Photo C/O @djnontario

By: Donna Nadeem

The Disability Justice Network of Ontario is a Hamilton-based organization launched in September by McMaster alumni Sarah Jama and Eminet Dagnachew and McMaster student Shanthiya Baheerathan.

The co-founders initially got together because of their aligning interests. For instance, Jama was working with the McMaster Students Union Diversity Services as an access coordinator, trying to push the university to create a service for people with disabilities.

“I always think that there is more that could be done, that the institution doesn’t do a good job of supporting people with disabilities in terms of responding to professors who don’t want to accommodate. There is still a lot from what I’m seeing as a person who has graduated,” said Jama.

Last year, the co-founders received an Ontario Trillium grant over 36 months to create and run the organization. The basis of DJNO is to pose questions to the community of people with disabilities to see what it is they want to work on and how DJNO can use their resources to support the community it serves.

One of DJNO’s larger goals is to politically activate and mobilize people with disabilities who consistently get left out of conversations that affect their lives.

“Our goal is to politically activate and mobilize people with disabilities across the city and the province over time and to be able to hold the institutions and places and people accountable for the spaces that they create,” said Jama.

The research committee for DJNO has recently been working on data collection for a study on issues for racialized people with disabilities.

According to Jama, there is a lack of data collection on this subject.

The DJNO also has a youth advisory council that teaches people with disabilities how to politically organize.

In just a few months of being in operation, the DJNO has hosted several events, such as a community conversation event about the Hamilton light rail transit project, a film screening and panel discussion about Justice For Soli, a movement seeking justice for the death of Soleiman Faqiri, who was killed in prison after being beaten by guards.

The film screening and panel discussion was organized alongside McMaster Muslims For Peace and Justice and the McMaster Womanists.

On March 26, the DJNO will be hosting an event called “Race and Disability: Beyond a One Dimensional Framework” in Celebration Hall at McMaster.

This discussion, being organized in collaboration with the MSU Maccess and the MSU Women and Gender Equity Network, will tackle “the intersections of race/racialization, disability, and gender for all McMaster Community Members.”

Next week, the DJNO will also be organizing a rally with Justice for Soli in order to speak out against violence against people with disabilities.

The Justice for Soli team has been tirelessly advocating for justice, accountability, sounding the alarm of deeply systemic issues in the prison system, namely the violence that it inflicts on racialized peoples, and people with disabilities,” reads part of the event page.

For McMaster students interested in getting involved with the organization, DJNO has some open committees and is looking for individuals to help identify major community issues.

The campaign committee meets at the Hamilton Public Library monthly. Students can email info@djno.ca for more information.

 

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By: Tanya Kett & Jillian Perkins Marsh

Some say that when they last attended a job fair employers told them to apply online, so they felt it was pointless to attend. If you have similar sentiments, I urge you to keep reading.

Employers may tell you to apply online (it does save paper!), but the real reason they are there is to get a sense of the person behind the resume that is submitted online — YOU.

Who are you? What do you have to offer? Why are you unique? Are you personable? Do you seem genuinely interested? What do you know about them? Answers to these questions can only be conveyed in an application to a certain extent. Make a real connection so that when your application does come across their desk, your name gets noticed.

How can you differentiate your application from other ones in the application pile?

Do your research. Explore the event website for the list of employers confirmed to attend and do some research on them before the event.

Tailor your elevator pitch. Make eye contact and shake their hand. Be bold, assertive, and with some confidence, introduce yourself. Tell them what you do or want to do, what you have to offer and why you are interested in them. Customize your pitch based on your research.

Ask useful questions. Based on your research, prepare some thoughtful questions to generate conversation after your introductions.

Be an active listener. Really listen to what they have to say; it is easy to start thinking ahead to what you will say next, but concentrate on being in the moment. After the conversation is over, jot down any suggestions they had for applicants before you forget.

Be ready to dig deeper. If you encounter an organization of interest that is not hiring in the area you are interested in, don’t despair. Remember that organizations recruit for many diverse roles and hiring timelines are often not predictable.

Invite to connect on LinkedIn. Visit your new contact’s profile and send your request from there, so you have an option to ‘Add a Note.’ Reference something from your conversation when you invite them to connect and thank them for their time in speaking with you at the event.

After you attend the event and employ the tactics above, you are ready to submit that online application. Don’t forget to mention the contact you spoke with at the Career Fair or Company Recruitment Event. Incorporate their suggestions and offer something you learned from them in your cover letter as part of why you are interested in applying.

Now imagine you did none of the above, just attended, had a few conversations and just applied online. Which application would you be most interested in?

 

Use what you’ve learned in this article at our SCENE networking night on March 21. This event is open to McMaster alumni and students in their final year. Register here: alumni.mcmaster.ca under Event Listings.

 

Read the full article on our Medium page.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

Following recent snowstorms that deposited as much as 40 cm onto Hamilton streets, some Hamilton residents are using social media to bring attention to the issue of snow-covered residential sidewalks.

Currently, residents are expected to clear snow from their sidewalks within 24 hours of a “snow event.” If residents fail to comply, the city will issue a 24-hour “Notice to Comply,” followed by possible inspection and a contracting fee for the homeowner.

However, residents say both residential and city sidewalks are still not being cleared, either by residents or by the city.

