looking for community and, you know, uh, threads to tie into, it feels like they're not there even though they're there, but they're ghostly, like they're, they're, uh, really difficult to, uh, to pull together to be immediate front. And so you feel like you're on your own sort of build your own adventure, um, but at a time, but in a way feels like you're lost. Um, and I wonder to what end, like, you know, um, like what other ways we can imagine that as a resource, like for, you know, young trans kids to be able to access readily and easily for, you know, queer BiPAP folks to be able to like, um, to, to hook into, uh, some form of a living, you know, legacy or an archive, um, to, to feel like you're not alone, you know? Um, and yet oftentimes queer and trans experiences, so feel so deeply embodied, right. Or it's, it's so solitary at times, um, because it's not so readily represented around us at the same time. It's so heavily policed. Like the question of safety is always a thing, right.
Speaker 2 00:45:25 And maybe on that, like if I, if I can jump in on like, community, I think I really, I, I like what you were saying around, you know, like how do we bring more people into this? And I think one of the tough places that we're stuck in is, you know, there is a scarcity of resources. Um, and like, as a concept, like, we, we, we know that, but it's also like we don't have, it's almost like we don't have the infrastructure to help people do the, like, build community or engage in organizing in particular, I would say in, in a good way. And so what happens a lot of the time is folks like jump in, as you were saying, are very, very keen. And then they burn out in six months or 12 months, or like three weeks. And I think one of the things that we're bad at, and I don't know what the answer is.
Speaker 2 00:46:12 And I think maybe I should be one of the people trying to come up with an answer, but, um, you know, like how, how do we actually change that structure, you know, auto right now, if organizing is happening, it's a fairly small group of folks, especially, especially in the trans space. Like it's not a big pool of people. There are many people who want to include it, but like, we don't have the resources necessarily with the infrastructure. So like grow or bring other folks in, in a good way. And so I find that we're always caught in this cycle where it's almost always like younger trans folks, and that's a good thing. And in many ways, like we got energy, we got time, maybe, I don't know, but like, it gets tricky because then the labor is always thrown on some folks. Um, and like, there is no easy way out of that because like the folks who are doing where, and this is true across many communities, I would imagine. But like, if you don't, if you aren't the one who is doing it and it won't get done. Um, and I find that there's like always a catch-up or like a catch 22 on that front. Um, and so like, yeah, I dunno, it's an interesting thing to ponder.
Speaker 3 00:47:12 Yeah. Yeah. Um, I might get in trouble for this. Um, but I, I meant to bring up something that happened over the summer and I wasn't a part of it. Um, but I, you know, because I was one of the people who had just brought out, you know, going through a lot and I was going through some abuse, um, when the pandemic had started. Um, and, and before me and Fay organized last summer, um, but one of, one of the things that we're, we're, we're taking place was the response to George Floyd and, and, and the Canadian, you know, um, you know, response both to Regis, but also sort of the, the implications of both anti-blackness both in Canada and also in the United States and just nationally around anti-black racism. And one of the things that was really hard was there was a prominent group of black organizers in the city that, you know, that, you know, that are pretty good organizers, you know, and, and in my opinion, um, but also very, um, uh, exclusionary and in some cases, you know, trying to make sure that, you know, especially in organizing where, you know, there is a level of strict strategy and a level of, you know, um, uh, advocacy that is very particular and built in sort of a specific type of organizing style.
Speaker 3 00:48:28 This, this, this organizing style was very reminiscent of the student movement. And then there was also a, uh, two black Muslim girls who were also organizing a protest, um, that was very different than that. And more broad, more akin to a non, uh, very much not a political rally that was very specific. Um, but a little bit more moderate in terms of tone. And it was the same one that Trudeau had, you know, uh, occupied and then, and then took a knee to. Um, and that was the big news. Um, although most people worried about Jim Watson and there was a, there was a conflict between that, about how organizing should happen. And I think this is where this does happen because when you are alone organizing and you are having, you know, not having resources or by yourself, or having to deal with sort of there's this bitterness and resentment that comes there is that ego, again, that sort of stuff.
