Roots to Justice formerly began as CareMongering-HamOnt: Hamilton Community Response to COVID19. The Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO) launched CareMongering 3 days after the first lock down in March of 2020. We started off as a mutual aid project, with a Facebook group (see in signature line) for people to post when they need some support, and for Hamilton residents to offer that support. But with more than 6,000 residents in the Facebook group, we got worried that requests were being missed and wanted to make sure that we were prioritizing racialized and disabled people.
Illustrated trees on a blue background. Text reads "Let's look out for each other." Below are the logos of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario, Hamilton Student Mobilization Network, Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, and Erich's Cupboard."
Two illustrated figures on a blue background. One wears a hijab, the other wears glasses. Above text reads: The Principles of CareMongering. The first figure has a speech bubble that says "Communities look out for each other."
Image of an illustrated house with illustrated trees and birds over it. Text reads "Don't call the cops or CAS. Prisons destroy community, community keeps us safe. Dismantle, divest, defund, disarm, and commit to prision abolition."
We worked with the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), Hamilton Student Mobilization Network (HSMN), and Erich's Cupboard to launch a free grocery delivery program, initially run out of HCCI. The work was initiated by predominantly un predominantly by young people who are students, racialized, and/or people with disabilities. Our work was shared locally, nationally, and even internationally mentioned in a Washington Post article.
In April of 2020, we created a centralized delivery system with a dedicated phone number and a request form, translated flyers into Arabic, French, Spanish, Polish, and more, and dropped them in at-risk buildings. Our team of a few grew to hundreds of dedicated volunteers sharing their time to pack kits, shop for inventory, and deliver food and supplies to people's doorsteps at no cost. We fulfilled nearly 100 weekly requests from families across the City and every Ward (predominantly Wards 2, 3, and 4.)
The collaborative effect of financial support, space-sharing, and time-sharing by community has been absolutely crucial in making any of this possible. Initially, our work was mostly sustained through private donations directly e-transfered from community members. In April of 2020, we partnered with New Vision United Church to move our physical site to 24 Main St W, Hamilton, ON. Thanks to this huge expansions in space, we were able to continue our operations on a much larger scale. Over the past year, we estimate to have provided over 6500 community members with a week's worth of groceries and supplies (including hygiene items, diapers, cleaning supplies, & more.)
One of our core principles at CareMongering has been that the work goes beyond COVID-19. On top of feeding our communities over the last year, we coordinated regular supply trips to 1492 Land Back Lane, and moved over $40k through community initiatives related to encampment support, housing advocacy, and land defense. We have also actively partnered with the newly launched Hamilton Encampment Support Network (HESN). In many ways, the future of Roots to Justice feels like something we have been working towards for over a year. We're very excited to share these emergent futures with you!
Fresh assorted produce packed into bags laid out on a table.
Rows of yard bags. Volunteers stand among them in the background, packing inventory into kits.
Fresh assorted produce laid out on a table.