February 2017 – Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls

February 2017 – Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls

The JustChange Ottawa board is excited to announce that the latest $1,000 grant is going to Ottawa Rock Camp for Girls, an organization that uses music as a vehicle for empowerment for self-identifying girls. Their flagship event is a rock camp where participants learn an instrument, join a band, and showcase their achievements at a concert. They also host monthly jam sessions, where girls have access to studio space to practice their music.

Tiffanie Tri, one of Rock Camp’s leaders, explains how their project seeks to empower girls through music. “We create a safe space for girls of all economic means and races so that they can build self-confidence. We are always looking for ways to reduce barriers to access to learning and playing music.” Their newest project aims to do just that.

The JustChange grant will go towards setting up a new music instrument library and jam space. “The goal is to increase our reach and impact in the community,” Tri explains. “We want to improve access to instruments and studio space, and maybe even introduce a new venue for our Rock Camp.”

Ultimately, Rock Camp for Girls wants to increase diversity and inclusion in the Ottawa music scene. And to that we say “rock on!”

The Rock Camp for Girls team is passionate about their project, and they want to tell you all about. Come learn more and ‘jam’ with us at JustDrinks this Thursday, February 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Pressed Cafe, 750 Gladstone Ave.

December 2016 – Empower’em

December 2016 – Empower’em

empoweremEmpower’em President and Founder, Nayaelah Siddiqui, understands there is a growing lack of self-confidence in Muslim women, which needs to be addressed.

According to the Environics Survey of Muslims in Canada (2016), one of the top issues facing Canadian Muslims is how they are perceived by the larger, mainstream society. One-third (33%) of non-Muslim Canadians have a generally negative view of Islam. Moreover, Statistics Canada has noted that hate crimes against Canadian Muslims have doubled over the last three years. Muslim women, particularly those who are visibly Muslim due to the distinguished “hijab” or headscarf they wear, are the most frequent targets of hateful demonstrations that are manifested in numerous ways, including exclusion from mainstream society.

In the absence of strong support networks, these issues may lead to a lack of self-confidence, identity, and Canadian pride if they are left unaddressed; further discouraging young women from fully thriving in their communities and hindering their ability to contribute in positive ways to enrich Canadian society.

This is why JustChange is proud to support Empowerem’s main objective of boosting self-confidence in women by empowering them in four key areas of development.

  1. Skills Development
  2. Health
  3. Spirituality and;
  4. Outreach/Community involvement

These four objectives help with empowering young women better enabling them to become more informed, engaged and civically active so that they can become positive forces in their communities, in Ottawa, and by extension the wider Canadian society. For example, through Skills Development, Empower’em provides workshops on car management (like how to  change a tire or boost a car). Another example via the Outreach objective, they aim to start “Quilt for them.” This initiative will not only involve young women learning skills (e.g., sewing), but also paved a way for them to have a positive impact in the communities they live in. Women can start projects that they are most passionate about with like-minded people which would lead to a stronger and more collective effort in community projects.

You can learn more about Empower’em at their website here: http://empowerem.ca/ and join us for #JustDrinks on December 15th 2016 at 6:30pm at the Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs at 1013 Wellington St W, Ottawa, ON K1Y 2Y1 to celebrate this incredible Ottawa-based initiative.

You can reserve your free ticket here.


October 2016 — Trans Health Information Ottawa

October 2016 — Trans Health Information Ottawa

thio-logo“I don’t know much about trans health,” is a term that our next grantee hears all too often. Trans Health Information Ottawa (THIO) is working to eliminate that phrase from Ottawa’s healthcare vernacular. Completely unfunded, this group of dedicated people have been serving as a voice for the trans, Two Spirit and gender diverse communities in the Champlain region. Their focus is on navigating the healthcare system and raising awareness of healthcare issues faced by trans people.

The group at THIO has already managed impressive results: developing a solid online presence as a trusted source of information for trans patients in Ottawa, making substantial contributions to provincial level training curriculum, and advocating for 50% trans representation at all decision making tables related to trans healthcare in Ottawa. Despite this, they are completely unfunded, and have told us that options for funding for trans health initiatives are few and far between.

With the JustChange grant, THIO will continue to support those who provide user feedback on their health navigation tools and cover small operating costs. JustChange funding will allow THIO to complete their first few projects and demonstrate that the Ottawa community, both trans and their supporters, can do really big things together.

Come and celebrate our at JustDrinks: Grounded Kitchen on October 18, 6 – 8PM.

August 2016 — Building Purple Bridges

August 2016 — Building Purple Bridges

We are thrilled to announce our August 2016 grantee: Building Purple Bridges. This grassroots initiative aims to address the service gaps for outdoor/survival sex-workers in the Vanier neighbourhood.

