Freedom Justice Academy (FJA)
Freedom Justice Academy (FJA) is a radical adult education institute in Toronto launched by Christopher Harris, PhD (a.k.a. Wasun), in July 2015 to advance Indigenous Solidarity Activism, Global Citizenship and Social Justice Education, African-Canadian and Indigenous Prisoner Rights, Hip Hop for Social Justice, and African-Canadian radical adult education articles inspired by the writings of the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci.
Prisoner HMLT (Healing, Mentorship, Leadership Training)
This program was founded to provide counselling, mentorship, and leadership training opportunities to Black and Native ex-prisoners in provincial and federal institutions to assist them with successfully integrating into society upon their release. In 2016, FJA mentored a 30 year-old African immigrant with severe mental health on immigration detention for one year. FJA helped him secure housing and connected him with a wide range of mental health support services. Second, FJA mentored Federal Native prisoner Kevin Harp by providing the opportunity for him to speak on his experience as an inter-generational survivor and grandson of residential school survivors, at the Urban Alliance on Race Relations AGM Panel, “Moving Forward on the 94 Calls to Action of Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission” (March 21, 2016). Also, Kevin helped organize the 4 Directions Festival with FJA and the Restorative Relations Working Group. Currently, Kevin received a $1000 FJA micro grant, and he is in Toronto organizing an ex-prisoner support action network and ex-prisoners speakers bureau called Global Inspiration, with his lifelong friend, Sean Frost, he grew up with and served time with throughout his youth and adult life.
Research on Radical Adult Education
In 2011 I completed my doctoral dissertation, “The Development of Working-Class Organic Intellectuals in the Canadian Black Left Tradition: Historical Roots and Contemporary Expressions, Future Directions”, on the Freedom Cipher Program at Black Action Defense Committee (BADC) to develop radical adult education theory using a Gramscian framework (Harris, 2011). In 2014, I was a panelist on the Global Hip Hop and Social Justice Activism
Symposium, 6th Annual African Studies Conference, Kennesaw State University, Atlanta, Georgia. On June 10th, 2017 I presented the article, “The Black organic intellectual tradition and the challenges of educating organic intellectuals in the 21st Century,” at the Wars of Position Marxism and Civil Society Conference, Peoples History Museum, University of Manchester, England, June 8-10, 2017.
The Forthcoming article, "From Global Citizenship Academic Upgrading to the Global Citizen Network: A case study of working-class immigrant and refugee women learning social justice education and engaging in indigenous solidarity activism", will be submitted to the Righting Relations Working Group at the Catherine Donnelly Foundation. The article will be published on the FJA website in December 2017 for Righting Relations, to help them advance their project to consolidate a network of radical adult educators for social change in south western Ontario.
Recently, Dr. Harris was invited by Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and author of The Communist Horizon (Verso 2012) and Crowds and Party (Verso 2016), to present the paper, “Wasun’s Comrade Music: African-Canadian and Indigenous Revolutionary Hip Hop and the War of Position against Neo-liberal Capitalism in 21st Century Canada” at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, “Futures of Revolution” Fisher Center Series in February 2018. The Futures of Revolution, is a “series of lectures to spur an interdisciplinary conversation around the successes and failures of revolutions, as these political, social, economic and technological forces are envisioned, imagined, realized and lived” (see http://www2.hws.edu/fisher-center-series-explores-futures-of-revolution/).
6 Bronx Zoo, 6 Nations, Canada ($1,500)
6 Bronx Zoo received a $1,500 FJA micro grant, to help fund their studio time and music video for their debut mixtape. FJA artist Wasun, organized alongside members of 6 Bronx Zoo since the 6 Nations Land Reclamation movement in 2006. At the time, Wasun was a hip hop anti-racist youth organizer at the Black Action Defense Committee (BADC), building relations of solidarity between 6 Nations youth and Toronto’s African community (see Harris Upping the Anti interview article “Building to Building, Hood to Hood”). In November 2015, Wasun released the EP album Comrade Music featuring various artists from 6 Bronx Zoo on the songs “The Cycle” and “Idle No More”. In December 2017, 6 Bronx Zoo will release their debut mixtape.
6 Bronx Zoo is a collective of Onkwehonwe artists from 6 Nations and surrounding reservations (Deyha, Jimi James, Fresh, Pete Nyce, Teezee). 6BZ is reaching out to other artists from other nations because hip hop is a universal culture which is open to all. 6 Bronx Zoo can be defined in the following manner: the “6” is for 6 Nations because that is where they’re from and they’re all family. “Bronx” is to pay homage to the borough in New York where hip hop originated in the ‘70s – the South Bronx. “Zoo” is to symbolize the whole world is like a zoo (i.e. Indigenous Nations on reservations, Africans enslaved etc.) until the oppressed nations of the world rise out of colonialism and regain their power and control over their communities. Historically indigenous people in Canada had to get permission to leave their “zoo” (reservation) from a white Indian agent. 6 Bronx Zoo is not holding back, they are here to speak the truth of indigenous colonization and resistance.
Anansi Creations, Cali, Colombia ($5,000)
Afro-Columbian social entrepreneur and founder of Anansé Creations, Erica Pena, received $5,000 to develop a website and finance her social enterprise with Afro-Colombian women in Cali, Colombia. Anansé Creations is a fashion apparel and accessories company that enhances the aesthetic expression of people, while injecting the vibrancy that African-style textiles have to offer fashion. Anansé Creations is committed to crafting quality products in a way that is environmentally responsible. Anansé Creations cares deeply about the environment and the global community. Erica supports social and educational initiatives in Colombia that create opportunities for marginalized young women to be engaged and empowered.
Global Women’s Network, Toronto, Canada ($1,000)
Najia Zewari received $1000 to work with a strategic planning consultant to develop the Global Women’s Network: a grassroots non-governmental organization that educates, organizes, and engages immigrant and refugee women in adult education and advocacy on international women’s and human rights issues.
Made in TO Music Label, Toronto, Canada ($1,500)
Sanford Chang (DJ Akiin) and Brian Ruiz received $1,500 to start an independent hip hop music label that brings socially conscious music from Toronto Hip Hop artists to the world.
Global Inspiration, Canada ($2,000)
$2,000 to Global Inspiration to develop their prisoner rights advocacy initiative, to build peer support programs for ex-prisoners. They also hope to organize public education campaigns to raise awareness about the challenges of reintegrating federal Black and Native federal prisoners into society after serving long prison sentences in this era of mass incarceration.
Basics Community Newspaper, Toronto, Canada ($1,500)
$1,500 to Basic Community Newspaper to go towards the production of their newspaper, website, and community organizing for social change.
Global Citizenship, Social Justice Education, and Professional Immigrant Mentorship Program.
FJA hopes to create professional and leadership training opportunities for immigrant professionals with international experience and credentials finding difficulty entering the Canadian job market because they lack “Canadian Experience”. FJA created a professional development opportunity for Najia Zewari (UN Women/Afghan Women’s Network) by working collaboratively with her to develop CCLD’s global citizenship course curriculum; and recruiting Najia to teach the academic upgrading summer course: "Global Citizenship for Peace, Equity, and Social Justice" at the Centre for Community Learning & Development (CCL&D). FJA coorganized a panel for Najia to facilitate with the Ontario Council for International Cooperation
(OCIC), so she could present her international women's rights and network organizing experience at the OCIC Global Citizens Forum 2017: Mobilizing Leadership for Global Sustainable Development, Humber College, Toronto, Feb 2-3, 2017.