I never considered myself the Political type but in Elementary school a couple of friends and I started the school newspaper. That was the beginning of my freelance ‘not for profit’ writing career. I had a passion for getting the right messages out to the people in my grade school. I later went on to be a part of an elite group of young, like minded lunch club geeks that met in the storage room behind my grade six teachers class. We were a forward-thinking group of pre-teens sharing ideas while huddled (hiding) on the floor of a storage room among old books and broken staplers. Fast forward to Junior High and a whole new world. My friends and I organized a walk out to protest the ‘no shorts’ rule in school. When the bell rang for second period a large group of us marched out of the school with a passion and a purpose. The thrill of that early political rising was rather hard to top and I am quite sure my political musings came to a screeching halt.
I will admit that during my party years I knew very little about politics and cared even less. I was casually dating a smart Italian man that was very immersed in politics and it was something he took great pride in. I on the other hand was very interested in other things such as myself, partying, my friends and partying with my friends. To be fair I was also interested in him, he was a brilliant young entrepreneur, tremendously charming, he had a repertoire of thousands of jokes and he was truly fun to be around when I was not hanging out and/or partying with my friends. One night he called me around ten p.m. and asked me if I wanted to go for a drink. He said he had already eaten with some chic named Shari but he would happily buy me dinner if I was hungry. Due to our schedules it was not unusual for us to meet up later in the evening, I know you are all thinking it but too polite to say… ‘booty call!’ Let us not forget a couple very important things, it was not the middle of the night and neither of us was drunk, he was a gentleman and bought dinner always and we were two self-respecting adults who were not shackled to each other we just liked and respected each other and made time for each other when we had time; if that all makes sense. However, I was quite annoyed by being asked to go for drinks after he had dinner with some Shari girl. It just didn’t sit with me at all so I declined and closed the conversation very quickly. The next day at work one of our regular customers who just happened to be a friend of my captivating Italian, he had introduced us in fact, asked if I had seen him in the paper? There he was at dinner with none other than Jean Charest.
Jean James Charest, PC was the 29th Premier of Quebec, from 2003 to 2012. He was the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada from June 25, 1993, until November 4, 1993. Charest was the leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1993 to 1998, and was the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party from 1998 to 2012. My cute Italian was working on a political campaign with him. He was quite excited about it and I recalled him talking about it avidly on numerous occasions while I recited French nursey rhymes in my head to pass the time. I never admitted to him my confusion over the whole thing because he was still holding onto the illusion that I was his intellectual equal and far be it for me to burst his bubble. He probably just assumed that I was in bed with pimple cream on my face and unshaven legs and we would get together another time. That is definitely a time in my life that I was very far removed from politics.
To this day I admit that politics is not a subject I am passionate or educated about but when I had children I subscribed to the notion, along with many other Canadians that it is my responsibility to exercise my right to vote, and to do that in an intelligent way you have to know at least a little about politics. Politicians are savvy though so it is very easy to be taken in by grandiose ideas and platforms that over promise and under deliver, that however is for another post. Let me just say that I believe that if we want a government that is for the people and by the people we have to be the people, we have to vote because every vote counts and we have to do our part to be involved in our communities as change starts in our backyards.
I wrote my first letter to a politician when I was almost 30, it was to Stephen Harper. There were two attempted abductions in Edmonton within two days, one little girl got free the other was drugged, assaulted and left at a truck stop hours away. The man that was arrested was a sex offender that had been released into the community with a warning that he was at a high risk to reoffend. The parents at the townhouse complex where he resided had no idea that a predator was living amongst them, they felt safe and secure in their neighborhood. There were two schools within a stone’s throw. I wrote a heartfelt letter to our then prime minister pleading for him to make true on his promise to toughen the laws and penalties for child offenders. I even asked how I as a citizen could get involved. I was fairly new to Edmonton, I had young girls, I felt scared and wanted a way that I could do something to not feel helpless. Anyways I never got a response, not even a typed form letter response from a staff member signed by Harper. I remained disgruntled for the entire duration of his service and I hated that the lipstick they put on him for press conferences so closely resembled my very berry signature shade. I did try to join Little Warriors as a volunteer but it was way too much for my delicate soul. I desperately wanted to help but at the same time I have to admit that my heart could not handle the depth of damage that was being done to our children across Canada and the short sentences for offenses and high risk offenders being released into family friendly communities. It was all too much. However, I did educate my children, I did take steps to keep them safe and make sure that they were busy with activities instead of hanging out where I could not oversee them. My oldest was about eight years old and quite dramatic like me so every time a car slowed down she was sure she was getting kidnapped. I was fully aware that I could be with my kids 98% of the time and something could still happen to them but I did my best to be a good mom and take care of educating them on how to be safe. It wasn’t a huge step but it was a step.
