Issue No. 12 · Encouraging women, especially young women, to speak up and make change

Wavemakers!

We were all blown away with what turned out to be an Ask Me Anything session with film-maker Amber Fares! On November 27th we held our first Making Waves event for the 2021-22 academic year by trying something new, a conversation with a woman who is making waves and amplifying the voices of women through film. Could ‘Ask Me Anything’ become a new series, along with our annual workshop and bookclub? Stay tuned!

Amber was so warm, generous and thoughtful, that we all wanted more—we could have asked her questions all afternoon! Amy said she is a big fan of Amber’s work, and I think she articulated how so many of us felt, both about Amber’s work in telling the stories of women who are making change, but also in showing her work to us. The more than one hour conversation was animated, engaging and most of all, inspiring and informative. The young wavemakers were most intrigued by how Amber now has a career that is different than what she studied for in university—imagine that! I could see the eyes of the young women of Making Waves sparkling as Amber showed them that their choices now can still take them in all sorts of directions, that there are so many options and paths that can be explored. I still see Amber laughing joyously as Avery asked her about her change in career path, showing to all of us the exuberance of finding your way to what matters to you. We got glimpses into how Amber shifted careers (it took her three years) and how long it took her to make Speed Sisters (5 years). If you watched the film, there was this intimacy that was so captivating, and Amber said it was because she and her crew of two, spent years together with the Speed Sisters, that they were friends, that they lived near each other (Amber lived for 7 years in Palestine), and they formed a real sisterhood. It was the opposite for the film about Noam Shuster, as COVID meant that Amber couldn’t be with Naom, and Noam suddenly had no film crew around her. Noam started filming herself and demonstrated excellent story telling skills as she filmed herself crushed by the cancellation of her work at Harvard and the tour, testing positive for covid, her trip to the hospital and eventually to the covid hotel. There, Amber gave online lessons to fellow residents of the hotel on how to film Noam and capture the marvelous atmosphere in the hotel. Amber even shipped her camera to friends in Israel who continued to help tell Noam’s story once she got out of the hotel. Amber also talked about the challenges of funding Speed Sisters, that people wanted the story to be about the tension between male and female racers, and Amber said that that tension just wasn’t there: the story was about the lives of these women who happen to race cars, and the people around them. We got a tiny glimpse into the collaborative and difficult work of film editing, and Carol and Stacey asked about how the films were received, so we learned about the film festival circuit, how Speed Sisters consistently won the People’s Choice Award, how Noor and Marah were greeted like superstars at Hot Docs in Canada, and how Noam’s work has had such a positive reception in the US where she had been planning on touring. In fact, Amber is now working on making full-length feature film on Noam and her work.

After the event I received a flurry of texts, filled with excitement and gratefulness for unique opportunity to talk to a film maker, a woman who immerses herself in the lives of her subjects, and tells their stories with such care, nuance and thoughtfulness. We learned a lot about making waves and speaking up that day!

A huge thank you to all of you who joined us for the event, for your interest, for your curiosity, for your willingness to ask questions, listen and learn.

The synergy that occurs at Making Waves astonishes me every time. Thank you to Medeana, who brought Amber to Making Waves. This was such a memorable experience, and although it was very different, I kept thinking about our Seven Fallen Feathers bookclub, and Chochi Knott’s (thank you Kate) generosity with all of us. When we are willing to do the work to get informed, to understand, to speak up and make waves, we will be supported by those who have experience making waves, because they know how important it is to get more women speaking up, to amplify and to elevate. They know that women’s voices make a difference and that we are powerful when we work together.

This is the last newsletter for 2021. Thank you to all of you for reading, giving me comments, sending me ideas, links, and most of all for being part of this inspiring community. It has been so gratifying to hear how much you are enjoying this newsletter and reading about women making waves and making change. Don’t worry, I will still send out notices (and the link) for the December meeting.

Enjoy the break, stay healthy, stay warm and see you in 2022!

Very gratefully,

Hanita

Upcoming Events

  1. Next Meeting

We are going to squeeze one last meeting in for the year, on Dec 19th. We are going to be mostly talking about our first Booklcub session on January 16th. Do you want to moderate? Be on the panel? Have a suggestion for an expert who could join us?

