To Nurture and Nourish
The many ways in which Lauren Burrows creates spaces of welcome and warmth.
Maichina Veri, August 9, 2022 // Brantford, OntarioLauren sitting in her office, a welcoming space for many Laurier students and community members in Brantford, Ontario. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
Social justice advocate. Community organizer. Activist. Educator. Global citizen. Lauren Burrows is all this and more. While her official work is in Student Affairs in higher education, Lauren’s resume is expansive, illustrious and vibrant. Her passions are rich and have led her to be an important community leader and builder. BTOWN sat down with this caremongerer to chat about her passions and projects in order to introduce you to her work and inspire you to make change.
Thirty-four-year-old Lauren is currently involved with a wide variety of projects and initiatives. She works at the Centre for Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CSEDI), is a board member for BIPOC Outdoor Gear Library, administrates the CareMongering-Brantford Facebook page, participates on the Brantford Pride committee as well as works within Changing the Lens. CSEDI is through Laurier University in Brantford, while some other projects have been spearheaded by Lauren and collaborators. These initiatives respond to histories of oppression, marginalization, victimization and trauma as well as provide support, advocacy, education and mutual aid. “I believe that we deserve to have lives full of respect, dignity and safety. A lot of my work is centralized around that,” says Lauren.
A powerful and candid moment shared with Lauren. Photo credit Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
Lauren loves the Brantford community, but notes some of the city’s larger challenges are due to our political landscape. “Often times the political landscape of Brantford is not very life-affirming for people who have different identities and lived experiences. People in Brantford experience a lot of harm. There are people who do not have access to what they need to live.” She admits Brantford sometimes gets a “bad rap,” but there are many people working to address issues from food security to safety to housing, as well as homophobia, transphobia, racism and ableism. It is not hopeless, however, and Lauren suggests we can make steps to overcome these challenges by making changes in governance, increasing access to education for these issues and increasing access to resources. She also stresses continuing to work on decolonization and in solidarity with Indigenous communities. In addition to this, Lauren states front line workers should not only be celebrated, but also supported.
"It is not hopeless, however, and Lauren suggests we can make steps to overcome these challenges by making changes in governance, increasing access to education for these issues and increasing access to resources."
With all of the significant and life-changing work she does, Lauren does admit to facing personal challenges along the way. “Sometimes it can be overwhelming – just the scale and the scope of the challenges that are happening. It can be traumatizing and re-traumatizing to witness the pain that happens in our communities,” Lauren shares. “I think it’s hard because I care about a lot of things. I care about a lot of political issues. It gets overwhelming when it’s just non-stop.” Lauren is not alone in her efforts, though, and mentions the adage of acting like a choir with those she works with – one person can step away and stop singing for a bit if a break is needed, but the song keeps going. She also mentions trying to find joy in life. “Obviously one of the reasons why you would fight for social justice is so people can have better lives. You should also try to have an amazing life and have fun and laughter and joy.” Also mentioned is pleasure activism, which can be very briefly defined as embracing what brings one pleasure and feelings of being alive in order to help organize against oppression.
Photos provided by Lauren as she enjoys some of her favourite hobbies.
There are several ways to help Lauren with her missions. You can join the CareMongering-Brantford Facebook group as well as follow Laurier University’s CSEDI, the BIPOC Outdoor Gear Library, Brantford Pride and Changing the Lens online. Through these organizations you can connect and collaborate with Lauren.
See below for bios and links to Lauren’s work.
Centre for Student Equity Diversity & Inclusion - CLICK HERE
The Centre for Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CSEDI) works to cultivate a culture on campus that respects and promotes equity, diversity, inclusion (EDI) and social justice in all aspects of Laurier – from classrooms to residence communities. The Centre provides support, education and spaces for students to find community and engage in equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.
BIPOC Outdoor Gear Library - CLICK HERE
BIPOC Outdoor Gear Library is a community-based lending library focused on providing access to outdoor equipment for the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) community of (so-called) Guelph and the surrounding areas. Through collaboration with partners we are working to increase representation of BIPOC peoples engaging in outdoor recreation by reducing barriers to access, creating community and providing resources and education.
CareMongering-Brantford - CLICK HERE
A group for sharing and organizing community resources in response to COVID-19. The goal of this group is to organize the local community on the grassroots level to ensure vulnerable community members have access to food, housing, healthcare, and other necessities. It is also for the redistribution of resources in the case that stockpiling prevents people from accessing basics. You can also post requests for aid/support here.
Brantford Pride - CLICK HERE
The Brantford Pride Committee is a grassroots group, working to mobilize around issues affecting the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Brantford, while holding space to celebrate and honour the 2SLGBTQ+ community!
Changing the Lens - CLICK HERE
A collective of industry experts and educators looking to create more inclusion in the Ontario wedding industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maichina Veri is a writer based in Brantford, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Montreal’s Concordia University and has a background in Journalism – Print from Niagara College.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Paul Smith has been shooting photos professional for the past eleven years. After graduating from Applied Photography at Sheridan College in 2008 he returned to Brantford and opened Photohouse Studios with his partner.