Contributors

Editors from the Marvellous Grounds Team:

Alvis Choi a.k.a. Alvis Parsley, born and raised in Hong Kong, is a queer nonbinary artist whose artistic traces could be seen in Toronto, Montreal, Faroe Islands, Berlin, Cardiff, Seoul, and Hong Kong. Alvis holds a Master of Environmental Studies from York University, with an area of concentration in Performance as Pedagogy and Community Transformation. They have presented at various academic conferences, exhibitions and festivals. Alvis is currently based in Ottawa, serving the Chinese seniors population within the community health setting. Prior to this, Alvis’ time was dedicated to the work of Six Degrees Health and Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter. Alvis is a collective member of Marvellous Grounds, and has been involved with the work of Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) since 2015.

Mengzhu Fu is Assistant Editor of 2021’s Special Focus on Prison Abolition. Mengzhu is a PhD student in Gender, Feminist and Women’s Studies at York University, currently living in Tkaronto. In the past 16 years, they have been involved in grassroots activism and queer-led community organizing on issues of racism, gender-based violence, climate justice and on building Asian solidarity with Indigenous sovereignty struggles primarily in Aotearoa (also known as New Zealand). In their artistic work, they enjoy zine-making, using traditional art media, learning digital art, tattooing, and creating comics. Their PhD topic is on Indigenous and Asian diasporic solidarity in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Canada-occupied Turtle Island in grassroots communities and organizing.

Jin Haritaworn is supervising editor of this blog and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University. They are Principal Investigator of the research projects – a SSHRC IDG called “Marvellous Grounds”, an Early Research Award called “Making Space, Taking Space” and a SSHRC IG called “Subversive Performances of Quarantine: Organizing across Differences at the Conjuncture of Protest and the Pandemic” – that financially supported the Marvellous Grounds team. Along with their fellow editors, Jin provides hands-on editorial assistance to contributors. They also provide mentorship to the editorial team. Jin locates their research in a tradition of activist scholarship, where we try to be in the service of communities and divest from competition, individualism, extraction, and other values of the racial neoliberal University. You can learn more about Jin’s work on the York website.

Río Rodriguez is a Toronto-based latin@ queer educator working in queer, trans and POC communities. Río holds a Master’s of Environmental Studies from York University. Their major portfolio was nominated for the outstanding paper series and examines the history of Toronto’s Church and Wellesley district. Rio’s work focuses on key moments in the Village’s history that highlight the simultaneous displacement and erasure of queer and trans bodies of colour from public space. It interrogates urban and neighbourhood planning that has claimed lasting public space for white gay safety while simultaneously criminalizing trans people, people of colour and sex working people. Rio is also a nurse working in reproductive health/labour and delivery.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Canadian artist, activist and scholar. He lives and works in Tkaronto (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and is an Assistant Professor in the School of the Arts at McMaster University. He has worked since 2014 as faculty and as a designer for The Banff Centre. Ware is the inaugural artist-in-residence for Daniels Spectrum, a cultural centre in Toronto, and a founding member of Black Lives Matter Toronto. For 13 years, he was the coordinator of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s youth program. During that time Ware oversaw the creation of the Free After Three program and the expansion of the youth program into a multi pronged offering. He has published four books and in 2020 co-edited (with Rodney Diverlus and Sandy Hudson) Until We Are Free: Reflections on Black Lives Matter in Canada, a bestselling collection of reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement in Canada.

Contributors of 2021 Special Focus on Prison Abolition (Ongoing):

Erin Baird is a Master’s student in Environmental Studies at York University. Her work focuses on the topics of extractivism, memory, and settler colonialism, focusing specifically on the mining industry’s presence and power in the city of Toronto. She is currently working on an online resource called “Extractive Entanglements: Visualizing Mining Industry Presence and Absence in the City of Toronto” which will be available in Fall 2021.

