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Riding waves of change at Social Justice Week 2021

The 11th annual event navigates ‘the ebbs and flows of progress’
By: Jessica Leach
October 22, 2021
An illustration of a diverse group of people standing together

Last year’s Social Justice Week drew over 5,000 attendees as a virtual event. This year’s version is incorporating new formats like podcasts and a partnership with the campus radio station.

There is no denying that the world has gone through a significant amount of change during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond health threats posed by the virus, we have seen a major shift in awareness of racism, inequities and challenges faced by underrepresented and marginalized groups.

Social Justice Week 2021 will be examining these changes through a series of podcasts and virtual events taking place Monday, October 25 to Friday, October 29. Podcasts will be aired on SoundCloud and, for the first time, on campus radio, CJRU 1280AM. 

This year’s Social Justice Week will cover critical issues like pipeline construction encroaching on Indigenous sovereignty, homelessness and responding to the overdose death crisis.

“Our tagline this year is 'Waves of Change’. Waves are full of energy, tumultuous. They can either propel you forward to a desired destination or they can overwhelm you and do you in,” said Kikélola Roach, the Unifor National Chair in Social Justice and Democracy and Social Justice Week organizer. “The various waves of the COVID-19 pandemic are similar in what they represent: they’ve wreaked havoc but also offer us an historic opportunity to make positive fundamental changes to heal the physical, social, economic ills making us collectively sick.”

Roach says she hopes people will listen and learn but then be motivated to find out more and take action through the various opportunities to get involved. 

This year’s event highlights include:

Monday, October 25, 2021 
Revitalising Traditional Foodways & Cultural Connection: Black and Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Organized by graduate students working at the university’s urban farm, this panel is a live, online discussion about creating sustainable urban agriculture, learning from Black and Indigenous food sovereignty movements.

Dreaming Accessibility Futures: A Card Game 
Led by students in the School of Disability Studies, this event engages participants in a digital game exploring different possibilities for the university’s future that move beyond colonial and ableist relations structuring student learning, and research experiences.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 
On the Front Lines of the Pandemic: Racialized Workers and COVID 
The Unifor National Chair in Social Justice and Democracy launches its new podcast series that highlights the experiences of racialized frontline workers during COVID. This first episode focuses on Personal Support Workers, unearthing how the pandemic and the ongoing racialization of the Canadian labour market has impacted workers.  

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 
Indigenous Waves: Resonations 
Indigenous Waves - a radio program on CIUT 89.5FM - is a celebration of Indigenous cultures locally, nationally and globally. Through music, storytelling, interviews, panel discussions, art, and humour, it explores the diversity of Indigenous peoples. In this episode, listeners will learn about Egerton Ryerson and his role in Indian education policy and involvement in Indian Residential Schools.

Thursday, October 28, 2021 
Strategies for Change: Tackling Homelessness in Canada 
Three activists call for real change to end homelessness in Canada: Alex Nelson, Cathy Crowe and Charlie Burrell.

Friday, October 29, 2021 
#CaffeinatedInnovators: Navigating the World of Work, Creating Equitable Workplaces
Celebrate the launch of Social Ventures Zone’s (SVZ) first ever podcast. This episode explores how marginalized communities navigate the world of work and how we can challenge even long-standing employers to create more equitable workplaces.

In response to COVID-19 being rough on low wage, precarious workers doing essential jobs, Social Justice Week participants will be asked to support the Workers’ Action Centre (external link) , an organization that has long been fighting for workers’ rights.

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