For the most up-to-date information regarding our response to COVID-19, please monitor our COVID-19 Info Centre or our Twitter account.

Keeping Six

NewsletterK6 & HAMSMaRT Weekly Newsletter no. 14

K6 & HAMSMaRT Weekly Newsletter no. 14

June 22, 2020

Dear HAMSMaRT and Keeping Six Supporters,

More than half way through 2020, we all know and feel that it has been a very difficult and exhausting year so far.  We continue to take heart from the tireless contributions and enthusiasm of our volunteers, members and friends.  Read the bolded sentences below to get the main points from our weekly update.

Our new outreach coordinators, Marcie and Hannah, have hit the ground running and have done a wonderful job of taking over this important aspect of our work.  Thank you Hannah and Marcie! The brand new volunteer sign up schedule for July is out now! We have an active roster of volunteers baking cookies, decorating brown paper bags and going on outreach. If you are a registered volunteer, you should have received the sign up link this morning – shoot us an email if you need it again.  If you are not already registered as a volunteer and want to join the volunteer crew for July, sign up here https://keepingsix.org/volunteer.

We are still collecting donations, with many people asking us for tents, tarps, and sleeping bags, as well as drinks as the weather gets warmer – cash is useful so we can buy items people need, as well as donations of gently used or new tents, sleeping bags, fleece blankets, and tarps. To donate camping equipment email tents@keepingsix.org. To donate cash, go to https://keepingsix.org/support/.

On June 18th,  in partnership with the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, we hosted a webinar on Mutual Aid. Thank you to all of you who joined online,  and thanks to New Vision United Church for hosting a physically distanced viewing party.   Thank you also to our panelists from the Sex Workers Action Project, Care Mongering- HamOnt, Kyle’s Place and Strathcona Community Care Response.  It was an inspiring evening of sharing what grass roots care for one another rooted social justice and relationship building has looked like on many fronts. We are just putting some finishing touches on the video and will share shortly.  We look forward to future opportunities to come together to share and learn from one another!

Outreach happened as planned three times this past week, with more than 750 lunches distributed along with over 900 home baked goods, art supplies, essentials, and harm reduction supplies for people who use drugs.  Thank you to all of the volunteers who make this happen! The heat and access to drinkable water is of growing concern.  Our team worried at this week’s debrief that as Hamilton begins to open back up our friends and loved ones living in shelter or sleeping rough will again be left behind as restrictions relax. Many people also reported being senselessly ticketed by police. We reiterate, this is a counter productive  practice and serves only to harass and antagonize people experiencing homelessness.   Please keep up the pressure on city officials, and consider who else in your network might be able to offer services. Our requests are:

  • Stop ticketing people who are homeless.
  • Enact a moratorium on clearing encampments on public lands as per available public health guidance.
  • Work to quickly open more washrooms, showers, and physical spaces for people to safely be throughout downtown and east Hamilton.
  • Quickly establish methods for distributing water while water fountains are shut down.
  • Take a housing first approach to helping people access non-congregate housing options.

Please take 5 minutes today to call or email your city councillor about these urgent needs.

Sunday June 21 marked National Indigenous Peoples Day! We are reminded that before the world was overtaken by the COVID pandemic, the country was galvanized by the brave resistance of the Wet’suwet’en people in defense of their land and their sovereignty.  The fight against many pipeline projects continues across these lands.  Learn more and support!

We continue to talk and learn and strategize around the growing movement to defund the police. More and more people are seeing the connections between anti-Black and anti Indigenous racism.  Listen to this helpful podcast by Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaw lawyer, professor and activist with Robyn Maynard, Black feminist writer, activist and educator on police and anti-Black racism.

Our work, as community organizers and health care workers is founded in the principle that those who live it, know it.  Those who live it understand the realities, struggles and ways to solve problems and build alternatives better than anyone.  For this reason, when Black, Indigenous, racialized and LGBTQ2S students say that police in their schools make them less safe, we listen.  We listen, and we recognize that they have the authority, based in their own experiences and analyses, to come up with solutions to the problems imposed on them. We need decision makers who listen too.  Learn more about what they are saying and why students want police out of their schools by following @HWDSBKids Need Help. Time is of the essence, with the last School Trustee Board meeting of the school year taking place tonight. .

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE THIS WEEK:

CONTACT YOUR CITY COUNCILLOR AND THE MAYOR To ask them about what they are doing to support people who are homeless and people who use drugs, and request they place a moratorium on the removal of encampments and ticketing, and instead focus the city’s efforts on providing people with adequate water, shelter, food, and services. You can find contact info for your city councillor here.

VOLUNTEER to decorate brown paper bags for outreach lunches, bake sweet treats, go on outreach, shop for supplies, or help staff rest and hygiene stations, by signing up here: https://keepingsix.org/volunteer.

DONATE CASH (or ask people in your network to donate) https://keepingsix.org/support/.

DONATE LIKE-NEW/EXCELLENT CONDITION TENTS, SLEEPING BAGS, FLEECE BLANKETS, OR TARPS by emailing us tents@keepingsix.org. Fleece blankets are a great project for sewers!

AMPLIFY our messages on twitter @HAMSMaRTeam and @keepingsix and by forwarding this email, so that decision makers LISTEN to people who are homeless and/or who use drugs about what they need right now.

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.