2. Bookclub: Get informed about the fashion industry

Book: Consumed: Colonialism, Climate Change and Consumerism by Aja Barber

Date: Sunday January 16th, 2022

Time: TBD



When we were selecting the books for this year, there was a lot of interest in finding out more about the fashion industry. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of GHG emissions, producing mountains of waste and pollution, and perpetuating worker exploitation, specifically the exploitation of women in low and middle income countries. By delving into this world, we will address many of the issues we care about and learn about the global implications of why, what and how much we consume.

As I have been reading about this topic, I came across a couple shocking bits of information:

  • Labor costs account for just 1% to 3% of an item’s retail price. WHAT?!

  • Fashion Revolution found the labor cost of a €29 t-shirt is 18 cents and paying workers a fair living wage would bring the cost of labor up to 45 cents.

  • “One in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old.” Consumed: p. 71

I honestly thought, hoped, that the cost of my clothing was about the materials and the labour. To see how little the labour is valued and compensated is just awful.

As for wearing a garment once and being done with it—for real? Is this really a thing? I have clothes and shoes that are older than my 20 year old daughter, that I still love and wear. There is no way we can live sustainably if we are treating clothing in such a disposable way. But how do we make the shift to buying items that we love and will use over and over again?

Check out Aja’s super informative Instagram and this article in Vogue about her book.

Want to moderate the panel and q&a? Be a panelist? Suggest a fashion wavemaker who could join us? Let me know!



Should Young People Get to Vote? Heck ya!

In November I included an article from The Guardian about how anyone 6 years old and up should be allowed to vote, should be given a voice. David Runciman wrote about how young people are the only group who are discriminated against (disenfranchised), yet have the most at stake—and they are 25% of the population! The argument is very compelling, and I found myself in full agreement. On Tuesday, 13 young Canadians (12-18 yrs old) filed an application at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice asserting that preventing those under 18 from voting is in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which essentially says that every citizen has the right to vote and that every individual is equal. If you want to add your voice to this, I think writing to Marci Ien, Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth would be a great place to start. You can also check out Children First Canada for more info on the campaign

Amelia Penney-Crocker, pictured below, is 16 years old and hails from Nova Scotia. She got involved through Children First Canada, and has been speaking up about lowering the voting age:

"It's not about whether I'm a taxpayer. It's about the fact that I live in this country and that I have a vested interest in what happens to our world as someone who's here experiencing it," she said. And it's not just about giving young people a chance to choose their representatives, she said. "It's about candidates seeing that youth can vote for them and being more ready to represent youth issues and children's issues."


Sinead Burke: Disability is Not a Dirty Word

The UN’s Day for People with Disabilities was on December 3rd, and the incomparable Sinead Burke took the stage at the Business of Fashion’s VOICES conference to talk about “the need to consider Disabled people not as our customers, but our colleagues, co-creatives and fellow citizens.”

Sinead first came to my attention in 2018 when she was on the cover of BoF. At our Making Waves in-person meetings, we all thought she was a superb wavemaker and for 2020 we had planned to show a video of her Ted Talk at our 2020 in-person workshop on why design should include everyone, that good design is inclusive. We had to change everything and every since then I have been wanting to write about Sinead, and haven’t found the right moment…until now.



Five years ago Sinead showed the world that by ignoring disabled people, they were ignoring a market worth $1.7 trillion per year. She has been speaking up about inclusive thinking in so many creative ways since then, making good trouble in advancing the rights of those with disabilities. But she is concerned that not enough change has been made. While awareness and education are important, she is now focussing on action so that she and we can, “transform how we view accessibility today, while deliberately constructing a pipeline of talent for tomorrow.” She is amazing, and I encourage you to check our Sinead’s work, including her podcast As Me.

I’m giving a lot of copies of Sinead’s book for gifts of inspiration and action this year. Break the Mould: How to Take Your Place in the World. Sinead is articulate, thoughtful and a masterful communicator. Spending time with her in any way (she is prolific: check out her Ted Talk and other videos, Website, podcast, IG, articles etc) will make your day and likely change your perspective!