The Disability Justice Network of Ontario has encouraged residents to participate in the “Snow and Tell” campaign by tweeting out pictures of snow or ice-covered roads and sidewalks using the hashtag #AODAfail, referring to the Accessibility for Ontarians for Disabilities Act.

https://twitter.com/VicBick/status/1087879002092646401

McMaster student and local community organizer Sophie Geffros supports the campaigns and says it a serious issue of accessibility and justice.

Geffros uses a wheelchair and knows how especially difficult it can be for those who use mobility devices to navigate through snow-covered streets.

“It's people who use mobility devices. It's people with strollers. And it's older folks. People end up on the street. If you go on any street after a major storm, you'll see people in wheelchairs and with buggies on the street with cars because the sidewalks just aren't clear,” Geffros said.

https://twitter.com/sgeffros/status/1087384392866123778

Snow-covered sidewalks also affect the ability for people, especially those who use mobility devices, to access public transit.

“Even when snow has been cleared, often times when it gets cleared, it gets piled on curb cuts and piled near bus stops and all these places that are that are vital to people with disabilities,” Geffros said.

https://twitter.com/craig_burley/status/1088798476081741824

Geffros sees the need for clearing sidewalks as non-negotiable.

“By treating our sidewalk network as not a network but hundreds of individual tiny chunks of sidewalk, it means that if there's a breakdown at any point in that network, I can't get around,” Geffros said. “If every single sidewalk on my street is shoveled but one isn't, I can't use that entire sidewalk. We need to think of it as a vital service in the same way that we think of road snow clearance as a vital service.”

Public awareness about the issue may push city council.

Some councillors have expressed support for a city-run snow clearing service, including Ward 1 councillor Maureen Wilson and Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann.

I just don’t find it all that complicated. Cities are for people. It is in our best interest, financial and otherwise, to plow sidewalks. It’s also a matter of justice. I await the city manager’s report and ensuing debate

— Maureen Wilson (She / Her) (@ward1wilson) January 29, 2019

A city council report issued in 2014 stated that a 34 dollar annual increase in tax for each homeowner would be enough to fund sidewalk snow-clearing.

Recently, Wilson requested the city council to issue a new report on the potential costs of funding snow-clearing service.

Geffros sees potential for the current discourse to open up to further discussions on other issues of accessibility and social justice.

Hamilton’s operating budget will likely be finalized around April. Until then, Geffros and other Hamilton residents will continue to speak out on the issue.

 

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Photos by Catherine Goce

On Feb 1, the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network, a local activist group, hosted a rally at Gore Park in downtown Hamilton to protest the government’s proposed changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

The event featured various speakers including Angie Perez, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees 3096, and Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto.

“Students have gone to strike for less,” HSMN organizers said at the event.

Following a brief performance from Mother Tareka, @sandela, one of the founders of @BLM_TO, and @SarahJama_, a Hamilton organizer, are up. pic.twitter.com/fNwUzJ3ULw

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) February 1, 2019

Beyond the issue of OSAP, various speakers advocated for completely free tuition. All stressed the need to support grassroots student activism.

The protest downtown followed a protest in the McMaster University Student Centre on Jan. 31, where the HSMN called out the McMaster Students Union for failing to advocate for the student body effectively.

Multiple musicians and poets were also featured at the two-hour long rally, performing pieces on the issues of capitalism and gentrification.

Hudson stresses the power of students, pointing to the success of Quebec student organizers.

— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) February 1, 2019

“It is a strong sense of solidarity, a strong sense of agitation, and a strong sense of annoyance,” one protester said when asked why he attended the rally.

After an hour of speakers and performers, the protest took to marching on the streets, stopping traffic around the downtown area.

The HSMN was launched in the first few weeks following the government’s announcement on Jan 17.

The organization strives to equip activists to mobilize against shared struggles and is mostly run by students and workers from McMaster University and Mohawk College who had already been organizing separately.

“We started having conversations about what it would look like if we came together on campus across campuses across the city and really bolstered a more cohesive body of resistance,” a HSMN organizer and McMaster student said.

Though the rally was centred on the changes to OSAP, the HSMN is also focused on the adverse effects that cutting tuition and student fees will have.

The student organizer pointed out that McMaster is set to lose $22 million in funding next year, with no additional funding from the government to offset the loss.

“We are looking at suffering quality of education given that there will probably be increases of class sizes. We are looking at part-time staff, faculty associate professors being made vulnerable, anyone that really does not have security or stability of tenure or status in the organization,” they said.

“There are a lot of communities being affected by this, not just students on OSAP,” they added.

Nonetheless, changes to OSAP will not make it easier to afford tuition anyway, according to the student organizer.

“The tuition cuts are very misleading,” they said. “If you cannot afford the tuition even with it reduced, you are still taking out higher loans, which means higher debts, higher interest rates, and in the long run, it is going to cost more.”

The HSMN is also very concerned that the option for students to opt-out of certain student fees will jeopardize some student services.

“We need to really come together as a community and realize that services we do not use today we might need tomorrow. We need to support services for each other and recognize that student fees help build a stronger, healthier community,” the student organizer said.

For the HSMN, the rally represents only the first step in what they hope will be sustained student mobilization and advocacy.

“It represents an entry point for a lot of students to mobilize around these changes and we are going to be having a sustained campaign,” they said.

The HSMN has not released any other planned actions to the public at this point.

 

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