Last week the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union’s hosted their annual eXpression Against Oppression week, a sequence of talks and workshops focusing on themes that confront oppression in the various forms it takes.
“This week will be filled with workshop and discussions aimed to educate folks on the lived experiences that individuals go through and how we can all work together in combating the oppressions that individuals face on a daily basis,” the UTMSU advertised on their Faceboook page.
The first event of the series, “Surviving Together,” was a self-advocacy workshop for students with disabilities and student advocates. It featured a talk by Nadia Kanani, advocacy and volunteer coordinator at the Students for Barrier-Free Access (SBA).
Kanani highlighted the advocacy work being done by the SBA, which operates out of the St. George campus, centers itself on fighting for disability justice, and providing fully accessible office spaces and computer labs to students with disabilities downtown. Her talk emphasised informing students of their rights on campus, both in academic and extracurricular areas.
The event concentrated on the university’s duty to accommodate a student’s right to meaningfully access education, interim accommodations while permanent ones are made, information regarding the bursary for students with disabilities, and access external legal resources, such as the ARCH Disability Law Centre. The presentation sought to provide tips on how students with disabilities can advocate for themselves and how to deal with both disability councillors, non-compliant student unions, and unsupportive professors.
Concluding the “Resist-Art” took place at the Blind Duck Pub at UTM. The event showcased the importance of art as a form of resistance used by marginalized groups to voice their experiences with oppression. Students could view work made by several artists in different mediums, with artists Melissa Crosby and Jason Brar displaying multiple pieces. The art show encompassed expressions of discrimination experiences.
The show also featured live painting, followed by spoken-word performances, song covers, and original songs by Ruchi and Michelle Hopkins.
The week’s events also included a screening of the film Moonlight, followed by a facilitated discussion regarding the impact of systemic racism and gender identity. XAO also featured a talk by Omar Khadr’s defense lawyer Dennis Edney who previously spoke at Hart House on October 18th.