Weed and Sisterhood in Quarantine

By Hannah Endicott-Douglas

My older sister and I are in quarantine together. We realized the other day that this has been the most time we’ve spent under the same roof since we were teenagers. It’s brought up a lot for us. Old dynamics have come to the surface and we are forced to navigate them in a deeper way because we are sharing space so intensely. Some days we talk for hours- about what’s going on in the world, or about us, or about our family- a whole lot about healing. It can get heavy. Some days our energies clash- she might be feeling especially inspired and I might be feeling especially cynical. So on those days, we tend to stay out of each other’s way as much as possible but then no matter what has taken place that particular day (they do seem to all blend together don’t they?) we find ourselves, around six pm, together in the kitchen, hungry! 

And our evening ritual begins: I roll a joint for her and one for me (an added Covid 19 precaution) and she starts to cook. Sometimes I help. No, I’m joking, I do help. Usually. I’m rolling the joints through- which is ALSO important! Anyways…

Then we smoke together, and there’s a shift. 

We’ve taken to blasting music (mostly nostalgic throwbacks) and singing at the top of our lungs, dancing around in a way that I only really feel totally comfortable doing with my siblings. Then we eat and pick something to watch. We were watching The Sopranos but sometimes we need a break from the violence so we’ll watch Insecure or a movie (mostly a nostalgic throwback) instead. Then eventually one of us (her) will start falling asleep and we’ll say goodnight and head to bed.

The weed is a small part of our evenings together but I think it has played an important role for us. It gives us permission to slow down and just have fun. We get to be silly and get in touch with our younger selves. And through that, I’m not exactly sure how yet,  it feels like these evenings together are a vital part of the healing that we talk so much about. 


Youth Organizing

School Walk Out in Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en People

By Makiyah Williams 

Photo by Jason Hargrove

I am an Indigenous student that goes to school in Caledonia and who also comes from a long line of strong and amazing Mohawk women. I follow a lot of activism and actions that have to do with Indigenous communities including my own. I organized a student walkout at my highschool because I value my beliefs and I feel like we as Indigenous peoples should have equal rights and jurisdiction over our own land and waters. 

Organizing the student walkout was hard because at first I was unsure and scattered about the whole idea but, with being at the highway 6 blockade when it first went up, my dad and I spent lots of time talking about what I could do and how I could do it. I have family in B.C and right from day one I followed everything that was happening. I was filled with some confusion and anger because once again the government is going into another Indigenous community and doing their dirty work. When my mom brought up the flyer for the student walkout she urged me to do something. My family and I spent days talking about different actions I could take, but I was nervous and didn’t know what I would do. I talked about it for days on end with my family expressing how I felt about things going on in Wet’suwet’en territory, it was frustrating knowing the RCMP and the police have the right to forcibly remove Indigenous peoples from their unceded and traditional territories/lands, when Indigenous communities all across Canada don’t even have clean drinking water. Planning the student walkout, I had lots of ideas but I wasn’t exactly sure as to what I was going to do. All the way up until the day of the walkout I had some help with making sure everything went smoothly. It had a great turn out and I am especially grateful to my sister Lola for helping me make the signs the night before and helping me write a statement of which we did not get the chance to read. I look forward to being a part of more movements and organizing more. I was proud and honored that I was able to be a part of an amazing movement.  Regardless of the inevitable negativity we got from passer-bys, it was great to receive support, and overall it was time very well spent.

Poems By Zain Bandali

black and white photo of a daisy
Ghazal I: Black-Eyed Susan 

An odd name for a bold wildflower: black-eyed Susan.
What mysteries will you reveal to me, black-eyed Susan?


Dipped in Aamras, your petals are a vibrant yellow.
Why do far off mangoes come to tongue, black-eyed Susan? 


Your eye may be black to the ignorant botanist, 
I find dogwood-brown in your florets, black-eyed Susan.


Your sunlit spectacle shines against St. Paul's red brick,
I fly to you like a bumblebee, black-eyed Susan.


How foolish to think I could just behold you in peace.
My Dasht-e-Tanhai punctured by a black-eyed, Susan.


“Excuse Me!”she shouts aggressively across the grass.
Christ can save his heart from remaining black, eyed Susan.


