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Activist Toolkit roundup: February is an Activist Paradise

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We’re officially a quarter of the way through this month from activist heaven! If you’re looking for a place to apply your organizing energy this month, don’t fret - there are dozens of options. Maybe it’s a way to combat the winter blues, perhaps it’s a useful alternative to Valentine’s Day – whatever the reason, February is a really hot time for days of action, annual demonstrations, and awareness campaigns.

This week’s tools are scattered all around the activist sphere to give you an idea of some of the major projects running in February.

Black History Month is celebrated in February in Canada. Now, are you nodding your head or shaking it right now? While there is a lot of good intention behind the month, it’s also super problematic. Assigning black history a mere 28 out of 365 days makes me think we’re much more interested in keeping the rest of the months for white oppression celebrations. It also seems to sideline black history for the rest of the “traditional” historical teachings. This week there’s a great tool on learning to spot bias in instructional materials. You can also check out this tool discussing some of the other critiques of Black History Month. Let us know where you stand in the comments!

The other topic dominating news coverage, sports channels, and many dinner tables this month is the Winter Olympics. While Russia’s aggressive anti-gay stance has been profiled quite widely, there are a whole host of other human rights abuses that aren’t getting as much attention. Have you heard of the plans to exterminate Russia’s stray dog population? It’s reminiscent of the efforts in Vancouver to deal with any of the city's “blemishes” (like a homeless population or sex workers in the Downtown Eastside) and quietly push them out of the city until the end of the Games. There’s a 3-Minute Action with the petition calling for an end to the practice, and also advocating for animal shelters to provide more long-term relief for our furry friends in Russia. You can check out some other lessons from Vancouver that might be useful for activists in Sochi in this blog post.

February 14th is a big day for Indigenous organizing each year. This year, there’s a day of action taking place on Valentine’s Day called the “Have a Heart” campaign. Check out the project from the First Nations’ Child and Family Caring Society here. If you’re in Southern Alberta, today is a great day to head to the Kainai Nation to protest the federal government’s First Nations Education Act (FNEA). Aboriginal groups have largely rejected the FNEA across the country, and yet Harper is traveling to Kainai Nation to announce further details.

Many institutions choose to focus on other awareness projects over the course of the month as well. This week includes a couple of tools in honour of those marking Sexual Assault Awareness Week in the next few weeks.

I’m a huge fan of this Violence UnSilenced site and project. It’s an awesome online community, where survivors of sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, and other forms of assault share their stories. You can take a pledge to listen and provide support, encourage others to do the same, or even share your own story. It’s really important to give agency to survivors and allow them to find validation and empowerment through sharing their experiences (if that appeals to the survivor). Along the same lines, I think it’s super important to know how to personally support someone who’s gone through a sexual assault. There is a fabulous tool with tips on how to support a sexual assault survivor after the fact, and how to balance attending to their needs while still providing space.

The last tool for the week could be applicable to those facing sexual assault or harassment at work. It’s a great tool developed by workers, to help other workers deal with workplace stress and mental injury. Check out the multi-part guide here.

So what’s your favourite part of the month? With all this activity, there’s no time to dwell on these long, grey Canadian winter months. Get out there and get organizing.

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