Public health and event postponements

Reel Alternatives FIlm Festival and Women of Lockerbie - Postponed

Due to the growing concern over the spread of COVID 19, some events on our calendar have been postponed and others are considering the same.

While it is important to do what is possible to sustain community, and prevent isolation, a period of distance can help to flatten the disease curve. This will help our health care system immeasurably and is compassionate care for our healthcare frontline workers who will be overtaxed before long.

The Travelling World Film Festival is postponed until a later date to be announced.

The Women of Lockerbie is postponed to May. Opening night will be May 21.

Reel Alternatives screening of Maiden is being rescheduled to later in the year.

The CWAV Embrace Gala is cancelled or postponed. Please check their website for updates.

Meanwhile, please read the articles below for useful information on COVID-19.

How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart

Separating the Facts From the Misinformation About COVID-19

Coronavirus Symptoms (COVID-19)

Can a face mask stop coronavirus? Covid-19 myths busted

Prime Minister outlines Canada’s COVID-19 response

About Corina Virus Disease COVID-19 - Chart

Media release – Cowichan Valley International Women’s Day Festival Honours Local Elected Women

Maureen Tommy, and Debra Toporowski stand with Dora Wilson for the welcome and prayer
How To Lead - International Women’s Day Rally Speakers, community groups, music, information fair, and The REDress Project Charles Hoey Park - 124 Canada Ave, Duncan Saturday, March 7 - 11:00am - 12:30pm Special welcome to Warmland Women Support Services Society
How To Lead – International Women’s Day Rally Speakers, community groups, music, information fair, and The REDress Project Charles Hoey Park – 124 Canada Ave, Duncan Saturday, March 7 – 11:00am – 12:30pm Special welcome to Warmland Women Support Services Society

The Cowichan Valley International Women’s Day Committee is pleased to announce our fourth annual festival, centred around our Rally at Charles Hoey Park on March 7, 11am – 12:30pm.

The festival begins March 2, with a book event at VIRL South Cowichan, and ends March 31, with a Roller Derby event at Cowichan Exhibition. Between these dates we have a wonderful line-up of political, community, art, and cultural events which are listed at the end of this release.

This year’s rally presents an exciting lineup of women leaders as young as 13, and as majestic as 100. Our emcee will be IWD committee member Vicki MIller, also of Women of Steel 1-1937. Vicki was a leader in strike support for the forestry workers in their extended, and ultimately successful battle with Western Forest Products. 

Our featured guests include three youth: Kyrrah Thomas will sing and drum, Eva Elliot, winner of Cowichan Tribes youth essay contest will read “What home means to me”, and youth activist Lexy Lazenby will speak about the importance of leadership.

Lexy will stand with her grandmother Rhoda Taylor, and her centenarian great-grandmother Sylvia Peecock who lived through the dustbowl and other transformative events in Canadian political and social history. Sylvia extensively diarized her experiences at a time when it was difficult for women to pursue a writing career. Rhoda will read from these diaries on Sylvia’s behalf.

Dedicated to the idea that politics is family business, we will have both an elders tent and amenities for children. 

Acknowledgement Ceremony

In preparing the rally, we noticed something remarkable. 

Somehow, without fanfare, without a specific slate, or an affirmative action campaign, the Cowichan Valley has achieved gender parity across our locally elected representatives. Out of 62 elected positions, there are 31 held by women, many of which have served multiple terms, and some of which are firsts.

To celebrate, we have invited all local elected women to be honoured on stage at the rally on Saturday, March 7, for their service to the community. The ceremony will begin at 11:30. Our youth participants Kyrrah, Eva, and Lexy will present the honours during our acknowledgement ceremony.


Cowichan Tribes Councillors – Stephanie Atleo, Debra Toporowski, Francine Alphonse, Dora Wilson, Cindy Jane Daniels, Jen Charlie; BC MLA Sonia Furstenau, North Cowichan Councilors – Kate Marsh, Rosalie Sawrie, Debra Toporowski; City of Duncan – Mayor – Michelle Staples – Duncan Councilors -Stacy Middlemiss, Jenni Capps, Carol Newington; Cowichan Valley Regional Directors: Sierra Acton, Lori Iannidinardo, Alison Nicholson, Lynne Smith, Mary Marcotte, Michelle Staples, Debra Toporowski, Kate Marsh, Lake Cowichan Councilors – Carolyne Austin, Kristine Sandhu, Lorna Vomacka, Ladysmith: Amanda Jacobson, Tricia McKay; and CVRD School Board Trustees – Candace Spilsbury, Barb de Groot, Elizabeth Croft, and Johanne Kemmler.

Cowichan Valley International Women’s Day Committee

International Women’s Day Rally Charles Hoey Park 124 Canada Ave, DuncanSaturday, March 7 11:00am – 12:30pmSpecial welcome to Warmland Women Support Services Society and The REDress Project

International Women's Day 2020 Banner
IWD Logo

It was a perfect day

Dora Wilson opening prayer 2019 Cowichan Valley Women's Day Rally

It was a perfect day and a wonderful event from beginning to end. Thank you to all who consulted and volunteered for the creation of today’s rally and to all of the presenters involved.