Young Women Demanding Respect

Remember the walk-outs in Calgary 3 weeks ago at Central Memorial and Western Canada High Schools? The walk-outs were organized by female students who want action taken to end rape culture in high schools. They are asking for:

  1. Holistic Consent Education to be added to the Curriculum

  2. A responsive and accountable administration (concerns and allegations by female students are too often being dismissed, minimized and ignored)

  3. A safe learning environment for all students (students should not have to be in the same classes as their alleged perpatrators)

Walk-outs were then organized at other schools in Calgary which resulted in a response by the Superintendent of the CBE. Christopher Usih sent a message home to parents and guardians of all CBE high school students saying he had talked to the principals of the schools to get an understanding of the situation. There was, however, no mention of having met with the organizers of the walk-outs, of actually listening to the concerns of female students. I checked in with both Hayley (Western) and Jade (Central) to see if they had had any meetings with the Board or Superintendent, and no one had contacted them. I also contacted two Trustees with my concerns and suggested they meet with Hayley’s group and Jade. How can the CBE expect to make change when they aren’t making the effort to talk to the people who are speaking up? How can they figure out what the problem is and how to address it if no one actually talks to the people experiencing the problem? This tells me that they aren’t interested in making change, in addressing the concerns of their female students. It is absolutely enraging that young women continue to be dismissed, continue to be ignored. And we all know why. No one is willing to make change, to change the status quo that is working so perfectly to keep those who don’t have power, and don’t have a voice, out of the system, and to be consistently damaged by the system.

We talked about organizing an inter-generational multi-school, nationwide walk-out. After all, this year there have been walk-outs at Western University and Queen’s University protesting sexual violence on campus and young women in high school speaking up and walking out in response to discriminatory dress-codes in Saskatchewan and Charlottetown. Young women are fed up, and I am loving that they have had enough and are speaking up. But they need support as our society is too used to not changing the system. Why would they make it work for anyone else? Why would they want to close the power gap? Women of all ages everywhere have had these same experiences because this isn’t something new. We can join these young women and add our voices in asking for change. What do you think? Can we get something organized? Can we get some real action and see meaningful change in schools and universities to prioritize the safety and education of female students? How important is this to you?

National Uproar over Jailed Photojournalist Amber Braken

“When we sent photojournalist Amber Bracken to Wet’suwet’en territory to report on one of the biggest stories in the country, we didn’t anticipate she’d become part of the story. Then, Friday came: the RCMP arrested Amber and 14 others, including Wet’suwet’en land defenders, as officers enforced an injunction for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

It should go without saying: journalism is not a crime. Amber was one of the only journalists present to document a story of vital public interest — and the RCMP took her away in handcuffs, despite the fact she clearly identified herself as a journalist.

The actions of the RCMP prevented us from publishing photos last week of police destroying the door of a tiny home with an axe and a chainsaw, and then pointing assault rifles at Wet’suwet’en people defending their unceded territory. While Amber sat in jail for three days, she could have been reporting on an alleged assault on Indigenous Rights, and the role of government officials and a private gas pipeline company.”

~Emma Gilchrist, The Narwhal

The Narwhal has been consistently reporting about what is happening in Wet’suwet’en territory (between Kitimat and Prince George, almost in the very middle of British Columbia). Three weeks ago two journalists were arrested by RCMP (Amber and Michael), and as Emma wrote, they then became the story, as media outlets across the country spoke out against the RCMPs actions and fears about journalists prevented from doing their work.

What is happening? Check out this explainer, but here are a few details:

‘Wet’suwet’en land defenders and supporters are occupying a Coastal GasLink pipeline worksite on Gidimt’en clan territory in northwest B.C. in an effort to prevent drilling under the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River). “We knew that at some point, they would try to drill under Wedzin Kwa and we’ve always known that that’s something that is not allowed. It’s too sacred to us and too important to us to ever let that happen.” Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en Camp spokesperson and a supporting chief from Cas Yikh House, told The Narwhal. Wickham spoke to The Narwhal on Oct. 8, standing on the drill pad, where land defenders recently installed a cabin. The small log building is surrounded by a vast muddy clearing and sits in the middle of the pipeline right-of-way.’ From what I understand, this is where the confrontation and arrests took place in November.

