This week I am thrilled to be attending the Women’s Worlds Conference in Ottawa and Gatineau; an international conference featuring 1,800 delegates from 84 countries. It is a week of historic proportions as this conference is expected to be the largest gathering of its kind in Canadian history.
All are here in the National Capital Region to discuss one thing – feminism. And let me assure you that there is no shortage of feminism-related issues to discuss. Personally, I spent several painstaking hours weeding through the extensive program trying decide which sessions to attend. I look forward to sharing with you some of the cool happenings at this conference.
Things kicked off Sunday night, with the Opening Ceremonies at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, QC. Overall, a great night filled with food, great connections, song and dance. The Minister for the Status of Women took to the stage to deliver greetings and was booed by some in the crowd when she made the claim that Conservatives were supporting women’s organizations and taking unprecedented action to support Aboriginal women and girls, and combat violence against them. But it wasn’t all bad for her because the next day she ended up with a great piece written on her in the Globe by Jane Taber.
The next day, the official start of the conference, I attended a session focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. This Commission was established to share the truth of the impact of residential schools on the Indigenous people. A horrific black spot in Canadian history, best described by one of the presenters as a trauma – where children were taken from their families to be assimilated in church-run institutions far from home. Many suffered abuses at the hands of those who were responsible for their wellbeing.
One presenter from the Native Women’s Association of Canada spoke about her work as that which affects the heart, and as she ran through her presentation called Arrest the Legacy, focusing on the crisis of over-incarceration and discrimination against Aboriginal women and girls within Canada’s criminal justice system, it was clear why.
The numbers are staggering. And contrasted with the government rhetoric from the day before, it is unacceptable.
Going forward, I encourage you all to look into these organizations and find ways to get involved. Also, for those in Ontario, the Minister of Education is currently conducting a review of the school curriculums and I encourage you to contact her and encourage her to include the history of residential schools. Manitoba is the only province that mandates this to be taught to students.