Community, with Verlia Roberts

You’re listening to Medicine for the Resistance

Verlia: So what you know, this is a positive thing of like, you know, working from home and I was like, Well, okay, and everybody said, You know, I don’t know, staying with  my family going for walks, exercise it I’m like, I ‘m very happy I have not been wearing a bra. But I have to go back to work and wear a bra. I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna.

Kerry:  Girl, no bra, I’m with you  girl seriously.

Verlia:  I don’t want it anymore. I think it’s over. I think it’s over for me. I don’t know people are gonna take it but I think that’s the route I’m gonna go.

Kerry:   Free, free them girl

Verlia : Yeah, no, it feels freedom. That’s the end of that.

Kerry:  I’m sorry.

Verlia:  Yeah.

*all three laughing*

Patty:  So that’s one of many changes. So that’s one of many changes that the virus is bringing on in this world is women are freeing the tatas.

Verlia :  Yeah, yes. Especially, especially the woman with big ones, with big girls and, you know, this whole will be live in that somehow, you know, we have to keep them confined in particular ways because somehow it’s it’s, it’s, it’s kind of like, inappropriate of all of this that it should be. It should be high up it shouldn’t be looked at, I’m like no. Anyways, and I’m in my 50s now, so I really don’t care as much anymore.

Patty:  Yes. My 50’s were so liberating It was like, I don’t care anymore. I could do whatever I want. Everything is good.

Kerry:  I’m with you on that one. Yeah, I agree with that. I am so with you in that space. What I think I have found in this time is that that there’s a lot of the pretenses and you know, the common structures that you may have had have really fallen to the wayside. And I think now what are we in like Week Six of this?  About six or seven somewhere in there.  Yeah. Um, you’re I find that you’re starting to restructure now. Or really create a way of being that you kind of like, you know.

Verlia:  yeah.

Kerry:   Not necessarily waking up at six in the morning, if you don’t have to write exactly

Verlia :  yeah. I mean, I think I mean, You know, yes, we’re here to it’s a real pandemic. And it’s really scary. I think for all of us in particular, when we look at our communities, you know, we’re the ones at the forefront, we’re, you know, really impacted severely by it. And then there is also this piece if we’re fortunate to be able to be home to, like, get a paycheck. I mean, that’s what I’m battling with, right, but I have a paycheck and to be honest with you, I needed to be home, I needed to, like, you know, I’ve worked  over 25 years or was doing two or three jobs, you know, and I happen to actually be fortunate to be in two jobs that are able to pay me you know, what, I will come home and, and I need to embrace it as well, like recognizing all the things that are happening around also, but honestly, especially for us who work in community we work hard, and, and you know, Black and Indigenous women, we work hard. And yeah, I’m grateful in one sense that I’m actually home.

Patty : Yeah. How are things in your community? Where you live?

Verlia:  Well, I have a few communities one I live in Regent Park, which is like downtown Toronto. So there’s that and I live in a co op and then I am part of like, Black community about the Black queer community and but yeah, queer community at large. I work in a health center. I, I teach in a college you know, I live downtown. Um, so I think what I think what I’ll say is that a lot of my communities are struggling, right.  You know, watching folks who have to deal with homelessness and, and how you know, and what that’s looking like for them, you know, looking at Black, queer trans youth who, like, you know, have refugee status or no status? And how do we support them?

Actually, I had a long meeting yesterday. I’m also kind of a committee that involves Sherbourne health and Black CAP Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention. And we’re actually talking about Black folks who are actually in the shelters who are newcomers and are HIV positive, but needing to get housing, but then talking about disclosure, right, because of the stigma that’s still there with HIV and food security that you know, even you know, like, Blacks Action now has this program where they’re trying to provide, like food baskets, like culturally appropriate food baskets, right? Like you know, right so saltfish and corn beef, or things like that you know

Patty: Exactly.

Verlia:  So, so it’s actually about people being frustrated because we’re closed, you know, and feeling that, you know, we’re not there for them, but then we also have to social distance as well. And so those kinds of conversations are pretty, you know, hard and then you know, I live you know, like with my partner who wants to get you know, we put in immigration papers finally, because it costs so much money right and I know they’re not hearing us yet but then I have to be careful if I go to any meetings because I don’t want to bring anything to them because what’s gonna happen right, like, you know, they don’t have status and so it’s it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a lot to think about, but really grategul for that all looked at it that, you know, have that I have to navigate that I’m able to do in my house.

Patty:  It is a lot to navigate

Verlia:  To be quite frank. Right. Like, yeah, it is, but I’m home, you know, and which is I, I appreciate it. I’m not fed up . To be honest. I’m not. I’m not going stir crazy. I can’t lie. I’m  okay.