Jc Elijah (Eli) M. Bawuah is an Urban Planner at Urban Strategies Inc. with multi-disciplinary experience gained by working in a spectrum of city and community-building roles. He has worked on development applications, master plans, social plans, mobility/transportation projects across Ontario. Eli has co-developed equity initiatives centering the lived experiences and voices of diverse urban stakeholders, while fostering collaborative environments that generate values of reciprocity and sustainability. With the goal to advance diversity and representation in the planning profession, Eli co-founded the Mentoring Initiative for Indigenous and Planners of Colour (MIIPOC) where he focuses on establishing a national network between experienced planners and emerging planners from underrepresented communities. As a Committee Member of the City of Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ Council Advisory Body he advises and strategizes policies, aimed at removing barriers faced by the queer community

Tings Chak is an internationalist artist and author of Undocumented: The Architecture of Migrant Detention. She leads the Art Department of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and her work contributes to working class and popular struggles across the Global South. 

Gunjan Chopra is a queer neurodivergent punjabi immigrant and settler, based in Toronto/Tkaronto, Dish with One Spoon territory. She is an acupuncturist, organizer, and dreamer. She currently organizes with People’s Healing Fund and Bloordale neighbourhood response group, with other projects on hiatus including Toronto/Tkaronto Mutual Aid and BIPOC Grief Circle. She is interested in the skills, structures, and practices that get us closer to collective liberation and right relationship with the land and each other.

Charlie Costello (they/them) is a writer, photographer, a Love Labs 2SLGBTQ+ resident at the Art Gallery of Mississauga through 2022, community organizer from Brampton, and MES graduate (’20) who was grateful to learn from the brilliant participants of the prison abolition panel in this edition of Marvellous Grounds.

Kafia (she/her) is a black feminist, artist, writer, and community organizer who has actively worked with various diasporic communities in the GTA. Currently, Kafia is pursuing a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, specializing in the racialization of space, digital culture, and food justice. She believes that food is a political tool that can dismantle social inequalities, colonial institutions and foster Black liberation.

Rosina Kazi is the lead singer of the radical electronic duo lal. They are a queer/gender fluid, culturally Muslim identified artist, and they help run the alternative arts space unit 2. The work that Rose does with her/their art and community work is based in abolitionist, healing, queer/trans and harm reduction frameworks.

Kenley (she/her) is a writer, activist, and woman about town who is currently completing her Masters in Environmental Studies at York University. Her areas of focus include prison abolition, platform capitalism, and Asian-American studies.

El-Farouk Khaki (he/him) is a lawyer whose practice since 1993 focuses on refugee claims based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression & HIV. He is a co-owner of the Glad day Bookshop, the world’s oldest LGBTIQ bookshop. He is an activist, public speaker, writer, author & media commentator on: Islam, LGBTIQ/human rights, refugees, politics, racism, HIV, & queer Parenting. El-Farouk is the founder of Salaam: Queer Muslim Community (1991), and co-founder & imam of el-Tawhid Juma Circle: The Unity Mosque (2009). He is ordained as a Reverend & officiates marriage for all orientations and genders. He is featured in a biopic ‘The Accidental Activist’ by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and is a TedX speaker (We Resist: A Queer Muslim Perspective). His awards include the “Excellence in Spirituality” Award – Pride Toronto (2006) and the Community One Steinert & Ferreiro Award. In 2020, he was inducted into the Arquives National Portrait Collection. El-Farouk’s writings include Writings include a children’s book titled “Moondragon in the Mosque Garden” co-authored with Troy Jackson. He is currently working on a book exploring Islam, intersectional identities, global issues, sexuality, refugees, social justice and spirituality.

Bridget Liang is a mixed race, queer, transfeminine, autistic, disabled, fat fangirl. They’re a PhD candidate in the Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies Program at York University, a community researcher, workshop and group facilitator, performance artist, and fiction writer. Much of their work revolves around the intersections of autistic, trans, and BIPOC experiences, and storytelling research methods.

