Favourite local activist / Favourite local grassroots community group / Favourite political moment

Photo by Daniel Crump

Favourite local activist

1. Justice 4 Black Lives Winnipeg 
2. Mahlet Cuff 
3. Lena Andres

Favourite local grassroots community group

1.  Justice 4 Black Lives Winnipeg
2. Bear Clan Patrol
3. Winnipeg Police Cause Harm

Favourite political moment

1. Justice 4 Black Lives rally
2. Tombstones outside Pallister’s house
3. Donald Trump loses US election

When Mahlet Cuff informed their fellow organizers of Justice 4 Black Lives Winnipeg (Ella Taylor, Jayda Hope and Kameshia Hope) about their triple win for this year’s Uniter 30, there was a moment of pause followed by laughter. 

“We were just like ‘oh yeah, we did stuff,’” Cuff says. 

But with summer having passed and most of the Black Lives Matter hype fading with it, Cuff felt that the acknowledgement from Uniter 30 voters was extremely validating.  

“It was a hard time,” Cuff says. “That was the reason I wanted to get involved. It was a hard time, seeing Black people being murdered like that.” 

With over 15,000 people in attendance, Cuff, Taylor and Jayda and Kameisha Hope organized the June 5 rally along with former members Betchel Belachew, Imani Pinder, Diana Ayodele, Ted Moko, Jylah Leigh and others. It wasn’t an easy task, but due to their resilience and dedication, a truly incredible and necessary event took place. Since then, their work hasn’t stopped. 

“Right now, we are thinking about the community in a very caring way,” Cuff says. 

Justice 4 Black Lives Winnipeg is making an impact in a less public way. Their focus is to allocate the funds they were donated back to the Black community. That includes providing food and accommodations to Black people and families. 

“We understand that times are very tough right now in terms of COVID,” they say. “But it’s also wintertime. Seasonal depression exists. People are being laid off left and right. People aren’t able to work right now.” 

In terms of what’s next for the group, they plan on keeping their fingers on the heartbeat of the community, poised to respond and rally whenever necessary. Until there’s a need for them to show up in a spectacular way, they keep doing the work, as we all should.

“The work is not only us,” Cuff says. “The work is everyone.”

Published in Volume 75, Number 12 of The Uniter (December 2, 2020)

Related Reads