#LandBack Community Care gathering in Ottawa offers “special ceremonies, time for prayer and some yummy food”

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Gabrielle Fayant-Lewis, the co-founder of the Assembly of Seven Generations from Fishing Lake Metis Settlement in Alberta, has posted about a #LandBack community care gathering on unceded Algonquin territories (Ottawa) this afternoon.

Fayant-Lewis writes in this Instagram post: “We are going to take care of our peers because we keep each other safe.”

“We will have some special ceremonies, time for prayer and some yummy food. We deserve to be loved and cared for and unfortunately in this settler state that is a radical action. But we will be there for our peers and our communities.”

Fayant-Lewis adds: “This will be a low-risk action (of course the threat of state violence is always present) …”

Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa further notes: “This event will be focused on community care and healing, Black and Indigenous liberation, and will center the voices of BIPOC and Muslim organizers and community members.”

ISO also notes with concern the arrest of thirteen Indigenous, Black and allied defenders at a blockade in the early hours of November 21 and the recent vote to increase the Ottawa Police Service budget that “will only lead to more surveillance, harassment and violence against Black and Indigenous communities.”

Peace Brigades International is committed to mutual and self-care as part of a holistic protection strategy for at-risk defenders around the world.

Tanja Vultier of Peace Brigades International has written: “The individual effects of constant threats and attacks can include anxiety, nightmares, paranoia, feelings of guilt, physical problems, or even depression, to name but a few. This can lead to aggression, burnout, isolation, or general mistrust among those affected.”

Vultier adds: “The psychosocial support offered by Peace Brigades International has a twin objective: firstly to help human rights activists cope better with the heavy emotional impact of the security risk they have faced for years, and secondly to boost their capacity to defend human rights as a result.”

The PBI-Colombia Project has also noted: “The effects of sociopolitical violence can paralyze a human rights defenders’ work and weaken the social movements capacity to resist and organize to seek political, social, and economic alternatives.”

Last year, 106 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia, 31 in Honduras, 23 in Mexico, 15 in Guatemala, 3 in Indonesia and 2 in Kenya. Thousands more experienced harassment, threats, judicialization and criminalization.

In Canada, we remember that we lost activists Tooker Gomberg, Dave Vasey, Derek Soberal and too many others to suicide.

Years ago, Tooker wrote in this letter: “I neglected my heart, and how I was feeling about things, about people, about situations. Now that I’m in crisis, I don’t really have the language to connect with people.”

Toronto-based activist Syrus Marcus Ware has also written this article: How to fight activist burnout: If we’re going to tackle huge issues like the climate crisis, artistic practice and activism can’t be separated anymore.

For more on this in the context of PBI’s work, please see the 6-minute PBI documentary, Support of the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric: Self-Care as a Political Project. Psycho-social support is also noted in this 5-minute PBI documentary.

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