Gita Madan is an educator, researcher, and community organizer in Toronto. Her work primarily focuses on racial justice within the context of schooling, and she is the co-founder of Education Not Incarceration who successfully campaigned for the removal of the School Resource Officer policing program from the TDSB in 2017. She is deeply invested in abolition both as a vision as well as a day-to-day practice.

Sunanda Mesquita (she/they) is a visual artist, curator, and co-founder of Anti*colonial Fantasies und WE DEY x SPACE in Vienna, Austria. (we-dey.in) Their artistic practice focuses on the possibilities of a radical, utopian, queer, feminist collectivity of Black people and People of Color and centers around community, solidarity, and belonging. Their illustrations can be found under the alias @decolonial_killjoy and on decolonialkilljoy.com.

Moka is a Black Trans Freedom Fighter, who was racially and discriminatively victimized by the Toronto police and Ontario’s provincial and federal judicial systems back in 2015. After nearly 5 years of incarcerated activism, Moka in her regained freedom continues to fight against tragic realities of injustices faced by Black Trans/Queer/Non-Binary communities. With current societal issues of gender base and identity expressonal violence against minoritive trans peoples of colour on the rise. Moka has made her mission to get recognition and awareness to these realities of black discrimination and racial predjudice and the influencing association of the progression of Black Genetic Generational Trauma. Moka’s accomplishments in her advocacy for Trans prison reforms lead her into a life of humanitarian community activism. Moka now currently works for the University of Toronto and Ryerson University as a Research and Development Specialist alongside her community work. You can also watch Moka’s documentary “Surviving The Block” now on OUT T.V.

LeRoi Newbold completed his Master’s at York University in Black liberatory education in 2020, and has designed Afrocentric/Black focused curriculum and taught at the Africentric Alternative School for the past 10 years. For the past 6 years LeRoi has directed Freedom-School with Nauoda Robinson focusing on teaching self-love, histories of Black resistance and community organizing to Black students.

Laura Penn is a graduate student at the faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.

Snjezana Pruginic is a Wellness Professional (Trauma-informed Somatic Therapist) Community Justice Worker, and Artist with over 20 years’ experience intersecting well-being, healing, arts and community practise through trauma aware, anti-oppressive and social justice frameworks. Her work is rooted in co-creation of individual and collective spaces for healing which are restorative, transformative and holistic in nature. Her work is anchored in re-imagining what embodied abolition looks like and feels like so that we can create spaces and systems rooted in care, love and healing.

Jo Delos Reyes (she/her) is a first generation Tkaronto-based musician, youth worker, and Master of Environmental Studies master’s student. Her multidisciplinary practice is focused on issues of space access and spatial justice, with a particular interest in QTBIPOC space-making, DIY culture and the role of music in claiming space and inciting change. She has recorded, toured and performed internationally with Juno and Polaris Prize nominated band Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, and 2020 Polaris Prize shortlisted Kulintang gong ensemble Pantayo. Jo is also an organizer with the Toronto Frontline Workers Collective, a grassroots advocacy and support group for frontline workers.

Julia Robertson is a white non-binary queer femme. They’re a Master’s Student of Communication and Culture and always happy to stay late to clean after an event. Their work focuses on trans reproductive justice, abortion, queer family, pregnancy, and prison abolition.

Sabat is an artist, graduate student, and sustainable transportation planner based in the Greater Toronto Area. You can find her on Twitter @Sabatintay.

Sabika (she/her) is a recent graduate from the Master in Environmental Studies (MES) – Planning program at York University. Sabika research interests include Urban Politics & Planning, and Urban Governance in the Global South, where she focuses on the Territorialization of Muslims in Indian cities and the criminalization of their spatial politics . She is an editor and member of Jamhoor, a Left media platform for radical voices from South Asia and its diasporas, and currently working as a staff member at the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.