Amber and Michael being jailed for journalism is part of a growing and disturbing trend. On Thursday morning, The Guardian published an article which said that the number of journalists in jail around the world is at a record high. As of December 1st, 293 reporters were imprisoned. More disturbingly, 24 journalists were killed specifically because of their coverage, and 18 others died in the course of the work, but it is unknown if they were specifically targeted. The Committee to Protect Journalists said that this is happening because “governments are determined to control and manage information, and they are increasingly brazen in their efforts to do so.” Really scary stuff. But remember how Ziya Tong talked about purposeful blind spots in The Reality Bubble? That they are created to keep us in the dark, to keep us form challenging the status quo, to keep us from making change that will actually be beneficial? That is what is going on.

If you can, take the time to read independent journalism like the Narwhal, and if you can subscribe, that would be super! Journalists are risking their lives, their security, and for Amber and Michael, they have a long legal battle ahead of them as they stand up for journalistic independence and integrity. To hear about Amber and Michael’s arrest and about the work of photojournalists in Canada, check out this interview.


Mental Health Magazine and Website: Sophia Lia

Valerie sent me a note about a new-ish website created by a young woman from Gull Lake/Red Deer, Alberta that is all about teen mental health called Sophia Lia—yes, it is named after the creator. The e-magazine is on the website, and Valerie gave me an actual paper copy as well. I like the emagazine better than the website itself, as the magazine has a very clear mental health focus and is filled with stories from a variety of people with loads of tips and strategies and sharing of experiences. As Hasti said, there needs to be more conversation about mental health and if this magazine helps teens and the people around them talk more about mental health, then that is excellent. Sophia Lia won Miss Teenage Central Alberta in 2020 and is using her platform to advance the conversation on teen mental health.


Omicron: We are all in the same boat

The experts did warn us, and I know there were jokes made when we had over 20 000 active cases in this province just a few weeks ago that an Alberta variant was going to emerge, and here it is, Omicron. Not the result of a void in provincial leadership, but the direct result of vaccine inequality. Omicron is the kick in the pants telling the world that no one is safe until everyone is safe. “Despite the repeated warnings of health leaders, our failure to put vaccines into the arms of people in the developing world is now coming back to haunt us,” Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and an ambassador with the World Health Organization, wrote in the Guardian.

We need to do things differently, and Wafaa El-Sadr, director of ICAP, a global health center at Columbia University, is calling for a two specific actions in a Washington Post article

  1. “wealthy countries, including the US [and Canada], must provide resources to companies that produce vaccines now to increase vaccine production. What we are doing [so far] is donating the excess supply we have, essentially what we can spare.” Donating what we haven’t used is simply not good enough.

  2. intellectual property rights need to be suspended and investments made in regional vaccine production capacity

How far off track are we? Covax had planned to distribute 2 billion doses in 2021. So far, only 537 million doses have shipped, just one quarter. This is ultimately about competition for scarce resources and wealthier nations are winning the competition. If we want to get this pandemic under control, we need to get vaccines into arms everywhere around the world, not just in our own country. In the spring I donated to Covax through UNICEF, and if you are able, join me. Any amount will make a difference.

Climate Crisis

In grade 8, when my science teacher Mr. Edgar taught us about the greenhouse effect, I was riveted. And horrified. Later, when I was in university, doing my specialization in Botany in preparation for my Masters in Fire Ecology, we talked a lot about the impending climate crisis, how human behaviour was changing everything. Studying forest fires meant that I spent a lot of time thinking about how the climate crisis was going to cause more unpredictable and extreme weather events, and how differently the impacts of these events are perceived when they are in the middle of nowhere, versus when there are ‘values at risk’ (urban structures/infrastructure) and ultimately when human lives are at risk. But despite studying these predicted effects in the 1990s, I didn’t expect that we woud ever experience them. Surely they were a long way off, and surely governments and industry would prevent this from happening.

When I was in New York in September of 2018, and went to the UNGA, I heard world leaders from countries in the Global South begging for action on the climate crisis, telling delegates how water levels were rising, how livelihoods were being lost, how communities were being displaced, how cultures were being irrevocably changed. But no one responded. (Side note: Greta Thunberg had just started protesting outside the Swedish Parliament in August 2018). Despite extreme weather events in Canada over the past decade, this year was the first time that a direct connection was made to the climate crisis, to fossil fuels. I was in BC during the heat bubble at the end of June, and wondered if Orla and I would be able to physically cope with the heat. It was frightening. To hear that just down the road, Lytton had set the record at 49 degrees, and then just days later the whole town burned down, it felt apocalyptic. Hundreds of people, and thousands of animals died from the heat.