Speaker 3 00:49:20 I've been doing this for a long time. I do it this way. This is how we've done it. How dare you come in this, you're going to ruin everything that we've done, you know, and that, that attitude does come, that does get built. Or there are people who do come, you know, who want to put in the work and then they just drop out. And so then it's having to be other people who've passed the torch, coming back in and sorta, you know, try to pick up the pieces. Um, and I think that, you know, that is the hardest part is that, you know, everybody wants to lead and I think everyone should have the ability to, uh, to have a voice and have the opportunity to say, what's on their mind. Nobody should be gatekeeping. Um, but what does activism really need to look like is banging on pots and pans, really the only way to build community and really build resistance?
Speaker 3 00:50:04 I don't think so. You know, in Halifax, we focused on healing first. How do you make sure that two people who dislike each other still have the ability to be in a community space together and still be able to organize? I saw people who hated each other's guts, still be able to come and organize and really come and build spaces and Halifax that doesn't happen out here. People, you know, and this is not to disrupt, you know, the beautifulness of how community has come together or even critique, you know, the city that has helped me so well. But yeah, but to recognize that this happens not only just in Ottawa, but every place where, you know, where there are people coming in, coming out, coming in, coming out, you know, and you know, something that was really hard for me this year, especially as somebody who works in the anti-black racism, um, you know, working and does education and those things we're seeing, you know, having to, you know, it was wrestling with me of seeing people making money and profiting on the black death, you know, and it was the one thing that was completely refused to be brought about is like, yeah, the nonprofit sector, the, you know, the, the consultant, you know, a consultant consulting myself, the profit, the sector boomed under the pandemic because everybody wanted to address anti-black racism.
Speaker 3 00:51:16 And while there was no systemic changes that really were, you know, some commissions were made, right. That, you know, that happened, you, you, you had this situation where so many people were able to sort of profit off of that. And, and, you know, a lot of people who've been struggling to, to find work and, you know, so both there was both a difficult reality and a, uh, reality that is also, you know, a lot of these folks who were, you know, doing in the gig economy now, how solid employment, but where did that come from? Why is it that our movements and our successes and our communities have to be based off of when there is a crisis? Why is our organizing always reactionary when there is a crisis? Why does everything need to be again, based in triaged, as opposed to really coming down.
Speaker 3 00:52:00 And again, fate brings up, again, always hits it, you know, it's that balancing, being able to create sustainable care. Uh, and that, again, requires so many resources that are always usually depleted or keeps behind, you know, a non-for-profit and against, you know, somebody who only cares about, you know, uh, their own power and stature, you know, or lobbying ability. And that happens too. And, and, and, and so it is, it is so complicated because you have to have a little bit of faith and, and, and really have that leap of faith and, and build that trust. You know, the benefit of the doubt and, and part of my work is really, you know, is being able to provide the benefit of doubt and being able to, you know, uh, really bring everybody back together and back to the table, not to the table, but to create a table, you know, let's build the chairs together, make sure, you know, they're all great.
Speaker 3 00:52:55 Let's, you know, saw and, and finish the wood, you know, as opposed to trying to find other seats at other tables, but right. The pillars need to be focused within healing ourselves and really sharing who we are. You know, the reason why I fixed, sorry, I don't mean to talk about it, but I think one of the reasons why me and Faye are able to work so well together, I think is because we're friends, but also, you know, I know the things that Faye likes and don't likes, Fe knows the things that I like. And I don't like, you know, the things that bother us and don't bother us, you know, being able to know, and be in tune and have community and have the benefit of the doubt that, you know, one of us may do something that may piss the other person off, but knowing that there's that unconditional love and that we are all trying to reach the same goal and that might look different.
