Thursday 27 June 2019

The Making of a Grassroots Activist

A woman in Haldimand Norfolk County in Ontario has made such a pain in the neck of herself that when a giant inflatable baby went missing, several people suspected suggested that she was involved.

Oddly, it was the same promotional inflatable that first caught Georgia Gamble's attention. Just over two years ago, a local restaurant used a picture of Baby Hope (awww) on its Facebook page to advertise a fund raising campaign for Norfolk Pregnancy & Family Resource Centre, an anti-choice crisis pregnancy centre.

She says: "The restaurant made it clear that they supported a woman’s choice and that this group they were raising money for 'were not like those kind of groups' which don’t support a woman’s choice.  This just didn’t sit well with me and I started to investigate just what crisis pregnancy centres were all about."

She came across a blog post here at DJ! about 100 Who Care groups and specifically about Women Who Care Norfolk.

(Briefly, here's how 100 Who Care groups work. A bunch of people get together a few times a year to hear pitches directly from good causes in their communities. Most groups require that the good cause be a registered charity. They listen, vote, and write cheques for $100 each. The Women Who Care Norfolk raised $14,600 for the Norfolk Fake Clinic.)

Georgia contacted the restaurant and explained what CPCs were about and from the response, she suspected the Norfolk centre hadn't been entirely candid with the restaurant about its true agenda.

Which we know is to lie to, manipulate, and shame pregnant people out of exercising their right to abortion.

Someone alerted Georgia to the fact that United Way of Halidimand-Norfolk also supported the anti-abortion group (page 6 here in United Way Annual Report 2017). When Georgia tried to enlighten UW, it insisted it was supporting parenting programs.

And an activist was born.

She began to research what other community groups and businesses were supporting CPCs. There is another fake clinic in the area -- Haldimand Pregnancy Care Centre, which by the way, received $36.4K in Canada Summer Job Grants, putting it in the top 5 nationwide. Until pro-choice activists put a stop to the practice.

She shared this information via social media like Facebook and Twitter. The Haldimand Norfolk Pro-Choice Coalition was created.

"My goal was to expose fake clinics and the harm they do in the community. I wanted people to know that they were donating to anti-choice groups.

"And it’s not always about raising money. Some groups and people continue to support the CPCs by allowing them to participate in local events. The Dunnville Bell Let’s Talk allows the Haldimand Pregnancy Centre to have an information booth at the Mental Health Fair.  The CAMHS Wellness and Recovery Centre in Simcoe allows the Norfolk Pregnancy Centre to have a information booth at their Wellness Event. For two years I have contacted them and let them know about the inaccurate information these two groups share but they continue defend their decision.

"The RBC Port Dover branch collected money from clients.  We contacted corporate and they defended the partnership saying they 'don’t take a stand on women’s reproductive healthcare'.

"The Norfolk Rotary and Haldimand-Norfolk Soroptimists International continue to donate to them."

But there have been successes. The United Way’s allocation committee did not choose either of the CPCs to receive any money this year. Domino's Pizza in Simcoe went from supporting the Norfolk centre with a Family Fundraising event, complete with bouncy castle, to denying that it was going to support them in the first place.

And of course, the Norfolk fake clinic is pretty unhappy with these efforts. Its website is pretty slick.

Norfolk Pregnancy & Family Resource Centre is a non profit, non-judgmental, safe place where anyone in the community experiencing pregnancy, parenting issues and/or related concerns, can come for loving, professional, FREE help and support.
It gets around the religious "mission" issue with this FAQ.
Is NPC a branch of a church or churches?

NPC is an independent organization with its own charitable status. We are a provincially incorporated organization.  Although many churches support the work we offer to those who choose our services we are not affiliated with any one church, denomination or business. 

But elsewhere on the site there's this.

And about that "abducted" inflatable baby? It was returned with a ransom-style note saying the abduction was a prank.

As for Georgia, she is finding this grassroots activity very satisfying. She continues to check social media and share information with her community. The Facebook page is growing.

She has some advice for others who might want to take up a similar hobby. "Just keep at it. Don't give up. Keep exposing organizations that are partnering with the CPCs. Share the disinformation, lies and harm that CPCs spread in communities. Let people know that CPCs aren’t what they appear to be. They say they aren’t faith based but that couldn’t be farther from the truth."

Follow Haldimand Norfolk Pro-Choice Alliance at @Prochoice_HN.