Topic: From the Headlines

#MeToo so #NowWhat? by Kathryn Anderson

“So you can see how the passive voice has a political effect. It shifts the focus off of men and boys and onto girls and women…it’s a bad thing that happens to women, but when you look at the term ‘violence against women,’ nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them…men aren’t even a part of it!” Jackson Katz

I read this quote as part of a post shared on Facebook in the wake of the #MeToo campaign that has been so pervasive across social media this past couple of weeks. MeToo originated over a decade ago with black activist Tarana Burke and has seen its recent resurgence due to a Tweet sent out by actor Alyssa Milano following news coverage of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

One of the original intentions communicated by Burke when she initiated MeToo 10+ years ago was “empowerment through empathy” – particularly to let women of colour know that they were not alone in these circumstances of sexual harassment and assault. In an interview with Ebony magazine, Burke said, “the power of using ‘me too’ has always been in the fact that it can be a conversation starter or the whole conversation ― but it was us talking to us”. Now “us” has become a much wider context with the passage of time and the advent of social media.

The sheer magnitude of #MeToo on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms has been overwhelming for many, myself included. I’ve heard from several people that they were not prepared for what such widespread disclosure would bring up for them emotionally, whether they had experienced sexual assault/harassment directly or it had happened to someone they knew and cared about.

In one regard it can be helpful to feel a sense of solidarity with others who’ve experienced these circumstances; as Tarana Burke intended, we feel less alone.  So much so in fact, that there has been a cascade of allegations made post-Weinstein, notable examples include:  Just for Laughs founder Gilbert Rozon, Amazon Boss Roy Price, even Kevin Spacey has come forward to acknowledge his wrongdoing in a same sex interaction with a younger actor when Spacey was 26 and his counterpart was a 14 year old male.

On the other hand, for me #MeToo begs the question, NOW WHAT?  Obviously we see the inescapable fact that millions of women have endured sexual harassment and assault.  I’ve seen plenty of other examples from men these past few weeks too. Even so, we are still only seeing a selection of those folk who have chosen to disclose and have means and access to media/social media to do so.

We see discourse has begun…yet where does it lead?  Collectively as a society and individually as citizens, what do we DO with what has been learned?

Tarana Burke points out, “It’s beyond a hashtag. It’s the start of a larger conversation and a movement for radical community healing. Join us. #metoo

We encourage you to ask yourself #NowWhat? 

Here are two actions you might consider taking in response:

One is to attend the screening of A Better Man, co-hosted by SWOVA and the Salt Spring Film Festival on Wednesday, November 22nd from 7:00 – 9:30pm at Artspring.  Tickets are $10 and are available at the box office or online.

The filmmaker describes the movie as a “fresh and nuanced look at the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone when men take responsibility for their abuse. It also empowers the audience members to play new roles in challenging domestic violence, whether it’s in their own relationships or as part of a broader movement for social change.”

A second action is to read and reflect on this well-written article by May Warren:

Article: Toronto Metro – A Critical Turning Point, Oct 19/17

Photo credits: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen [#MeToo]; Dandelion Initiative [#NowWhat]  Follow on Twitter: @dandelioninit

Help us win $50,000!

Island Savings #simplegenerosity

Help us receive $50,000!

Inspiring Change – Help us win $50,000!

Island Savings, a division of First West Credit Union is aiming to enhance our communities for children and families by giving away a $50,000 grant towards a community-focused project, program or initiative. This grant is one of three that First West is distributing to support organizations in the regions it serves—$150,000 distributed in support of Canada 150.

SWOVA’s Respectful Relationships Program is exhilarated to be entering its next evolution!  With 20 years of successful program delivery to over 15,000 youth, it’s time to innovate and update our design to incorporate some of the changes that time and technology have brought.  We want to be certain we can deliver THE BEST version of this program to as many youth as possible. In 2007, SWOVA’s Respectful Relationships Program was cited by the United Nations Habitat as a Good Practice in youth violence prevention, as part of world-wide Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment.

We’ve submitted a grant application and would LOVE your support to help us get to the top 10! Winning $50,000 will help us achieve our goal to inspire and empower as many youth as possible!

Here’s how to vote;

  1. Find our story on the Island Savings Community Grant Volinspire page (scroll down and look for kids sitting in a circle) and vote by choosing any of the emojis (smile, heart, Canadian Maple Leaf). Each emoji counts as one vote and you can only vote for each post one time. 
  2. PLEASE PLEASE share the link with your family and friends and on social media!!
  3. Anyone and everyone can vote, so help us spread the word! Only votes placed on Volinspire will count. Voting will take place May 29-June 23.

Thank you for helping us spread some #SimpleGenerosity in our communities!

Spring brings Simple Generosity

We are delighted and honoured to have been chosen as the first beneficiary of a new charitable program called Simple Generosity!  Initiated by Island Savings/First West Credit Union, the program celebrates Canada’s upcoming 150th birthday celebration by applauding community volunteerism and supporting local charities and non-profits.

Weekly awards of $1500 will be given throughout 2017 to an individual or team who demonstrates exceptional community contribution in the regions where First West operates.  Those winners then choose a charity or non-profit organization to which they donate the prize money.

