In Canada, an inspiring movement emerges in response to the coronavirus

The Washington Post
Women adjusts her mask Washington Post | James Alexander Michie

A woman adjusts her mask while she waits in line as Montreal's public health unit holds a walk-in clinic testing for the coronavirus on Monday. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

As the number of confirmed covid-19 cases increases around the world, people are struggling to keep themselves mentally and physically safe and stable. Some individuals and communities are having a tougher time than others, especially the marginalized. In Canada, with more than 2,000 confirmed coronavirus cases to date, this struggle has led to the emergence of the “caremonger” movement.

Caremongering is cast as the antithesis in name and spirit to fearmongering. Instead of singing doomsday dirges, caremongers are coming together to form networks to support their communities, including people who are stuck at home, financially precarious or otherwise in distress. Groups have sprung up across the country, many organizing through social media platforms. They vary in form and size, from a handful of members to thousands. Some distribute food and supplies while others coordinate and run errands for those unable to do them. And some serve as a platform to organize volunteers.

Amara Possian, Seneca College professor and campaigns director at 350.org, has started one such group in Toronto and worked with other organizers to create how-to guide for setting them up. According to her, there are two sorts of groups now: mutual aid groups and neighborhood pods. The former are “primarily city-wide” and “organized virtually over Facebook,” she says. The latter are “groups of 5 to 30 people who are working to support one another.” Some of the larger Facebook groups are also organizing pods.

Possian knows that the work of her neighborhood pod matters, but also that it is insufficient. “Mutual aid is a critical part of our response to covid-19,” she said. “Our individual contributions are important and meaningful, but we need politicians to step in to accomplish what all of us, even working together, cannot do.”

In Hamilton, Sarah Jama and Samson Dekamo, organizers with the Disability Justice Network of Ontario and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, have teamed up with the Student Mobilization Network to create the CareMongering-HamOnt group to help those in need. Their efforts include a Facebook group for those in search of assistance, a delivery service and a phone line.

Global Opinions writer Jason Rezaian spent a year and a half in an Iranian prison. How he coped with panic and anxiety applies to the fear of coronavirus today. (Jason Rezaian, Kate Woodsome, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

These are just a couple of examples in what has quickly become an encouraging nationwide trend. But the underlying movement is not new.

Neither community solidarity nor mutual aid was invented this month. Minority, disabled and indigenous communities, among others, have lived deeply in and through community for a very long time. Many of those communities are built around camaraderie and persistence and structured to resist and last. Can a widespread, general caremongering movement take root in some similar way? And what happens as the pandemic drags on?

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Source: David Moscrop | Washington Post

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