The Centretown Worker Relief Fund was created to provide direct financial aid to workers who have lost wages or paid increased transportation costs due to the ongoing occupation of Ottawa. We are reaching out through trusted local networks to contact affected workers directly. We will be sending funds directly to workers for as long as there are contributions to match and we can maintain organizational capacity. We are a group of locals who believe in the possibilities of ordinary people working together with shared purpose to address the needs of our community.
The situation on the ground
The ongoing occupation of Ottawa has severely disrupted the downtown core and beyond. Many businesses have been forced to close, including the unprecedented, indefinite closure of the Rideau Centre. Workers have lost wages, and we know that losing pay from even a single shift can be devastating for those living paycheque to paycheque. With no official response as rent and bills are coming due, the Centretown Worker Relief Fund is stepping in to provide direct aid. This fund is a means for us to come together in solidarity.
Workers have lost wages and paid increased costs
This Fund is available to workers directly impacted by the ongoing occupation who have
-lost shifts or hours due to cancellations, closures, and disruptions;
-refused shifts due to lack of transportation or personal safety reasons; or
-paid increased transportation costs due to cancelled and rerouted public transit, or due to increased personal risk making less expensive options unsafe.
Leveraging community networks
The Centretown Worker Relief Fund is using local knowledge and community contacts to reach out to affected workers. Through these trusted networks, workers will contact us directly. We have chosen this method of assessing needs to strike a balance between several factors, including
-keeping workers and organizers safe;
-reaching impacted workers, especially those who may be unable to access traditional or existing supports for any reason;
-protecting personally identifiable information;
-moving with enough speed to respond effectively; and
-being accountable to our community and our contributors.
As with all mutual aid projects, there is a risk that a small amount of funds will go to someone who misrepresents their needs or situation. In most cases, the need for support is very real, even if the given details of the story are not. In trying to find the right balance, we will always err on the side of safety and dignity for the worker. If you are uncomfortable with this risk, we suggest that you direct your resources to other campaigns with a more traditional vetting process, such as the Ottawa Restaurant Fund by Robin Duetta.
We will NOT be collecting worker information through social media. If you see anyone claiming otherwise, they are NOT associated with us. Please be careful and discerning.
Direct financial support
Working within our capacity, we will send funds directly to affected workers as requests and funds are received. We will primarily use e-transfer but will take a flexible approach when requested.
The campaign goal will be fluid and expanding, in the same way that the situation we are responding to has been fluid and expanding. When we first started planning this initiative, the Rideau Centre was closed for a weekend. At the time of writing, it remains closed indefinitely. The impacts to workers have spread beyond the initial Centretown area and will continue to grow.
We will keep the campaign goin’ as long as the funds keep comin’. We intend to keep this fundraiser open for as long as we continue to receive new requests from workers and new contributions to match. However, in keeping with our values of community accountability, we will pause this campaign as needed to match our organizational capacity.
Neighbours helping neighbours
We are a group of locals who believe in the possibilities of ordinary people working together with shared purpose. We came together to address what we saw as an unmet need in our community.
Sophia Kamal launched this GoFundMe when she noticed friends and acquaintances sharing their stories of financial struggle and uncertainty resulting from the occupation of downtown Ottawa. Frustrated with the lack of official response, she decided to take direct action.
Simultaneously and independently, a working group formed within the Centretown Helpers community with the intent of connecting workers seeking a direct mutual aid response to the same situation. As Sophia’s GoFundMe began to be shared within the larger community, members of the working group reached out with the opportunity to combine efforts.
We have and will continue to reach out to existing, trusted community organizers and organizations. We will provide updates to the fundraiser as and when these collaborations develop.
Getting in touch
We want to be responsive to our community. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out via the contact form below. We will try to respond quickly.
Please remember that we will never ask workers to send us their information via social media. We do not have an online form, a website, a public spreadsheet, or any social media accounts for this purpose. Please report any suspected impersonation to us immediately by using the contact form below.
We will not be taking requests from affected workers through this contact form.
Please consider your safety when choosing whether to leave your name publicly or to stay anonymous. Should the need arise, we will change all publicly visible names to anonymous.
We keep each other safe.