Swathi Sekhar is a queer, tamil femme engaged in various liberation struggles on Turtle Island and elsewhere. She has been a collective member of the Prisoners Correspondence Project, a penpal and resource program for LGBTQ prisoners since 2011, and she is currently on the organizing committee for the Abolition 2020 Convergence. She works to integrate an abolitionist framework within her legal practice, particularly in the context of migrant detention.

Edward Hon-Sing Wong is a doctoral candidate at York University’s social work PhD program with a research focus on social work abolition/abolitionist social work, and a founding member of the Lausan Collective, a group of Hong Kong anti-authoritarian leftists building transnational left solidarity and struggle through writing, translating, and organizing. Wong is also a former chair of Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter.

Aanya Wood is a DJ, producer and organizer based in Toronto, the Great Lakes Region and traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee, Anishnaabek, Huron-Wendat and Mississaugas of the New Credit peoples. She is Director with Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project and an organizer for #justiceformoka.

Contributors of Issue #2:

nisha ahuja is co-founder and director of Soma Ayurveda + Integrative Wellness, created alongside MeLisa Moore, a Black and Cherokee justice, healing, and Dharma practitioner who has contributed to nisha’s spiritual journey and political understandings immensely.
nisha practices and offers Ayurvedic Medicine and Bodywork, Holistic Yoga, Reiki and Attmic Energy Healing and is also an actor, physical theatre creator, playwright, singer/songwriter, and art, wellness, and justice educator, who has shared these offerings across Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, and India. She is dedicated to dissolving the boundaries between art, traditional/ancient medicines, spirituality, and politic, and believes that art and healing practices are revolutionary and fundamental to our collective liberation.
nisha was an actor with the National Arts Centre Resident Acting Company, and an artist-in-residence at Buddies in Bad Times, Canadian Stage, Cahoots Theatre, The Balacao (Goa, India), and Pattio Taller (Puerto Rico). Her plays include Yoga Cannibal, Un-Settling (Canadian Theatre Review, January 2016), and Cycle of a Sari (excerpt in Refractions: Solo, Playwright Canada Press, 2014), and 30 People Watching co-written with Amelia Sargisson (ReView: An Anthology Of Plays Committed to Social Justice, Sense Publishers, 2016). nisha is a graduate of  York University majoring in Theatre (Creative Ensemble) , minoring in International Development. She is also a graduate of the Centre for Ayurveda and Indian Systems of Healing. www.somaintegrativewellness.com

Cherish Violet Blood is an actor, storyteller, comedian, activist and Blackfoot woman. She is a graduate of the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto, ON and has performed all over North America. Select credits include creator/performer in Material Witness (Spiderwoman Theatre in residence at The Red House in Syracuse, NY), creator/performer in Making Treaty 7 directed by Blake Brooker and Michelle Thrush in Calgary, AB, the lead role in Maria Gets A New Life by Cliff Cardinal (Summerworks Festival). One of Cherish’s favourite roles is playing Annie Cook in The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway. As a natural comedian Cherish has hosted CD Release Parties for such artists as Cris Derksen, Tara Williamson, Timber Timbre and Fiver as well as community events and fundraisers. Cherish enjoys traditional hand drumming, contemporary singing and has trained with Micah Barnes at the Banff Centre Vocal Intensive.

kumari giles is a queer, genderqueer, mixed, Sri Lankan multi-disciplinary artist, movement storyteller, logistics nerd and food enthusiast. As a survivor and space changer they believe in art and movement as a tool for empowerment and healing. They are one of the co-organizers of the Unapologetic Burlesque Showcase, dedicated to providing anti-racist and queer burlesque performance space, and a collective member of ILL NANA DiverseCity Dance Company, a grassroots queer positive multiracial dance collective that is currently expanding their full length dance work FIRE (2014). kumari wrote and presented their first one-person show titled things i cannot speak (2015) at Rhubarb Festival. Community taught and held, kumari is driven by a passion to find balance between logic, creation, learning, healing, critique and love, and are continuously inspired by the communities that surround them.

