Community Action

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Second Annual Code Red Tampon Drive gets support from the Saint John music community.

Matt Carter
Photo: Code Red’s Facebook page. Find the link below.

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.  Created by 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, the day marks the anniversary of the 1989 murders of 14 women at the l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. In recognition of the continued prevalence of violence against woman and girls, Saint John experimental music ensemble Usse have partnered with local outreach group Code Red in support of their second Annual Tampon Drive.

From now until December 22, all proceeds from sales through the band’s Bandcamp page as well as the Pentagon Black Compilation No. 3 art postcards (available at Backstreet Records) will be donated in support of Code Red’s mission to provide menstrual products for women and girls who are marginalized or experiencing homelessness in Saint John. 

“We have five distribution centers throughout the city, whom we supply with Period Packs,” said Code Red’s Kelly Morrell. “They are then given out to individuals seeking their services, no strings attached.”

Morrell helped co-found Code Red in the fall of 2016 after identifying a need in the community.

“Menstrual products are an essential item, not a luxury,” she said. “It can easily become a luxury if you are limited to a low income or experiencing any degree of homelessness.”

According to the Human Development Council’s 2016 New Brunswick Child Poverty Report Card, 19.7% of the population of Saint John lives in poverty.

“We were honored to receive such an offer, especially coming from people in the music community that we respect and enjoy.”

“We didn’t want to see anyone faced with the choice between spending their money on a box of tampons, or a meal,” said Morrell.  “We see this as not only a social injustice, but a health concern. So we began with a holiday tampon drive with a goal to distribute roughly 50 Period Packs per month to key community partners. The response from the community members was and continues to be amazing. One year later, we have become a registered nonprofit, with a generous group of volunteers, who help us distribute over 200 period packs per month.

“Part of the invaluable support we have received has been from bands like Usse,” said Morrell. “Jud [Crandall] reached out to us with the details of the campaign that will combine great music, awareness of gender violence, and a fundraising component for Code Red. We were honored to receive such an offer, especially coming from people in the music community that we respect and enjoy.”

Usse is a shape-shifting, genre-bending music ensemble based in Saint John. For the past two years the group have been creating improvised music “within a structural framework, exploring the intersectionality of motion, mechanics and timber”.

“Usse is in recording mode these days which presents us with the option of using that work as a way of organizing and fundraising,” said Usse co-founder Jud Crandall. “We are grateful to Code Red for allowing us the opportunity of essentially extending their Annual Tampon Drive.”

The original Tampon Drive ran from November 20 through to December 4. Through the support of Usse, the project will be extended an additional three weeks. 

Pentagon Black Compilation No. 3 is in stock now at Backstreet Records (Saint John location). Photo: Facebook

“What Code Red does is not vague or bureaucratic, but rather direct and concrete, in speaking to a specific need for women who struggle through menstruation due to homelessness or related barriers,” said Crandall. “There are intersecting economic, patriarchal and colonial interests that leave many alienated and living in danger, perpetuated by resistance to the idea that not all people experience the same lives and freedoms. The outreach of Code Red is unmistakably designed to illuminate interconnectedness and social responsibility, delivering means by which to live more safely and comfortably within one’s life.”

The campaign will conclude with a listening party at Backstreet Records (Saint John location) on December 22 from 5-7 p.m.

“We’re selecting a playlist of left-field seasonal sounds, and are encouraging folks to please consider donating feminine hygiene products or cash at the closing as well,” said Crandall. “Politicized or not, I feel it is any person’s responsibility to recognize that the time and space they inhabit is itself fundamentally political. Beyond that, this time of year lends great opportunity to cultivating knowledge as well as support, through people’s willingness towards coming together and giving in festive as well as social observance.”

Code Red will also be partnering with Monopolized Records, Backstreet Records, Local 107.3 FM and UBU – Transgender Action Community to present A Gift From Space with performances from Russell Louder, Shrimp Ring and Little You, Little Me at pepper’s Pub on December 26.



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