Statement on the Horror in Buffalo

On May 14, 2022, a white supremacist, patriarchal act of domestic terrorism took place in the form of a mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo. 

Ten were killed. 

Three were injured. 

Eleven of these people were Black.

The alleged killer is also allegedly the author of a manifesto in support of the “Great Replacement” worldview – a white supremacist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic conspiracy theory that accuses racialized people of eroding white cultures and communities, and educated people of all races of the crime of abetting the erosion.

We must replace this worldview, with a courageous, joyful, diversity-enchanted love of reason.

We seek to do this at Niagara Community Legal Clinic.

Our clinic family is thus shocked and outraged by the anti-Black massacre in Buffalo.

There are no words to express this feeling.

In Niagara, we are separated from Buffalo by a border. 

But we are close in space and time. 

Now, even with our broken hearts, we are closer than ever, in heart.

As a clinic, we are committed to anti-racism and to decolonization. 

Like the diverse and often resilient clients who we serve, the anti-racist and decolonizing agencies with which we have the privilege of partnering are constant inspirations. 

We work for intersectional freedom because we know that patriarchy cannot be dismantled without anti-racism, nor transphobia without anti-ableism, nor Islamophobia without fulfillment of our treaties with Indigenous nations.

Like the rights that all citizens enjoy pursuant to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which we hold sacred, our various identities fit together in mutually illuminating, ever-evolving ways. 

These diverse combinations of identity (within us as individuals, and within our families and neighbourhoods) are all to be marvelled at – cherished.

This is why the horror of May 14 must inspire us to new action.

At Niagara Community Legal Clinic, we resolve to strengthen the commitment that we began in February 2021 with the launch of our year-long Anti-Racism, Anti-Oppression, and Decolonization (ARAO-D) training and strategy process.

The final version of our ARAO-D Action Plan was received by our coordinating committee in February, 2022.

Pursuant to this Plan, we will continue to improve in our recruiting and hiring of BIPOC employees.

We will continue to improve in how we centre anti-racist jurisprudence in our collective staff case-study sessions and discussions.

We will continue to improve in our provision of refugee law help, social assistance appeal support, tenant representation, human rights litigation services, and workplace injury restitution opportunities to Niagara’s many racialized communities.

We will continue to be a voice for justice in the emergent conversation about psychiatric disability rights and anti-ableist mental healthcare budgeting for Niagara. 

We will speak to remind white decision-makers that BIPOC people in Niagara too often face fatal barriers of racism when they seek to access healthcare, particularly including psychiatric help. 

We will speak to our passionate yearning for this to end.

We will continue to improve in our outreach to the most oppressed racialized community on our peninsula: our thousands of industrious migrant farm workers, many of whom are Black, many of whom are Latin, most of whom are Indigenous of Latin America, and all of whom are intersectionally racialized. 

We call with new vigour for a path to permanent residency and full citizenship for our friends.

They pick the grapes that make Ontario’s rightly award-winning wine.  They grow flowers in our greenhouses for our celebrations.  They harvest our fruit.  We owe them recognition in law of their dignity. 

We will continue to contemplate our obligations and privileges as employees of a settler agency on lands that are the traditional territory of many First Nations, that have a special relationship to the Métis Nation, and that are protected by diverse treaties, and by the Dish With One Spoon Wampum covenant. 

We will continue to mourn for the eleven Black and two non-Black victims of the Buffalo massacre.

Thank you for joining us in a new commitment to justice.