Canadian Anti-Hate Network
So much of mutual aid work goes unappreciated and undersung all year round. With the holidays upon us, we would like to take a moment to give thanks for this integral labour.
It’s not always as attention-grabbing as their other work, but these actions of community care and solidarity are perfect for what can be a hard time of year -- especially if that year is 2021. That is why we want to take some time to thank (and boost) the good work being done across the country.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and could easily have been much longer. The winter season is a particularly busy time for these organizations, many of which do their best to provide food, clothing, and supplies to vulnerable people during harsh weather and challenging conditions.
Starting on the east coast, there is Halifax Mutual Aid. HMA is a group of people committed to taking action against houselessness in Halifax by building small crisis shelters for those who need them. Watertight and insulated, the shelters built by the group help as many as they can with immediate needs, while they also advocate for better and more socially focused, not-for-profit housing that is actually accessible by average Nova Scotians.
“We demand the most obvious and humane act from those who claim to represent us – house those in need now,” HMA writes on their website. “We will continue building and providing shelter to those in need until they are housed permanently.”
The Workers’ Action Centre is a Toronto-based organization “committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment.”
Beyond advocating for more rights for the underserved and underpaid working on the front lines during the pandemic, the WAC organizes education and training programs that empower workers and makes communities stronger by ensuring that people know their rights.
Mutual Aid Society Winnipeg aims to bring people together during the pandemic and provide community-based mutual aid and support across the city. The holidays are a particularly busy time as the group of dedicated volunteers distributes meals to help keep people fed during what can be a difficult time of year.
Informal and completely community-based, other avenues of support can be found on the organization’s Facebook page, where people in need can connect with those who want to help.
Harm Reduction Support or HARES Outreach is a grassroots mutual aid network in Amiskwaciwâskahikan focused on advocacy, street outreach and harm reduction. Formerly titled Treaty 6 Outreach, HARES is currently in need of funds for harm reduction supplies, snacks, coffee, bottled water, hand warmers, and they are also taking food donations for Christmas and New Years, which will be busy times for the organization as they deliver food.
Beyond these necessities, HARES uses donations to help support people who face unexpected and unmanageable expenses.
Water Warriors YEG are a group of inclusive volunteers that collaborate on a weekly basis to bring water, food and supplies to the streets of Edmonton. Founded in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, the Water Warriors are another example of boots-on-the-ground mutual aid programs that can help communities struggling during the most trying times.
Besides monetary donations, there are a number of items listed as needed for donation that will allow people living rough to receive help and support with dignity. They also always need volunteers and welcome any time you can spare.
Prairie Sage Protectors is made up of diaspora, Black and Indigenous peoples, “organizing towards a liberated, anti-colonial world.” Providing services across Amiskwaciy (Treaty 6 territory), since many pandemic supports were repealed, the group tells its followers that requests for mutual aid have tripled.
They also regularly boost the campaigns of other mutual aid organizations in their area. If you are interested in volunteering or contributing to the grocery fund, check out their posted links.
The mission of the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre is to provide a safe, trans-inclusive, non-judgmental environment for women from all walks of life, who live and/or work in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. To achieve this goal, the centre provides supportive surroundings with meals, counselling, advocacy and programs. Some of these programs include advocacy, Chinese seniors outreach, cultural programming, housing outreach, kitchen program, skills development, Indigenous women’s projects and more.
The organization says 90% of any donations go directly into helping women on the DTES. Their in-person programs have been hard hit by the pandemic so every little bit helps.
Since June 2015, the International Anti-Fascist Defense Fund “provides emergency support to anti-fascists anywhere in the world, whenever they find themselves in a difficult situation as a result of their stand against hate.” Their efforts have contributed $150,000 USD to over 650 anti-fascists and anti-racists in 22 countries facing hardships like medical bills, lack of a safe place to stay, and assisting their families.