Kapwa Collective is a group of Filipinx* Canadian artists, critical thinkers, and healers who work towards bridging narratives between the Indigenous and the Diasporic, and the Filipinx and the Canadian. Kapwa Collective functions as a mutual support group based on the core value of “kapwa”. Virgilio G. Enriquez, founder of Sikolohiyang Pilipino (Filipino Psychology), initially proposed a concept of personhood centered on this core value, as described by Katrin de Guia: “Kapwa is a Tagalog term widely used when addressing another with the intention of establishing a connection. It reflects a viewpoint that beholds the essential humanity recognizable in everyone, therefore linking (including) people rather than separating (excluding) them from each other. Enriquez felt that this orientation was an expression of ‘humanness at its highest level’.”
Kapwa Collective believes in creating relationships with Indigenous Peoples around the world, as we seek to understand our own identities as diasporic people and settlers on Turtle Island. Increasingly, we understand that incorporating Indigenous knowledge, systems, beliefs, and practices is important towards our survival as a species in this world that is in a deep ecological crisis.
* We use the term Filipinx to acknowledge the fluidity of gender identity in our communities. kapwacollective.tumblr.com

Ange Loft is the Associate Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre as well as a multi-disciplinary artist and performer from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. Ange is an ardent collaborator, arts advocate and amateur historian available for speaking engagements and hands on workshops. She specializes in and facilitates interdisciplinary creation, arts based research, oral history, outdoor performance, community art design, wearable sculpture and project planning. Ange is also a Juno and Polaris nominated vocalist with YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN. angeloft.ca

Kama La Mackerel is a tio’tia:ke/Montreal-based performer, writer, poet, story-teller, curator and multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores aesthetic practices as forms of resistance and/or healing for marginalized communities. Using photography, poetry, textiles, performance and digital arts, Kama’s work is both deeply personal and political, articulating an anti-colonial praxis through cultural production. Kama is the co-founder of Qouleur, an annual arts festival and healing space by and for queer and trans artists of colour, and the founder & hostess of GENDER B(L)ENDER, Montréal’s monthly queer open stage. Kama was born in Mauritius, immigrated to India as a young adult, and has been living in tio’tia:ke/Montréal since 2012. Kama just completed an 8-months artist residency in the Faculty of Education at McGill University, and she is presently working on her new one-woman spoken-word show, also the title of her upcoming poetry collection My Body Is the Ocean.

Lisa Myers is an independent curator, artist and assistant lecturer in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Her curatorial practice considers the varied values and functions of elements such as time, sound, and knowledge. Recent curatorial projects include three touring exhibitions, wnoondwaamin | we hear them (2016), Recast (2014) and Reading the Talk (2014), and her upcoming project Carry Forward will open at the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery in September 2017. Myers has an MFA in Criticism and Curatorial practice from OCAD University. She is Toronto and Port Severn based and is a member of Beausoleil First Nation.

Amandeep Kaur Panag is a queer Sikh Punjabi parent, community organizer, sexual health educator and counsellor living in Toronto. Amandeep has always had a passion for social justice with a foundation in community activism that has included work on immigrant and refugee rights, First Nations’ sovereignty, food security, health promotion and women & youth empowerment. More recently, Amandeep has been focused on the inspiration and challenges offered by parenting, relationships, self-reflective healing, storytelling and local community building. They are currently completing a Masters degree at York University. Amandeep loves being mom to two amazing kids and is working on reclaiming and creating radical queer and Sikh family legacies.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a Lambda award winning queer, disabled femme writer and cultural worker of Burgher/Tamil, Irish and Roma ascent. She is the author of Dirty RiverBodymapLove CakeConsensual Genocide and co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities, co-founder of Mangos with Chili and PDA, and a lead artist with Sins Invalid. She will ride for Three Fires Confederacy Territories forever. Brownstargirl.org

Jada Reynolds-Tabobondung has been plugged into the oils of various Toronto communities for years. They have had involvement in event planning in BIPOC, and queer spaces, as well as involvement in various web based media outlets and social groups. Jada has written and performed music at festivals in Ontario and Quebec with their (former) band FATHERS, and is currently hosting a monthly POC dance night at a west end queer bar.

