Leadership Development & Member Profiles

Mark Your Calender - ACORN Canada Convention 2013

Convention planning at South Ottawa chapter meeting, Sept. 18 2012. June 22 to the 24th, 2013 will be ACORN Canada's second national convention in downtown Toronto.  

ACORN members from coast to coast will spend time sharing skills and ideas with each other, moving campaigns forward, getting to know peers from other neighborhoods and cities, and having fun. 

Members in BC, Ottawa and across the country are already making plans to ensure turnout and travel goes smoothly next year. 

If you're curious about being at convention contact the ACORN office closest to you, or stay tuned - we'll share lots more information here in the coming weeks and months.

Celebrating 8 Years of Organizing

ACORN members in action. For over eight years now, ACORN Canada members have been building and organizing. They've run strong campaigns at the local, provinical, national and now international levels. There are nearly 50,000 of them in cities and towns all across the country. 

In neighborhood chapters across the country, members are doing things to celebrate ACORN Canada's eighth birthday. Here are two:

In Toronto, members will gather with friends and allies at Dufferin Grove Park on Saturday, August 11th for a picnic from 10 AM to 2 PM. They'll be accepting donations, sharing food, enjoying the park and playing games. 

In Ottawa's Brittania chapter, members are having a BBQ on Saturday, August 18th at Brittania beach. It'll be a lot of fun and the food will be pay-what-you-can. 

At both events, all are welcome! 

Contact the ACORN office closest to you with questions or if you can help with preperations for these celebrations!

Member Profile: Rohan Jagroo

Rohan Jagroo joined Toronto ACORN’s Weston chapter in August, 2011 because his landlord wasn’t doing the repairs and cleaning that were needed in his high-rise apartment  building.

He’s been active since then - participating in and leading neighborhood meetings, visiting his Member of Provincial Parliament to lobby for changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, and speaking to the media on behalf of the organization.

In addition to his leadership and organizing on local campaigns for better housing, he’s become very involved in the campaign for remittance justice. In February of this year he and other members met with MPP Jagmeet Singh to plan for the introduction of a private member’s bill that would bring remittance justice to Ontario. It was tabled on May 31st.

New Leadership in Surrey

Canada Drouin, one of ACORN Canada’s first leaders in Whalley, announced last month that she is stepping down as Chapter Chair to make way for new leadership in an expanded Surrey Centre ACORN Chapter. By no means will Canada stop being a leader in ACORN Canada; quite to the contrary - she has committed to being the treasurer of the new chapter and will use her fundraising skills to help show other members how to raise money for the chapter.

Canada's door was knocked on by an organizer in 2005 shortly after ACORN Canada was founded. She helped lead successful campaigns for payday lending regulations, numerous community safety issues like better lighting at Skytrain stations and at her apartment complex, as well as affordable and livable housing campaigns what have become a staple for the organization in Metro Vancouver. Further, Canada has fundraised more than any other ACORN Canada member in the history of the organization.

As Canada steps aside to her new role in the organization, our Healthy Homes campaign that she helped pioneer in Surrey has been blazing a trail for other chapters. Our newest chapter in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia will be launching a Healthy Homes Campaign this month,modelled on the campaign Canada helped found in Surrey. With a proven fundraiser enshrined as Treasurer, members can be assured that the fight for Healthy Homes in Surrey will continue.

Member Profile: Toby Jason

Toby Jason has been a member of ACORN Canada since shortly after our founding in 2004.  As Chair of Toronto ACORN's Weston Chapter, Toby was a key participant in a record setting case against the landlord of 1775 & 1765 Weston Rd. in 2005, in which tenants won 250,000 dollars in rent abatements to compensate for years of unresolved work orders and back repairs.

That victory energized Toronto ACORN’s tenant organizing and helped build our longest standing and most successful citywide campaign: Landlord Licensing.  Toby continues to be an active member in her community and recently raised $200 for the Weston ACORN chapter from the Lion's Club by promoting her chapter’s hard work to improve conditions in the community.  Toby was most recently involved in a community platform launch in September where Weston ACORN called on the next provincial government to get tough on negligent landlords and introduce new rent controls.

BC ACORN Recap Following Community Change Summit

June saw the largest and longest migration of members in ACORN Canada's 7 year history.  A delegation of 12 British Columbia members flew to Ottawa to represent BC ACORN at ACORN Canada's Community Change Summit.

