The week following the U.S. elections has been a heavy one. Amidst a massive public outcry by Americans against a Trump presidency, it seems North America’s population of “deplorables” have had their world view legitimized.
The awarding of a sexist, xenophobic, rape-culture promoting man-child to the highest office of the free world showed Americans and the world over that racism is not only alive and well, but is encouraged. However, as much as we’d like to separate ourselves from the horrifying reality that is unfolding to our southern neighbours, it’s no surprise the invitation to promote bigotry has extended upwards.
Just last week, a caregiver found a number of signs posted near a Toronto school targeting white people to join a white-supremacist alt-right group. Around a half-dozen signs were plastered around the Beaches neighborhood.
— Kevin Kerr (@KerrEteach) November 14, 2016
As depressing as this situation is, it is not an isolated incident here in Canada. Early Monday morning, An Ottawa Rabbi awoke to find a Swastika spray-painted on her front door. The victim, Anna Maranta, felt as though the anti-Semetic vandals had “been given permission” by Trump’s election.
These events have served as a wake up call for many. Racism and bigotry has always existed in Canada, but Trump broke the levee in this most recent wave.
If you too are feeling bogged down and helpless by the new world view that you’ve been violently woken to, it’s time to get up and work on creating a more welcoming and accepting community. Here are some things you can do to start making Toronto a better place:
First and foremost, get educated. Whichever side of the political spectrum you reside on, you should know your facts before you start naming off statistics. The dust still hasn’t settled from the wave of misinformation washing around the internet from the election season.
This past year has seen a bevy of fake news sites cleverly disguised as real publications tricking people into believing completely fabricated stories. Facebook and Google have even begun cutting off fake news sites at the head. Try looking beyond the internet for your facts, or if you do — make sure you can back it up with verified sources.
Now would be the time to subscribe to real, fact-checking publications. Here in Toronto we have a couple well-trusted resources including The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail. Dust off your library card, and check out any of the 100 libraries Toronto has to offer.
Now more than ever is the time to get involved and start generating some valuable dialogue. Participate in think tanks and debates and broaden your knowledge and understanding of an array of civic issues.
Check the calendar for organizations such as Ontario Municipal Social Services and Civic Action and see what events are coming up you can participate in. See the full list here.
Not happy with the way things are? Sign on with politically focused organizations, and lend your hand to get things moving in the right direction. For example, if you want to elect more women to all levels of office in Canada, check out Equal Voice and see how you can help.
For a list of all the committee meetings happening in Toronto, there’s a handy calendar you should keep track of. Raising your concerns to elected officials is another time-honoured way to having your voice heard. You can find out who your elected officials are by postal code using this nifty website here.
Of course, you have the right to peaceful protest — and many Torontonians frequently exercise that right. A good deal of them take place around City Hall at Nathan Phillips Square, but keep your eyes peeled on Facebook and news sites as they pop up. There’s even a peaceful anti-Trump protest happening this weekend at NPS.
There will always be those who hide behind a wall of fear, and take out their frustrations on minorities, opposing genders, and people of different religions. We can’t pretend those people don’t exist in Toronto. Just this weekend, an angered man was kicked off a streetcar for screaming racist comments at a man of colour. These types of events unfortunately have always occurred here, but there’s no question Trump’s election has triggered a surge this past week.
If you see someone being physically and/or emotionally assaulted do what you can to alleviate the situation. Offer your support to those being victimized, and let them know they are welcome. Make it heard that assault of any kind is not welcome in Canada.
Donating shouldn’t be your first and only go to way to get involved, but there’s no question it certainly helps. And luckily there’s no shortage of incredible charities here Toronto and at large in Canada.
There’s a number of women’s shelters doing great work such as Redwood and the Interval House who help families get back on their feet after abusive relationships. As well, The Native Women’s Resource Center has an office in Toronto, helping Indigenous women living in urban areas maintain self-sufficient lives.
The Toronto Rape Crisis Center is always in need of donations, and is a good place to start as well. If you’d like to extend your help across the border, donate to Planned Parenthood, which provides women with an array of reproductive healthcare services.
To benefit victims of the Syrian refugee crisis, check out Lifeline Syria, a Toronto-based organization that enhances Canada’s refugee settlement commitment, and assists Syrian immigrants to restart and maintain their new lives here. On a global level, the International Refugee Assistance Project assists Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian and other refugees in the Middle East and North Africa fleeing from persecution because of their sexual orientation, religion, or gender resettle peacefully.
The Toronto branch of the Black Lives Matter movement has a number of initiatives that work towards eliminating anti-black sentiments, and helping marginalized Canadians have their voices heard.
There are many more great initiatives to get behind if you’re looking to donate to as outlined by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, including the Trevor Project and the Natural Resource Defense Council. For the full list of Canadian charities, search your subject of choice via Canada Helps.
Maintain Your Mental health
For those of us who suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, this past election season has been rough. For those who have been the subject of discrimination by the bigots coming out of the woodwork, it’s especially stressful. But either way, if you’re the subject of discrimination or simply witnessing hateful rhetoric, there will be times when you are overcome by your mental health.
Make sure you do what you can to manage your stress and anxiety levels. Whether that means going to spas, getting massages, visiting mental health professionals, visiting friends, reading, doing yoga, going for walks, deep breathing, or doing whatever it is that makes you happy, make sure you set aside time to do it. At the very least schedule some time away from social media each day.
Have more to add? Let us know in the comments.
Image courtesy deathnography via Instagram