Keynote Speakers

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Janetta Johnson

1452182898Janetta is an Afro-American trans woman who was raised in Tampa, Florida. She is a healer through her work at the Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project and facilitator invested in decolonizing spaces. Since 2006, she has been organizing around the intersections of violence she and her trans and gender non-conforming communities of color face. She has been both politicized and mentored by Miss Major who has been deeply influential in her life, and she is honored to have accepted Miss Major’s former position as Executive Director of the TGI Justice Project. The spiritual force that drives her to dismantle the violent systems that black trans people are subjected to and oppressed by is one that awakens her.  

 As a formerly incarcerated trans person, Janetta has faced adversity and this has informed her community work as well as her deep investment in the liberation of all black trans and gender non-conforming people. Janetta works to restore her community’s spirit from the confines of the prison industrial complex: she has developed a grassroots reentry program with the focus on recidivism and reentry, she is a member of the Bay Area chapter of Black Lives Matter, and is dedicated to ending capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy, and building the organizing capacity of trans and gender non-conforming communities of color as a trans warrior. She enjoys working to shift and reframe the value of black trans lives through media, education, and community building.

Monica James 

monica jamesMonica is an African American transgender woman working as a Collective Member at the Transformative Justice Law Project in Chicago. She was born and raised in Chicago and has been organizing around on issues of incarceration and transgender liberation for several years. Monica has survived years of police targeting including being confined in the maximum security section of Cook County Jail more than 100 times. In 2007, with legal and community support, she fought trumped up charges following a brutal assault by police. In 2014 she traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to testify before the UN to the severe abuses inflicted by cops and courts on trans women of color. She has recently become “National Organizer” of the Black and Pink organization; more information can be found HERE.

Syrus Marcus Ware

attach_a39102b0a47eb5ce184ba196d29029cdSyrus is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. He is a facilitator/designer at The Banff Centre, and for the past 13 years was the Coordinator of the Art Gallery of Ontario Youth Program. Syrus is the inaugural Daniel’s Spectrum Artist-in-Residence (2016/17).  As a visual artist, Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture. His work has been shown widely, including at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery,  Art Gallery of York University and The Gladstone Hotel. Syrus’recent curatorial projects include That’s So Gay: On the Edge (Gladstone Hotel, 2015 & 2014), Re:Purpose (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2014) and The Church Street Mural Project (Church-Wellesley Village, 2013).

He is part of the PDA (Performance Disability Art) Collective and co-programmedCrip Your World: An Intergalactic Queer/POC Sick and Disabled Extravaganza as part of Mayworks 2014. Syrus is part of Blackness Yes! and co-produces Blockorama at Pride and other related events throughout the year.  For 17 years, Syrus hosted the weekly radio segment, “Resistance on the Sound Dial”on CIUT 89.5FM. He is a prison abolitionist, is a former member of Friends of MOVE Toronto and the Prisoners’Justice Action Project, and is one of the organizers of Toronto’s Prisoners’Justice Day events.  

Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award for LGBT community leadership and activism (2012).  In 2009, Syrus coedited the Journal of Museum Education issueBuilding Diversity in Museums with Gillian McIntyre. Syrus’writings on trans health, disability studies and activism are part of curricula at City University of New York, York University, and Ryerson University.Syrus holds degrees in Art History, Visual Studies and a Masters in Sociology and Equity Studies, University of Toronto. Syrus is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Environmental Studies atYork University.

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