The Live Free Collective launched on January 5th 2011. We’ve had a full year. Now, to reflect.
Oppression is a collective process that surrounds us. It is easy to despair in response. It is our hope that this will provide perspective and motivate. Too often we lose sight of the important work that does get done and the end of a calendar year - and our first year - offers a great time to regroup and renew.
- In January we started the year off with a fundraiser - a co run event with the Niagara Vegan Baking Militia and 100 for Haiti. That bake sale and the show that followed up raised over $600 for 100 for Haiti - a grassroots fundraising campaign that delivered on the ground funds for a free clinic operating in Port Au Prince and also an organization Haitian Women for Haiti. Also, we were approved for working group status with the Brock University Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG). This was huge as far helping to lay a foundation for bridge building and coalition building with other OPIRG working groups/community groups.
- In February we started a plant based food serving program at the RAFT Youth Shelter in downtown St. Catharines. We managed around 10 servings this year with an estimated 150-200 meals served. The program continues and is our attempt to highlight and work against issues of food apartheid, food empowerment and animal/earth liberation.
- March saw a co run bake sale with Queer Action Niagara, the Live Free Collective, the Niagara Vegan Baking Militia and the Brock Animal Rights Club. The event raised funds and awareness as part of the Queer Without Fear campaign.
- April saw the screening of the documentary “Six Miles Deep.” The Documentary focuses on land reclaimation site in Caledonia, On and offers an analysis of colonialism, racism and sexism. This led to further screenings in Dunnville, On (within the Six Mile area) and also an upcoming screening in Buffalo, NY.
- September brought a co run event with the Brock Animal Rights Club “Vegan Superfriends 3” which was part of OPIRG Brock’s “DisOrientation Week.” The event highlighted prisoner support and solidarity as well as earth/animal liberation. The event raised over $1,000 to be split between the Sparrow Media Project as well as the radical earth/animal liberation archive Conflict Gypsy. Two projects co run by ex-political prisoners. Also, the Live Free Collective tabled and leafleted during Brock Universities Orientation Week bringing a message of intersectionality to first year students.
- October saw a co run table at Brock University with Queer Action Niagara “Queering Animal Liberation.” The table handed out literature on intersections of queer/animal liberation, publications like “Homo Milk,” “Towards a Less Fucked Up World,” “Interview with Mirha Soliel-Ross,” etc.
- November brought a co run screening with the Brock Animal Rights Club “Mark.” The film documents the life and tragic suicide of queer/animal liberation activist Mark Karbusicky. Also, a co run food drive table with the Brock Animal Rights Club brought in two bags full of vegan food for the RAFT/Community Care and one bag full of toys for non human animals - as well as $48.01 for the “Paws for Thought” campaign run by Niagara Action for Animals.
- December saw the beginning of the Live Free Collectives sponsorship of the Niagara Action for Animals Potluck Series. Donations from the series had already been cycled through our food serving program, but this marked the beginning of our sponsorship of the series. That month’s talk feature Tzazna from Justice For Migrant Workers (J4MW) an organization that advocates for migrant and migrant worker’s rights in Canada. December also saw many Live Free Collective members take up a support role in solidarity with hunger striking migrants at the Niagara Detention Centre.
- Throughout the year we also gave numerous workshops/interviews on anti-oppression within our community.
This year we rallied against injustice in many forms and supported communities of resistance that we hope continue to grow. We wish a safe and happy holiday to everyone and hope that the new year brings new resolve to fight!