Speaker 3 00:53:42 But if we are creating gatekeeper some walls to seal each other off, then again, the work gets lost. The work gets lost. It's it's in silos and then people don't have the large range of support. And, and so it was, I was asked once, and I don't mean to talk for so long, but I always feel like these are the things I, you know, I talked to myself about the lockdown, but, um, one of the things that are that for me, that is, that has been so crucial is really sitting aside and thinking about, you know, you know, I was asked once again, what is your leadership style? And mine, what I realized has always been collaborative. And, and it is always about doing things with other people, because I have many, many failures of things that, you know, that I have, that I have bad anxiety.
Speaker 3 00:54:36 I've met the illness, but I'm able to get work, good work done. Um, but for me, I always feel more connected and powerful when I am with other people. When I am, when I am, when I, where, where my responsibility is to community and not just to myself, it isn't a self-serving situation. And I think that that requires us to be really vulnerable and tender in a city and in a place where our vulnerability will be extracted, will be poked on and then use to break us down. And so how are we able to sort of strike that balance? And so to answer your question more pointedly, I think in order to sort of build, you know, these, these sort of community spaces, um, you know, is really again, recentering community, um, and also being able to examine self at the same time, both learning to love yourself and allowing yourself to fail and allowing yourself to, but also allowing yourself to sort of let go and also bring in people that even you may not trust at that very moment, but willing to at least build that trust with them and, and know that, like, we can do this if we just w you know, work together.
Speaker 3 00:55:49 I know that sounds corny. Um, but I, I honestly, again, you know, only movements have only been successful when they've been collaborative. Right? So and so, and, and that's, and community can only be a community if it's collaborative
Speaker 1 00:56:06 For like a hundred percent, like everything that you're saying, like, even in terms of framing through the language of like, love and tenderness, and like being able to be with one another across our differences, because nothing like it's, it's rather impossible to have to, like, if I use a symbolic image of like a ship and trying to carry the, like, yank the, the rope and bring the ship into water, or out of water, a single person cannot do that work. It takes a community, it takes collaboration. It takes someone who knows the structure of the, uh, of, of this, of this vehicle. It takes another person who has knowledge of the water and another person who has knowledge of the land, you know, uh, how the wind is moving all of these things that make it possible to move an object, you know? Um, and I think, uh, if we, if, you know, in, in terms of organizing community and actually making, um, making things that we all need to become a real thing, it is a collaborative effort.
Speaker 1 00:57:09 It takes working across those differences and those difficult moments, because we don't love each other all the time. Um, but there is there a sort of, um, not coming sometimes to our common goals, but there's some common hopes and dreams that we want to make real, that we all are striving to work towards. Um, and I think what you're saying is so incredibly important in terms of just not just imagining, but how do we actually plan to do, uh, do right by ourselves to ourselves and to our communities that we are, we are linked to. Right. Um, yeah. Um, and I, I, you mentioned Jayda at one point organizing last summer with Faye, and I'm wondering, um, it was at a sort of a crumb to talk a little bit about trans Fest, 20, 20, and Ottawa, uh, or were you referring to another event?
Speaker 3 00:58:00 Uh, yeah, I was, um, I actually have a point to add, uh, but, uh, but yes, it was referring to trans festal though. I will say that me and they have been organizing for how many years now. Cause I'm pretty sure we started like three days after that basically. Um, yeah, man. I mean, they hit it off right at, I think it was, um, a community meeting, a town hall and met there and they have a smoke sense and then ever since we started organizing, um, but I, uh, um, I want to bring up a point about community, uh, and specifically just, I think to articulate, I think the other issue about the benefit of the doubt and I hope folks don't mind me bringing up capitalism, but, uh, one of the under spoken aspects of capitalism has been, you know, and I don't want to say this, but I'm gonna sound like a capitalist just for a second is the right of the consumer to not purchase a product and how we've now put that in our communities through the power of canceling, you know, being like, you know, it makes sense to say, okay, J K Rowling, you have all this power and influence, you know, you have made tons of money off of these profits.
