Social History for Social Distancing

Nursing graduates of the Women’s College Hospital School of Nursing, including Agnes Clinton, the first Black graduate, proceed to Convocation Hall at the University of Toronto, 1951. Women’s College Hospital Archive / Toronto Star.

Like so much else, the Toronto Workers’ History Project is on hiatus as the world confronts the COVID-19 crisis.

As promoters of workers’ history and participants in workers’ movements, we are thinking a lot these days about the front-line workers tasked with fighting the pandemic head-on: nurses (like those pictured above), doctors, and other medical staff. We are also in solidarity with those essential workers whose jobs require them to continue being out in the world, at heightened risk of infection: workers at grocery stores, pharmacies, take-out restaurants and other still-open businesses, delivery persons and mail carriers, cleaners, farm workers, transit operators, drivers, airport workers, and others. It is does not escape notice that many of these essential workers are among the lowest paid and most marginalized in our society. Our thoughts and support also go out, of course, to the sick and their loved ones, in Toronto and around the world.

Those of us not in any of the above groups have likely been spending a lot more time at home recently, practicing “social distancing” to protect ourselves and our neighbours alike. 

Though the TWHP will not be meeting in person in the near future, we wanted to share with you some videos from past meetings — our modest contribution to helping people find enjoyable and enriching ways to pass the time during these unusual and trying days.

We call it, “Social History for Social Distancing.”

Enjoy!

A special thank-you to Glen Richards who filmed and edited all the below videos and who curates our YouTube channel.

Japanese Canadians: Internment and Disperal
with Joy Kogawa, Susan Aihoshi, Kim Koyama, and David Kidd
3 March 2020
Emma’s Last Visit
A production of the Toronto Workers’ Theatre Group
Written by Craig Heron, Directed by Aido Jordao
12 November 2019
Gabriel Allahdua on Migrant Farm Labour in Canada
10 October 2017
Craig Heron, “Labour on the March: 150 Years of Labour Day in Toronto”
12 September 2017

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Japanese Canadians: Internment and Dispersal | March 3, 7pm

Tuesday, March 3, 7:00 p.m.
Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil St.

During World War II, over 20,000 Japanese Canadians were interned by the Canadian state and displaced from their homes and communities in British Columbia. Their businesses and homes, including a fleet of fishing boats, were seized and never returned or properly compensated for. A traumatic and damaging experience for those affected, this forced relocation was also the genesis of the Japanese Canadian community in Toronto, as many internees eventually settled in the city, where they rebuilt their lives and communities.

Join us for a discussion of this important history, featuring some of the country’s top writers and thinkers and members of Japanese Canadians for Social Justice:

  • Joy Kogawa
  • Susan Aihoshi
  • Kim Koyama

ACCESSIBILITY INFO:

Steelworkers Hall is a wheelchair accessible space. Parking is available in the lot behind the hall on a first-come first-serve basis (enter through laneway east of hall). There is also paid parking available on the street. The closest transit stops are Spadina and Nassau (510 Spadina Streetcar) and College and Beverley/St. George (506 Carlton Streetcar).

For any other accessibility questions or concerns, please contact Ed Dunsworth at edunsworth@gmail.com.

Facebook event page here.

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Writing Sex Work History | Feb. 4, 7 p.m., 120 Diner

 “Sex worker in altercation with moral reformer,” ca. 1909. As reproduced in Canada’s Oldest Profession: Sex Work and Bawdy House LegislationU of T Libraries.

Tuesday, February 4, 7:00 p.m.
120 Diner, 120 Church St., Toronto

** Note change from our usual location **

Though criminalized and pushed to the margins, sex workers have played critical roles in Toronto’s history, contributing to its economic development and fighting for the rights of queer folk and other marginalized communities. While attitudes toward sex and sex work have changed dramatically in recent decades, prostitution laws continue to marginalize and punish sex workers, and put them at high risk of violence. Generations of sex work activists have pushed back against this state of affairs, organizing for recognition of sex work as a legitimate occupation and for safe working conditions within it.

Join us for a conversation about the past and present of sex work in Toronto, featuring Laurie Bertram, historian studying sex work in the 1800s at the University of Toronto, and Mandy Goodhandy, singer, comedian, sex work advocate and author of the recently released memoir, Just Call Me Lady.

The bar will be open (cash and cards accepted).

[Please note that the venue, 120 Diner, is wheelchair accessible, but does not have a wheelchair accessible bathroom. The closest accessible bathroom is located one block south at Versus Coffee.]

Facebook event page.

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Emma Goldman in Toronto

Tuesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m.
Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil St.

The year 2020 will mark the 80th anniversary of the death of anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman in Toronto in May 1940. Deported from the United States in 1919, Goldman spent part of her exile in Toronto during the 1920s and 1930s.

Join us for an evening of remembering and learning about Emma Goldman’s life and death in Toronto. 

Featuring:

Emma’s Last Visit 

A production of the Toronto Workers’ Theatre Group

Written by Craig Heron. Directed by Aida Jordao.

&

“80 Years Later… Emma Goldman Is Alive and Well and Working on Spadina Avenue”

A presentation by Franca Iacovetta (University of Toronto)
and Cynthia Wright (York University)

This talk is based on a book project that revisits Goldman’s exile and explores still understudied themes, such as how her experience as a political deportee, exile, and self-described “woman without a country” shaped her understanding of race, nation, internationalism, and exile politics. The talk will focus in particular on how Goldman was remembered, inter-generationally, and by whom in the city’s official, political, and popular memory.

Facebook event page here.