Patrick Salvani/Ms. Nookie Galore is a genderqueer, pansexual, hairy Asian, FilipinX panda Queen and Horror Storyteller. She’s like you. But Better. He/She/They/Anything but “Bro” is the FatherMom to the largest and longest standing Queer and Trans People of Colour Community show, The Drag Musical, which showcased at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s First Thursdays. Their artwork has been profiled in CBC Arts and in the documentary No Fats, No Femmes, No Asians (2017). Their new Horror Drag Cooking Show SARAP has been featured in The Rhubarb Festival, Mayworks Festival of Working People and Arts, Allied Media Conference, in print for the book Diaspora Intimacies and soon to be in a film made in partnership with Audre’s Revenge Film Production Company. Patrick/Nookie believes in community – some people suck but there’s always good lipstick for that.

Shaunga Tagore is a queer, genderqueer, femme of colour survivor, with varied experiences of illness, madness and magic. She is a writer, performer, producer, and multidisciplinary creator. She also works as an astrologer, tarot reader and creative coach. Shaunga completed her Master’s Thesis in 2010 with a collection of poetry titled The Erasable Woman, which she eventually re-vamped into a one-woman-show (2015). Currently in 2017 Shaunga is working on a memoir/poetry collection titled Medicine for Survivors: A Year of Heartbreak and Magic. She is also developing a play titled Letters to the Universe; a fantastical, time-travelling story about a brown queer femme’s relationship to her six astrological super-queero spirit guides, and her journey with life, loss, family, death, trauma, magic and the universe. Shaunga is the co-founder of Unapologetic Burlesque, a queer, consensual, anti-racist burlesque, drag and cabaret showcase series which has produced seven hit showcases (2012-2015), and a stage at World Pride Festival (2014). 

Rahim Thawer is a registered social worker who works as a consultant and clinical counsellor on a family health team and in private practice. He operates from a harm reduction, sex positive, anti-oppressive and trauma-informed approach providing mental health counselling in queer, trans and HIV-affected communities around issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, body image and problem substance use. Rahim has been a post-secondary instructor across two Ontario colleges and has developed curriculum in the area of addiction and mental health. Rahim is also a writer and the co-editor of a local history anthology published by Coach House Books, entitled Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer. He is the co-founder of Ismaili Queers: Advocates for Pluralism and volunteers on the organizing board of Salaam Canada: Queer Muslim Community.

Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, a performer, and a thoroughly wicked woman whose heart is divided between Montreal and Toronto, unceded Indigenous territories.  She is the winner of the 2017 Dave Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBT Writers, as well as a Lambda Literary Award Nominee, for her first novel, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir (Metonymy Press), and her first poetry collection, a place called No Homeland (Arsenal Pulp Press).

Camille Turner is an explorer of race, space, home and belonging. Straddling media, social practice and performance art, her work has been presented throughout Canada and internationally. Wanted, a collaboration with Camal Pirbhai, was shown most recently at the Art Gallery of Ontario and uses the trope of fashion to transform 18th century newspaper posts by Canadian slave owners into contemporary fashion ads. Freedom Tours, created collaboratively with Cree-Metis artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle is a national commission for LandMarks 2017/Repères 2017 that consists of participatory, site-specific events that re-imagine and reanimate land and water from Black and Indigenous perspectives. The Afronautic Research Lab is a reading room in which participants encounter buried histories. The Landscape of Forgetting, a walk created collaboratively with Alana Bartol and sonic walks HUSH HARBOUR and The Resistance of Peggy Pompadour evoke sites of Black memory that reimagine the Canadian landscape. Miss Canadiana, one of her earliest projects, challenges perceptions of Canadianness and troubles the unspoken binary of “real Canadian” and “diverse other”. Camille is the founder of Outerregion, an Afrofuturist performance group. She has lectured at various institutions such as University of Toronto, Algoma University and Toronto School of Art and is a graduate of Ontario College of Art and Design and York University’s Masters in Environmental Studies program where she is currently a PhD candidate.

