Workshop Descriptions

 Building Support Circles

Facilitated by Judith Snow

I will deliver an interactive workshop based in exploring the value of diversity and ways to find gifts in the diversities that are considered challenging in typical culture. I will work from my own story, and include participants as they feel safe. One strategy I will share is the value of and “how to’s” of support circles

Childbirth – The Trauma we Hold Within

Facilitated by Akua Hinds

What emotional stress and trauma is brought to bear on the birthing experience?

How can this be released so that child birth also becomes the birth of an
empowered self, rather than the opposite?

Akua will share stories from her experience as a midwife and also introduce
participants to an understanding of stress and trauma… how it can be held in the
subconscious mind- surfacing in unexpected ways… and how new tools combining
ancient and modern art and science of healing can help us.

“I will introduce a simple and easy to learn stress/trauma release technique and
explore the topic of trauma as it relates to birthing in this culture as I have come
across it.”

Claiming Our Bodies Through the Human Rights Framework

Facilitated by Loretta Ross

Loretta’s talk will be called ”Claiming Our Bodies Through the Human Rights Framework”. It will discuss the 8 categories of human rights to which everyone is entitled, and how to account for differences and diversities in making human rights claims.

Compassionate Awareness In Our Bodies

Facilitated by jes smith and Melissa Addison-Webster

We are interested in exploring the theme of being in our bodies, including the journeys we have had finding our way living in our own.

We will speak to our training in BioDynamic Cranio Sacral Therapy. We will also explore gender and power dynamics in queer relationships, as well as the potency of sexual power, and how healthy sexual relations can be cultivated through connections that have physical, emotional and spiritual components.

This will be explored within the context of femme solidarity and de-centering masculinity within queer relationships and queer communities. We will have a participatory activity of bringing awareness to our energetic boundaries, and exploring where our energies end and another begins. This exercise will also include a guided meditation to start from a place of grounding into our own bodies. Issues of mental, spiritual and emotional health will be discussed.

This workshop came out of conversations we have had as friends, exploring our own struggles and strengths we share. It is founded in the relations we have built between us and within our communities. We hope participants will leave with a better sense of their own energetic bodies and where their boundaries are. Further, we hope participants will leave feeling more empowered to take action in their own lives, with greater awareness of our energetic world.

Gettin’ The Chop: One Woman’s Experiences Receiving Gender Reassignment Surgery

An open discussion with a transgender woman about her recent gender reasignment surgery and her subsequent recovery. She will cover her personal physical and mental strains of recovery as well as the ins and outs of the process in general.

How One Person Herbally Supported Himself Through Top Surgery

Facilitatated by Jake Feldman

Jake Feldman will explain why he decided to herbally support himself through top surgery, how he did his research, and what his regime was. They will cover stress management, pain management, immune system boosting, and ball park costs among other things.
He thinks that there are lots of routes to take and that his story is merely one that worked for him.

Intersectional Approaches to Radical Mental Health Justice: Criminalization,  racialization, Sexism and Ableism from an Anti-Oppression and Decolonization Framework.  Based on Abla Abdelhadi’s experience of being criminalized, assaulted, tortured, forcibly hospitalized and legally charged for being a “mentally ill” Palestinian womyn in the US.

Facilitated by Abla Abdelhadi

This workshop intends to centre the experience of racialized folks and colonized folks in our analysis of ableism.  This workshop critiques mainstream approaches to mental health that neglect to address how colonialism and racism affect the violence we experience as mentally ill people.  In Conquest:  Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide Andrea Smith makes the argument that mainstream anti-violence movements in the USA must address the intersections of gender and race that Indigenous and women of colour live in, and that our strategies to combat violence within communities  “must be informed by approaches that also combat violence directed against communities, including state violence – police brutality, prisons, militarism, racism, colonialism, and economic exploitation”  (South End Press, 2005).  In this workshop we will extend Smith’s analysis to radical mental health justice movements, where we cannot address the criminaliztion of mentally ill folks without also understanding the ways racialization/colonization  affect our experiences of ableist violence and supremacy.  Abla Abdelhadi will draw on her own lived experience of being criminalized, detained, tortured, assaulted, forcibly hospitalized and legally charged for being a “mentally ill” Palestinian womyn from a Muslim background in the USA in 2011.   In the context of colonialism, imperialism and the war on terror, do “mentally ill” people of colour like Abla become cast out as “psychological terrorists”, with every aspect of our existence being attacked and threatened by the state?

Working from frameworks of anti-oppression, decolonization and solidarity, and based on Abla Abdelhadi’s lived experience and drawing from shared ideas and  the experiences of workshop participants, we will explore various ideas and strategize around ensuring that our approaches to radical mental health justice struggles have an intersectional understanding of oppression.  Some of the topics we will adress include struggling against and surviving police and state violence,  psychiatric detention, forced hospitalization and the legal “justice” systems.  Our discussions will highlight the economic oppression faced by folks who are criminalized and racialized and live with a “mental illness”.  We will also discuss living with a “diagnosis” and navigating the psychiatric/medical industrial complexes. Finally we will have discussions on centering trauma in our struggles and movements, and shifting our focus to community support and interdependence from our ableist focus on “self-care”.

