OPEN CALL for artists & writers: digital + in-print collection

Thinking about how policing has impacted you can be challenging and have negative effects on your health and well-being. If you’d like to connect to support and resources, click here.


In March 2023, Waterloo Regional Police Services (WRPS) asked children between the ages of 4 and 10 to create artwork with the cheery prompt "what does policing mean to you?" This copaganda is concerning because it ignores the harm that Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities have experienced from police violence and surveillance. This example of police marketing as "the good guys" and "our protectors" is particularly harmful in targeting young children who are still developing their critical thinking skills. Their artwork will be used to promote the false narrative that police are always on the side of justice and safety, despite the reality of harm and death that police have inflicted upon our communities.

Why does this matter?

Time and time again, we have witnessed how police systems are designed to control and punish communities. Attempts to reform the police have not worked, and year after year, police budgets increase while funding for much-needed social service supports decrease. Policing creates more division, violence, and criminalization in our communities.

We need to imagine new ways of keeping communities safe that involve care and accountability instead of police power. 

The Counter Ask

We want to hear about your experiences with policing and how it has impacted you, your connections, and your community. We understand that policing affects individuals and communities in different ways, and we welcome submissions that reflect these varied experiences.

Note: We recognize that conversations about the harms of policing and justice can be difficult and triggering. We prioritize your well-being and safety, and you are not required to share any experiences that may cause distress or discomfort.

We also want to see and hear your vision for creating safer communities. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What would a community look like without police?
  • What can we do in our daily lives to work towards abolition and decolonization?
  • How can restorative and transformative justice contribute to making neighborhoods safer?
  • What forms of mutual aid and care can we offer each other to address harm and violence?
  • Why is building relationships and accountability crucial in creating safer communities?

We invite you to use your creativity and share your unique perspectives with us. We believe that your submissions can spark important conversations and inspire positive change in our communities. As abolitionist and community organizer Mariame Kaba says, "When something can't be fixed, then the question is: What can we build instead?"


Artists and writers ages 16 and older who either reside in or have strong connections to Waterloo Region are welcome to apply with writing (poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, etc) and artworks in any medium (painting, sculpture, digital, printmaking, fiber, photography, mixed media, installation, crafts, fashion, illustration, and more). 


  • We are looking for diverse art and stories from all cultural backgrounds, and strongly encourage submissions from people who identify as African, Caribbean, and Black; Indigenous (First Nation, Inuit, and Métis); 2SLGBTQIA+; Neurodivergent; Disabled — and those who live at the intersections of those identities.
  • It is free to submit!
  • We are happy to consider work that engages with different languages as long as the work is primarily in English.  
  • We will not consider work that appears to us offensive or harmful or as promoting bigotry.
  • While we are honored to receive all submissions, we regret that we cannot feature every piece in our publication. Our team carefully considers each submission and selects works that align with our editorial vision and artistic direction for the issue. We encourage you to continue to submit your work and hope that you find a home for it elsewhere. Please know that our decision to decline a submission is not a reflection of your talent or the quality of your work. We understand the hard work that goes into creating and sharing your art and writing, and we are grateful for the opportunity to review your submissions.
  • We are offering $50 to all published contributors, and awarding $250 for the most impactful submission. Submissions will be judged by a panel of members from the ACB Network and ReAllocate WR.
  • If you submit multiple works, we may have to select one or two, depending on the number of submissions we receive, so we can include as many voices as possible.


12 May 2023 or when the submission limit is reached. 

If you have any questions, please send them to

This initiative is sponsored by the African, Caribbean, and Black Network of WR and ReAllocate WR.

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Name *
Surname *
Age *
Must be 16 years or older.
Bio/Statement *
Please provide a first-person statement about yourself, why you are responding to the call, and/or any comments you'd like to add about the work themselves. Also include:
  • Your contact information.
  • Enclosures: The title of your piece(s), in case something gets lost.
Where in Waterloo Region do you live? *
Submit artwork(-s)
  • Please provide a link to artwork/photographs that have been uploaded to a file-sharing site such as Dropbox or Google drive.
  • Please upload high-quality images of your work (.jpeg, .tiff and/or .png file, max 300 DPI resolution, 1024 x 768 px).
  • Label images in the order you would like them to be viewed, followed by your initials, and the year and title of your work (i.e., 01_initials_year_title.jpg).
Submit writing
  • Please email submissions to
  • Up to 5 poems but no more than 12 pages of poetry. The poems should all be put into one single .doc or .docx file titled FirstnameLastname_poetry. Each poem should start on a new page.
  • Fiction or creative non-fiction between 1000-5000 words, double-spaced. The story should be in one single .doc or .docx file titled FirstnameLastname_prose.
  • Please use standard font sizes (11pt or 12pt) and standard serif fonts like Times New Roman or Garamond. Poems should be single-spaced unless they require special formatting. 
Submit videos/audio
Please provide a link to videos and/or audio that have been uploaded to a file-sharing site such as Vimeo, Dropbox, or Google drive. Note that while video and audio can only be published online, a still of a video may be published in the in-print collection.
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