Kerry:  I hear you and I so agree. Um, you know, I it’s been a challenging couple of weeks for me. I will definitely say that and it’s, it’s been it’s been very close cop, very close quarters with some very various personalities in my home and on navigating those spaces. Yeah has been a challenge.

Verlia :  yeah, I only have one other. That’s it. I’m very fortunate.

Kerry :  Well at the moment There are five different personalities in the home. And one of them is very colorful, at in normal times

Patty: Is that you?

*all three laughing*

Kerry: Guilty!  But it’s been even with that we are so I am so blessed with an absolute team of highly trained social workers, medical professionals, all different types that have totally revamped the way they’ve accessed or support. And we’re doing everything online. Yeah, so even though it’s not perfect, we still have that resource. And  you know, I I keep thinking to myself, that I am I am beyond lucky. I mean, if that is the biggest boo hoo that I’m making, you know?

Verlia : yeah,

Kerry:  I’m really I, we’re, I’m blessed in that way. So it really has had given me a chance to pause and take a real stock of, of what can I do? How can we work? What do we bring forward and tapping into some of the community spaces locally? You know, for people of color and and trying to kind of network that way. You know, I love the idea as you’re speaking of like the culturally appropriate hampers, working with some of our local stores to put together some stuff and taking them out there because our, where are people I realized Black folk, at least in this area where I am where I’m having some challenges accessing readily available, you know, financial and families that were already in crisis. It’s a tough space now, especially now that we’re in, you know, first week, it’s not the second week. We’re now in this for the crunch. And seeing that the numbers kind of we thought were leveling and maybe they are, but there was a bit of a spike today in the numbers.

Verlia: Oh, was there?

Kerry: Yeah, we only had five something yesterday, and I think it’s 634. So there’s a little bit of a spike. So I mean, and that could be nothing new. Maybe we’ll go down tomorrow, but you know, it’s that it’s this waiting game. It’s that uncertainty even just that element of it being in uncertainty is a new challenge for him.

Patty:  And we know that those numbers aren’t real, but I don’t know man. This virus scares the shit out of me.  And when you when you listen to people like Trump and the others that are saying, you know we need to get this economy going, we need to get this economy going. Um, you know, there’s a couple of pieces of that is, you know, we’re the ones that are dying, right? Black and Indigenous.  Chicago. 70% of the deaths in Chicago are Black. New York City is also showing similar it’s, you know, Latin x people, Black people, Asians who are dying. And so when they’re saying, Let’s get this economy going, let’s get this. Let’s get back to work. Let’s do this. Let’s do that. Karen needs her haircut. We’re, you know, it’s because because we’re the ones that are dying and that doesn’t bother them.

Kerry:  We are traditionally the labor force as well. We’re  the ones that are gonna go back to work. We are the direct front line

Verlia: We to go back to work, right.

Kerry : That’s the other piece. It’s not like that option.

Verlia:  And there’s just a piece of that going on Ontario side where the government is actually refusing to look at doing race based data, right on who’s dying. It’s about then talking about the senior homes, right, in a particular way, asking people not to have two jobs, two or three jobs. And then those are the same people that have to have two to three jobs, because the pay is so bad. And this is the same government that actually slashed all the money for home care for healthcare, home care. You know, like, what I don’t want to talk about a race based data,  it’s so messy. See, right? Yes, they have to work three jobs.

Patty:  Well, that’s, you know, and that’s the Canadian, you know, we’re too polite. We don’t want to talk about race and  all that, like you, we can’t wait. So we know these things anecdotally about who these things affect. And they say, well, we you know, race doesn’t matter. Race doesn’t matter Well, it absolutely matters because a 70% of the deaths in Chicago being Black isn’t because there’s something wrong with Black people. It’s because there’s something wrong structurally with how they’re able to get food, how they’re, you know, whether they’re living in poverty, how they’re able to access health care, all of those things, set them up to be vulnerable.

Verlia : Exactly.

Patty:  And that’s why we need that data because we need to look at structure. What’s the system, what’s the system that’s creating this?

Verlia:  I remember. I went to Chicago about 10 years ago or something. And it was like a brief It was like a weekend. But we drove through a pretty impoverished area in Chicago, right? Yeah. Yeah. And I swear to God, like there’s no grocery store. like, I saw a corner store. I saw liquor store but I didn’t see grocery store like on the main strip. You know, like and the thing is, so to be honest, I was so excited to be in Chicago recognize that, you know, going around Black community, you know, you’re going to see impoverished areas and whatever, like, you know, a custom, yeah, right, a particular way. But that thing at Chicago, I never even see that in Brooklyn. And I’ve seen things in Brooklyn. Like, I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. Because I was like, um, where is  the grocery store, oh, it was painful.

