It’s still hard to grapple with all that’s occurred this year and the uncertainty that is 2020. But if this year has taught us anything, it’s that connection is the most effective salve, and that we should redirect our energy to better serve and support underrepresented, marginalized groups within our community. Even if we’re unable to donate money to a worthy cause, there are so many other ways to show up and take action. Here, we’ve amassed a list of organizations doing the work to address racial and social injustice in Canada – each of which could benefit from more bodies, skills and donated goods to meaningfully support their boots-on-the-ground missions.
In an effort to combat food insecurity, community fridges have been popping up across Canadian cities like Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, as well as other cities across North America. In Toronto, there are currently four fridge locations (find them here) where you can donate fresh food – think fruits, veggies and ready-prepared meals – to those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. A few fridge locations also feature pantries, where you can drop-off non-perishables as well as household goods like diapers, menstrual products and even socks.
This Toronto-based non-profit advocates for long-term solutions to ensure those most affected by poverty always have access to fresh, nutritious food. FoodShare also serves to educate people on the racial gaps: Black, Indigenous and racialized communities experience far higher rates of food insecurity, and also remain underrepresented in the farming industry. Support FoodShare by ordering a Good Food Box straight to your home. The Dismantling White Supremacy Box is one option that features local, organic produce grown at farms led by BIPOC folks, including Black Creek Community Farm, Afri-Can FoodBasket and Food Forest Organics.
Black Women in Motion
Black women in motion is a youth-led organization that empowers and celebrates Black womxn, and advocates for survivors of gender-based sexual violence. BWIM offers mental health programs and educational resources, from online consent workshops to virtual events (like Wellness Wednesdays). The team also organized a Community Emergency Relief Fund in response to COVID-19, donating funds and essential items to community members coping with food and income insecurity. How to help on a budget? Make an in-kind donation instead of cash, or donate your time by joining online sessions and sharing resources.
Montreal & Toronto Black Film Festivals
Celebrating and empowering Black voices through cinema, this annual event serves to foster more dialogue around important cultural and socio-economic issues that are still the lived reality for many Black Canadians, as well as those across the globe. Montreal’s 16th International Black Film Festival ran from Sept 23-Oct 5, showcasing 120 films via virtual screenings from 30 different countries. Miss out? Mark your calendars: The Toronto festival runs from February 15-21, 2021. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance (we recommend the All Access Pass!) or sign-up to volunteer your time ahead of the event.
See also: The richest women of colour in Hollywood.
This Toronto-based agency provides a safe space for LGBTQ2S+ folks throughout the city, offering a wide array of incredible programs and services for queer people of all ages. Currently, The 519 is offering much virtually and in-person: creative writing classes, two-spirit healing drumming in the park, legal services, queer family planning and so much more. How to show your support on a budget? Sign up to volunteer, donate proceeds from a fundraiser, or even donate your old vehicle – The 519 together with Donate a Car Canada will take care of all the details.
Many LGBTQ+ people around the world live in fear of persecution and violence simply for being who they are. Rainbow Railroad is committed to helping persecuted individuals escape hostile governments in their home countries by determining a safe destination, organizing travel arrangements and providing post-travel support so each person has the opportunity to begin a new and better life. Donate your time and become a volunteer, host a virtual event, or donate Aeroplan miles to help get more people to safety.
Stand behind this leading Canadian organization that’s committed to improving the lives of those within the queer community. It’s about increasing global response to LGBTQI2S issues and advancing equality via public policies, education, research, and legal advocacy. How to help: bring inclusion training to your school, volunteer at events or host your own fundraiser – which can be done virtually!
Many indigenous communities throughout Canada face severe water challenges (in Ontario, two in five First Nations are under a boil water advisory). Water First aims to change this by working with FNMI folks via various projects and studies, from water quality tests to fishing habitat restoration work. The non-profit also hosts internships, where young Indigenous adults can train to become certified water-plant operators. Donate your time by volunteering or fundraising online, and “add impact to your inbox” by signing up to receive their quarterly newsletter.
The Art For Aid Project
This grassroots initiative works to support First Nations, Inuit and Metis art education programs throughout the country, providing supplies to remote Indigenous schools that otherwise wouldn’t have access. If you’re able, donate new or gently-used art products. You can also support the organization by ordering from a selection of beautiful prints, cloth face masks or other statement pieces via their online shop.
A national charity committed to investing in and fostering better education for First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth. From providing students with bursaries and scholarships to offering a host of valuable programs (such as Teach for Tomorrow, a program dedicated to encouraging students to become teachers), Indspire is committed to increasing the graduation rates for Indigenous youth across Canada. If you’re not currently able to give funds, consider setting up a personal fundraiser to spread awareness, donate airline points or offer your time and volunteer!
Elizabeth Fry Toronto
This org is advocating for women and non-binary folks who’ve come into, or are at risk of coming into, conflict with the law. This includes trauma-informed counselling services, residential and housing services, court diversion programs and sex work transition programs. Take action and become a Talk & Listen volunteer, where you can lend a compassionate ear to women in prison, helping them navigate the criminal justice system and providing any info and resources they might need. Similar volunteer opportunities exist for court support and other social programming.