Speaker 3 00:59:11 Now you're, you know, you're trusting transpeople. You're tapping into that large UK turf, trans exclusionary, radical feminist feminists, but you know that, and you are now being, you know, and the only ability for a QT BiPAP person to have any sort of power in any sort of decision making is to say, I ain't going to buy your book. And I, ain't going, I'm going to tell all my friends not to buy your book and I'm going to, you know, and, and, and, and, and that gets a full load of feedback from broader about all you're canceling, cancel culture, blub, blub, blub, blub, blub, where cases, that is the right of the, the only rights that we in, the ability that we have. And, and, and it's the only time where we maybe are able to get results, boycotting, you know, space. But then we turn that in on ourselves, you know, and we, you know, and I'm a person who is a performance would justice, you know, but we allow capitalism to say, you know, you are not worthy of community.
Speaker 3 01:00:08 Therefore you will be removed because you are not a, you are only a deficit to what our community, you do not provide anything. And because you don't provide anything in our eyes, there is no chance of rehabilitation. And I don't believe in that, but we, you know, and I don't like using the terms, culture Wars cancel culture, because it it's, it has it especially right now, but, but it has been so diluted and twisted by the, I would say, you know, white supremacy and, and more extreme right-wing proponents. And it really sucks that those words have been really distorted because we can't even use those lens on our own community. And, you know, they're, I, you know, there have been many times where we've had to sort of say, you know, put the breaks in and, and be like, you know, this person is toxic into our community.
Speaker 3 01:00:54 We want them to have help in our community is unable to deal with that. We aren't, we don't have the infrastructure to rehabilitate you. We don't have the answer. And we don't. And I have one of the biggest issues. We do not have the capacity because not only are all of us hurting, but none of all, you can't have hurt people trying to rehabilitate other people who are hurt. And also the people who are causing harm. And that is one of the biggest problems is that, and the only solution we have is the exact solution that we use in order to combat capitalism. And we're not, you know, you know, as individuals, I should say, we're collective. And, and, and I've seen that happen so many times. And, and it really breaks down community. And especially in a situation, you know, I come from the student movement, your camp, if you say one word wrong, you know, you're, you're complete.
Speaker 3 01:01:43 And that's in both white organizing and BiPAP organizing both in the, you know, so I came from that environment. And so when I see that happening in, in, in our communities, you know, especially, you know, the work that I do and I, and I'm, you know, I, I'm someone who's like, you know, very much about, you know, everyone's coming from a different place. Let's try to create a space for people to learn, you know, or, or be able to create a space where everyone knows what they're stepping into before they come into it, um, to be able to leave room for rehabilitation. But again, that's really hard. I just really don't feel like I can't talk about community or without bringing in that crucial
Speaker 2 01:02:20 Piece, because capitalism has affected though completely about how we build community. It's, it's, it's, it almost impacts every single thing to renting a space too. And, you know, you need money to hold community spaces or, or you just need someone who has a big enough house,
Speaker 1 01:02:39 Both the pragmatics of it, but also, yeah, you're bringing up, or you're raising a really important point about how, like, um, you know, the sort of carceral politics tied to capitalism play out within community organizing. Um, and, and how do we navigate that? Right. What, how are we challenged by it and how difficult it is when we encounter it? Right. Um, uh, I'm wondering if we can, uh, go back a little bit to, um, you mentioned, you know, um, you and Fe met a couple of years ago and that you've been organizing together since then. Um, and for me, like the, the more recent, um, event that, uh, that I'm, that I know about is trans fast, 20, 20. Um, but the door is sort of wide open about whatever events, um, or, uh, that you are particularly, um, interested in speaking to about. Um, but I'm wondering if, if you'd share a little bit about what that organizing process looked like and what eventually sort of led to trans fess coming together.