Local volunteer Cherie Geauvreau was the first Gulf Islands recipient of the Simple Generosity award and very kindly chose to donate her prize money to SWOVA.  Cherie, together with Jewel Eldstrom, formed Copper Kettle Community Partnership in 2002, to help those struggling with meeting life’s basic needs.  Cherie did her first community work on Salt Spring in conjunction with SWOVA and says that the experience was life changing. It was from a place of gratitude that she chose to pay it forward 15 years later!

SWOVA’s Executive Director Kiran Dhingra was on hand to receive the award from Cherie, alongside Janine Fernandes-Hayden of Volunteer and Community Resources and Island Savings staff Jeff Knutson and Travis Dorchak.

SWOVA would like to express our sincere gratitude to Cherie Geauvreau for her thoughtful generosity and her contributions to SWOVA from its early origins up to the present!  We also wish to thank Island Savings/First West Credit Union and Volunteer Community Resources for this initiative and helping to highlight the remarkable contributions of volunteerism on Salt Spring and throughout the Gulf Islands.

To learn more about #SimpleGenerosity and how to nominate a recipient, see the full article in the Driftwood, on page 19 of the May 10/17 edition.

Why is everyone talking about Consent? By Sharyn Carroll

From high profile cases in the media to Canadian students and faculty calling for change across college and university campuses, the term “Consent” is being put under a microscope. Our understanding of this word raises communication to a whole new level in a fast paced digital world where dialogue can be as quick as a text, tweet or even a sound bite.

Consent forces us to slow down and listen to all that is being communicated.  It encourages us to be aware of not only our own boundaries but also of the boundaries of others.  It helps us to understand what has been communicated and to find safe space in which to express our needs, wants and desires while respecting the rights of another individual.  If you’re really paying attention, consent can only deepen our connection to others; after all is this not the common link that ties the human experience together.

 

By Sharyn Carroll, Project Coordinator

Consent by Lynda Laushway

consent image

 

Consent is a big topic in the news these days. What constitutes consent to sexual activity? When and how is consent given? How do we misinterpret consent? These are some of the topics in the news and on many peoples’ minds. This is particularly true for university and college campuses across Canada as our young people head to school in what we hope will be safe environments for them.

 

 

The Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF) in Toronto has published results from a survey they did on consent. Some of the results are quite startling:

67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one womanwho has been sexually or physically assaulted.

  • 10% of Canadians incorrectly believe that consent is not required between spouses or long-term partners.
  • 21% of people between 18 and 34 incorrectly believe sending an explicit photo, textor email counts as consent.
  • 96% agree that sexual activity must be consensual, two-thirds (67%) do not fully understand how to properly give or get it.

CWF has a clear definition of consent: “Sexual consent is a two-way exchange: it’s an ongoing process of giving and getting permission. This means showing—in words and actions—that you freely agree to participate in a sexual activity. This means continuing to give your permission throughout the sexual encounter. You can revoke your consent at any time.”

Though these may be complicated waters for our youth to navigate it is important that they understand consent and do not leave themselves open to anything other than mutual agreement, freely given, in their sexual activities. This is an important part of having a healthy and respectful relationship.

 

By Lynda Laushway, consultant

 

Why Focus on Gender-based Violence? by Lynda Laushway

Gender-Violence

There is a lot of violence in our world and it takes many forms- men’s violence towards other men, violence perpetrated on children, violence directed at seniors, violence against lesbian, gay and transgendered people, and violence against women, to name some of the more prevalent forms. The motivations for violence are many and complex and may include power and control, greed, jealousy, rage, fear, racism, homophobia and mental disorders.

Violence is a big problem in our world and everyday people are hurt and suffer because of it. It is overwhelming to think about trying to prevent violence in all its forms.  At SWOVA we have chosen to focus on one part of the violence spectrum and that is on gender-based violence. It is one part among many that can make our world a safer place. If many of us assume a part in preventing violence, our collective impact can be truly significant.

SWOVA chose gender-based violence prevention because we felt compelled to make a difference in this area.  According to the United Nations, “Violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. It knows no social, economic or national boundaries. Worldwide, an estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime.”

Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death.”

Preventing violence in all forms is important to us at SWOVA.  Let’s all do our part and together we can make a difference.

 

By Lynda Laushway – SWOVA Consultant

 

Crime Costs, Prevention Pays by lynda laushway

ShadedWoman_2

Canada is spending billions of dollars each year on police, courts and corrections. In the past 10 years these costs have increased by 50 percent. These costs do not include the human suffering to individuals and families. Investment in preventing crime is a wiser use of our money.

In 2009 in Canada, women self-reported 472,000 sexual assaults according to the General Social Survey, Statistics Canada. The problem of spousal violence is not declining – similar rates of spousal violence were reported from 1999 to 2009.

A recent news release from Dr. Irvin Waller, Professor, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa states that Canadian studies emphasize the effectiveness of preventing violence against women.

The social return on investment from pre-crime prevention is significant. Most recently, a number of Canadian studies emphasize the effectiveness of preventing violence against women. The evidence is clear from a number of gender-based prevention program results across Canada that changing the behaviour of males significantly reduces sexual assaults.