Kerry: It’s interesting to say to that, I was on a, a, an Afro centric call, couple years back now, probably about seven or eight years back with Dr. Philip Valentine. And we had a whole group of us all over the world. And I’ll never forget it. We were we were going through a lecture and then all of a sudden, I heard a series of gunshots going off in the background and I’m not talking like you know one pop or two pops. I’m talking like an AK 47 like something that was like a machine gun popping off in the background freaked us all out. And when we finally kind of came back to normal we’re like is everybody okay? What happened? Who What? It was this guy in Chicago South End and he goes “Ah no don’t worry about nothing, it’s all good. Don’t worry, I’m sorry You’re so scared.”  I’m like “ Excuse me. That is like Vietnam or something going on in your backyard What do you mean why worry about it.”  He goes “Ah, the gang members are just having a little argument. It’s just happening right outside I live right on a corner lot. So you know, those guys are fight Ain’t nothing. I’ll mute myself. Mute myself. “

Verlia: Good. Thank you, oh my God, wow.

Kerry: I couldn’t believe it. That was his every day.

Verlia: And now you’re adding COVID in that and you’re asking people to social distance, even social distance in which we know works, right. We know this, there’s no disagreement, but we have to have a more nuanced conversation with marginalized communities like Black , Indigenous, people of colour communities, about social distancing where, you know, like, you know, sometimes asking for that you may not be your option in that moment, you know, this is the piece like, and we’re not allowed , we’re not having those kind of conversations. Or what about women? What about women who like in abusive relationships with their, with their families, right, like, actually, I no doubt in our side to Toronto side, like it’s gone up 40% Yeah. The calls for domestic violence, right? And so, you know, how do we have these different conversations recognizing that social distance is a part? Right? Like that’s the piece? I don’t know, people just don’t like,  we just we saw some of the dispute we saw lazy, we just want to have this linear conversation. We refuse to do these little intersections here of how we could like really be as inclusive and as thorough as we can be.

Patty:  Yeah. Well, we’re having we’re having middle class conversations

Verlia: Thankyou

Patty: right, middle class solutions.

Verlia: Exactly.

Patty: Well, even well, like, you know, on the reserves, Six Nations is you know, and we don’t have to travel hundreds of miles north, right. Six Nations doesn’t have potable water. 70% of the community have access to safe drinking water. You know, people are living in overcrowded conditions, like you said about, you know, social distancing.

And then the CERB benefit comes out $2,000 a month. Great, but who who’s you know initially who qualified for it with such a small group and now they’re expanding it little bit little bit. And some people are getting mad because, well, they’re getting more they’d be getting more on CERB than they are working, or they’d be or people are getting more on CERB then, you know, like my dad who’s on who’s on disability and a pension. People are CERB getting more money than he asked me. And so then they’re going to you people are getting mad about that as well. Maybe we should raise the minimum wage.

Verlia: Thankyou, which we’ve been trying to do for how long?

Patty:  And maybe people in disability and pensions maybe we shouldn’t be living below the poverty line. I’ve heard 50 senators are calling for universal basic income, because how much would that help people trapped in abusive relationships?  Right. If you knew you could walk out the door and have that money have that money to allow you to get to someplace, maybe not a shelter, but the shelters I know are sometimes helping with getting into getting into hotel rooms. You know if you have to get out right, I know that right. The shelters are being really helpful.

And I saw this meme going around Facebook that is really stupid, about if you’re in an abusive relationship text me and talk about bananas or like, just like some random thing like a code word.

What do you what are you going to do? If your friend texts you and starts talking about rabbits? What are you going to do for her? And two, do you really think her partner isn’t also on Facebook? And now he looks at her phone and sees that she’s talking about rabbits, right? So you’ve just put her at risk. Don’t do that.

So the shelters are really working overtime and then they had announced in Toronto that they were going to open some hotels but what happened with that I thought I saw Zoe Dodd talking about that, and it wasn’t as great.

Verlia: It is happening.

Patty:  Oh, that’s good.

Verlia: no, well, I don’t know if it’s good, it is happening, I think I think but I think they’re doing it through like when right like the shelters, right so, so I think um, but in terms of information yeah right that that women will have to disclose to be able to get, you know a room like it’s it’s complicated right because on the one hand, it puts them in hotels but then on the other hand, you know, shelters are usually really full, for how long are they going to be there? You know? How do you choose? Who do you choose to go into these hotel rooms

You know, as I was talking about the meeting yesterday, it was like, so if if an AIDS organization calls and say, Okay, we have somebody who needs a room who’s in your shelter, then there’s this disclosure of HIV and what that means and what what what and it’s like, yeah, so it’s complicated, so it’s hard to manage. I think they’re trying to figure it out. Is is what’s happening, but, but people are actually getting into the rooms.

Patty: Okay, so it’s not rolling out smoothly, but it’s rolling out.

Verlia: Yes. Yeah.

