Issue No. 7 Week of October 18th, 2021

Updated: Feb 10

Hello Wavemakers!

WE DID IT!

-- Jennifer S

I’m so proud of Calgary right now!

– Avery

Ahhhh!!!! What a relief!!!

– Stacey

Wow!!! Congratulations!!! We have a new mayor that is not an old white man!!!

– Sarah W

So happy for Calgary!!!!

– Heather D

Gondek is going to do a terrific job.

– Donna

BEST DAY EVER

– Mary

We are all VERY happy with the new mayor. Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to meet Jyoti!

– Val

My day is made ️️️

-- Stasia

I’m so choked up. Holding in the tears as they are pulling the votes out.

– Denise

So happy!!!

– Mikayla

I had goosebumps!!

-- Kaitlyn

Go Jyoti!

– David

She did it!!!

– Carol

I’m so, so happy that this is the outcome – great work by everyone on her team. They earned it.

– Chris B

Jyoti Gondek made history last night, becoming Calgary’s first female mayor! She also happens to be a woman of colour—whoot!! It was so exciting to have all your texts coming in as the results became more and more definitive. Calgary has demonstrated that it is more progressive than people think, as we have now had two mayors in a row that are POC (People of Colour) and clearly progressive. Jennifer’s comment, “WE DID IT!” reflects the work of over 1200 volunteers who committed to work for Jyoti’s campaign, who built signs, who distributed brochures (Jennifer, Medeana, Katie, Denise, Orla, Chris S, Graeme, Margot, Lisa, Anne, Lauren, me, and more), who made calls, who brought in funding, who donated, who talked/texted/e-mailed friends, who talked to strangers, who scrutineered polling stations (Denise), who mobilized people to learn more about Jyoti (wavemakers!), and got out and voted (Calgary wavemakers!). That’s how an election is won, by individual people getting excited, committing, and bringing others along. And friends, we were a part of that. On the morning of the election, my cell phone rang and Stephen Carter, Jyoti’s Campaign Manager, was on the other end. He called to say thank you and said that our support in August with our first (chilly!) Meet Jyoti event, breathed life into the campaign when it was most needed. As I said to our WhatsApp group, it is perhaps an overstatement, but we all know how important and powerful ripples are, and maybe we did help build momentum. Shari Graydon, the inspiration for Making Waves as catalyst and founder of Informed Opinions, texted as well saying that, “Early exposure and endorsement are very valuable!” Chris’s text at the end of the list above says it all, “[G]reat work by her team. They earned it.” This takes an immense amount of work, and we saw it all through the campaign, and we saw it pay off. At Making Waves we love seeing the work, and seeing how good work advances equality!

Big thanks to those of you who came to the outdoor covid-safe gathering in my backyard in August, where we started expressing our support for Jyoti. It was meant to be purely social, but since we are wavemakers, we couldn’t help but make waves and try to make a positive impact on our city.

Calgary’s Mayor, Jyoti Gondek, on Oct 18th 2021

Before Jyoti made her fabulous speech (that’s how Shari described it!) , full of compassion and practicalities, Jyoti was introduced by the youngest person in her family, teen poet, Justice. Justice wrote a poem about Jyoti, which means small flame, and how that small flame is burning the cage of the status quo. Yessssss! I’ve never seen the child of an elected leader take centre stage on election night, and I loved this so much! That decision by Jyoti and Justice is meaningful, and is aligned with Making Waves: that young voices are important and make a difference. If you look at the screen behind Jyoti, just at her left shoulder, you’ll see two heads in that pink box, and those are my and Orla’s heads, as not only did I want Orla to feel she was a part of this election, she very much wanted to be a part of history. As we talked about at our Meet Jyoti events, even if you are too young to vote, you can still speak up, influence, make waves, and make change, and I’m so thrilled that all of our wavemakers, even the very youngest of you, felt that this was something meaningful that you wanted to be a part of.

Good work everyone! Thank you for making waves and helping to advance gender and racial equality!

From the Mayor Elect’s letter to the volunteers: I’m ready to go full Gondek. I invite you to walk this path with me. Calgary’s future is bright and together we will do amazing things.


Climate Crisis: Lauren MacDonald Will Make You Cry…Or Cheer!

Lauren MacDonald, teen climate activist from Scotland, made me cry this week when I watched a video of her on stage with Ben Van Buren, CEO of Shell. Watch the video and let’s meet on the other side.

Lauren MacDonald: "Disproportionately in the Global South, so many people already dying due to issues related to the climate crisis, such as pollution, extreme heat and weather related disasters. This is not an abstract issue, and you are directly responsible for those deaths…If you're [going to] sit here and say you care about climate action, why are you currently appealing the recent court ruling that Shell must decrease its emissions by 45% by 2030? I seriously do not understand what goes on in your mind to sit there and say, 'I'm trying to do better' when you're appealing... being legally [bound] to climate action. So my question is, it’s a yes or no question, will you repeal this?”

