Niagara Reproductice Justice (NRJ) is a group of community members in the Niagara Region of Ontario advocating for increased visibility of and access to sexual health resources in Niagara.
We are an action group of OPIRG Brock, a social, economic, and environmental justice organization based in St. Catharines, Ontario.
JOIN US! We are always welcoming new members and volunteers. If you’re interested in getting involved, or if you have a skill or idea you think could be put to use, let us know!
What We Do:
All activism begins with Indigenous solidarity
We must be prioritizing issues faced by Indigenous people in all our work, as the historical and still ongoing colonization of the region is foundational to the oppressive settler state of Canada from which all injustices unfold. Solidarity with Indigenous resistance and decolonization is central to NRJ’s — and all — reproductive justice work.
Sex work is real work
NRJ calls for the full decriminalization of sex work as well as rights, safety, and respect for all sex workers. All types of labour under capitalism, including sex work, is the selling of one’s skills, knowledge and body. The reproductive justice movement has always relied on sex worker leadership and NRJ is committed to supporting sex workers as we all fight for bodily autonomy from the state.
Black Lives Matter, Black Trans Lives Matter
Black people, especially Black trans women, face high rates of violence, discrimination, poverty, and experience additional obstacles to accessing sexual health services in Canada. The reproductive justice movement was started by Black women to address the ways that racism, transphobia, and state violence function to deny people access to essential health services. NRJ seeks to uphold the anti-racist and revolutionary values of the original founders of the movement.
We believe that pro-choice is not enough
In alignment with the Reproductive Justice core principles established by the founders of the movement, we must also ensure that, as well as having access to abortion, everyone has the right to have children under the conditions they want to have them and raise them in a safe and healthy environment. This means that reproductive justice is deeply connected to other forms of justice, including decolonization, racial justice, prison and police abolition, immigrant justice, environmental justice, economic justice, disability justice, among many others.
We believe in a world where all people have control over their own bodies
This includes the ability to self-prescribe abortion, estrogen, testosterone, and birth control and access these resources for free.
We do not believe in gender policing
We strive to make our organization, events, and campaigns as accessible as possible
The anti-choice movement has a long history of tokenizing and perpetuating harm against disabled people. It is our job to combat those narratives in all of our work.
We believe in a harm reduction approach to substance use
We therefore strive to make our organization, events, and campaigns accessible and safe for people who use substances.
NRJ is a collective of people
As such we are invested in a culture of calling one another in and self education. We simultaneously hold space for the practices of calling out, which has a long history intertwined with creating community safety practices and cultures of accountability.
We support the safety and voices of survivors of violence
This includes, but is not limited to, intimate partner violence, gender based violence, and state violence.
We are an Action Group of OPIRG Brock
As such, we follow OPIRG Brock’s Safer Space Policy and procedures in the case of violations of the Safer Space Policy by any members or volunteers. You can access OPIRG Brock’s Safer Space Policy here. For more important policy documents, visit OPIRG Brock’s website at www.opirgbrock.com/important-documents.
As an addition to this policy, NRJ does not engage in debates via social media. Harmful comments on our posts will be deleted and the person will be sent a private message informing them of our policy and directing them to additional resources. Should the person continue to post potentially harmful comments, they will be blocked from our account.
Reproductive justice is a concept formalized by a coalition of 12 Black women in Chicago in 1994. They first formed the group “Women of African Descent for Reproductive Justice” in response to the inadequecies and racism of the pro-choice movement. The pro-choice movement largely did not capture the history of racialized reproductive oppression nor did it provide a roadmap for addressing and healing from these injustices. As Martha Paynter points out in her recent book, the emphasis on choice “skips over the problem of not having options. The rhetoric of choice is individualistic, but available options are the products of broad social contexts and systemic structure of inequality” (Abortion to Abolition, 2022, Paynter, p. 11). Therefore, the Chicago group sought to create a new movement, built off of the centuries of radical work and resistance of Black people, Indigenous people, melanated and racialized people, immigrants, trans people, queer people, and disabled people and they called it Reproductive Justice. Many of the original founders of this group went onto found SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.
Reproductive Justice, as defined by SisterSong, has three core tenets:
- The right to have an abortion
- The right to have children under the conditions you want to have them
- The right to raise your children in a safe and healthy environment
For more information about reproductive justice, please visit SisterSong’s website.
Niagara Reproductive Justice was started in the summer of 2019 to respond to the growing anti-abortion movement in Niagara. We became an OPIRG Brock Action Group, and it was OPIRG that provided us with the initial support, resources, training, materials, and funding to get off the ground, and continue to provide us essential support today. Positive Living Niagara was also instrumental in our early days, allowing us to use their meeting space and providing us with opportunities to network and reach wider audiences. We focused primarily on social media campaigns and community crafting events (“craftivism”).
We were still just getting our feet off the ground when the pandemic hit in early 2020. Since then, we have slowly been rebuilding and have added new branches to our collective. We now have two main focuses: Monitoring Anti-Choicers and Practical Abortion Support Services.
Our Monitoring Anti-Choicers team administers the Rapid Response Network (RRN), which is a network of volunteers who respond to anti-choice activity in Niagara in real time. Our goal is to reduce the presence of anti-abortion activity, such as protests, billboards, and events, in Niagara and counter the misinformation they spread about abortion.
Our Abortion Support Services team administers the Abortion & Reproductive Support Network (ARSN) that provides on-the-ground support for people accessing abortion in Niagara, such as transportation, funding, and care coordination through a network of trained volunteers.
When we can, we still host our “craftivism” meetups, public webinars and trainings, and collaborate on community events such as the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library speakers series “Titillating Talks,” and the Niagara Free Store. We also produce posters, zines, buttons, and informational materials that we put on our website here for free and public use.