I feel quite blessed to live in one of the safest countries in the world. One that holds women and children in fairly high esteem. My city is racially diverse and has a proud LGBQT community. Our Prime Minister has nice hair and he is pro-women, pro-gay, pro-Muslim and though he is certainly struggling to use his power in a way that benefits all Canadians I believe that he truly cares about all of the groups of people that make up this great Country, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
That being said in my city people still use the word nigger to express their dislike of law abiding, contributing members of society as they walk down the street, A young boy at my daughter’s work was screamed at by a white woman because she refused to be served by a terrorist. Gay people are beat up, bullied and judged. Women fear walking at night by themselves and young girls are being sold into human trafficking right here in my city. It is happening in your city too, right under your nose. A woman in Calgary got raped and during the trial she was continually referred to as the defendant by the judge, the even shittier thing is that she was, she was essentially put on trial for allowing herself to get raped. The judge brought up her sexual history, her clothing, how much alcohol she consumed and even had the audacity to ask if she tried to keep her knees together. Unfortunately, it is all too common. We are expected to teach our children how not to get raped. If they get raped, we drag them through the mud and victimize them even more. A young Nova Scotia teen named Rehtaeh Parsons was drunk and passed out at a party while guys had sex with her and took pictures. There was even a picture of her throwing up out the bedroom window yet consent was still questioned. The pictures circulated around her school and her parents moved but the pictures followed her. Ultimately the young soul tragically took her own life. The families of the boys continued to harass the girl’s family and to sling mud. Christie Blanchard of the National Post, who by the way describes herself as a woman but I think identifies more as a disgusting sewer rat published a scathing piece in the National Post attacking the family, dredging up really ridiculous things including an Aunt’s bankruptcy and questioning the young girls character and whether she wanted sex because after all she was at a party drinking so she must have wanted it. Every girl who drinks at a party with horny guys must secretly be wanting sex. It was even suggested that she wanted it but got embarrassed after the pictures were passed around. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?????????? I don’t know about you but I do not feel the least bit sexy when I am throwing up out a window. Should we talk about all of the missing and murdered native women? OH YEAH WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THAT. Shhhh. We are Canada, the true North strong and free and like our good friends in the U.S. of A we have it pretty damn good, so good in fact that we should think of the people in other countries facing things such as genital mutilation, honor killings, arranged marriages and no voting rights. We should be grateful and shut the fuck up!! We have it good enough and we should NEVER, EVER dare want, ask or fight for more.
Women before us fought for the freedoms we have today, I do not think they intended for us to ever give up fighting. Gay teenagers like my own daughter faced bullying and ridicule to just simply be who they are, they are taking steps towards acceptance and inclusivity and they want you to suit up and be a part of the fight. I have a friend; Angie Reid in the transgender community that is fighting every single day and blazing a trail for people like my nephew who never ever felt like he belonged in a female body. The work has just begun my friend. I have a Facebook friend Jesse Liscombe that founded the #makeitawkward campaign. It is his resistance to the racism he has faced, he wants to make a difference for every man, woman and child that has felt the sting of racism. His fight is just beginning and I know he wants us to fight alongside him. My youngest daughter has many Muslim friends who love Canada and call it their home. Yes, they differ in their beliefs but fundamentally they are the same. They bleed, they ache, they love, they laugh. Muslims are terrorists and the terrorists are Muslim have two VERY different meanings. My daughter has Muslim friends that gave her Christmas gifts. They don’t celebrate Christmas but they cared enough to give her a gift from their hearts and their parents supported it. It was a beautiful gesture! Racism is taught, kids are not born racist. You know what isn’t beautiful? The thought that their families that live in the U.S. may need to register as Muslim citizens under the reign of the newly elected 45th President of the United States. That is fucked up!
Yesterday on the first day after the inauguration of President Trump Women in many countries across the world marched in solidarity because they fear losing their rights and freedoms, they fear for their Muslim neighbors, they fear for their health care, they fear for minorities. Their new President is not Pro-women, he is not Pro-Muslim, He is not Pro-gay, he wants to build a wall and kick the Mexicans out. He screams fake news while providing you with fake news. I believe it is called alternative facts now but that is another story altogether. He manipulates the media and if he cannot sway the media to his favor he does his best to discredit them. It is really scary. There was a point in the election that it felt like a bad joke and it seemed so unlikely that he would get elected as president and when he did people all over the world collectively sighed. This is a man that starts Twitter wars with anyone who does not agree with him and he has the codes to the damn Nukes!! He has a very weird bromance with Putin which is cause for a great deal of unease. He promises to finally put the power back into the hands of the American people and I get it, that sounds really good. Especially to the people that were hit the hardest by the economic downturn. I totally get that you just want to feed your families and not struggle to pay your bills. You want the jobs to stay in america go to Americans. Nobody can fault you for that! I wonder how confident you feel that Trump has given so much power to his Texas Oil Tycoon buddies. That really does not sound like there will be much power left to turn over to you; the great people of America.