Ben Van Buren: “Well, again, you gave some context …”

Lauren: [Interrupting] “I’m going to take that as a no. I hope that you know that we will never forget what you have done and what Shell has done. I hope you know that as the climate crisis gets more and more deadly, you will be to blame. And I will not be sharing this podium with you any more.” [Stands up and removes mic and battery pack]

I am in complete awe.

  1. Lauren is prepared! TED had planned a question for her to ask Ben, but she went off script and demonstrated her knowledge and understanding, as well as the urgency of the climate crisis—and the greenwashing.

  2. Lauren has no interest in being deferential or respectful to people who aren’t respectful to the planet and the people living on it.

  3. Lauren connects the actions of Shell (and other fossil fuel companies) to the lives of real people, and how lives are being destroyed for profit for a few. This is what scientists have never been able to do effectively. This is the power of Lauren and, of course, Greta.

I also love that Bill McKibben, one of the most well-respected climate activists, supported her on Twitter. Lauren was not getting much support from Chris James (Engine No.1) and Christiana Figueres (who helped make the Paris Agreement a reality), which was so disappointing. To me it looked like they were protecting Ben and Shell. This moment shows how uncomfortable we are with those who speak up, with those who refuse to be polite, with young people speaking up, especially young women confronting men, and that we continue to value and elevate people and companies that make big money, even if it is killing us. Speaking up and making waves is hard work. But Lauren and Greta and many more are not afraid of the hard work, of making people uncomfortable. We don’t have time for anything less than decisive and targeted action.



Want a glimpse into how these young activists mobilize and get the message out? Check out this document.

Waves YOU are Making

Displaced People: Mary Peplinski is Making Waves for Afghan Refugees

I invited Mary to our first Meet Jyoti event in August, and she responded with so much excitement as soon as she received the text that I knew she would love Making Waves and being a young wavemaker. At the event she asked Jyoti meaningful questions, and was so inspired that she and her sister Caroline arranged their own Meet Jyoti event. But that first evening, long after Jyoti and Jenelle had left, the conversation continued. Many of us hadn’t met each other before, yet we stood outside in the cold and excitedly talked about Jyoti, about gender equality, and got teary as we discussed the horrific situation in Afghanistan. Mary went back to Toronto, and in the past few weeks she pulled together a group of like-minded people, created Open Arms: Welcoming Afghan Refugees to Toronto, partnered with a registered charity, held a fundraising event on Monday Oct 18th featuring Afghan musicians and speakers, and raised $45 000!!! Mary did what Shari encourages us to do in the Making Waves workshops—spend your privilege generously. And marvellous change-making waves were made as a result!


Mary Peplinski (bottom row, left) and friends

For more info on Afghan refugees, especially girls, arriving in Canada check out this link and for how to help check out this link (donations, mentoring, support and more with Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, CCIS) as well as the links in Open Arms.

Teen Mental Health: Hasti Amirsalari, Peer Mentor at ConnecTeen

Hasti joined Making Waves after this year’s workshop, and it was so fantastic to finally meet in person a couple weeks ago in my backyard. I found out that Hasti is a peer mentor at ConnecTeen, and asked her to tell us about the organisation and the waves she is making in mental health by chatting with teens who need someone to talk to:

ConnecTeen is a branch of the Distress Centre Calgary focused on helping people in their teen years with their mental health through a call or chat with a peer (aged 15-22), who has been trained. So many people message every day to talk about their daily stresses, all genders and gender non-confirming, but there are many young girls who chat in who have been sexually assaulted and/or physically abused, either in their own homes or elsewhere. It's horrific the number of chats that come in like that and it's heartbreaking to listen to a 15 year old girl talk about her experience with sexual harassment and assault. Kids are suffering all around us and it is almost impossible to see - so many of these kids are going through immense pain mentally and aren't able to share their struggles with their parents. Many have to cope on their own because of the stigma around mental health.

In the survey that we ask our contacts to fill out, there is a question about how important it is that they speak with someone around their age. I've been volunteering for 3.5 months now, having taken twenty-four 5 hour shifts, and the answer is always 'agree' or 'strongly agree'. So often I hear, "Wow, I feel so much better now that I've gotten this off my chest," and just talking through it generally leads to problem solving, mostly from the chatter/caller/e-mailer themselves, with maybe a bit of prompting from the volunteer.

In 2020, ConnecTeen had 4 679 contacts - wow! From breakups to abuse, to suicide, to people being bullied to being stressed out for any reason, it's so nice to be able to support someone and validate them in a way that they might not be supported or validated elsewhere and it's so powerful when the person tells you that they feel better after having talked to you.

Make sure to open up the conversation with your loved ones!!! Creating that space is one of the biggest parts of having good mental health.


