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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Finding the truth
Honouring the truth
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, “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.