So tonight was the opening of the 2016 Reclaiming Our Bodies And Minds conference, to which I’ve been looking forward all year! It’s an inter-university Disability conference jointly put on by York (my university), Ryerson, the University of Toronto, and one other. I want to say Humber College, but I’m not sure that’s correct. Anyway, ROBAM’s always one of the highlights of my year, because you always get to hear about awesome and inspiring intersectional resistance to heteropatriarchal Capitalist White ableism. So it’s one of the places I go to get re-energized!
Anyway, this year’s conference opened tonight with a community fair, in which various groups and organizations made themselves available for folks to come learn about who they are and what they do. 🙂 The coolest of these (at least that I know about, as, sadly, I didn’t get to check them all out as I was a bit late) was a group presenting a DIY alternative communications device called the Talk Box! It’s aimed at making access-technology both affordable and easy to repair without specialized knowledge. So, really trying to put it in the hands of those who use it, rather than those of funding gate-keepers and other “experts”.
Then, after that, we had the keynote address. It was given jointly by Vanessa and Lindsay Grey, the pair of awesome sisters who’ve spearheaded resistance to massive industrial pollution and, thus, environmental racism in their community of Aamjinwaang – a First Nations community in south-western Ontario affectionately known as Chemical Valley. So they talked about the effects on their community of being literally surrounded by petrochemical plants – polluted air and water, and, of course, all kinds of health problems. It’s really appalling! And, of course, and this is where the environmental racism part comes in, this has been allowed to happen because it’s an Indigenous community. The powers that be – municipal, provincial and federal governments and general society – would never tolerate that kind of pollution being inflicted on White settlers! So, given that the ROBAM theme this year is “navigating our places, spaces and histories”, their talk really started us all off powerfully thinking about those navigations and their problems. You can check out their website – Aamjinwaang Solidarity – to find out more about the situation and the community’s resistance to it.
🙂 Then, to close out the evening, they had an open-mike! LOL Though, things were running late by then, so there was only half an hour left for it. But it worked out, as it turned out only two of us had signed up! LOL They sent the call out a bit at the last minute. Though, 🙂 having been guilty of that myself on more than one occasion, I can hardly criticize! So the first performer was a stand-up comedian. And she was fantastic! LOL Great dark humour! Then, yours truly got up and did my version of the old protest-song Bread And Roses, which has been one of my favourites since the first time I heard it. But I try to give it a bit more teeth than is usually done! So my version’s closer to metal. 😦 Not sure it went over as well as I’d have liked. Maybe my spoken intro was too long? 🙂 I did have at least one person tell me it was awesome, though. So that was great!
Anyway, tomorrow’s the full day with all the panels and presentations. So I’d better go check the schedule and decide which ones I want to hear! But hopefully I’ll have a chance to post about it afterwards too, either that or after the whole conference ends. LOL What can I say? I love these things, but they can be a bit tiring! But I’ll definitely post about the rest as soon as I can!