It Starts With Us: Transforming our Personal Relationships for Political Change

Facilitated by Arti Mehta and Chanelle Gallant

We all fuck up. How can we be accountable when we’ve caused harm? Liberatory relationships rely on being able to transform how we respond to harm and violence. Often we have been taught to turn to punishment or avoidance as the only solutions to these situations. In this workshop, we radically re-configure how we deal with it when we fuck up and harm others, focusing on how to communicate in open, caring and accountable ways. Using the principles of transformative justice and the collective wisdom in the room, we will practice the self-accountability skills that are foundational to the loving relationships we all deserve, and that work to end the prison industrial complex.

Listening To The Land: A Morning Meditation

Facilitated by Jeff Tanaka

Taking place at Guelph Arboretum, this session will help us think through the ways in which our bodies have become involved in processes of colonization in relation to the land. We will focus on contemplative and meditative practices to ground us for the day. The environment around us will serve as a non-conventional source of knowledge for thinking through the ways in which we move through the world.

Migrant and Health Justice: Examining the Roots and Building Health for All from the Ground Up

Facilitated by Nanky Rai

This workshop seeks to engage participants in the struggle for health for all. The workshop will provide an overview of the cuts to Refugee Healthcare as a case study while also talking about the root causes of migration, processes of ongoing colonization and immigration policy changes through which migrants are becoming increasingly uninsured and precarious in Canada. The end goal is to determine how community organizers and workers can come together with migrant communities in the fight for access to all services without fear of debt, denial of service, detention and deportations. This will be an interactive workshop with discussion questions, brainstorming exercises and opportunities for participants to share their experience to build collective analysis and solutions.

MIND/BODY/SPIRIT CONNECTION: Is Science Catching Up to Indigenous Wisdom? 

Facilitated by Zainab Amadahy

The dominant knowledge paradigm regards science, philosophy and spirituality as
separate fields of knowledge. Indigenous knowledge is denied, ridiculed or regarded
as folklore, even though it is simultaneously stolen and sold for profit. This workshop
explores the intersections of Indigenous Knowledge related to healing and wellness with
the findings of new science. In this inter-active session, participants will experience the
mind/body connection as well as our inter-connectedness with all of life. Together we
will affirm that separation is an illusion.

Medicine Walk

Facilitated by Jan Sherman

Come for a Medicine Walk through the arboretum and be introduced to the different plants (medicines) that grow in the area, and then take a short personal Medicine Walk (a time alone in a mindful way being aware of the natural world around you and how it might offer you support/give messages that will help you in your life).

Red Lips [Cages For Black Girls]

Facilitated by Kyisha Williams

This film begins to explore black/racialized/criminalized/queer/trans/ identity and its relationship to the prison industrial complex. it articulates links between interpersonal and systemic violence- while celebrating the (sexy) ways in which we survive and celebrate ourselves.

Following the short film will be a question/answer period and discussion about institutional violence and its complicated affects on our emotional, spiritual and physical bodies and relationships.

Re-embodying Our Politic

Facilitated by Aruna Zehra, Gunjan Chopra and Rocio Velasquez Guzman; a group of racialized queer cis women committed to moving beyond shaming and complacency, and back into our bodies and towards liberation.

Why are ‘radical’ communities still complicit in hetero-patriarchal body shaming? How do we move beyond the ‘cute vs. sexy’ queer imaginary of queer bodies? Are we replicating capitalism when we engage in economies of ‘desirability’? How can we move away from disembodied political movements in a way that intentionally considers our bodies and our whole selves without perpetuating colonialism? Can we talk about health in an anti-colonial language? How do we survive oppression without feeling judged for the decisions we make concerning our bodies? How do we negotiate feeling good on a daily basis, doing the work we do, while looking critically at the impacts of our actions? These are some questions that our collective aims to raise in our conversation with participants at the Every Body Conference. Linking fatness and the body to all of these questions is how we have begun talking about where our fat, hairy, queer bodies fit into body-hating communities, movements, and worlds that constantly reinvent the wheel and slip into the same systems of oppression which those who came before us fought.

This session will include conversation, writing, feeling, and will begin and end with an optional meditation exercise. With all that in mind, we hope to remind ourselves to acknowledge and honor our bodies and the ways they mirror our individual and collective experiences and how they impact those (of us) who are consistently erased.

