• Cicely Blain

We made some mistakes - here’s what you taught us

With our conference, Stratagem 2019, one week away, we want to share with you our mistakes and failures. We want to be transparent and accountable to our attendees. We want to keep a public record of ways we need to be better - and continue to reference them for as long as we do this work.

For readers who plan to attend Stratagem 2019, we share the following with you to help you make a decision about whether this space feels safe for you:

  • We have not done enough to centre the voices of trans women and trans femmes

  • We don’t have enough active listeners who mirror the demographics of all our attendees and speakers

  • There is only one completely accessible washroom in the building

  • Not all of our social media posts were formatted to be read by screen-readers

  • We could only provide a limited number of scholarships

  • We do not have as much ASL interpretation as we had planned for and this limits the inclusion of members of the d/Deaf and hard of hearing community

  • Our event takes place on stolen, unceded Musqueam land

We are so grateful to the members of our community for always calling us in, and for the emotional labour it takes to hold one another accountable. These pieces have been brought to our awareness thanks to the knowledge and lived experiences of our colleagues and friends in the social justice community, specifically those who identify as trans-feminine, Deaf, and living with disabilities.

We also want to offer some of the challenges we’ve incurred. Not as excuses for our oversights but because our intersectional identities, lived experiences and (lack of) access to capital hugely impact our work.

We see perfectionism as a core component of white supremacy (along with urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word and so many more things listed in Dismantling Racism). We are trying to be good (in its truest sense), not perfect.

We are a group of mostly Black and racialized women and non-binary femmes working against a multiplicity of systems that want to see our efforts, our energies, our bodies and our voices destroyed. (If we were a bunch of white dudes, we’d probably have tons of $$$, a couple of ice sculptures and some caviar - but then you might not want to attend...)

To us, Stratagem is a journey that we hope will be many conferences but it may take other forms, such as our online archive. We hope you choose to trust and stick with us long enough to see different iterations, different layers of inclusion and different intersectional identities centred. We’re doing it all, just not all at once.

There are likely more things we missed. There are always more. But there’s also more time, and more chances to try again. We are sorry and we will try again, and again and again. We hope you will too.

In solidarity,

The Stratagem Organizing Team

Cicely Belle, Sandra, Piper, Jillian, Becca & Kevonnie

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