Building Purple Bridges is lead by a team composed of individuals with lived experience in outdoor/survival sex-work, as well as two of their allies with several years of relevant front-line experience.

The project recognizes that outdoor sex-workers face staggeringly high rates of violence and marginalization. There are very few places workers can go to feel safe and truly welcomed. Currently in Ottawa there are no services that operate 24 hours a day that are specifically designed to meet the needs of this population.

The project aims to fill this gap by addressing the basic and immediate concerns of outdoor/survival sex-workers while strengthening overall community connectedness. Their ultimate vision is to establish permanent, 24 hr programming in Vanier that specifically meets the needs of outdoor sex-workers.

The JustChange grant will go to supporting a pilot 8 week drop-in space open to all self-identified sex-workers in the Vanier neighbourhood (LGBT inclusive). It will be guided by sex-worker rights and harm-reduction frameworks. Building Purple Bridges hopes to bring people together over food and other programming (themed workshops and activities). Ultimately, the aim is to create a dedicated and safe space where people can go to find solace, understanding, fun, and community.

Come out and celebrate with us. JustDrinks will be held at Lowertown Brewery, 6PM – 9PM on August 18th.

June 2016 — Black Hair: A Documentary

June 2016 — Black Hair: A Documentary

For this month’s JustChange grantee, her introduction to activism hit very close to home: with her own hair. Questioning why she hadn’t felt comfortable wearing her hair naturally, Asma realized the beauty standards we all internalize keep many people from embracing themselves as they naturally are.

Because it’s about hair, but it isn’t just about hair: it’s about the subtle, systematic messages black youth internalize about what is considered beautiful, and the consequences of those messages can be significant. Living in Ottawa, it’s easy to assume our community has no need to engage in discussion on racism; that we’ve moved beyond it. But that kind of thinking can unintentionally silence people’s experiences. Asma wants to shine a light on the issue by giving black youth a chance to hear the stories of those who know first-hand how they feel.

Black Hair: A Documentary is bringing together Asma’s experience as an amateur videographer with what she sees as a need to open a dialogue for and with young black people, who have often internalized negative feelings toward their hair without realizing the underlying causes and consequences of that self-hatred. She’ll be sharing the stories of a diverse group of black Ottawans’ experiences surrounding their hair in an upbeat, colourful, joyful documentary to be shared on YouTube. After seeing the amazing exemplary video she’s made to date, we can’t wait to see the finished product!

Black Hair is just the first step for Asma: she wants to create a virtual community black youth can access to engage further in issues that matter to them and make more documentaries on issues at the intersection of race and beauty, such as colorism, as well as on other social justice issues. Over time, she wants to see Black Hair: A Documentary become a tool supporting self-acceptance for young black students. As a former student and volunteer at Ottawa’s Pathways to Education, Asma hopes to work with such organizations that are already supporting youth.

Our $1,000 grant will support filming of Black Hair and future documentaries through equipment that will increase production values and give Asma greater freedom to explore more filming possibilities.

We invite you to join us in celebrating Asma and her documentary project at our June JustDrinks event, taking place at the Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs at 1013 Wellington St W from 7:00pm-9:00pm. To connect with Asma directly about Black Hair, you can find her on Twitter @_ahamedia and on Instagram @aha_ok3.


April 2016 – Integrative Solutions Group

April 2016 – Integrative Solutions Group

Community consultation on urban development projects in Ottawa often seems like a meaningless exercise. Most of us can name an example (or two!) within our own neighbourhoods where community consultation was either non-existent or superficial at best.

While there are many reasons why community consultation in Ottawa is problematic, one of the toughest challenges facing Ottawa urban planners is how to gather input from a diverse range of citizens. But how do planners help citizens understand and visualize urban design proposals? How do they solicit and capture the many and often divergent voices? And how can they effectively incorporate those views into an urban design project?

Our latest grantee, Integrative Solutions Group (ISG) has an idea to improve democratic planning for cities. ISG, an integrative design consultancy, is bringing together three software apps: a 3D streaming app for architectural rendering; a multi-stakeholder input app; and a decision support app. 3D Lab enables citizens to see proposed developments and changes in real-time, animated 3D rather than renderings on flat maps. Milieu and Greatwork enable citizens to comment, vote, and submit their ideas and also help urban planners to analyze the feedback and eventually incorporate them into a design.

ISG is using their JustChange grant and their urban sustainability expertise to bring the three software developers together in a one-day, design charrette in order to explore the creation of a publicly available online citizen engagement tool for urban development. Working in parallel, these three apps could become a powerful community consultation tool for Canadian municipalities.

We invite you to come celebrate this idea at JustDrinks on Thursday, April 21, 2016 from 6 -8 pm at Fatboys Southern Smokehouse (34 Murray Street.) Click here to reserve your free ticket. Fatboys is an accessible location. If you have any specific questions please contact the venue.