Kerry:  What do you think about this, like, I know, I mean, COVID has come out of nowhere. But if we were to weigh this on how our people how we are, are getting access to services, how we are being thought of or included. Do we have a place, are we having a voice is it is it a direct action or is even if it’s not smooth. Is there a direct action? Have you seen it?

Verlia:  I don’t know. I mean I what I could say that I’m a person who,  I have a home, I’m getting paid working from home. And so I don’t I’m not really much seeing conversations of folks who, you know, who are hurting through this in a particular way, having much of a voice in the conversation.

I mean, there’s the caremongering group in Toronto where you know, folks can reach out to like, say what they need and see if people are able to help them. And I think that’s what I like about it. It’s hard to manage, but they’re, they’re trying to do that.

But I think again, you know, I had another meeting today where we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to be doing our programming and right, because we’re community programs, and, you know, so like, you want to do a needs assessment. And so that means you don’t have an online thing. And then we have to look at people who don’t have access, right. But then what do you know, like, what do you need to know? So how are we going to reach out to especially when, you know, our mandate, at least our program is really to center, the most marginalized? So, so if that’s the case, then yeah, it can’t just be we’re going to send you this doodle poll. Or we’re gonna send a survey monkey right? Like you okay for some of those who may have access to that, and what else? And, you know, like, how do we do it through Facebook, for example? How do we do it? If they’re, you know, like, if they’re experiencing homelessness, how do we reach out to them? You know, like, do we go out and find them? Like, those kind of conversations that we’re trying to have to ensure that, you know, we have what they need from us.

But I guess what I guess the reason why I’m bringing it up is that we have to have those conversations of finding the different ways of how we can make sure that your voice is on the table. One, to make sure that you’re not duplicating services, because there are things that are happening all over as well. But then what as a as a service user, of our organization of our program, what do you want from us, but for us to get there? Because they are the most marginalized, right? We have to find a way. We cannot just sit and be quiet about. Okay, let’s have that zoom call

Patty:  well, and with the libraries closed, now people would have gone into the library to access the internet to access email to access Facebook, they can’t do that anymore.

Verlia:  Exactly. So, so for us, like, it’s really, you know, I look at the mentorship program, right? So I’m like, Okay, let’s see how, like starting to talk or imagine how can we use our mentors in terms of like, reaching out for us to like, who are the donors who  love queer trans youth, you know, give us some tablets, you know, give us you know, like, let’s see what tablets, phones give us, you know, like, those kinds of things so that they can have access to us, right. So that’s so those are the kinds of things that we’re trying do that a little differently.

Patty: I’ve gpt my fundraiser, right pay your rent, and right.

Verlia: Can you tell me about it? Sorry

Patty: A couple years ago we went up to a Iqaluit  to visit my son max because he was working as a cook up there. And I contacted somebody I knew who was ran a food bank and said, What do you need and he said that he needs so he went and found out and he came back and he would wind up bringing all kinds of sanitary supplies up to Iqaluit, people on the internet were  so generous donated, people don’t even know me, they follow me on Twitter, but they don’t know who I am. But they sent me money and they trusted me to do this and it was great. So a lot of them wanted to help on an ongoing basis. So I meant to set up this Patreon and in one day this I was having this argument with somebody wasn’t really an argument but it was just feeling really guilty about being white and living on stolen land. And he was just like, you know, I feel so bad. And so I said, If you feel so bad? Why don’t you pay some land? At which point I hightailed it over to Patreon set up the pay your rent account and boom now I’ve got like 124 people giving me money every month.

Verlia: See what I’m saying?

Patty:  So for the trans day of remembrance, a person a person I know who lives up north had messaged me to say, hey, would your fundraiser be willing to buy some gear for Two Spirit youth? And I said, Sure, of course I would. So, I mean, like, I support cultural programs, cultural activity, and all kinds of stuff. But I’m often in the position of having more money than I have projects. So when people contact me about stuff like that, I can say, sure  I can do that. Sure, no problem here. Let’s do that. So I’ve been ordering all of this. All of this gear like binders and things that I didn’t even know existed. It’s just opened my mind. I’ve been ordering all of this stuff and getting it shipped all over northern Ontario. But the really funny part now is Facebook knows that I’ve been ordering this stuff and so I’m getting all these ads on my Facebook feed.

Kerry:  I was going to say your ads are blowing up our

Patty: The ads on my Facebook feed are killing me. And then I posted a picture of myself wearing a mask, right like wearing a mask for going out and about because I always I’ve been sewing face masks and taking them to the friendship center to be distributed. Yeah, you know and so I posted a picture of myself wearing wearing a mask and so now I’m also getting ads for these Middle Eastern head covering mask things that the guys in ISIS wear,  they’re really nice looking tactical masks. So between these Facebook I don’t know plus I belong to like Marxist and anarchists Facebook groups. So somewhere in Facebook’s algorithm I am this badass queer revolutionary it was just cracking me up. I had to thank my friend.