Speaker 2 01:03:46 I think, uh, I, I'm happy to talk a little bit about trans fats, for sure. So I think trans Fest, um, for, for like, you know, broader context, um, and J jumping, if I get the dates or timelines wrong here, but, um, I believe Jade and I started organizing or did the Odawa two-spirit trans and gender diverse March together, um, for the first time in 2019, um, and more broadly, the March had existed many years ago in Ottawa, uh, and then was reignited, um, I believe in 2016, um, by some local community members who wanted to make it happen and create that space again. Um, and so Jane and I were part of the organizing team in 2019, and then, um, we John and have done a number of other stuff together. And I think, um, I think I would love, and they say that our organizing style is usually, Oh, we should probably do this and then look at the calendar and realize it's the thing that we want to do.
Speaker 2 01:04:43 It would be like three weeks away. And so then we'd say, okay, like, how can we do this? Um, so I think trans best was one of the most hilarious examples of that, um, because, um, I don't think Jade, or I really went in planning to do much of anything for as like an alternative tour, usual March, because there was this whole, like global pandemic thing happening. I think we have like a random conversation at one point a week and a half to two weeks before, um, you know, the March would usually take place. Um, and I think without even really knowing what we were committing ourselves to, we started by saying, I think we wanted to do a virtual community dinner as, as the first thing. Um, and from there, uh, you know, within the course over the course of the next week and a half, we had 12 or 13 different events organized. We were working with a bunch of different partners and transgressed with suddenly, like, not just the dinner, but like a fast, um, like this whole, you know, not even just the Ottawa specific thing going on. Um, and so it just basically, like I ran away from us in, in the best kind of way is because I don't think we ever expected it would have been, you know, what it was or could have been the success that I had, I think.
Speaker 3 01:05:58 Yeah. Um, yeah, it was a fade pretty much. Got it. Spot on, but yeah, no, you know, I had sort of been, you know, known for organizing and Halifax. They had been known even before moving to Ottawa. I was told John Stone, uh, premier organizer in, in Ottawa. And I was like, good to know. So we had already gotten connected prior, but we hadn't met face to face. And then we met face to face and so started getting into things, chatting and whatever. And then I was just, you know, I was involved with, uh, in 2018 with the marches and stuff only as like a partner as a speaker. Um, and as, just as a community member who was new and, and, and, and really one of the only, um, openly black trans people in the city, um, that's very different now. Um, but at the time I was, I, I think I was the only one who was really out and about.
Speaker 3 01:06:51 Um, and, and, and that really, you know, people were like, Oh, Jade, I'll be on all of it. So, you know, and, and really when we had organized, when I first got organizing, it was because a bunch of other people, you know, I was famous. Like, do you want to organize with the, you know, the March, the Sierra? And I was like, uh, in 2019, I was like, yes, like I would love to. And, and, and part of it was because I, you know, not only did I help lead trans March in Halifax, um, and run them while they were called, they were called the Dyke and trans March actually, um, for, they were combined, uh, very different than out here. Um, I think they just did an uncombined in 2019 after the year after I had left. Um, but also I was a proponent around organizing in the, in the women's March.
Speaker 3 01:07:36 Um, but specifically organizing a counter rally that became bigger than the March. And it w it was a mess, but, uh, what was a good mass, the happy mess about intersectional feminism? Um, so, so, so I was like, immediately, I was like, absolutely, this is my teeth. I love it. And, and we did run it in the rain and we had organized a dinner at Jack PRSA, and that was one of the biggest things for me. I was like, there needs to be a, there needs to be, Mia was like, yes, we need to have a place for food. And so for me, I was very much about, I really want nourishment and Faye was very much w was very much of like, but we just can't March without asking, saying anything. And I think this was the huge energy of being like a component of care and a component of advocacy, um, that really, as opposed to just marching and taking a bank street, uh, you know, so we had a route that ended up in the Hill.
Speaker 3 01:08:31 And then, you know, we had systems for Ubering people, systems for transportation, for folks who didn't have it to be able to have a good meal, you know, and to be able, and, and sort of, you know, we were able to do a little bit of fundraising and, and sort of, and we had a little bit of leftover funds and that it was really it, we were like, it's 20, 20, these funds were supposed to be for the March. And, you know, we were like, this is meant for the community. And then we were like, okay, what can we, and then of course it was like, Oh, well, we can do this. Although we can do this in phase, just like, Oh, well, why don't we contact this person? Maybe this person has funding, maybe this person, and then it just exploded. And, uh, and I'm, and I'm really glad it did because we were way surprised about the turnout was beyond what we had expected.