In true BC style, the delegation was loud and proud.  David Tate MC'd the opening plenary of the Summit, and joined other BC delegates in helping run workshops and sessions with members from around the country.

The highlight of the convention was BC members leading the march and the action at the Finance Ministry, demanding that the Deputy Minister of Finance "Come Down!" and meet with ACORN members regarding the outrageous and predatory rates on remittances and money transfers.  Pascal Apuwa kept the entire crowd lively and motivated with continuous rhythmic chants for over an hour.  After starting a chant of "Deputy Minister Come Down!', the call was heard 14 floors up in the high rise office building on O'Conner in Downtown Ottawa. The press secretary for the Deputy Minister came down, and ACORN Canada delivered its message of Remittance Regulations Now to the highest bureaucrat in Canada.


Ottawa Takes Pride as Host of Community Change Summit

Ottawa members took great pride as the host city for our first ever National Community Change Summit.

"It was powerful! I learned a lot from the speakers and workshops, met other members who had similar issues from other cities and realized: we are not in this alone - we’re all in this together.” -Leading member John Redins

As part of the host city, Ottawa members volunteered at the event as greeters and hosts, helped make transportation arrangements to get to and from activities each day and helped with the planning committee that had been making arrangements in the weeks leading up to the Summit.

A Message from Incoming President Kay Bisnath

Brothers and sisters, today I’m writing you my first message following my election as President of ACORN Canada. I couldn't be more excited to have been selected by the board and members at our recent annual general meeting to become the President – it’s an honour that I find truly humbling.

Over the last 6 years that I’ve been a member of ACORN Canada, I’ve stood with members who were fighting for living wages, for affordable and liveable housing and to make sure big business isn’t the only voice heard by our elected officials.

Wherever ACORN Canada members are uniting for justice, I’ll continue to be there to stand with them, because their fight is my fight and their dreams are my dreams.

In the coming years we must renew our commitments each and every day to achieving the Canada we want. We will no longer simply fight against the injustices in our neighbourhoods; we will put forward a vision for Canada that works to protect the most vulnerable among us while building on the hard fought gains of recent years.

We have a long way to go in this big world.

Many of us who will start this march will not finish, but in this fight for power for people there is great pride and there will be great progress. We cannot win alone, we must win together.

President, ACORN Canada

Member Profile: Lorna Smith

Earlier this week long-time Ottawa ACORN member Lorna Smith (pictured right) passed away, below is a note written by another long-time member and friend Nadia Willard.

April 14th, 2011 - Lorna Smith was one of those people who touched everyone she came in contact with.

Her commitment to social justice was shown by the way she lived her life – she held a deep belief in right and wrong and always worked to persuade others of her point of view.  She volunteered every week at a local food bank and could always be counted on to help her neighbours make it to community meetings, even going so far as to learn Mandarin so she could better communicate with her neighbours.

As an active member of ACORN, she attended meetings and helped when help was needed.  She attended Leadership Trainings and participated in many ACORN actions in the City of Ottawa.  Lorna was also a member of the Poverty Issues Advisory Committee for Ottawa City Council.  She was thrilled to be asked to sit on this committee and share her perspectives and work for the things she believed in.

Lorna made time to be with the people she loved.  If she wasn’t taking time to encourage her neighbours to pull weeds and plant flowers, she was taking time to visit her children and grandchildren and, oh, how she did love them.  She worried about her children, as mothers do, and she talked with pride of her grandchildren.

Earlier this week Lorna passed away; she will be sadly missed by all who knew her.   If there were more people like Lorna, the world would be a better place.

Member Profile: Wayne Mahoney

Wayne joined Ottawa ACORN in January 2011 at a local chapter meeting in Britanna. Since then he has been deeply involved in all aspects of being a community leader and member.

Wayne is a neighbourhood block captain - meaning he takes responsibility for letting his neighbours know about upcoming meetings and actions. Wayne has facilitated outreach tables at university events and community hubs, helping raise awareness about the work of Ottawa ACORN and why people should get involved.

When asked about what campaigns Wayne is most passionate about, he was unequivocal: "The living wage campaign, because working folks need a raise. People can’t live on the minimum wage, I’ve been there and I know."

Wayne is also deeply invested in our campaign for improving ODSP/OW rates, benefits and keeping the special diet since this also effects his loved ones.