Verlia: They haven’t cut you off yet.

Patty: No, no, they’re just sending me the most amazing but that kind of brings me around to Mutual Aid, because that’s what you were talking about with the caermongering group. And we have one here in Niagara as well. And I found a little old lady that I bring groceries to once a week, she calls me Thursdays to give me her little grocery list. And she’s very cute. Because some people can’t get out and it is kind of a neat thing. And next, the nextdoor program that I saw that allows you to connect with people in your neighborhood because everybody kind of logs in and, like mutual aid is really good and helpful. We use it for the face masks as well. I have a Facebook, I have a group, on Facebook for masks, right and people fill out a form and the contact person who’s making it and like it helps them to make those connections and people are buying groceries picking up groceries for them. Mutual Aid is great. And it’s I really hope that a lot of this develops into some kind of ongoing,

Verlia: I hope so

Patty:  ongoing activism after this. But it’s not enough. It’s not enough and we have to like you said about finding ways to lift their voices higher so that the policies that need to change will change so that maybe we can get a universal basic income and maybe we can get some rent controls. And maybe we can get some of those things that make this stuff survivable. Because look, we’re surviving, right. It’s the middle class, the middle class and the upper classes, we’re at home sewing, reading, and working on our computers, we’re fine. We’re complaining about not getting haircuts, but marginalized people, homeless people in jails. I just messaged from a friend told me to help make a face, you know, looking for face masks for jail workers, which is fine, but I’m not going to begrudge them facemasks,  they should absolutely have them. But those people should not be in jail. We talked with your friend before about how many people are in jail. They haven’t even been found guilty of anything and they’re in jail. They just can’t pay back their jail. That is very interesting. They can’t pay fines and they’re in jail.  And look at what’s happening on Rikers Island and in Joliet and other places the virus is ripping through those places.

Kerry:  And right here locally, is it right? locally in Pentanguishine and, and jails locally here even in Thorold, I have I am working with an organization or you know, been kind of asked some advice around this, but they’re they’re letting they have been trying to let out some of you know, prisoners that are, you know, non-offending or having lighter sentences. And they’re just kind of letting them out

Patty :  and not making sure they have anywhere to go.,

Verlia: Oh yeah, that’s the other piece as well.

Kerry: So, there are there’s been a scramble to kind of set up some sort of gateways and offering some access to people who are in those circumstances. Yeah. Because, you know, we’re kind of on the fly. But I think you said something so valuable, Patty, as we are in the figuring out stage, the knowing that we need to almost structure and raise the voice so that the structure can be really afforded to be set up and on an ongoing basis. I don’t think we’re going to be able to go back into some to some degree.

Verlia:  I mean, once I don’t want us to.

Kerry:  Right, and the economy, I just was reading an article, right before we came on, I think it was the Toronto Star. And they were talking about how approximately 40% of all businesses in Toronto will have to close their doors in, small businesses, sorry, indefinitely by the end of May.

Patty:  Yeah,  because they can’t they can’t afford the rents and you know, who’s gonna jump in and make a whole lot of money right? Because real estate is going to drop in value so you because businesses are shuttering and you know what we’re going to see a lot of right, we’re gonna see a lot of big chains big names, a lot of rich people gonna get a lot richer,

Kerry:  you are picking it up exactly. This, this economy is not going to look the same. And I think it’s as there is going to be opportunity if we are kind of really seeing that in the mindsight eyesight you know what I mean trying to keep that space because you’re right if we don’t do it, if we don’t find ways to hop in, some people are going to hop in and I don’t know what that’s gonna look like. But we we are we’re having this to me is is a time for us to revolutionize. For us to to really think outside the box. Yeah, I’m gonna say it. think outside the box. And get creative.

Verlia:  But I think but I think we’re struggling with, you know, these issues of, you know, ableism and racism, misogyny and, you know, anti-Blackness, anti-Iindigeneity like, Where, where, where actually, it’s actually creating, you know, serious barriers on how we could really come to figure out how we can do this. Right

So, you know, if I look at if I, you know, you know, I’d have to be to go into the caremongering group for many, I think it’s really hard to watch because, you know, it’s folks who are struggling but then also folk’s stuff is coming out as well. And so, you know, it’s it becomes overwhelming sometimes, but like, I also think it’s a perfect opportunity to figure out how we could with all of our the points of entry of how we live in this community, right? Like when we talk about Toronto, right? Like how do we do that? Right, knowing that we’re all just coming from here. I’m coming from here,  you’re coming from here. Like how do we do that? right because I think it’s it’s it’s it’s not allowing us to move forward.

Patty:  Right. How do you do how do you do that and region park where you live with your neighbors?

