On May 31 I was lucky to attend “Light a Spark”, an event hosted at SFU Harbour Centre by Girls Action Foundation to create intergenerational dialogue between girls and women involved in empowering girls.
“Zoom in on Girls” was a daytime regional gathering including GAF network members and organizations who work with girls. Joining the daytime participants at the evening “Light a Spark” event were local women’s activists, women engaged in mentoring programs, and representatives from local businesses and institutions like Science World.
At the evening social some of the women spoke about the projects they were working on. One young woman was working with GAF funding to establish a peer support group for young mothers. Syahidah, another young woman, received an $1000 grant with her collective to work on a non-profit magazine featuring poetry, prose, and photos by women of colour, queer women, and Indigenous women. The “Margins” zine will lauch on June 30 at the Rhizome Cafe and the first issue will be available here.
Next event organizers introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Chief Kim Baird of the Tsawwassen First Nation. She spoke about what it was like to write, pass, and implement the first urban land claims treaty in Canada:
“We’ve kicked the Indian act from our lands and were doing it ourselves and it’s a lot of work but it’s a labour of love.”
Baird talked about her background and the challenges she faced getting into band politics as a relatively soft-spoken woman. She also shared the difficulties she experienced balancing her work as Chief with raising three young daughters. Now she says the main challenges she faces are keeping her team motivated after years of working on the treaty and the new structures they needed to establish. Baird says she now goes on long walks and listens to the favourite goth music of her teen years for self-care.
One of the most unique parts of the evening was the “speed mentorship” which occurred after Baird’s talk. Everyone in the room was paired up with someone they didn’t know. Each person had a few minutes to tell the other about a problem or challenge they’re facing with their work, projects, or campaigns. The other had the rest of a 5-minute window to help speed brainstorm suggestions. Then they switched. I found the pressure to generate fast, useful advice was a really interesting way to force myself to break out of the boxes and frames I often think in. It made me more open to considering new ideas and it was also just a cool way to get to know someone else.
Thanks to Karine and Melanie for inviting me to this event. Check out the Girls Action Foundation website for more information on future events and how you can get involved.