ACCESSIBILITY INFO:

Steelworkers Hall is a wheelchair accessible space. Parking is available in the lot behind the hall on a first-come first-serve basis (enter through laneway east of hall). There is also paid parking available on the street. The closest transit stops are Spadina and Nassau (510 Spadina Streetcar) and College and Beverley/St. George (506 Carlton Streetcar).

For any other accessibility questions or concerns, please contact Ed Dunsworth at edunsworth@gmail.com.

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Workers on Film: An Evening with CLiFF

Tuesday, October 8, 7:00 p.m.
Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil St.

Imagine a world where thousands of films are made about workers and the conditions under which they live, work, fight, and succeed in their daily lives! Instead, the world of labour has found it increasingly difficult to communicate its message as fewer and fewer people have greater control over the means of communication – the media.

It is more important than ever that working people be able to tell their own stories in their own words and in their own images.

With the wide availability of digital still and video cameras, camera-phones, and other tools, activists can now make their stories – but still find it difficult to exhibit their narratives. The Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF) is that venue.

Hear from three CLiFF Board members, watch some short films, and discuss how you can play a role in sharing our collective messages!

ACCESSIBILITY INFO:

Steelworkers Hall is a wheelchair accessible space. Parking is available in the lot behind the hall on a first-come first-serve basis (enter through laneway east of hall). There is also paid parking available on the street. The closest transit stops are Spadina and Nassau (510 Spadina Streetcar) and College and Beverley/St. George (506 Carlton Streetcar).

For any other accessibility questions or concerns, please contact Ed Dunsworth at edunsworth@gmail.com.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/508628353200019/?active_tab=about

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Toronto Workers and World War II + Annual General Meeting

Tuesday, September 17, 7:00 p.m.
Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil St.

September 20 is the 80th anniversary Canada declaring war on Germany in 1939. The next six years of World War II shook up the lives of workers in Canada and around the world. Mikhail Bjorge, author of the forthcoming book The Workers’ War, will talk to us about how workers in Toronto waged their own war on the home front.

The meeting will begin with the TWHP Annual General Meeting.

ACCESSIBILITY INFO:

Steelworkers Hall is a wheelchair accessible space. Parking is available in the lot behind the hall on a first-come first-serve basis (enter through laneway east of hall). There is also paid parking available on the street. The closest transit stops are Spadina and Nassau (510 Spadina Streetcar) and College and Beverley/St. George (506 Carlton Streetcar).

For any other accessibility questions or concerns, please contact Ed Dunsworth at edunsworth@gmail.com.

Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/392754041434713/

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Whatever Happened to Gay Liberation?

A discussion with Tom Hooper and Tim McCaskell

Tuesday, June 11, 7:00 p.m.
Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil St.

It’s been fifty years since the Stonewall riot that launched a new phase of gay organizing and since the controversial amendments to the Canadian Criminal Code that allegedly “decriminalized” gay sex. In the decade after those events, new political organizing within Toronto’s LGBTQ community fought for a radical vision of “Gay Liberation.” Organizations, newspapers, demonstrations, and celebrations blossomed. But the impact of that political challenge soon faded. What happened? Our two speakers will address this history.

Tom Hooper wrote a PhD dissertation on the organizing against the bathhouse raids of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and has been a leading voice of the Anti-69 movement that has recently challenged the celebrations of the 1969 criminal reforms.

Tim McCaskell has been a prominent activist in the LGTBQ community for decades and is the author of Queer Progress: From Homophobia to Homonationalism.

Facebook event page here.

ACCESSIBILITY INFO:

Steelworkers Hall is a wheelchair accessible space. Parking is available in the lot behind the hall on a first-come first-serve basis (enter through laneway east of hall). There is also paid parking available on the street. The closest transit stops are Spadina and Nassau (510 Spadina Streetcar) and College and Beverley/St. George (506 Carlton Streetcar).

For any other accessibility questions or concerns, please contact Craig Heron at cheron@yorku.ca.

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Toronto 1919 Video!

Video from the latest production of the Toronto Workers’ Theatre Group, Toronto 1919. Recorded at the General Strike: Cabaret 1919, at the Tranzac Club, 14 May 2019.

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Organizing Precarious Academic Labour

with Deborah Littman, Roland Nelson, Stephanie Ross, and Richard Wellen

Tuesday, March 19, 7:00 p.m.
Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil St.

In recent decades, universities have turned increasingly to the use of poorly paid instructors on short-term contracts without any job security. Today a majority of university classes are taught by these workers. Since the 1970s, precariously employed university workers in Toronto have organized to improve the terms of their employment, first in the Graduate Assistants Association, then the Canadian Union of Educational Workers, and finally in the Canadian Union of Public Employees. They have bargained hard to win some decent working conditions, often having to engaging in long, bitter strikes to make any gains. Deborah Littman, Roland Nelson, and Richard Wellen were active in those campaigns at Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, and York University, and will talk about their experiences in building unions on these campuses. Stephanie Ross, a professor of Labour Studies, will discuss the broad trends of precarious academic labour. Join us for a lively and important discussion.

Facebook event page here.

ACCESSIBILITY INFO:

Steelworkers Hall is a wheelchair accessible space. Parking is available in the lot behind the hall on a first-come first-serve basis (enter through laneway east of hall). There is also paid parking available on the street. The closest transit stops are Spadina and Nassau (510 Spadina Streetcar) and College and Beverley/St. George (506 Carlton Streetcar).

For any other accessibility questions or concerns, please contact Ed Dunsworth at edunsworth@gmail.com.

 

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Archives of Ontario Tour – 28 May, 1pm

The Archives Committee has organized a tour of the Archives of Ontario (located on York University’s campus) for TWHP members on May 28th at 1 pm. For more information and to RSVP, contact Elizabeth Novak at elizabeth.novak61@yahoo.ca.

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