Today’s episode is about activism, disability justice and community organizing. My guest is Sarah Jama, an organizer focused on disability justice and anti-racism based in Hamilton, Ontario. You’ll hear how Sarah became an activist and the various approaches she uses in her work. Sarah talks about how she learned about disability justice and why this framework resonates with her. You’ll also hear Sarah describe some of the major issues facing Canadians with disabilities.
*Please note there will be discussions of eugenics, sexual assault, violence, and institutionalization.
Berne, Patty. (June 10, 2015). Disability Justice – a working draft by Patty Berne. Sins Invalid.
Mingus, Mia. (April 12, 2017). Access Intimacy, Interdependence and Disability Justice
Mingus, Mia. (February 12, 2011). Changing the Framework: Disability Justice.
Sarah Jama is a community organizer from Hamilton, Ontario. She is founder of the newly formed Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO), and Co-Chair of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) Persons Living with Disabilities Committee. She holds a Social Sciences degree from McMaster University. Her lived experiences have fostered interests and a passion for: critical disability theory, critical race theory, social justice organizing, intersectionality and activism.
Sarah has organized a number of events in Hamilton in relation to racism, such as the Rise Up: Rally against Police Brutality, and Hamilton’s first and largely successful Anti-Racism Action Initiative, leading her to be named CBC’s top five most interesting people of 2016, and profiled on CBC’s Black Experience Project. She is a recipient of the John C Holland Evelyn Myrie Political Action Award, and is serving a two year term as a council member on the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council (HIPC). Sarah has also been appointed to serve on the provincial Anti Black Racism subcommittee of the Ontario Government, and was one of 100 youth selected to weigh in on the Federal Accessibility Act at the National Youth Forum on Accessibility. She has been featured on CBC National for international youth day, and the Hamilton Spectator for International Women’s Day. She also serves on the steering committee of the Coalition Against White Supremacy and Islamophobia (CAWSI).
Sarah served a two year term as the Ontario Director of the National Educational Association of Disabled Students, and founded the first peer-based and run service for students with disabilities at McMaster University called Maccess. She has given a variety of keynotes, including for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI), the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO). She has also been a speaker for a variety of organizations, such as: Start up Fest, The Broadbent Institute, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Sexual Assault Centre for the Greater Hamilton Area (SACHA), Experience Canada, The Elect more Women Conference, The Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education (CAPDHHE), CBC Radio One, the Ajax Diversity Conference, the Indigenous, Racialized, Migrant and People with Disabilities Solidarity Symposium, and more.
Sarah has given multiple guest lectures on Critical Race Theory, organizing, and social justice at McMaster University and Ryerson University through English and Cultural Studies Departments, Social Work departments, and History departments, and has lectured at the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) at McMaster University for two years in a row. She currently works at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion as an Outreach Coordinator. In her spare time, she acts as a consultant, and is currently working with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to create anti-racism training and peer support based curriculum for students at the school board.
Support Disability Media and Culture
DONATE to the Disability Visibility Project®
Alice Wong, Writer, Audio Producer, Interviewer
Sarah Blahovec, Text Transcript
Lateef McLeod, Introduction
Mike Mort, Artwork
Theme Music (used with permission of artist)
Song: “Dance Off”
Artist: Wheelchair Sports Camp
“Star Song (instrumental remix)” by Lee Rosevere (Star Song by Lee Rosevere is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.)