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Keeping Six

NewsletterK6 & HAMSMaRT Newsletter no. 29

K6 & HAMSMaRT Newsletter no. 29

April 14, 2021

Dear HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six Supporters,

We hope you are all finding ways to connect with the people and practices that ground you as we face the third wave. We know many of you are deeply affected by this personally and professionally. Thank you for your work to care for our community.

We do have some exciting news to share with you all. Thanks to the generosity of the Hamilton Community Foundation and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network, we have funding secured to operate outreach until at least the end of December 2021. Marcie McIlveen, our amazing outreach coordinator, will be leading the way. We are also grateful to The AIDS Network, who acts as our fiscal sponsor and provides us with administrative support. Part of the funding from the Hamilton Community Foundation is also directed to HAMSMaRT’s organizational development. We are so excited to grow and strengthen our collective.

One of the foundational principles of HAMSMaRT’s work is a core belief that health is political, and healthcare workers must engage as political actors. This is why we support efforts to obtain paid sick days, which are absolutely essential in the fight against COVID-19 but must last beyond the pandemic. We were deeply disappointed to see paid sick leave left out of the Ontario 2021 budget. And we stand in solidarity with Dr. Amanpreet Brar, a general surgery resident in Toronto who has received racist backlash for advocating for paid sick leave. We also support efforts to ensure vaccination is available without coercion to all migrant workers in Canada, and continue to learn about the health impacts of migration and the Canadian government’s treatment of migrant workers and undocumented people. For a deep dive, you can read Harsha Walia’s new book Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism. A specific action you can take right now to support our undocumented neighbours is to donate to this legal fund supporting undocumented people in Ontario. But most of all, we encourage you reading this to consider how you might organize to advocate for health. Could you start a Decent Work and Health Network chapter here in Hamilton? Could you support migrant justice organizing here in Hamilton? There is so much work to be done. We need you.

We must acknowledge the police killing of Daunte Wright in the USA. This keeps happening and each time it is apparent that words are simply not enough. A few things we’ve learned or been reminded of this week that are important. One is that this keeps happening – no amount of anti-bias training or equity and diversity training will change this. This happened a short distance from the Derek Chauvin trial for the killing of George Floyd. This is why we support calls for abolition, not reform. Two is that this happens here – see the police killing of 62 year old Ejaz Choudry in Mississauga, where the Special Investigations Unit decided not to lay charges. And three is that it will take all of us to build the alternatives to this world – this is about building a world where every person is safe, valued, and healthy. We’re looking forward to diving into We Do This Till We Free Us, which asks: “What if social transformation and liberation isn’t about waiting for someone else to come along and save us? What if ordinary people have the power to collectively free ourselves?”

One of our members, Claire Bodkin, contributed to an article by the president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada calling for priority vaccination of all people detained in Canada. This includes people in prison, people on remand awaiting trial, and people in immigration detention. She also spoke about the reasons why vaccine uptake may be low in incarcerated populations. While we work towards a world without prisons, there is a responsibility to provide vaccines to those in custody of the state as an issue of both justice and pragmatism. This provision must happen within a health promotion framework that addresses the unique needs and concerns of people who are incarcerated. Most healthcare providers are not aware that in many jurisdictions, including Ontario, health services in prison are delivered by ministries responsible for justice and not by ministries responsible for health. We support the College of Family Physicians in their call to transfer responsibility for healthcare delivery in prisons to ministries responsible for health.

The K6 Naloxone Here program is officially rebooted! Thanks to our wonderful coop student Amanda Nemec-Bakk.  The Naloxone Here campaign encourages local businesses and agencies to add Naloxone to their first aid kits and to post our signage in their window to alert people that Naloxone is onsite in the event of opioid poisoning nearby.  While we offer Naloxone training as part of the benefits of participating in the program, there is no expectation that as a participant in Naloxone Here you will take on the responsibility of responding to overdoses, only that you make it available to others needing to do so.  Check out our instagram page and get your kit and sign today! Help us save lives.

A warm thank you to The Muse McMaster for hosting K6 members Marcie McIlveen, Jody Ans, Dani Delottinville, and Lisa Nussey in a panel discussion on the philosophy and barriers to care in harm reduction. The Muse McMaster is a medical humanities initiative which “provides an interdisciplinary platform for sharing stories of sickness and healing, and to further promote empathy in health care.  Check out their extremely beautiful bi-annual magazine! We are so appreciative of the mandate and work of the Muse and look forward to more collaborations going forward.

The K6 Arts Collective continues to support and encourage the creative output of participants at the Wesley Day Centre and St Patrick’s Resting and Hygiene centre.  We are grateful that these centres see the value in providing their clients with a creative outlet.  We hope to return to The Hub soon. We now host four different art and writing drop in sessions a week, providing paid opportunities for peer artists and writers to support the community.  We remain grateful for the support from Canadian Mental Health Association Hamilton which helps to cover the cost of supplies, gift cards and peer payments. The art and writing generated are shared to our instagram page @K33ping6 and published in our quarterly zine. We are currently working on a mini zine project – A Possible Future.  We are looking for participants’ thoughts about what we have learned as a result of the pandemic and how we see the future moving forward.  Sometimes that is a difficult question – for all of us.  Submissions will be part of the June Keeping Six quarterly.  Hard copies of the zines are available via the Keepingsix.org/merch/ or at Vintage Coffee Roasters and Church 444. Following the discussion with The Muse, the K6 Arts Collective will be collaborating with students over the summer to create the layout for the next issue and work with us to create a template for upcoming editions.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Keeping Six, HAMSMaRT, and our Hamilton neighbours. As the weather warms up and the third wave wreaks havoc, we expect that more of our neighbours will be living outdoors. We continue to need gently used or new tents, or cash to purchase tents. To donate tents, you can email tents@keepingsix.org or e-transfer funds to giving@keepingsix.org.

In solidarity,

HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six

EST. 2018

Keeping Six – Hamilton Harm Reduction Action League is a community-based organization that defends the rights, dignity, and humanity of people who use drugs.