Today is Juneteenth.
155 years ago today, the US Army officially issued a proclamation liberating all slaves in the state of Texas, finally bringing freedom to all of the eleven rebel slave states. This has become the date to celebrate the end of hundreds of years of slavery in North America, both in Canada and the United States. While the history of slavery south of the border is well known, what is less known is that thousands of Black and Indigenous slaves also lived and died in Canada before the abolition of slavery here.
Recent events have painfully reminded us all of the lasting harm done by these centuries of oppression. To this day we can see the legacy of slavery in the way our society treats the Canadian and American Black communities created by this violence.
However, this anniversary can also be a vital reminder of the potential for change. When we see the unprecedented readiness of so many in our society to grapple with this injustice, let's try to embrace the hope that we can continue the unfinished work of liberation.
We’ve all got a lot of work to do, but together we can deconstruct these institutions.
Coming together as a community is a recurring theme in these newsletters, and I want to send a huge shout out to all of our volunteers who have been helping out with our Community Food Tables for weeks. Tomorrow, we will be expanding to a third table in our community down along Melita Crescent.
That means that tomorrow, we will have food table at:
- St. Matthew’s United Church on St. Clair (11am to 3pm)
- Oriole Park by the Community Garden (11am to 3pm) – Co-Hosted by the Oriole Park Community Garden
- Frankel Lambert Park along Melita Cres (11am to 1pm) – Co-Hosted by Frankel Lambert Outreach Committee
It has been breathtaking to see how many folks in our community have been ready and willing to mobilize around this simple idea. First initiated by Joanne Vannicola, the food tables give people the opportunity to take what they need and leave what they can. I want to thank everyone who has participated so far, and also encourage those who haven’t to stop by one of the tables tomorrow afternoon!
Air conditioners have been a hot issue for tenants in our community as the weather heats up, with some landlords demanding fees that they aren’t entitled to from tenants. And today we learned that property management company Sterling Karamar are backing off their demands for fees for air conditioners in the units of their tenants. I’m working hard to ensure that every tenant in Toronto-St. Paul’s is able to get all the support that they need. If you ever receive a demand for a fee from your landlord and you are not sure that it’s legal, please reach out to my office.
You can also find my 2020 Tenant Guide here.
It’s not just the extra add-on fees that need to be addressed. We also need to freeze rental increases for the duration of this pandemic. It’s unacceptable that we continue to see rents increase across our province while so many Ontarians have taken such an economic hit. For months, we’ve been demanding that the Ford government freeze rental increases – and they still haven’t taken action. I’m not going to back down on this issue – we need to make sure that everyone is given the support they need to weather the storm we’re all facing right now.
Today, I also have to acknowledge a grim milestone.
This week, the City of Toronto passed it’s 1000th COVID-19 linked death, and it’s important that we all take a moment to check in on ourselves and our loved ones. The trauma that has enveloped our city since March has been severe, and it impacts everyone differently. I want to encourage everyone reading this to take a moment this weekend for self-care. Take a chance to go for a (physically distanced) walk, call a loved one, or eat your favourite meal.
Take the time you need for yourself and remember, it’s okay to need time to heal.
Finally, I send out my regular reminder to be careful. We need to make sure that we’re all washing our hands regularly, wearing face masks in public when possible, and maintaining our physical distance from anyone outside our circle. We are going to get through this by working together, and staying focused on our goal – seeing the end of COVID-19.
Please drop by a Community Food Table tomorrow!
St. Matthew’s United Church
- 729 St Clair Ave W
- 11am to 3pm
Oriole Park Community Garden
- 201 Oriole Pkwy
- 11am to 3pm
Frankel Lambert Park
- 340 Christie St
- 11am to 1pm
Each Community Food Table will be taking donations from the community, and we would encourage anyone who is in need to take some! For donations, we're open to taking anything, though ideally we're looking for non-perishable goods like canned soup, pasta, canned fish, etc...
News and Updates
Here are today’s new developments:
- Trudeau is touting his government’s federal wage program, but uptake has been low, and critics say the program helps an insufficient number of businesses.
- Education Minister Stephen Lecce unveiled plans for what the upcoming school year will look like – sort of. The details provided include options for in-class learning, online learning or a medley of the two, with decisions left to local school boards. MPP Marit Stiles responded to the announcement, saying the plan lacks clarity, and leaves the heavy lifting to boards, without new funding to bolster the necessary adjustments and need for more staff.
- The government announced its per-student funding for the 2020-21 school year today, an amount MPP Marit Stiles called “pitiful,” as it amounts to just $250 more per student. Stiles said the amount won’t make up for Ford’s class-size hikes and course cuts last year, and fails to invest in what's needed for kids to catch up after months away from the classroom.
- We have a petition calling on the government to provide full health care coverage to 2SLGBTQ+ Ontarians, many of who are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and often face barriers to accessing safe and quality health care.
Featured Art Submission
If you have a positive story from our community OR a virtual event you're hosting that you want amplified, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
Birthday, Anniversary Greetings
During normal times, my office sends out congratulatory scrolls to folks across the riding to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones! While we're taking physical distancing measures, I will be continuing this digitally. If you have a birthday coming up in the family and you would like a special video message from me, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca. And if you should decide to share your video on social media do tag us @JillsLastWord on Twitter and Jill Andrew - MPP, Toronto-St. Paul's on Facebook.
Calling Local Artists
If you are local artist, and you have a piece of work that you’ve been putting time into, we would love to share it with the community! We know that #ArtsSavesLives and minds especially during traumatic times. If you’re interested in sharing your art please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca
ALL art submitted MUST be accompanied by a short artists statement (50 words or less) to help contextualize the art. Additionally, there are no guarantees that submissions will be included in the newsletter. Thank you for sharing your work with us and our community."