Fall 2022 Social Justice Fund Nominees

Ser Ponte (Be the Bridge):

Nominated by Sharon Dias Component 1 LTSI

I would like to nominate the community project called Ser Ponte (Be the Bridge) for our Social Justice Fund. The Ser Ponte/Be the Bridge project is a community-based non-profit organization that works with a group of 250 women of color (visible minorities) who are the head of their households and dealing with extreme poverty and housing inadequacy. The Ser Ponte/Be the Bridge project supports women across the city of Fortaleza in Northeast Brazil by providing financial aid, conducting community meetings to promote education and social awareness about human rights, and developing research in partnership with academia to understand the deep social and economic dynamics in the most impoverished territories of the city and to suggest public policy for those areas. In addition, the organization engage with public institutions to amplify debate on social justice beyond the group of 250 women and favor all those who are on or below the poverty line.

In addition, the ser Ponte/Be the Bridge Project has partner with University of Victoria research “Housing Insecurity and Housing Rights in Times of Financialization and Covid-19” led by me, PhD Candidate in Geography Sharon Dias, to develop a community-based project to understand the relationship between housing precarity and Covid-19 spread through training local leaders on research, research ethics and data-collection and by collaborating on exchanging knowledge between local communities and research team. Through our friendly and engaged partnership I could see the engagement, action, ethics and respect that the organization treats those who it supports and academics who want to promote a just world through science. I believe this is a good opportunity for us to recognize and further empower such an important organization in the Global South. Below are some links with additional information about the Ser Ponte/Be the Bridge project.

Ser Ponte Impact Report 2021: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1nCmJZjB0j3ldvcikh_OcIWXNS0Ju7NoB/view

Ser Ponte Social Media: https://www.instagram.com/serpontefortaleza/

The Backpack Project

Nominated by Stacie Swain, Components 1 & 3  Political Science, Indigenous Nationhood Program

In 2008, Niki Ottosen, a gardener by trade, began pruning shrubs to offer privacy to unhoused people who were sheltering in urban bush patches. Soon, Niki wanted to do more for those who had nowhere else to go. With her own money and her family’s help, Niki distributed 20 backpacks filled with survival supplies to unhoused people. Fourteen years later, The Backpack Project is a local initiative that provides mutual aid to community members who live without homes by redistributing life-saving items such as tents, sleeping bags, blankets, clothing, food, water and medical supplies. Every November 1st, donation bins are placed at Niki’s Colwood home, each City Hall in the Capital Regional District, and for the first time this year, the Fairfield-Gonzalez Community Hall. Generous community members provide the items that grassroots volunteers distribute to unhoused neighbours through rain, wind, and snow.


With support from the CUPE 4163 Social Justice Fund, The Backpack Project will be able to purchase items that are missing or in short supply, such as socks, tarps, and handwarmers, when they are most needed. By not only providing basic survival items but also building social connections across class divides, the Backpack Project emphasizes solidarity, not charity, based on mutual dignity, care, and justice. This Fall, I’m asking CUPE 4163 members to extend our solidarity to Niki, her volunteers, and our unhoused neighbours by voting for The Backpack Project.

Cowichan Women Against Violence (CWAV) Society:

Nominated by Amy Levine, Component 3, Anthropology

Cowichan Women Against Violence (CWAV) Society works from a feminist perspective to provide a supportive environment primarily to women, women-identifying individuals, and children who have been affected by abuse. We support diversity, change, choice, and growth through counselling, advocacy, emergency shelter, community development, and education.

Our primary work is to provide safe places and wrap-around services for women and children fleeing violence. We run a transition home, a women’s only shelter, counselling for all ages, employment services, a Poverty Law Advocate, and a Child and Youth Advocacy Centre. We also provide group counselling to men who have used abuse in their relationships. At CWAV we believe…

· No one deserves to be abused

· Violence has no place in relationships or in society.

· Relationships and societal violence arise from an imbalance and misuse of power and control.

· Equality, mutual respect, self-esteem and interdependence are values that foster healthy relationships and a healthy society

· Education and awareness are essential for prevention

· Women and children are diverse and have a right to have their differences respected and supported

· The community has a right and a responsibility to become involved

We recognize that an individual’s capacity for change is influenced by the broader social and economic and political environment.