Maureen Tommy, and Debra Toporowski stand with Dora Wilson for the welcome and prayer
Maureen Tommy, and Debra Toporowski stand with Dora Wilson for the welcome and prayer

We were honoured to have Dora Wilson there to open the rally with her daughter, Maureen Tommy, who drummed the welcome.

Debra Toporowski North Cowichan Councillor spoke eloquently about enfranchisement and disenfranchisement in the context of colonialism, relating her mother’s own story. Debra introduced our first speakers, Kiara Child, Natalya Child, Talia Child, Kwakiutl Youth Dancers recently returned from the United Nations General Assembly for the 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages. They were exceptional in every way.

Alistair MacGregor for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford spoke of growing up on a farm with strong women models and introduced Katy Ehrlich of Alderlea Farm & Cafe. Katy spoke of overcoming the programming of youth to aspire to things she was told were impossible for women to do and told stories from her upcoming book.

Ellen Oxman of the BC Ferry & Marine Workers’ Union and MoveUP,  introduced Jenn MacPherson of the Nanaimo Duncan District Labour Council, who spoke of the importance of education and who also introduced Joanna Lord, the newly acclaimed Executive Vice President of the BCGEU. Joanna also spoke of the importance of education and what it delivers to society.

They were followed by Helga Lambrecht of the Cowichan Spirit of Women introducing keynote speaker and bursary recipient Lisa Webster, who recently graduated with an MA from Vancouver Island University‘s Community Planning. Lisa, who is also a senior environmental specialist with the Federal Government, and a slam poet, presented her talk as a series of spoken word performances.

This was followed by Jenni Capps brilliantly well-researched introduction of poet Sonnet L’Abbé, who closed the rally by leading us all in the feminist classic Bread & Roses, before presenting some of her own poetry and completing the day with a moving rendition of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise set to music, which she sang, and included a call and response with the audience.

REDress Team
REDress and Warmland Women

It was our privilege to host the REDress project, conceived by Metis artist Jaime Black. and presented locally by Kendra Thomas of Warmland Women’s Support Services.

All photos except REDress project by Jasmine Hurmuses

Sponsors: Nanaimo Duncan & District Labour Council, BC Ferry & Marine Workers Union, BC Federation of Labour, MoveUp, United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, WOS Local 1-1937, Unifor BC Regional Council, Old Farm Market, The Dog House, Cowichan Valley Voice, David Coulson Design, Cherry Point Estate Wines, Alistair McGregor MP, a good mind

Partners: Warmland Women, Cowichan Women Against Violence Society, Cowichan Intercultural Society, Matraea Centre, Hub Film Club, Reel Alternatives, Cowichan Discourse,, VIU’s Fabulous Film Series, VIRL Cowichan & VIRL South Cowichan, Ay Lelum-The Good House of Design, Salish Eye Productions, Duncan Showroom, Osborne Bay Pub, Beverley McKeen, Genevieve Charbonneau

Thank you especially to Tilman HainleEllen TheresaMiller VickiDeb MonkmanJasmine HurmusesDebra Toporowski North Cowichan CouncillorJacqueline RonsonPatricia Eckhardt, Melanie Watson, Lia Versavel, Hilary HenegarJeff VirlDusty Palmer, and Rupert Koyote.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

walking with our sisters

Our women, girls, and LGBTQ2S are sacred. We would like to recognize every single family member and loved one of the missing or murdered Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people in Canada. We want to express our deepest sympathies for your loss and we are grateful for every story that you will choose to share with us in the search for the truth.

National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls link

Over the last several months we have been determining our strategy for how best to move forward in this National Inquiry. Our mission is to learn the truth by honouring the lives and legacies of Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community. This encompasses three goals:

  1. Finding the truth
  2. Honouring the truth
  3. Giving life to the truth as a path to healing

As we examine the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women, girls and members of the LGBTQ2S community in Canada, we are putting the families first. Our values are honesty, openness, inclusivity, compassion, courage, fairness and respect. We are seeking the truth about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and LGBTQ2S people while—most importantly—holding our women, girls and LGBTQ2S people sacred. It is our goal to provide those sharing their stories with a culturally safe space that they can access with support surrounding them. Our work is connected to the land and rooted in traditions that have kept Indigenous communities strong for thousands of years.

Da-Namaamin Moseyang Giw-Ganchigaazjig Kwewag

Da-namaamin moseyang giw-ganchigaazjig kwewag

Da-Namaamin Moseyang Giw-Ganchigaazjig Kwewag, “We will walk in prayer for those murdered women,” is a grassroots Indigenous-led action and means for us to respond to the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women, girls, and future generations.

Our journey across Turtle Island (Canada) is a way to heal ourselves and revitalize our traditional roles as Women, Men, and Two-Spirit People. The Prayer Walk is also a way for us to show women, girls, and victims’ families that we care. We believe our Indigenous nations must take the lead in healing within our communities. To this end, we advocate for increased support for Indigenous-led solutions to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.