Now I know that a lot of you said it wasn’t your March and that is fine. It doesn’t have to be, but the people that marched with their Mothers, sisters, children, husbands, brothers and grandmothers should be applauded. You say “I will not be a victim” I cannot quite wrap my head around what makes someone exercising their rights and freedoms, fighting for equality and marching in solidarity with other like minded individuals; victims? These people got up and out, they got on their feet and refused to be victims!! These people are warriors, leading a resistance and advocating for change, supporting one another. Many people marched for their own personal agenda, just as many marched to give a voice to those that couldn’t. Wage equality, healthcare, racism, sexism, segregation, division…those are just a handful of the things that people marched for.
I know a lot of you saw it as a temper tantrum and you are entitled to that opinion, but a government that has any hope of being by the people and for the people requires that the people rise and use their voices. A country that stands idly by when they feel that their way of life is being threatened is not a country that will be “great again”.
As a woman, I must say there is something about women standing together and empowering each other that gets me in the feels. Women supporting women has not always been my experience, especially in the important teen years when I was developing a sense of self. As a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a daughter, a sister and a friend I am pretty damn proud of the woman I have become. As a woman, even in Canada I have faced some challenges. I know that many of you think that Trump being taken to task for the “grab em by the pussy” comment is ridiculous. Have you ever been grabbed by the pussy? At 14 years old everyday while waiting for the bus this guy who was a grade or two ahead of me used to try to touch my bum and my breasts everyday, one day he chased me up the road on my way home and stuck his hand down my pants. It became so degrading that I tried to talk to the school but nothing was done, it was kind of shrugged off as a boys will be boys type of thing. I never told my family, my dad and two brothers probably would not have taken the situation lightly. I have kept my distance from this guy since Junior High but a friend of mine dated him in her early twenties. He never grew out of this entitled behavior and when they broke up he harassed her really bad, even going as far as threatening her family and posting naked pictures of her online. You don’t really grow out of that mentality. Some of you may argue that why would Donald Trump need to perpetuate that attitude now that he holds the highest office in the greatest country in the World? That is the attitude that he holds towards women, they are his for the taking, he now has a great deal of power so I am not sure why we should assume that he would all of the sudden develop a better respect and understanding of women. On his agenda is to abolish funds to Planned Parenthood, citing that the U.S.A. is funding the killing of babies. Being a man with zero understanding or compassion for women and certainly no research about the not for profit organization I guess that is a reasonable assumption. I guess it is easy to disregard the sexual education Planned Parenthood provides to at risk youth, the birth control it provides free of charge to people that would need to go without, the advocacy, the pre and postnatal care to people who could otherwise not afford it. The STD testing for the young teenage girl that was raped while walking home from her part time job or the abortion to the young mother that will not survive the birth of her baby due to medical reasons. It is not black and white.
What about the people of the LGBQT community that just want to love who they love? A certain amount of progress was made under the Obama administration but will it be taken away? What about funding for people with disabilities; the most vulnerable of all the US citizens?
I feel very privileged in my life. I am a survivor of sexual assault not a victim of it. It is not something I discuss with people over lunch but it something I have tried very hard to come to terms with.I fought gender stereotypes and went head to head with men who refused to respect me and asked to speak to “the man in charge”, I learned how to be my own champion and to champion for others who are not that strong yet. In past relationships I was made to feel like I had to stay because I couldn’t do it on my own. Well guess what? I did.
Those women, men and children of all religions, of all races and all social economic backgrounds that marched all over the world, you marched for women like me and I thank you. It was very much my march. Many of my friends share similar stories to mine. We clawed our way back from adversity.
What does it mean and did it make a difference? I think every man, woman and child that marched yesterday feels changed somehow. They feel supported and hopeful. Standing together for the most marginalized of us all was a bold message to the new administration, a step towards change, unification and equality for all. Relationships were formed, and resolve was strengthened.
If I took anything from.this March is the knowledge that no we do not have to accept the things we cannot change when we can work to change the things we can longer accept.
I am a warrior. I know it, I feel it and I embrace it. I am enough but being treated better than women in ‘most countries’ will never be enough. We can do better.
A typical human being is made up of 7 billion billion billion molecules so essentially we are all the same, deserving of equal rights and freedoms, regardless of our race, religion or gender.