Verlia:  Well, Regent Park, which is to be honest, is pretty sad. It’s ready changing, I think remember gentrification? Yeah. Okay, so what Regent Park look like five years ago, it does not look like that again. And to be honest, there’s a piece of me that actually feels the change even in my co-op that’s, like smack on the side of it. Like looking at you know, we actually have this Facebook group and every other month, I’m ready to delete myself from it. Because I’m just like, oh my god, you’re gonna make me move, I’ve just, it’ll like it’s really upsetting, right?

Because I’m so you know, we had a conversation, even before pre COVID right? You know, people make a decision that the snow removal was really was really expensive so they said no to that, but then we have folks who need, use wheelchairs, electronic, you know, wheelchairs and they can’t move and you know and they were upset, right that you’re not thinking about us and people’s reaction, including the board was so like, Oh my god, I when I came here 20 years ago. That was the whole thing we were proud of you know going  of course. We’re going get the snow cleared, if we got paid, let’s do a, let’s do a schedule to make sure people would clear it or whatever or $5,000 we will have to find that $5,000 to do it, because like, we need that for access and, and watching how that played out was so painful,

Right now  to Covid time looking at somebody saying, oh, how about, you know, we get, you know, folks who want to, like, get groceries, like who not able to go out to do like groceries or something. And my partner was like, Yes. But you know, I think it was one other person that’s it.

Kerry: really, in a coop

Verlia: In a coop, my coop , you know, and so, um, you know, this, I don’t you know, I don’t I don’t know. Like, I’m not happy. I’m not happy with my community right now. So So I thought that, you know, even with the changes in Regent Park, that my co-op still cares about community, especially those of us who have marginalized in particular ways and, you know, I know, I have to be honest and say, no, we’ve changed, you know, and so, it’s progress, you know,

They’ve broken down almost all of the Regent Park and they’ve built up, you know, townhouses and and, you know, some apartments. The deal was, which has never ever been clear with Housing Authority was that they were going to bring folks back into Ida, all some of the spaces so they would like you know, you know, rent or whatever, and the people who was there are not the people who came back Oh, no, no if ands or buts. It is not the same  I’d have lived here for 20 years now. It’s not the same at all. It’s not it’s not it’s not it’s not it’s not so. Yeah, so it’s different you know, like finally we got you know, you know when Regent Park was here we had you know, we didn’t we never had like a Shoppers we didn’t have a you know, grocery store like smack in Regent Park, we have Frescho, there’s Shoppers, there was even Wendy’s. There’s Tim Hortons we never even had Tim Hortons. You know what I’m saying? Like, it’s a really different thing. But with that change, the community is broken.

Kerry: Yes, it’s turned very, you know, typically urban

Verlia: Yes.

Kerry: You mean fast paced. You’ve got all the amenities you come in you go out but you barely know your neighbor in the same way. Yeah.

Patty:  Well because it’s not your community right you move you left your community to move there. And so you don’t know anybody and you don’t have any investment in them the way like you said, You’ve lived there for 20 years when you live in a place for 25 years. You’ve got some investment in the place and then in your neighbors, and if somebody needs it, what you know, and we all benefit when the sidewalk is shoveled. It helps everybody not just the people that are in chairs or have trouble walking it helps everybody

Verlia: Hello,my knee has been hurting me.

Patty : Yeah, well, like Lynn Gehl. She’s. She’s in Algonquin academic and she talks about following the turtle the principles Following the turtle, and if you think so you’re always thinking about the people who are experiencing the greatest impact of everything kind of the people who are moving. You know, like the turtle moving the slowest, right? So they’re experiencing multiple oppressions, you know, they’re dealing, they’re dealing with all the things and so if you get behind them, and you and you organize your activism around them, which means organizing your meetings so that they can be there, which is, you know, and all of that stuff that Iojema Oluo who talks about if it’s easy for you find a way to figure out how to make it easy for somebody else. Because if we if if we get behind the turtle, everybody’s life is better, right? We shovel the driveway because the people in wheelchairs and walkers need it, but everybody’s life is better when the walkway is shovelled you know, so if you if you do that, everybody is better. But that’s not the way we think in the West.

Verlia:   When you send to the most marginalized everybody better benefits.

Kerry: A society only reflects only stands in its reflection of the weakest of us.

Verlia: That’s it.

Kerry: And I agree and what I find so disheartening about the situation in Regent Park. I’m very familiar with the area, you know, anybody of color with Black people? We know Regent Park.  It was dismantled by design. And I’m hearing hearing you speak about how as it’s coming back into whatever this is supposed to be, you know, there’s there’s that hint that understanding that that dismantling was done to scatter.

Patty:  For sure, Absolutely. Black people are a population to be controlled.

Verlina: Oh yeah.

