About our Safe(r) Spaces Policy

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CLARIFICATION & APOLOGY concerning this statement (April 17, 2016)

ABOUT OUR SAFE(R) SPACES POLICY (May 30, 2015)

The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair collective would like to publicly address our safe(r) spaces and exclusions policy that was in effect at this year’s Anarchist Bookfair (May 22-24, 2015). We share this statement in order to provide some context that Bookfair participants and supporters (some of whom weren’t able to attend the Bookfair this year) might not have, and because we’ve been asked to publicly address our policy.

The safe(r) spaces policy was publicized on our website and via e-mail prior to the Bookfair. This policy was also included in our Bookfair program as well as posted on the walls of the Bookfair near the welcome tables of both Bookfair buildings (CEDA & CCGV).

The entire policy is available on our website HERE.

The safe(r) spaces policy exists in conjunction with other important Bookfair statements and policies: our acknowledgement, principles, and accessibility policy and commitment.

Our policy on exclusions is included at the bottom of the safe(r) spaces policy. It’s based on the following principles:
– believing survivors of sexual violence;
– guaranteeing confidentiality;
– not requiring survivors to have to justify themselves;
– respecting their express consent;
– having clear communications with a survivor, or via an identified third party who has the express consent of a survivor.

We made finalizing our safe(r) spaces policy, and responding to correspondence about the policy, a priority for the collective this year. We also want to underline that our policy is a work-in-progress, it’s not fixed, and we are hoping to build on it for future Montreal Anarchist Bookfairs, based on feedback from supporters and participants. Prior to the Bookfair, we pro-actively scheduled a meeting, with former collective members and Bookfair supporters, to assess our safe(r) spaces policy, including exclusions. This meeting will take place in mid-June. We are looking to improve this policy for next year’s Bookfair (2016).

This year, using our exclusions policy, four individuals were excluded by the Bookfair collective, and notified in advance, as a result of communications prior to the Bookfair with the collective by survivors

The Bookfair collective was also prepared to exclude individuals during the Bookfair itself, using our exclusions policy. We did not receive any requests to do so.

Before the Bookfair, we were contacted by e-mail by Les Sorcieres, asking for clarification about our procedures for excluding aggressors, and providing a list of 12 names of individuals to be excluded.

The Bookfair collective replied, and exchanged one more e-mail about this issue. The difference of view that was expressed with Les Sorcieres is that the Bookfair collective, consistent with our policy for this year, wanted to make sure we had the express consent of survivors for an exclusion. We clarified that there were several ways communications could be made: i) a direct communication with the collective via e-mail, telephone or face-to-face meeting; ii) via an identified third party who can confirm they have the direct consent of a survivor for a particular course of action; iii) or a communication with an individual Bookfair collective member (as opposed to the entire collective) who has direct experience supporting survivors of sexual violence and/or is a survivor of sexual violence themselves.

Our policy is imperfect, and we also acknowledge that safe(r) spaces as a concept has its limitations. We appreciate feedback and commentary. We would like to improve our policy, based on feedback from a diversity of Bookfair supporters and participants committed to struggling against sexism and patriarchy, including intimate violence.

Autonomous actions contribute to the Bookfair, and we consider the intervention by Les Sorcieres one such contribution, like the varied contributions by different Bookfair participants.

Please do get in touch with your feedback and comments. You can fill out the online survey HERE or e-mail us at info@anarchistbookfair.ca. Please note that we only use facebook to promote the Bookfair, not for correspondence.

Thank you for taking the time to read this statement. Please share it with anyone you think might find it useful. The French version of this statement is available on our website HERE.

With anarchist solidarity,
The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair Collective 2015