The same area in BC was hit with three atmospheric rivers in a row in the last few weeks, causing immense devastation and disruption. At one point Vancouver was completely cut off from the rest of Canada by land as the flooding in the interior had washed away road and rail access. Merritt, Abbotsford and many towns in the area were flooded, people were stranded, and again, people and animals lost their lives. And at almost the same time, the east coast was experiencing similarly powerful storms that washed roadways out and caused destruction and devastation.

I don’t know what to tell you, other than this is important and we can’t just do nothing. We all have to work to change our thinking, to change our actions, to demand action and accountability. Knowing that our carbon budget is going to run out in 2028, I want to see swift and decisive action. And I want the companies and organisations I work with to be putting in the work, to demonstrate that they prioritize the planet over profit.

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of UPPERCASE magazine’s creator and publisher, Janine Vangool. On Black Friday, Janine sent out an e-mail entitled Have A Little Green Friday, which was a nod to one of her publications, Little U, as well as the work she is doing, which she carefully outlined:


At a time when consumers are trying to consume less and be more mindful, this is the effort and transparency we would all like to see from business owners.

Everyone Should Carry a Naloxone Kit

Guess how many overdoses were reversed in Alberta in the first 8 months of 2021? I guessed 400. I was way off. The number is 6447. Yes, over 6000 lives were saved because of Naloxone kits. And since this is self reported, the number is likely higher. The opioid crisis is getting worse everywhere, and across Canada. BC just reported that 2021 was the deadliest year to date.

People aged 15-24 are the largest population requiring hospital care from overdoses, and the problem is that drugs are so contaminated.

According to the internet, free Naloxone kits are available at all Co-Op Pharmacies, so go get one, and make sure you have it on you. If you need to use one, call 911 and they will guide through, step by step.



Criteria for Safe Covid Gatherings

Dr. Jen Gunther recently wrote in her newsletter about the criteria she and her partner put into place for their very first gathering a couple weeks ago. In addition to adhering to covid guidelines, these were her suggestions. In Alberta we are still limited to 2 households and a maximum of 10 vaccinated people but I think this is a great set of guidelines based on science and to mitigate risk:

  1. Low number of infections/transmissions

  2. R-value below 1 (infections falling)

  3. Positivity rate below 5%

  4. Every guest to provide proof of vaccine, no exceptions

  5. Every guest to be rapid tested before entering the home, no exceptions

  6. Up the ventilation in your house – put the fan on your furnace, turn on additional fans, open a window or two, turn on your range hood, etc

Free Rapid Tests

Want to make some waves between studying for exams or preparing for the holidays? Write to your provincial government this week and ask them to release the rapid test kits they were given by the Federal government to us for free! In some parts of Canada and in other parts of the world, free rapid tests are available as another tool to help ensure safer workplaces, classrooms, and even gatherings.

Last Meeting of the Year

Looking forward to seeing you on December 19th for the last meeting of the year!

Thanks for reading and being a part of Making Waves!

Making Waves is a grassroots intergeneration organization that encourages women, especially young women 14-22 yrs to speak up and make positive change. Everything we do is made with, by, and for young women and is offered at no cost to ensure there is no financial barrier to participation. We welcome all self-identifying women, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals who feel they would benefit from our conversations.

I would love to hear from you! Tell me what you are up to, let us know of opportunities to make waves, and share resources to help us get informed. I respond to text, e-mail, WhatsApp and even an old fashioned phone call. We welcome contributions to this new format of newsletter—there are lots of things we can do. Right now I’m committing to publishing this irregularly (!). As always, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and we have plenty of room in MW for a diversity of informed opinions while we keep our efforts focused on advancing gender equality in our safe no-fail zone that we have created. Feel free to pass this on! If you want to say hello, share an idea, subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail to hanita@informedopinions.org with the action in the subject line. Want to know more about us? Check out our website, www.makewavesmakechange.ca

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