Resources, Rights and Wriggling Out: Opposition to and Navigation of the Oppressive Mental Health System in Ontario
Facilitated by Griffin Epstein

The “mental health” system of social services is a patriarchal, racist institution that works in tandem with policing forces to enact violence on people whose bodies, spiritualities, behaviours and ideas threaten white supremacy and colonial capitalism. For many of us mad/disabled folks and survivors of trauma, it is also a system that we are or may at some point become entangled in.  It can be helpful to understand the ins and outs of this system and prepare ourselves as best we can for our contact with it; that way, we might strategically use it – or at least reduce its harm to us.

This workshop is part practical teach-in on navigating the “mental health services” arm of the medical industrial complex in Ontario and part open discussion/brainstorm on creating trauma-informed communities of care. The information will be drawn from facilitator griffin epstein’s 5 years of front-line mental health work within the drop-in and community health clinic network in Toronto, as well as from their personal experiences of psychiatrization and the complexities of creating non-stigmatizing alternative systems of community support.

The Joys and Power of Gender Performance Through Clothes, Accessories and Mannerisms

Facilitated by Janice Lee

Is wearing lipstick not feminist? Is shaving your legs a hippie copout? Must all anarchists wear black? Must all queers enjoy perma-glitter? Is it wrong to like wearing high heels, or bomber jackets, or power suits because of their gender baggage? Our appearance is constantly subject to expectations from mainstream patriarchal capitalism and even our chosen pockets of radical communities. This discussion will centre around the idea that knowledge and choice in how we dress is part of reclaiming power in our own bodies. We will share stories on the joys of outward performance and talk about clothes, hair, and makeup! With a radical critical analysis, of course. DIY accessorizing tips are welcome.

The Magnificence of Taking Care of Each Other

Facilitated by Mia Mingus

How can we re-imagine, reveal and, for many of us, remember what collective and community care could look like in this historical moment? Mingus will challenge us to ground our understanding of collective care in our everyday lives, informed by communities who have been practicing and grappling with community care for generations. Using a framework of Disability Justice and Magnificence, we can understand collective care as necessarily uncomfortable, messy, potentially transformative and Ugly. it requires us to embrace the Ugly, access and interdependency and resist notions of beauty, inclusion and independence. it also asks us to be visionary, instead of reactionary, dreaming and working for the well-being of our communities for generations to come.

The Root of All Love: Strategies for Decolonization

Facilitated by Demetria Jackson

The practice of love is necessary for self- and community preservation. In this workshop, we will expose what the systems of domination teach us about what it means to love ourselves, our bodies, our partners, our families, and our communities. We will explore the ways in which we can decolonize ourselves and discuss the importance of grounding ourselves and our movement in an ethic of love.

Touch Me, I’m Sick

Facilitated by Tara-Michelle Ziniuk and Mikiki

This workshop aims to be a part of larger efforts to create communities, institutions and movements that consider and are inclusive and accessible to people living with chronic pain/illness. Specifically, the focus will be on the intersections of identities and bodies as queer, trans, sexual and/or ill. Attention will be given to classism within service provision, looking at this as an additional overlapping marginalization, for and dialogue on these identities/identifiers. We will also address the similarities between discussions on diagnosis and sexual identity.

This workshop aims to look at both related day-to-day struggles and broader issues, issues of visibility and invisibility, outing/openness, competition and relationships. A portion of the workshop will attend to discussion of the role of allies, lovers, support and solidarity.

This workshop contains pornography, profanity and over-disclosure.

Together, Mikiki and Tara-Michelle have facilitated workshops on sex and chronic illness; performed on imagination, bodies and representation; shared shoes, lovers and enemies (but never friends) and saved each other (but never themselves). They oscilate between fish bits and vegan goose.

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Class
Facilitated by Amelia Meister
Come back to your body in this 45 minute, trauma sensitive class.
Many of us have experienced trauma in our lives. Trauma-sensitive yoga seeks to help people come back to their bodies, regain a sense of control in their lives, and move forward in the present honouring the trauma of the past as being behind them.  All poses are optional. All abilities are welcome.
Queer & Trans Family Planning 101
Facilitated by Andy Inkster
The purpose of this workshop is to come together to share questions, resources, and information about the logistics of becoming a parent and early parenthood. The focus will be on discussing how to create loving, complex and functional family models outside of nuclear family structures, through polyamory, co-parenting, parenting in community and intentional single parenthood.
The intended audience is anyone who would like to find themselves in a family way that includes children some day, as well as service providers and people who support parents in the communities. Please bring your questions and your thoughts as we talk about the choices available to us, and the challenges we face.

Wild Carrot – Plant teacher and ally for natural, conscious contraception

Facilitated by Robin Rose Bennett

Magical, shape-shifting Daucus carota, aka wild carrot or Queen Anne’s
lace is a hormonal and sexual-reproductive system tonic, a healing plant
for kidneys and thyroid, and most intriguingly, has a 2,000 year long
history of use as a natural contraceptive. Join herbalist, Robin Rose
Bennett as she shares her decades-long fascination with this plant and
the results of her two, small grass-roots studies. Robin will candidly
discuss the pros and cons of allying with wild carrot for conscious
contraception.

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