Listen to Tanya’s performance of “Restoring Community”

Tanya Davis speaking at the Montreal Massacre Memorial Service.

To restore community, we must explore community
that means all aspects and all aspects truthfully
it’s more than camaraderie and obvious unity
it goes beyond bonds formed easily, and tended faithfully/beautifully
the tenuous holds, too, need scrutiny
the challenging roles that some fill dutifully
and others will not approach, understandably

community is fractious, naturally
it is a scrappy tapestry of mismatched threads
they can unravel masterfully when catastrophe hits
they can also grasp mightily, steadfast in warp and weft

community as metaphor is complex
of course, it involves people
people who have been harmed, caused harm,
people who have tried to stop harm, or stay neutral
people who have analyzed or punished harm
people who have strategized how to deal with harm
or bring healing

and healing is needed
as are the conditions in which we can properly give and receive it
as is the ambition to shape communities in which we no longer need it

that’s a lofty vision, yes
and yet here we are, why would we work for less
here we are, still, again
to remember, and to grieve
here we are to relive our anger, our sadness, our disbelief
here we are to cast a circle, a symbol for the safety we seek
amidst candlelight to signal we will try to be the warmth that we need
the web of support we weave is helpful
but it can’t help but be incomplete

because, like people, harm and healing don’t exist in bubbles
they are interwoven things

so to work for a world wherein gender-based violence stops happening
we have to look inside it
we need to investigate the chain reactions that bind it
to us
and us to each other
we need to discuss what must be provided
so survivors have resources they need to recover
so they need not suffer in the first place

for instance, living wages may seem to be a different conversation
but if someone can’t afford to leave an abusive situation what structural changes must be involved
if someone has the means but our communities have no houses, whose office should we call
if there are not enough counsellors to talk to, or shelters to go to, can people get free at all
if we think prisons are the go to, that their violence will stop abusers’ violence like we hope to
then we are looking too close to disparate faults
and not close enough at collective responsibility

restoring community includes exposing/exploring our deficiencies
not to add guilt or shame or apathy
but to connect the dots of malady
so all of us can plainly see the tears in the tapestry

community is our common ecology
wherein we ought to have equitable access and bodily autonomy
agency within our lives to meet our needs properly
to engage equally in actions and policy that affect us

community connects us
with threads so obvious we hardly acknowledge it, or we forget this
we try to solve problems in boxes so we can check them off and feel accomplished
what we neglect is our kinship in the process

our accountability must extend gracefully to circles far beyond us
to offset reverberations of systemic oppression and violence
the endemic disconnection of isolation and harm
let’s leave silos on farms
and gather beyond walls where our actions can match our calls for unity
we’re gonna have to link all arms, and heads and hands and hearts
to tend to and restore our communities

by Tanya Davis
Guest Performance
December 6, 2022 Montreal Massacre Memorial Service