What she does not know, is that Aashiq is evergreen --
A relic buried in a field of black-eyed Susan.
Your Weeds Are My Garden

I stare at your weedless body
barren like impermeable concrete

imperial 
unnatural
spiritless 
 
even if a single weed
grows from your paved skin

mow
pluck
kill 
 
weeds grow endlessly
from my brown earthy clay

meadows
forests
gardens

the colonial gaze frowns at me

Zain Bandali is an
unapologetic poet that writes on themes related to Islamic mysticism, queerness, diasporas, and where they interact. He
is 22 years old and takes pride in being a Shia Ismaili Muslim of Indo-Tanzanian heritage living in Canada. Zain is the founder of QTPOC KW, a grassroots community group for racialized queer and trans students in Waterloo Region. He is an avid vegetable gardener but cannot always stomach the chilli peppers he grows.

Feminist Weed Farmer

A Two-Part Book Review on “Feminist Weed Farmer: Growing Mindful Medicine in Your Own Backyard,” by Madrone Stewart.

Review by Lalita Rose 

Is this issue getting you juiced up to start growing your own marijuana? Let me tell you, that desire will be stoked with the fire that is Madrone Stewart. Stewart is a cannabis grower based in North California and she deliciously paints a realistic picture of how you can grow in a pleasure-filled, liberatory and feminist practice. Published by Portland-based, Microcosm Publishing in 2018, “Feminist Weed Farmer: Growing Mindful Medicine in Your Own Backyard’ is a feminist-instructional-DIY guide. Induced with wisdom and political reflection on the transformational and liberating effects of cultivating healthy ganja for your personal use, Madrone critiques the expanding cannabis industry and the hypocrisy of the dispensary system.

She boldly states, “I believe that in order to consume cannabis with integrity, we must derive our plant medicine from ethically responsible sources,” (Steward, 9). She continues: 

“Cannabis, DMT, mushrooms, ayahuasca, and LSD, among other entheogenic plants and compounds, can help us to illuminate these invisible prisons that society has created for us, which prevent us from thriving. I believe that growing and getting high on cannabis and other psychedelics can help to wake us up to who we are, how society is actively constraining our dreams, and they can help us illuminate pathways to liberation and self actualization,” (Stewart, 9-10). 

Her introduction empowers readers to ask themselves the question on why it is important to gain control over their access and consumption of cannabis.  On the topic of dispensaries she declares “I love my straight white brothers, but I do not think it is fair that they have come to control this industry, especially because of the disproportionate incarceration of black and brown people for cultivating and selling pot throughout the span of the war on drugs,” (Stewart, 10).

An inspiring call towards women’s capacity for self-actualization, and why it’s radical and political to take responsibility, to control our consciousness how we see fit. The guidebook is helpful for both beginner and seasoned growers. Divided into 5 main parts she speaks to the plant life cycle (Stewart, 16-35), creating a good growing environment (Stewart, 34-63,) protecting your plants (Stewart, 64-75), harvesting your medicine (Stewart, 76-107) and hash making (Stewart, 108-121). She ends the book with “twenty ideas for enriching your cannabis growing experience,” as if the initial call wasn’t enough to get you started on growing your own high vibration ganja. 

With the shifts, changes and expansive market of cannabis that is available, it is my hope that we can produce, consume and share the plant medicine in a way that enhances our capacity to grow individually and collectively. As we step into Spring, may you receive blessings to a growing season that will elevate you. I have come to understand that there are various contributing factors that can impact one’s experience.Understanding our relationship with plant medicines, especially the plants that have a strong impact on our consciousness can perhaps allow us to learn more about how we are to come into balance and shatter perceptions that have disconnected us from our true humanity.


Review by Ciana Hamilton

When I first cracked open Madrone Stewart’s “Feminist Weed Farmer” I dont know what excited me more – the fact that there is a book written by a Black Feminsit Cannabis farmer or the fact that Stewart’s guide emphasizes the importance of growing Cannabis in it’s most natural state. I am a lover of growing all the things. The power of growing my own food or medicine is a big part of my personal liberation. Weed is no exception. Getting my hands on this book was exciting and I highly recommend it to anyone who has an affinity (or simply a curiosity) for growing your own cannabis medicine. You will quickly discover that Madrone is an advocate for an all earth grow; growing this herb outdoors with the sun, earth and fresh air. This is the common theme throughout, a sound chamber for the importance of growing this plant with its most ideal and natural conditions. It is important to recognize that growing your own cannabis plants indoors can be just as liberating and freeing.  Sadly, I dont have access to a private outdoor space but I still found the Feminist Weed Farmer to be influencial and a great resource of information. Throughout the guide Madrone touches on all the important topics of plant care and maintenance. She clearly and creatively takes the reader through the process from seed to harvest while intertwining her own personal lessons throughout the book. This guide challenges the standard narrative around what growing Cannabis looks like and gives folks something to lean on when starting out. My biggest take away from “Feminist Weed Farmer” was the integral part of meditating while tending to your garden. No matter what kind of medicine or food you are growing, do it with intention. Do it with love. Step into your garden with a mind that is tethered to the moment and transfer that energy to each of those plant babies. Big shoutout to Madrone Stewart for putting something like “Feminist Weed Farmer” into our community. 

