About Us
We believe in policing-free schools and a liberated education system for youth everywhere

Who We Are

Asilu Collective is a grassroots abolitionist group of racialized, queer, trans, and disabled organizers working towards policing-free schools on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin territory (so-called Ottawa). Our group was co-founded in 2020 by three racialized friends who had witnessed the harms that policing in schools had on themselves and their marginalized peers througout their time in Ottawa's education system. Asilu's formation was particularly catalyzed by the global uprisings in response to George Floyd's police murder by Minneapolis Police Department, as well as the rampant police murders within our own colonial borders in so-called Canada. Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore, D'Andre Campbell, Eishia Hudson, and so many others had lost their lives to colonial state violence around the same time which sparked abolitionist demands across Turtle Island and beyond. Asilu Collective was a response to those calls.

What We Do

#NoCopsInSchool Campaign

In May of 2020, Asilu launched a campaign demanding all four Ottawa school boards  to terminate the School Resource Officer (SRO) program and any other relationships they have with Ottawa Police Services (OPS). Though initially beginning with an online petition, our campaign quickly grew to include significant youth outreach, political education sessions on policing in schools, our own community-study of the impacts of the SRO program, a published report, with our findings and recommendations, and more. After a year of struggle, the largest school board in Ottawa, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), passed a motion to terminate the SRO program. Losing its largest client, OPS discontinued the entire SRO program across all four school boards. A huge win for youth, parents, educators, and community members across the city!

Moving Towards Policing-Free Schools

Since our win in the spring of 2021, Asilu has continued to organize for a liberated education system through our Radical Reading Club for youth, doing advocacy work within the school system to support migrant and racialized families navigating suspensions and expulsions, Palestinian youth solidarity support, as well as the continued intake of reports of policing in schools from students to support them organizing their peers (most recently at Hillcrest High School). Much like our comrades across so-called Canada, Asilu has shifted from advocating for police-free schools to advocating for *policing-free* schools. We recognize that policing occurs in schools even without the presence of police officers and other state enforcement agents (i.e. CBSA, by-law). Since the termination of the SRO program, we have seen policing continue, and at times escalate, in schools across the city by means of school staff, educators, and administrators upholding an environment of carcerality through a variety punitive measures. This includes surveilling student movements by following them to the bathroom and monitoring the amount of time they take in there, not using mitigating factors as mandated by OCDSB and instead escalating the situation at hand, streaming programs, calling by-law enforcement to financially reprimand youth, calling former SROs into schools, threatening to call police on students for "misbehaving", racialized and disabled students disproportionately bearing the burden of suspensions and expulsions, and much more. Policing-free schools is, therefore, our primary organizing focus.

Much like the shift towards policing-free schools, we also are departing from the school-to-prison pipeline metaphor in favour of highlighting the *school-prison nexus*. Erica Meiners, one of the earliest scholars to propose the use of the nexus metaphor, describes that, “linkages between schools and jails are less a pipeline, more a persistent nexus or a web of intertwined, punitive threads”(Meiners, 2007, p. 31). The nexus explicitly recognizes the interconnected system of power that exists through a “network of institutions, policies, practices, and ideologies” that operate in collusion to exclude, control, disenfranchise, and oppress (Conner & Rosen, 2016, p. 94). It theorizes schools and the criminal punishment system as fundamentally and symbiotically linked-- the nexus names the connection between schools and other systems that treat Black, Indigenous, and racialized people as disposable. The school-prison nexus illustrates the deep relationship between schools and prisons in infrastructure, policies, and practices that is grounded in the entrenchment of white supremacy and carceral-cultural control in educational spaces (Rodríguez 2010; Stovall 2018).

We organize under the banner and with the support of Policing-Free Schools Canada.

Our Origins

What does 'Asilu' mean?

The name "Asilu" is derived from a combination of "asili" in Swahili, "asalu" in Telugu, and "al'a9l" in Arabic, all meaning "origin" in our three co-founders ancestral languages. We take great pride in our roots and our cultures, and Asilu reminds us to stay grounded in that when we organize.

Asilu Collective operates on the unceded and unsurrenderred territories of the Anishinaabe Algonquin people. As a group comprised predominantly of settlers with varying relationships to this land, we are committed to uplifting the voices and demands of the peoples whose land we reside on.