One year ago I wrote to you of the trying year that was 2013. And though I’m approaching two months of near-total internet silence I can’t resist posting these brief reflections on the last year. I’m a sap that way.
In many ways, I know that I should be as discouraged and frustrated by 2014 as I was by 2013. I once again was fired under nebulous circumstances, struggled to find employment for the first time in my professional life, got threatened with a million dollar defamation lawsuit, and am the continued subject of harassment and intimidation.
But despite all this, I remain largely content and at peace with the year that was.
While it eventually led to my termination, I unionised my workplace, a first in my time as a worker and organiser. I held my first photo sale and my prints found their ways to walls across North America. One of my images graced the cover of the CCPA’s Our Schools, Ourselves. I made time to write, largely thanks to the creation that first blog post a year ago today.
I collaborated with dozens of lovely friends and strangers thanks to monmetro and tableau portrait. I travelled far and wide, from Hong Kong to Fogo Island. I navigated through the Commission des Normes du Travail’s hefty bureaucracy and saw to it that all the complaints I filed surrounding my 2013 termination were found in my favour. I also got to breathe easy knowing I had a union taking care of reparations for my more recent firing.
After months of searching, I landed employment in what seems to be the most stimulating and nurturing workplace to date.
And while yes, the past two months have been frightening, confusing and destabilising, at least I get to work through these difficulties in the comfort of my own home, unwaveringly supported by my partner, surrounded by kitties, and as enamored by my hometown as ever.
The harassment I suffered in 2013 was relentless, and cost me my mental health, friendships, and a job I very much loved. I was fortunate to find immediate work in Ottawa, but that meant extended time away from my home, friends and family. It meant endless couchsurfing, sleeping at the office, hours upon hours of transit, and a diet of chips and chocolate.
I once told my partner that even if I were to win my fight at the labour board, I’d lose. I’d lose because my previous employers would have taken so much away from me. Even with financial retributions for the harms caused upon me, I couldn’t imagine how I’d emerge from this conflict other than scarred and deflated, a shadow of my former self.
And therein lay the difference between then and now. Even though I’m still deeply hurt and the attacks against me wage on after the resolutions at the labour board, at least I’m no longer obliged to face daily workplace hate and toxicity. At least I’m home.
A little recul has also gotten me to appreciate how being pushed out of Montréal helped forge deeper friendships with the people in Ottawa who quite literally took me into their homes for a year, as well as recognise that invaluable new relationships never would have seen the light of day had I not been for the colossal shittiness I had to put up with in the months that preceded and followed my 2013 termination.
I also recognise that all of this never would have been possible without the privileges I have been handed as an able-bodied heterosexual cis white man. I recognise that truth, and while it’s important to do so, it’s arguably more important to use that privilege to initiate and/or support changes in our institutions and communities, particularly when asked to by folks systemically targeted by the same institutions and communities that help you.
And though I must now return to the abyss of the internet for the foreseeable future, I still wanted to say thank you to all those who have helped bring peace and joy to my life throughout the year. I know 2014 was rough for a great number of you, and that many personal and collective challenges await us in the months that come, I very much hope to be there alongside y’all in whichever capacity I should be and can be.
In love and solidarity, always.