Speaker 3 01:09:13 And, you know, cause usually, you know, trans community is kind of small, you know, we expected, you know, maybe like eight or like, you know, we were like, it's going to be great. If eight people show up to a session we didn't expect, you know, anywhere between 15 to 30 people to show up versus, you know, even some of our streams, we had, you know, thousands of people watching. So it was beyond what we had expected. And I think for us, or at least for me, we knew it was needed. Like we based our, our, our workshops and things based off of what people would want and what people would need, but we didn't actually realize how many people would actually want to access it, you know? Uh, and, and even then, you know, and just even recently we had, uh, you know, we had organized a photo shoot with, um, uh, Adrian Rose Smith
Speaker 5 01:10:02 And,
Speaker 3 01:10:02 Uh, and that, and, and so, um, I'm getting this wrong. My brain is, but there was just recently actually. Yeah. Um, uh, to, um, bought QT BiPAP photo shoots, um, that have recently happened. Um, and, and Adrianne, you know, messaged me and was just like, yeah, this is based off of what, you know, what we tried to do in the summertime. And I was so sure this is incredible. I'm so glad that this is happening.
Speaker 5 01:10:31 And this was it. You know, me and Fay were sitting, you know, and I was still
Speaker 3 01:10:33 Smoking cigarettes at the time. Don't smoke cigarettes, kids. And I was on my belt and me and Fe you know, we're talking, I think we were on the phone. And I was like, you know, I'm like, why can't we just get professional photo shoots for, you know, for trans folks who literally, you know, cause I, you know, there's some we take, you know, when we feel good, we'll take a selfie or Sama posted on Instagram, but you know, so many trans folks are trying to find work and are able to have, you know, professional things to put on LinkedIn or their websites or on their sneakers to even feel, you know, like, but they also are a professional. And even though they are. And so how do you to provide where people can actually be, you know, have that. And those were the kinds of things that we're thinking just outside of just being like here's a workshop, enjoy recreation and also just, you know, opportunities for trans folks that would not get any opportunities elsewhere.
Speaker 3 01:11:30 And so that, that sort of synthesis, I think, you know, not only from the March last year, but also recognizing this year, we were like, you know, we were like, okay, I guess we're having a festival. We were even our, you know, our Facebook page still says the Ottawa to S uh, you know, to, as transgender and diverse March, you know, the acronym. And I was just like, I'll say it to the spirit trans and gender diverse marriage, but yeah. And, uh, and we organized it within, I think they was wrong. We organized it within a week and a half. It was very, very short, the logistics, the logistics of how do you book a bunch of random people and a bunch of random different times and set them all up with different zoom links and also different event pages and different promo at like the layers of like, how do you sure you're responding to everybody? Is this events are from, do we have their bio from the speaker or do we have to DM them on Facebook? Like the layers of just like, I think Jade and I both had our heads pop off a little bit
Speaker 1 01:12:28 And such a short turnaround, um, is incredible Jade. You bring up such a good point. So, um, I'm going to go a little bit back two years before. Um, and, uh, we were very fortunate car and I was super fortunate to work with Adrian Rose Smith for the, to be continued show. Um, you know, uh, Adrian is featured in the show like her work has showed, uh, shown twice, uh, her beautiful photography, uh, for pride as political in 2017. Um, um, and then her series on, um, uh, thinking through about, um, Oh my gosh, Madmax and phew, Furiosa working with Mara Mohamad, um, you know, uh, pictures outside of, um, the national gallery of Canada actually around, um, I, when Jordan Peterson was there and the protest that happened. So we were so fortunate to work with her for the last couple of years in anticipation of the show, um, opening in September and it's, it's trans fast and the portrait studio and the beautiful resource that this, that, that particular, um, PR um, project generated like Kara and I were blown away in terms of just how the ripple effects of this resource that, that like was configured into, um, the, the fall.