Editors of Issue #1:

Amandeep Kaur Panag is a queer Sikh Punjabi parent, community organizer, sexual health educator and counsellor living in Toronto. Amandeep has always had a passion for social justice with a foundation in community activism that has included work on immigrant and refugee rights, First Nations’ sovereignty, food security, health promotion and women & youth empowerment. More recently, Amandeep has been focused on the inspiration and challenges offered by parenting, relationships, self-reflective healing, storytelling and local community building. They are currently completing a Masters degree at York University. Amandeep loves being mom to two amazing kids and is working on reclaiming and creating radical queer and Sikh family legacies.

Río Rodriguez is a Toronto-based latinX queer educator working in queer, trans and POC communities. They are a Masters of Environmental Studies graduate from York University, and produced a major portfolio that examined the mapping of history of Toronto’s Church and Wellesley district, and interviewed local QTBIPOC community organizers. The project focuses on key moments in the Village’s history that highlight the histories of queer and trans people of colour in city space. They are also a nursing student at the University of Toronto.

Contributors of Issue #1:

Fatin Chowdhury is a photojournalist, multimedia storyteller, researcher and organizer. As a Studio Y social innovation fellow in Toronto, Fatin has been documenting and examining the intersections of climate and racial justice through an anti-oppressive framework. He is interested in documenting and working on projects addressing social inequality, transition to renewables, indigenous sovereignty and climate migration. Fatin is a photographer with Project Survival Media and have been featured in The Guardian, Briarpatch magazine, and The Independent, and has contributed photos and writing to 350.org, No One Is Illegal, Greenpeace Canada, UNEP, Samara Canada and the 4Rs Youth Movement.

Raven Davis is an Aboriginal, 2-Spirit multidisciplinary artist and social activist from the Anishnawbe (Ojibwa) Nation in Manitoba who has has curated over ten art exhibits in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Born and raised in Toronto and currently living in Halifax, Raven’s work spans painting, performance, traditional song/dance, design, poetry and short film. Raven’s inspiration is derived from traditional Aboriginal folk art, nature, queer and people of colour race and gender justice. Raven has exhibited their artwork globally and was most recently highlighted in one of the largest collections of art owned by Luciano Benetton (United Colours of Benetton) in part of the collateral events of the 2015 Venice Biennale. This year, Raven was invited to speak at the Art Gallery of Ontario for the Basquiat exhibit during the Idea Bar on race, art, social justice and their reflections on the exhibit. They also have two short movies in Mix NYC, the largest queer film festival in New York. Currently, Raven is working on a large body of work for a solo show at the Anna Leonowens Gallery for 2016, and is the Art and Activism Collective’s Artist in Residence at the Nova Scotia Art and Design University for the 2015-2016 academic year. Raven is a current Board of Directors member for Wonder’neath Art Society and a previous Board of Directors member for the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design.

Amber Sandy is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. Amber was previously employed as Programme Coordinator for Turtle Island Conservation at the Toronto Zoo where her work was focused on community outreach and education, and integrating traditional and western science in her approach to conservation and stewardship. Amber was also the History Department Coordinator for the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, where she was involved with First Story Toronto, a volunteer committee dedicated to sharing and preserving the First Nations history of Toronto, and was a central figure in the development of a the First Story app, a mapping application for Smart phones documenting First Nations history and cultural events in the Toronto area. She also currently volunteers for the ‘Memory, Meaning Making and Collections’ project which provides First Nations seniors in downtown Toronto with opportunities to interact with material collections.