Resources:

Stewart, M. (2018). “Feminist Weed Farmer: Growing Mindful Medicine in Your Own 

Backyard.” Microcosm Publising: Portand, OR.


Ciana Hamilton is a happy nappy freelance creative writer & journalist. When she’s not writing she can be found doing fun shit with her kids.

Headshot of Sharrae Lyon

Lalita Rose is a futurist, time- traveler, plant-lover, pleasure seeker, weaver of songs, films, and visions. You can catch her conjuring a story, reading tarot, twerking mid-day and talking on the phone with people across the seas.

Organization Spotlight

Sistering

Written by Shagana Ehamparam

Image by Lisa Vollrathhi (via amplifier.org)

Sistering is a multi-service agency offering practical and emotional support to cisgender women and trans people who experience social isolation, homelessness,  precarious housing, trauma, violence, discrimination, substance use, or mental health struggles. Our programs and services enable people to take greater control over their lives. We work in collaboration with others in the community to change the social conditions that endanger trans people and cisgender women’s welfare.

Sistering began in 1981 when the government started de-institutionalizing services across the province. Women were being discharged from mental health facilities without adequate community support; staying in shelters or rooming houses. It was a mixed group of women, with representatives from women’s agencies, community residents, and women who were living in shelters. This included newcomers, women fleeing from violence, women who were widowed and pension-less, women living on the streets, sex workers, and substance users. They were alienated from their families, and community supports were very insufficient. Employment opportunities for unskilled women were scarce. Even those healthy enough to work could not readily become self-supporting. 34 years later — similar issues still exist where women are socially isolated through the marginalization of services that do not speak to their language, culture, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, and orientation, ability, etc.

In November 2015, Sistering became a 24-hour Drop-In. This was in response to a homeless woman who was assaulted twice in the same night in front of a city building, due to the lack of available shelter beds. It became increasingly evident that there was a need for a safe space for all women and trans people.

Sistering’s vision is a world where all women and people of diverse trans identities are safe, respected, valued, and treated with dignity. We operate through a low-barrier model, meeting people where they are on their personal journeys. In 2018-2019, Sistering had 20,000 overnight stays, conducted 600+ housing referrals, served 138,023 meals, distributed over 5,000 harm reduction kits, supported 82 participants at our social enterprise Spun Studio and gathered 8,933 attendees for social events & outings. Sistering is also a fearless advocate in the city of Toronto for affordable housing and transit as well as access to mental health services. For instance, for the last 9 years, Sistering has been a part of the Fair Fare Coalition and contributed to the TTC’s implementation of the Fair Pass Discount Program. 

If you are interested in supporting Sistering and the broader community at this time, you can support in the following ways:

  • Make a financial donation online
  • Donate any one of these items in a plastic bag 
    • New underwear, bras and socks
    • Incontinence pads
    • Tim Hortons Cards ($5 or $10 denominations)
    • Grocery Gift Cards like Frills, Fresh Co, Walmart ($25 denominations)
    • 8x8x3 Hinge Containers for takeaway meals (Unused and sealed, preferably compostable)
    • Sanitizers (Unused and sealed, any size)
    • Masks and Gloves for Front-line Staff (Unused and sealed)

We are only accepting these items by appointment at this current time. Please email fundraising@sistering.org to arrange this as well as if you have any additional questions.

  • Volunteer with the Friendly Neighbourhood Hotline, an initiative run by the University Health Network’s Open Lab which we are partnering with. The hotline delivers groceries and other household essentials to vulnerable seniors. Learn more at www.uhnopenlab.ca/project/hotline/
  • Sew a fabric mask to support the Michael Garron Hospital’s #MGH1000masks initiatives. Sistering’s Spun Studio is participating in this to not only create additional equipment supply for our staff but to also support the larger community. Learn more at www.mghf.ca/mgh1000masks

Follow us on social media for our latest updates: @SisteringTO on Facebook and Twitter, @sisteringdropin on Instagram.  If you have any questions please contact Communications and Development, Senior Associate Shagana Ehamparam at sehamparam@sistering.org