Principles

Key terms:

Racism: where Indigenous, Black and racialized people face oppression and are abused under the system of capitalism

 

Ableism: where people with disabilities face oppression and are only valued based on their ability to work

 

Carceral systems: violent institutions and systems that are built upon and profit from the criminalization, aggression, and killing of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people.

Abolition: dismantling, divesting from and defunding systems of policing, militarization, criminalization, incarceration, punishment.

i. Food justice is the fight for food for all: food that is produced, distributed, and accessed fairly, sustainably, and responsibly. 

  • Access to food is political.

    • Food insecurity is defined as inadequate access to food due to a lack of income. Food security focuses on peoples’ ability to access adequate food through food availability, access and use. Food justice understands that there is enough food to go around, but access to food and growing food has become politicized and unequal.

  • Food insecurity is a social determinant of health.

    • Structural racism in Canada leaves Indigenous and Black communities especially vulnerable to economic and health crises like COVID-19 and unequal access to fresh, healthy, sustainable food. 

  • Food justice is tied to racial justice. 

    • Black and Indigenous communities have higher rates of chronic illness due to structural racism, inaccess to food, etc. and when a pandemic hits, they are the hardest hit communities. Here in Hamilton we know that to be the case, and Roots to Justice was created knowing this. Food justice is not possible without addressing systemic racism and colonialism. 

    • A recent study conducted by PROOF and FoodShare found the best predictor of food insecurity among Black Canadians was their race. This disparity has been linked to the increased likelihood of developing chronic diseases and to poor educational and health outcomes. Current approaches to addressing food insecurity fail to address the scale or root causes of the problem. These approaches act as band-aid solutions which further depoliticize food insecurity, forcing us to question why a country like Canada is producing these sorts of inequities in the first place.

  • We aim towards food sovereignty: “the right of Peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems” (La Via Campesina.)

    • Food justice ultimately seeks to empower people to be food sovereign: building capacity to be able to grow and access food locally and sustainably and centering local, small-scale farmers and other food providers at the centre of the food system.

ii. Roots to Justice is rooted in disability justice.

 

  • Disability justice is the activism and work of queer/trans Black and racialized disabled people.

    • Its goal is to create a world where everyone can exist freely, and where nobody is left behind. We lean on each other and depend on the insight of our community to exist.

  • State institutions intentionally fail us.

    • We build up mutual aid from within our communities to address our needs, by us and for us.

  • We take care of our community better than the government/institutions that claim to help us.

    • The State continues to fail housed and unhoused people: when there are more than enough resources to go around and people are still in need and punished for being in need (e.g. ticketing unhoused people instead of opening up the buildings they evicted tenants from during the LRT.)

  • We help each other to survive because we need each other to survive.

 iii. Community and the collective, not individuals. 

 

  • The aim of Roots to Justice is to build community.

    • In offering to help someone or asking someone for help, members of the group are not only exchanging ideas, goods, skills, and/or services but creating the potential for trust and care between them. We are building relationships, not just providing a service.

  • There is nothing wrong with people who are in need. There is everything wrong with systems which put people in need.  

    • Needing help or support is not a reflection of our worth. We are not all in the same place in life and we can help each other survive, wherever we’re at and whoever we are.

  • It is no one’s place to determine who may or may not need support.

    • Everyone is deserving of care and it is not our (or anyone else in the group’s) place to judge how people spend their money, or what is deemed a luxury versus a necessity. In order to build relationships, it is necessary that we have trust and patience with one another, in part by not criticizing or monitoring other community members.

iv. We Keep Us Safe: we, as a community, look out for each other. 

  • We don't call the cops.

    • Police, CAS, and prisons criminalize Black and Indigenous communities, and endanger racialized, disabled, unhoused, and low income families. We can take alternate courses of action to respond to harm.

  • Accountability to abolition.

    • We are committed to the movement to eliminate prisons and police with a vision of a restructured society where we have everything we need: food and clean water, shelter, education, health, art, and more. It requires that we build stronger communities and meet people’s needs. If they can’t be met, we build a reality where they can.

  • Prisons destroy community, community keeps us safe.  

    • Prisons socially isolate people from healing, tear apart families, stigmatize individuals and their families, and economically strain the incarcerated and their families/ communities. 

  • Roots to Justice can be part of the process towards prioritizing healing over punishment.

    • We can take an approach to justice that centers the needs of those who are harmed while also fundamentally working towards repairing the harm that has been caused. This is done through addressing root causes of violence and harm through a process of healing rather than punishment.

v. Roots to Justice is a matter of survival pending revolution

 

  • The revolution we build towards is a world and society where people are cared for and are prioritized over profit; a world where life and land are not only valued for what can be taken from them -  in other words, a world without capitalism. Before, during, and after the pandemic, issues like poverty, racism and ableism, all exist. Mutual aid is necessary to survive and overcome these systems.