PeacemakeHers’ to challenge communities
AMHERST – Today the women of world is a little more challenged, but in a good way.
© Christopher Gooding photo
Halifax musician Carmel Mikol offered insight into the arts, political commentary and using the arts as part of creating change during the 2014 PeacemakeHers conference in Pugwash, at the newly refurbished Lobster Factory adjacent to Thinkers Lodge.
On Sunday, Aug. 24, Voice of Women for Peace took place, appropriately, in Pugwash next to the historic Thinkers Lodge – site of the 1957 discussions that turned into a nuclear disarmament movement. It was here last year when Alida Campbell, co-chair of this year’s conference, was inspired during the PeacemakeHers 2013 conference to become proactive this year in raising her voice and strengthening the voice of women and challenge them to be part of creating change.
“Last year set the tone for this year and the speakers,” Campbell said. “The PeacemakeHers are a chapter of the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace and this year we have Annie Chau, who is the co-coordinator for Responding to and Preventing Sexual Violence, and she talked about the issue of preventing sexual violence, how to recognize it as part of our society, especially with aboriginal women, and the need for change.”
That subject alone was timely enough during the comference, Campbell said, and speaks loudly of the need for change. Just days earlier, Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejected a call for public inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women following the discovery of murdered 15-year old Manitoba teen Tina Fontaine, whose body was pulled from Winnipeg’s Red River this month. Fontaine’s name joins 1,200 other aboriginal women murdered or missing since 1980 and the decision to not conduct a nation inquiry has divided Canadian leaders.
After the Prime Minister’s remarks, Canada’s provincial premiers and aboriginal leaders stood united and renewed the call for the inquiry.
“There are problems and that is part of the problem – that there are issues not being recognized,” Campbell said.
Which is what the Voice for Women conference hopes to change.
Through the guest speakers, lecturers and performers, participants were not only given insight and knowledge but skills, tools and ideas for creating change. From the workshops, Campbell explained, participants would move into smaller groups and determine up to five things they would like to change. Then, as a larger group, individuals would talk about how those themes affect their lives and then be challenged to come up with an idea to take back to their communities to create positive change. And to add to the initiative, women under the age of 30 can receive free membership to the Voice of Women and opportunity to participate in the 59th Status of Women conference at the United Nations office in New York, as well as the Voice of Women annual general meeting in Toronto, Campbell said.
To learn more about the Voice of Women for Peace, visit vowpeace.org.