Kerry:  And so you know, that That, you know, plays into our ability to organize, play right into our ability to, you know, really stand in powerful ways. And you can’t even do that. It’s interesting, even with COVID that, to me, is one of those things that I look at we no longer, you can gather you, you know, while we still have strength in numbers on the internet and power in spaces like Twitter and Facebook and, and all of that there’s still something imposing and impactful about when you see 100 people standing in solidarity, taking up space. Yeah, it’s going to be taken, not just for now, but for a little while from now. You know, that’s gonna be probably the last thing that comes back to us.

Verlia: I hope like, yesterday, I actually bit the bullet and wrote in the group, you know, this is the second week that I’ve noticed that people are taking their garbage and throwing it outside the, the, you know, the bin and, you know, by the end of the weekend, it’s like busted, you know, I mean, you know, can we so I don’t so they don’t say I’ve said you all are the ones and you know, and so can we like, you know, like, please It’s not fair to the maintenance workers. Right? Both you know, racialized men like to come and clean that thing up, but but you know, I understand how afraid it must be to want to open up the lid. Okay, of the bin. So maybe in this group if you need a glove or something, you can ask us and I’m sure there’s somebody here who would give you a glove. Man, nobody respond to me for hours.

Oh gosh, if I could say, five years ago, six years ago, different, there would be no need for that. In fact, how dare you leave that like that?

Patty: Yeah.

Kerry:  Wow.

Verlia:  The maintenance people and the maintenance people that there’s three of them, all of them have been there alone, except for one of them have been there a long time. These are not new people either, you know them.

Kerry : So, and so they recognize the shift as well.

Verlia: I’m sure. I don’t know. I would feel it. If I was them. I would feel it. So like, so for me, yes, there is a change here. That’s not And people can say what they want about Regent Park. But one thing though, is that we lived in this community where we were shunned in a particular way for living here. You know, when I decided to go back to school in 2014, or whenever the 20 whatever, I went back whenever I went back and you know, I came, I came as an adult, and I, you know, and the teachers were happy because, you know, oh my god has an adult student, a social worker as well, right kind of thing. And I would go, for example, you live in Regent Park, and it was after about the first or second first year because I was so nervous and excited to be back that people actually were weirded out by me talking about Regent Park, I didn’t one of my courses that I’m saying that I’m living in Regent Park.  And then in one of my courses, I realized, oh my god, the stigma that goes with like, having to live in like saying that you live in your Regent Park, it wasn’t even entered my head. Even though I am not a folk, that person who comes from poverty, living in poverty in Regent Park, however, that’s the stigma, right, that came. And so, you know, being here now in Regent Park and watching. And so when we had the stigma, right, even with us living here, and we have all of this stuff happening around us, still people looking out, I never felt quite frankly, unsafe. There’s all kinds of reasons but I never as even a single person living here in this in this neighborhood, right? Like, I know that boys who are the corner who do whatever looking out for me, I knew that I knew that. I can say the same anymore. In fact, quite frankly, the guns shot and all of that has risen more than I’ve ever experienced ever of living here  20 years right like the past two years has been hell.

Kerry:  like, to that note, I can relate because my childhood a lot of my childhood was spent in Flemington Park. My grandmother, and my Auntie’s all lived there. And we’re close knit family. You’re there every weekend and stuff. So I was very much except, you know, knew the neighborhood knew this right. knew that place. And it had its things but Oh, yeah, we knew the home boys on the corner. They ain’t gonna let nothing happen. So it was fine to be in the area. And when I look now, when I when I kind of touch in now, like I’ve made some phone calls out of some peeps that I know down there now, and what was it last week two weeks ago? That shooting that was on the corner. And a friend of mine was saying can’t leave now. It’s not just because of COVID , like this space has totally dis disassembled. You know, the community center, Flemington Park community center used to be like, everybody went and it was it was real community. You know, and for what I understand now it’s a very different space, nobody asked me now, you’re not going to touch it, because you’re not sure what’s gonna happen.

Verlia:  Yeah. And I think that’s all well first of all the poverty not getting access to resources that also for Regent Park this like, you know, like dismantling the community. Right and then bringing people back in, who don’t have the same association or whatever. Yeah, so it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s different but with COVID right now, even just with my little community, I feel I there’s shame, there’s some shame there for me that I can sit here and tell you, you know, at least we are showing our you know, support and solidarity for all of our members kind of thing. You know, like, there’s a piece of me that feels that if somebody has COVID nobody’s gonna feel comfortable in saying that to be honest, you know, so I don’t know.

Kerry: I  think that’s real.

Verlia: Yeah,

Kerry: I do. I think that’s a very real thing. I think that there is that stigma attached.

Verlia: It’s  just so weird.

