Ritche Perez Climate Strike 20190927 02.

Our Roots

 

The climate crisis is here.

Every day animals go extinct, more land is flooded or becomes too dry to grow crops, storms grow bigger, wildfires become stronger, and the ice caps are melting under our feet. The problem feels insurmountable but humans created this problem—and it’s up to us to fix it.


The Social Justice Co-operative NL formed in 2013 to continue the 50+ year tradition of speaking out for social justice, connecting the local with the global, and working with like-minded agencies for common social change goals. Oxfam Canada set up a regional office in St. John’s in 1964 at the instigation of a group of local activists and with staff members dedicated to build support and connections between projects in developing countries and our own communities.


Oxfam Canada focused on the needs and concerns of communities in the developing world. Increasingly this was challenged by NL people and communities demanding that Oxfam recognise the links between the struggles of communities in NL and in the so-called “developing world”. Spurred by questions and demands from the local grassroots, the local Oxfam office on Duckworth Street became the hub of activism and progressive thinking. The crucial ingredients of success were dynamic and well informed staff, strong support from the national office and an activist community in support.


Faced with funding cuts and a Conservative government, Oxfam Canada closed down most of its regional offices and ceased their focus on the connections between local and global issues. The activist group in St. John’s argued vociferously against this change, while also pointing out that the building on Duckworth St had been bought and maintained by the community and should remain a community resource.


The Social Justice Cooperative of NL was formed to take over the building and to continue what we saw as the most important work of Oxfam in NL - its focus on the urgent need for social justice for everyone and on the connections between local and global.


The particular form of the SJC came about because of the Harper era strictures and limitations on the political work of “charities”. While it makes us somewhat of an “oddball” in the context of the formal structures of the Federation of Cooperatives, our membership in the Federation helps us to think seriously about what “cooperation” means in terms of equality and justice for everyone.


Since 2019, the SJC has been leading a campaign to address the climate crisis in Newfoundland and Labrador by connecting with activists and organizing a wide range of actions with a vision of anti-racism, anti-colonialism, and international worker solidarity. 


In the past few years, we have done important groundwork to build a movement in our province around social and environmental justice by building strong and respectful partnerships with allied organizations, and creating space for new people to get involved and champion causes. By organizing around a broad issue like climate change, we have integrated many related issues into a cohesive vision for how to transform our province into a more environmentally and socially just place. 

A key aspect of our strategy is to let members lead our work and use our staff to support them. This has created space for volunteers to pursue their passions and take initiative organizing events or action teams. We are always looking for more people to get involved and if you would like to learn more about our work, please reach out at socialjusticecoopnl@gmail.com. 


To strengthen our base and independence from government, we are also seeking individuals to donate to support our work. Please consider becoming a financial ally and supporting our Resources for Revolution campaign here.

 

The climate crisis is not an easy problem and will need a multi-pronged solution to fix, but as this pandemic has shown, we can do hard things. By working together, we can overcome anything.