Fonna Seidu is a Radical Care Bear, Community Artist, and Strategic Alchemist. Themes bridging her work include (re)discovery, imperfection, (re)defining beauty, and intimacy. Recognized as a young change-maker in Toronto, Fonna burst into the community arts sector in 2012. Starting in a home-away-from-home, the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Scene – a place for the Black LGBTQ* community, she entered equipped with a borrowed camera and a passion to document folks that look like herself. In order to remember all of her magical experiences she archives faces, circumstances, and movements in candid photographs. Fonna has grown as a community-taught photographer and at the age of 25 she has documented over 100 events and had some of her work featured in few group exhibitions including Strange Sisters: The Insatiable Redux (2014), Gallery 44’s Flux (2014), and Black to the Future by Sherbourne Health Centre (2014), and the Feminist Art Conference (2015). Fonna’s work has also been published by: Excalibur: York University ‘s Community Paper (2013), Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (2014), Canadian Media Guild (2015), and Sorplusi Publishing (2015). You can often spot her at workshops and conferences with her big curly hair and flower patterned dresses!

Zahra Siddiqui’s work as an artist is rooted in both a practice and process of mindfulness. Zahra captures quiet moments and intimate portraits, features, expressions, gestures and lifestyles, seeking to bring out something gentle in all her subjects. Zahra’s photography is based in a life of community work, working with artists, people of color, the margins of our communities. Her work is back dropped by cityscapes, buildings and nature, in an organic, un-coerced setting. The authenticity of her work stems from a desire to connect with her subjects, to nurture what nurtures me, to bring attention to the people who breathe life into our creative circles and community. Zahra’s work evokes self love drawn from the softness in all of us. She embraces the moments in between blinks, the things that go unnoticed; something, someone, or a feeling that can be ignored in the chaos. As an artist, Zahra’s identity is deeply entangled with her South Asian roots and my spiritual and artistic influences. She was reared in an environment which fostered creativity and community work as interdependent virtues.

Gloria Swain is a multidisciplinary artist (painting, photography, poetry, installations) whose work stimulates an understanding of mental illness. She is currently completing her Masters in Environmental Studies. Gloria holds a Certificate in Community Arts Practice and is a recipient of the York University Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award. Her work has shown at the Toronto Gladstone Hotel and various other venues. She is recipient of the Canadian International Black Women’s 100 Black Women to Watch. Gloria is the 2016 Artist-in-residence at Tangled Art & Disability. Gloria’s practice includes work as a community arts facilitator and she coordinates art making spaces. Using art to explore mental health and (intergenerational) trauma, her art is an opportunity to share her own stories of mental health and create dialogue to remove the stigma. As a Black woman artist, she recognizes the lack of economic resources for marginalized people living with mental health issues and hopes to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Syrus Marcus Ware is a visual artist, community mobilizer, educator and researcher pursuing his PhD studies in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Syrus holds degrees in Art History, Visual Studies (University of Toronto) and Sociology and Equity Studies (OISE). In 2014, he was awarded the Slyff Fellowship/Graduate Fellowship for Academic Distinction by York University. Syrus’ research focuses on experiences of marginality and the ways that the presence of racialized, trans and disabled people can challenge ‘static’ social environments. Syrus has authored several book chapters, journal articles and peer-reviewed publications about disability, the diversification of museums, trans parenting and sexual health for trans MSM, including the widely cited “How Disability Studies Stays White and What Kind of White it Stays” and “Going Boldly Where Few Men Have Gone Before: One Trans Man’s Experience of a Fertility Clinic and Insemination” (Sumach, 2009). In 2009, Syrus coedited the Journal of Museum Education issue Building Diversity in Museums with Gillian McIntyre. Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by Now Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award (2012) for LGBT community leadership and activism.