There are hopeful signs that the investment in Canadian crime prevention programs is paying off.

 

By Lynda Laushway – Consultant to SWOVA

Sexual Assault Hits Mainstream Media By Lynda Laushway

24-cosby-lede-feature

The New Yorker magazine’s recent cover photo is of thirty-five women who allege that they were sexually assaulted by actor Bill Cosby over a period of decades. Some of the alleged victims have come forth on their own for years but their claims were hushed up, silenced or diminished.

It wasn’t until thirty-five women reported together that society actually started to pay attention.  Why did it take this long and why did it take this many alleged victims before people would listen?  We can speculate that it was because the alleged perpetrator is a famous man who had the outward image of a loving TV persona. We can speculate that it was because the alleged perpetrator had many well-known supporters. We can speculate that it was because the alleged perpetrator had a lot of money and could pay good lawyers and media relations people.

Many of the women’s reputations were damaged during the years of allegations, with rumours, gossip and the denigration of their integrity. What is the price that women face when they report sexual assault, particularly when a man of power and wealth is involved?

There are many issues to ponder and they strike at the heart of our society’s view of women, men and sexual assault.

 

By Lynda Laushway –  Consultant to SWOVA

 

June 16th, 1976: Reflections on South African Youth Day

Hector Pieterson

photo by Sam Nzima

 

“They are a generation whose whole education has been under the diabolical design of the racists to poison the minds and brainwash our children into docile subjects of apartheid rule.”

-Nelson Mandela

 

Thirty-nine years ago and yesterday, South African youth led an uprising against the apartheid regime. The image of twelve-year-old Hector Pieterson dying in the arms of his fellow student after being hit by a police bullet came to symbolize the utter bankruptcy of a system that sought to make people of colour servants to the twisted logic of racism. Hector was one of 566 children and youth who died at the hands of the state in this wave of protests.

June 16th is a public holiday in South Africa and vigils and memorials are held at the monument to Hector in Orlando, Soweto, the Johannesburg township that remains a hotbed of youth culture, activism and still today, dissent and protest led by youth. The difference, now, is that South Africa has a progressive constitution, modelled on our own, and a parliament, much like ours, where the work of progressively realizing the rights of children and youth takes place, for the most part, in a peaceful fashion.

As a recent returnee to Canada, I am deeply impressed by the ways in which some communities and schools have created safe political spaces for young people, how these accommodate the diversity of views, encourage critical thinking and turn youth into stakeholders in, rather than just passive recipients of, their own education.

There is still work to be done on equity and inclusiveness in extending these privileges to all communities, but I am pretty excited by the vast potential for leveraging – for creating a contagious culture of peace that could be a powerful counterpart to those who have sought to employ young people in agendas of oppression, racism, dominance, violence and warfare.

So my question is always, “what are we really hearing, when we listen to young people – their own voices, emerging from confident, capable and fearless individuals?” We cannot afford to be complacent – their authentic voices tell us about ourselves, our culture and our democracy. We cannot allow our youth to become background music while we take our peace for granted.

Angela McIntyre, Executive Director
June 16, 2015

Why I Call Myself a Feminst / # Name Calling – By Sharyn Carroll

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Feminist: Adjective – of relating to or advocating for equal rights for women; advocating for social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

Noun – An advocate for such rights; a person who advocates for equal rights for women.

 

 

I, Sharyn Carroll, call myself a feminist. Not an equalist or humanist. There is a lot of nostalgic admiration contained in this word for me although at times the word is hurled at me as an insult. I hear gen-z asking if it is not time to change it to something that speaks to all gender variations.  This may be a question to consider but first it is important to look at its relevance.

The use of the term feminism speaks to the systematic injustices that have been historically put into place, to make women lesser than, or unequal, globally. Being a feminist does not mean that I only stand on the side of equal pay for equal work, or lobby against domestic violence in the place that I live, it means speaking up for the right of all woman to breast feed whenever their child is hungry; I lend my voice to young woman and girls who are forced into marriages with men old enough to be their fathers; I advocate for all girls to get educated; I speak out for girls and young boys who are forced into sexual slavery; and I express my concern that everyone understands what consent means.

To call myself a feminist means that I understand that we are all in this together — women and men.  To live in a world where women are liberated means that men are also free. Free to live in a world where self-expression is not confined to gender roles. Free from having the weight of the world put on their shoulders, because they have to “man-up” and handle it all. It means transgendered persons are just that, people.  I would rather live in a world where acceptance of any human trait is seen as just that. A recent report by United Nations states that in the twenty years since it set out to achieve gender equality not one country has been able to achieve this.

Calling myself a feminist means I pay homage to those who have come before me and speaks to a history of advocacy for a struggle that is unique to women world-wide. It also means that I understand the next generation will probably do things differently. Holding onto this word may make me nostalgic or even old fashioned, but when I use it I don’t have to really explain where I am coming from. I embodied this word long before I knew what it meant and will continue to do so for the rest of my existence because it is who I am.

By Sharyn Carroll, R + R Facilitator

 

 

SWOVA Empowering Youth for a Better Tomorrow