Speaker 1 01:13:51 It was such a beautiful project. And Adrian was, was very kind to work with us to like, keep that tradition going. So, I mean, uh, like it's such a it's you're right, when we're thinking about like resources and off attempt, if it just gets framed as like workshops or something, where information is just soaked in information is just given out, but how do we like make, uh, how do we make resources or make things happen that like, have like a life outside of that particular moment, um, as something as simple, but also deeply difficult to access, like professional photos are so hella expensive. Um, and yet they are an important tool in being able to like find work, being able to like, develop this profile.
Speaker 2 01:14:36 I think like when, Oh, sorry. No, no, go ahead. But one of the things is like, when you add the, like, you know, for a trans person to be able to like, have a photographer, and I think this is like huge, huge, like I adore Adrian, like to death and back. Um, but like, like the fact that you're able to create a space, not only where folks can get those photos, but get those photos in a way that works for them in a space that they know is buying for them. Um, with isn't going to make a weird look if they adjust a binder, or if, you know, if you happen to be stuffing your boobs and something pops up, like, you know, like the layers of things that you can do in those moments, the ability to be vulnerable and to actually work together with the frog for the dudes to create something that works like that is huge.
Speaker 2 01:15:21 And I think that is something that I'm not in Jade. I am not doing transplants this year. I'm putting that on the table. And on the record, now I am tired, but you know, one of the things I want us to think about and see more of down the road is, you know, how do we bring, not just a workshop as you were saying, not just something where we're sharing information, but we're focusing walkway with them. I would love a resume writing workshop for trans folk. Like something like that, like trans folks are overwhelmingly poor. Um, and you know, that's do access to a resume writing thing where you actually worked with somebody to like come and frame your experience in different ways and help you get into the job market. Like some of those really practical skills, that folks that are hard, like easy to write, if you don't know what people are looking for. So they, how do, how do we build community, but also how do we have folks walk away with things that are useful to them? Not just like abstractly, but crack
Speaker 1 01:16:13 Percent. Um, we're nearing our time. And I just wanted to, um, ask if there was like, anything else the two of you wanted to speak about or share, um, before we wrap things up today, what'd you think?
Speaker 3 01:16:30 Yeah. I mean, I mean, I can always talk forever, uh, but, uh, I think I will, I will part some closing words, which is, uh, good to know Fe we hadn't even talked about that yet about organizing this year. I also, we also taking a step back. Um, but you know, it's, it's those types of conversations where it's like, where do we lead to next? How are these things? You know, because again, there was a trans Fest in 2020, there might be one in 2021, there might not be. And so, you know, and hopefully folks will be able to be in person again and be able to sort of have those sorts of creations and people to be able to self create and, and, you know, when people can access the space as they have before. And I think that's something that has been really well, part of what this trans Fest was about was how do you connect people when, you know, most of us are isolated in our own homes and, you know, and are unable to sort of leave and we're by ourselves and we're unable to share our experiences.
Speaker 3 01:17:29 And, and then again, you know, I, I, even myself as somebody who's been out for a long time, but also still dealing with a lot of dysphoria, I was able to disguise my dysphoria by socializing and by being with people and being out and about, and that was how I masked myself. And, and, and so this pandemic took a huge toll on that, uh, cause I had to be more stuck with, you know, the deep innards of, of me, um, and, and chronic pain, uh, you know, and, and that's really hard. And I, and I really am waiting for one suspend DEMEC is over to sort of feel alive again when I see trans folks, you know, and queer folks, you know, one thing I loved about ATA, what was just seeing openly gay couples, just holding hands and embracing and showing love. And that gave me nourishment, even though I may have not known those people.
