Photo credit Toronto Star Photographic Archive
Every year, at the end of November, you wake up with the same bombardment of emails from brands advertising their huge sales and big promotions, pushing things onto you that, quite frankly, you probably don’t need. But that’s what Black Friday has become about. Just the need for MORE. More sales, more money, more things. More. More. More.
Well, we’ve got a big problem with that.
At Cambio Market, we use this time of year as an opportunity to be extra thoughtful and intentional with what we do. Rather than deep discounts, we don’t offer any at all. Instead, we choose to partner with carefully researched organizations who are tackling complex and meaningful causes, and aim to raise awareness of the issues in the world we live. Last year, we partnered with Lifeline Syria, an organization benefitting Syrian refugees in Canada.
This year, with the revelations around sexual harassment and violence, the #MeToo campaign on social media that brought to light the harassment women face everyday, the increasing hostility we’ve seen towards people of colour, and the numerous missing and murdered indigenous women that remain unresolved, we had our work cut out for us.
People we love have been impacted by sexual violence. Like all women, I personally have experienced sexual harassment and one too many “close calls”. We’ve read the reports. We know the numbers. Indigenous, Black, disabled, younger and older women experience the highest levels of violence in our communities.
And so, we’re proud to announce that this year, we’ve partnered with Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape (TRCCMWAR), an organization working at the intersections of race, gender, and sexual violence. They serve anyone who identifies as a survivor of violence, including trans people, non-binary folks, cisgender men and women, and youth.
To dive deeper into what TRCCMWAR does, we interviewed Bristy Chakrabarty, one of TRCCMWAR’s counsellors/advocates to give you more information on how this organization benefits the people they serve.
I began as a crisis line volunteer in 2013 with TRCC. From there, I started working in various contract positions such as an emergency backup counsellor, a trainer for new crisis line volunteers, and currently I assist with coordinating the 24 hour crisis line run by 110 volunteers.
Bristy Chakrabarty is one of TRCCMWAR’s Counsellors and has been involved since 2013
I’ve always had a niche for the movement against sexual violence. Even as a young woman, I’ve tried to practice a critical feminist framework in my work and my academic life. As a woman of colour myself, I was passionate about finding an organization that supported people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
For those reasons, TRCC was a very reasonable option for me when I started looking for an organization that could support the anti-sexual violence movement. There are also very few organizations left that are a true collective.
Our bottom line is that we provide services for anyone and everyone. Our primary focus does end up being on women and trans folks, especially people from marginalized communities. We do several different forms of service, such as the 24-hour crisis line run by volunteers. The crisis line is free, for anyone and everyone, and anyone can call for anything they deem to be a crisis.
We do a lot of public education, workshops within the district school board, and even with other organizations. We also have an amazing program called Latin American Women’s Program (LAWP) offering support groups in Spanish, as well as face-to-face counselling in Spanish. We have several staff offering free face to face counselling, and offer support groups for specific communities. One of my coworkers offers a group for young, Black-identified folks for women and girls. We do advocacy - any form including prison support, court support, and workshops with other community organizations for young women.
One of our biggest events is Take Back The Night and the Toronto Run & Roll Against Violence.
If you’re supporting a survivor, BELIEVE them. That’s the first thing. We live in a culture where, when faced with someone who’s experienced assault, we immediately think “Who should we call? Where can we go? Here’s what you need to do.” It all comes from a good place, however, it’s important to keep in mind that we should ASK the person what they need rather than prescribing a solution. When we tell a survivor what they should or shouldn’t do, we actually further marginalize them.
If it’s their choice to get law enforcement involved or to seek legal help, then support them. But we shouldn’t be making that decision for that person.
Become engaged in whatever way your life allows you to, and however you want to. Whether it’s becoming a frontline or crisis line volunteer, or just attending our community events. Fundraising always helps. One person recently did fundraising for TRCC through their bridal shower. Monetary donations are awesome, but so is people’s time and energy.
Learn more about Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape. Starting November 24th until end of day November 28th, 20% of every Cambio Market sale will be donated to TRCCMWAR to support anti-sexual violence.
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