Kerry: It is, isn’t it? Yeah. And and it speaks to the changing times, you know, um, you know, this call, sorry, this call this this conversation we’re having is, is it’s multifaceted fro, I think you know, I always enjoy and love you, Verlia  and

Verlia:  I love you both

Kerry: right. And and having these conversations and recognizing all the connections, we’ve talked about all the positive things that we are attempting to do and are doing Yeah, but yet it’s so opens up the space for us to understand how much more work there is to do. We’re gonna have to figure it out, we’re gonna have to stay creative, we’re gonna have to stay in the trenches and keep hoping that we can move through this space as we innovate

Verlia:  Exactly. And we also have to make sure that the folks in our communities who actually have particular privilege, like our managers, our ad, so, you know, the, you know, our professors or our, you know, people who are in government, like, like, like Black Indigenous and folks of color who are in these positions that we hold them, right, like, you know, like we, we, we they question How about these voices? How about you reach out to the most valid Did you ask what this community needs, right? Like, because what I’m hearing from all three of us that, you know, like we’re, you know, like, we are actually in connections with most marginalized of all communities, right? And so, you know, that’s, that’s what I’m doing. Right? Like, that’s all I like, right now I could do is. Okay, so then great. Getting zoom call, that’s wonderful. And how are we going to get to, to that person?

Right? Like, let’s try to strategize to see how, you know, we can do that that’s, that’s a piece that I can do to ensure that their voices somehow can be, you know, or like, reach out to them to make sure that they have the opportunity to tell me what they want from right.

Kerry: I so  agree.

Patty:  Yeah. So finding somebody to reach out to, finding somebody. Yeah. But it’s like, you know, we talked about we’ve talked about in the past about, you know, finding somebody to disrupt with and I think that this is, I mean, it’s really big and it’s scary. The virus scares me, the potential for it to go badly, not just not just in terms of the virus going badly, but in terms of I mean, the rich always get richer, right? There’s no tragedy that they cannot exploit in order to make a lot of money.

You know, so, so what about our communities and there’s so much need and it gets overwhelming and then I and then we think like we got all got a pandemic, we got all this stuff happening and we get overwhelmed. And we can’t fix it all. And that’s okay. Because we find, I made face masks. I make face mask. Yeah, they’re going to go to the friendship center I’ve made I made 80 of them this week. That’s facemasks that people are going to have, it’s going to make them feel safe. It’s going to help them and that’s something I did something. And I think by reaching, you’re reaching out to people to hear their voice Kerry is, you know, talking to people.

 I think, in a sense, we think big by thinking small. We find one person to do something with or to do something for. And as we to do that, that one person, that one thing, all of that stuff builds up. And that’s how it becomes a big thing. But we get so overwhelmed and I get overwhelmed, and I get it, and I get exhausted, we got to remember, I remind myself, to be kind to myself, I need to be kind to other people. Because this is a scary time. And to think about everything that can go wrong, is paralyzing and we can’t fix it. But I can help one person. I can get groceries for Heloise tomorrow. I can help one person.  I can make facemasks. I can help one person.  And I think if  we think that way I can help one person I can find  or meet somebody in my community who needs help, I can help one person. That’s how we build those things that will get us through the other side. Because rich people get to do what rich people are going to do and someday they’re all going to be in mushroom suits. But in the meantime, we got to find one person to help. And I  think that’s not that hard. We see people all the time you can find somebody to help.

Verlia :  I think I think I want to say like, especially to the two of you that like, I think this is just just wonderful because I think there’s so many of us that do this, what we don’t hear about. And so, I think that even recording this and showing this people can see themselves reflected.  I hope, because, yeah, you know, I’m not a minister of anything or I don’t, you know, I don’t know, I’m not the manager of something or I’m not, you know, but, you know, try to do things to make sure my community is okay, you know,

Kerry:  you are a bastion in your community. And when you help one person, we know that energy reverberates and we affect a  thousand or 8 thousand more.  I love what you’re saying. I’m offering, by the way, I am offering free relationship sessions for couples, okay? I’m LGBTQ, trained, informed, sensitive, as well as any coupling. I call myself the alternative relationship coach because if you are in crisis. Come see me, we are going to get creative. And I’m offering that for free right now because being in close proximity is where something’s really self evident for some people. And let’s try and see if we can defuse.

Verlia:  Yes, I appreciate all of you. I really do. I really, really do.

Kerry:  Always great conversations.

Patty: Yeah. Always great, always great.

Verlia: Thank you so much.

Kerry:  always Verlia,  you know, you can always be on a running total with us girl.

Verlia: Okay, great. Call me.

Patty:  Ok, great. Thankyou, bye bye

Verlia: Bye.

Patty:  You can find Medicine for the Resistance on Facebook and the website http://www.med4R.com . Don’t forget to rate share and support us by buying us a coffee at https://www.ko-fi.com/medicinefortheresistance.   You can also support the podcast and so much more by going to https://www.patreon.com/PayYourRent.  You can follow Patty on Twitter @gindaanis and at daanis.ca  you can follow Kerry @kerryoscity  and find her online at kerrygoring.com 

our theme is fearless.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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