Speaker 3 01:18:18 And I was just hoping to catch a bus or going, you know, go to the independent on, on, on, on, um, bank of Somerset, you know, the place, you know? And so I really yearn to sort of see that again and really have that nourish. And I think, you know, I, I am very blessed to continue doing advocacy work and, and doing community work through my work at kind space as a director. But I, um, you know, but again, I think that like huge thing is really, I think for a lot of us is how do we create those monuments of sustainability once this pandemic is over? How do we create? And these are things that are currently on my mind. And especially as somebody who, you know, is entering back into my art practice again, um, which is very, performance-based very, very, uh, very particular that requires me to be near people, uh, really excited to sort of see what that looks like and sort of being able to see all the art that explodes, um, especially with people who've been sort of, we're, we're sort of all like in a stew right now, we're being boiled alive, but our nutrients is our, and our, our experiences are being, you know, it's, you know, you know what, it's good when you have a nice bras sitting there for a day, the flavor is just ready to explode when it's in the bowl.
Speaker 3 01:19:33 And so right now, you know, folks are just looking for that ladle to not be in boiling pot and be in a nice, warm and comforting bull, um, that where we can nourish each other.
Speaker 1 01:19:45 That's a beautiful way to, to wrap things up Jade. Um, I can't wait to learn and see more about what this new wave of artistic creations will look like for you. I'm excited for you. Um, if they, did you want to have, um, some closing remarks, I think trying to think of, you
Speaker 2 01:20:08 Know, what, what do I, what has, what have we left on said? Um, but I think I've really enjoyed, you know, the conversation on community that you've had here. And I think I'll focus on that. I think, you know, caring is always going to be messy and community is always going to be, you know, both wonderful and the worst thing imaginable at the exact same time within the same like 30 seconds. It'll be great. And then how, um, and that's okay and, you know, I've evolved, like my relationship to community is changing. Um, I, you know, during COVID, I've spent more time with my fiance and my ferrets and my roommates, then I thought I would, and I've been happy with that. Like I think, you know, community gives us so much and I miss so many aspects of, you know, seeing people 100%. I also think, you know, we community doesn't have it.
Speaker 2 01:20:56 Isn't always everyone's everything. Um, but being part of community is always something I think we all deserve and we are, we are all like if there's no way not to be connected to community. Um, but I think that, you know, we all will always have a hard and complicated relationship with community because communities is a microcosm of our toxic society. And so I think, you know, it's hard to navigate that and I don't think that it will ever be easy. And I don't think there will. I mean, I imagine a world where it could be easy and I think that we can get there, but it's going to suck a little bit in the, in between. Um, and so I would say, you know, community, we can't let ourselves be, um, controlled by what we're worried community might say, or think like we can do this work and we can be the people that we want to be. Um, and being the spaces that we want to be in, um, without like, I don't, I do not know where I'm going at this point, but try to be as complicated as I want to thank both of you for your time, sharing your stories, your energy with me. I so appreciate it. And I'm so looking forward to just seeing whatever other iterations of co-collaboration is, come in the future. And I just want to thank you both a lot. Thank you so much for having me and yeah.
Speaker 1 01:22:12 Yeah. Thank you to be continued. Uh, Stonecraft symposium podcast is produced by FinCEN and Ana SHA Hawk, special thanks to today's speakers, Jade by art peak and phage Johnstone. The music is composed by Sandman on Pixabay. The podcast is part of Carleton university art galleries, virtual Stonecraft symposium. The symposium is organized in conjunction with the exhibition to be continued troubling. The queer archive, curated by Ana Shaw and cartoony and presented at the gallery September, 2020 to May, 2021, the exhibition and podcast expands conversations around local queer histories and futures. We are grateful for the support of Carlton university, the Canada council for the arts, the Ontario arts council and the stone craft foundation for the arts, the stone craft foundation promotes education, individual arts and fosters the public's appreciation of the visual arts. Find out more about the stone craft symposium by visiting <inaudible> dot CA that's C U H g.com.
Speaker 0 01:23:20 Yeah.