Hasti Amirsalari


Making Waves Theme Song: The Linda Lindas Oh!

The Linda Lindas shot to prominence this summer with their song Racist Sexist Boy. The punk band consists of Eloise, 13, (bass, guitars, lead vocals), Bela, 17, (guitars, vocals), Lucia, 14, (guitar, vocals), and Mila, 11, (drums, vocals). They are making some awesome waves with their original songs, and high energy performances, and have been signed to a label! Their lives are a whirlwind but covid is protecting them a bit from really crazy fame, as the girls note that most of the hoopla is happening over their phones or over zoom. (Fame worries me).


The Linda Lindas, from left: Eloise, Mila, Bela, and Lucia. Photo by Jessie Cowan

Their new single Oh! could be the theme song for Making Waves. It’s all about wanting to say something to make change, worrying about messing things up, getting no support when speaking up, that nothing seems to change, but that if you don’t speak up then there is regret. That’s why we created Making Waves --we don’t just tell you to speak up! We value being prepared, putting in the work to have an informed opinion, and that while speaking up is how change is made, supporting those who speak up is equally important.


The Violence of Beauty: Linda Evangelista



Linda Evangelista was unbelievably famous as one of the original and most accomplished supermodels. That word, ‘supermodel’ is now thrown around, but back in the 1990s, it only meant Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell (…and apparently Tatjana Patitz, but I don’t remember her!). It is hard to describe how famous and influential she was, long before social media and before the internet had really taken off. Linda (Canadian) is making waves now by speaking up about how the beauty treatments she sought have caused permanent damage. Rhonda Garelick has written a compelling piece for the New York Times on the bigger picture of the violence of the business of beauty as revealed through Linda’s lawsuit:


“Hers was a ferocious beauty: dark, intense blue eyes tilting cattishly upward at the corners, brows arching dramatically like Sophia Loren’s, the perfectly carved mouth of a classical statue and an arresting nose no plastic surgeon could ever approximate. It was a photographer’s dream — a hypnotizing play of light, bone and angles.

That a mere mortal was tasked with reshaping her, trying, that is, to wrest the chisel away from the hand of Nature herself, makes for Greek levels of tragedy.”


About the outcome of the treatment, Rhonda writes:


“Her body has done the precise opposite of what it was supposed, or expected, to do — on several levels. On the most obvious one, it has resisted the “sculpting,” the lawsuit says, and apparently grown less shapely. But on a deeper level, her body seems to have resisted something else: It somehow refused to conceal the trauma inflicted upon it.”

Why do we not hear more about the side effects of beauty treatments?

“The answer lies in how much our society invests in disappearing the violence of beauty culture.”

Yet another purposeful blind spot, as Ziya Tong talks about in The Reality Bubble.

“But this is precisely why Ms. Evangelista’s lawsuit is so startling and important: It actually reveals the processes we are meant to disappear or disavow. Not only did this mishap force her to acknowledge that, yes, a woman in her 50s would need “help” to appear as slim as a fashion model of 25, it also spectacularly demonstrated, even performed, the internalization of artificial beauty culture.”

The last paragraph is powerful:

“…in cases of PAH, the body permanently takes on the precise contours of the tool used to reshape it. The body has literally, visually, internalized the weapon that deformed it and conformed to that weapon. In Ms. Evangelista’s case, she says her body created a permanent, visible record of what it — and she — were supposed to conceal.”


How YOU Can Make Waves

Write:

Lisa sent the WhatsApp group a message after election night:

“Though I am super happy with last night’s results, there is one more letter Wavemakers need to write. Aaron provides a pre-written letter you can edit and the address for the Minister of Municipal Affairs who apparently is the only one with the authority to remove Sean Chu from council.”

Sean Chu sexually assaulted a 16 year old while on duty as a police officer. It doesn’t matter that it was 24 years ago or that he thought it was consensual. She was 16, he was in a position of power, and he was an on duty police officer.

Kourtney Branagan, elected to represent Ward 11 (yep! I had her sign on my lawn!) said, "We cannot send a signal to the women of this city that those in leadership positions who are guilty of offences against women and minors are allowed to hold power."

According to CTV, Mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek says once she takes office she will direct the new council to take immediate action on Chu, but says he should resign.


Below is the letter from wavemaker extra-ordinaire, your MLGay for Edmonton-Glenora, Janis Irwin:


Learn:

1. Women in Climate Policy (free)

Lisa, who is a big fan of Dr. Sara Hastings-Simon, alerted us to this FREE event on Oct 28th, which I have signed up for:


2. Gender Gap: Leadership Strategies for Workplace Parity (free)

If you have been reading these newsletters, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Robyn Doolittle’s work (Unfounded and most recently of The Power Gap). She is part of a free virtual event on Wednesday Nov 3rd at 1:30-2:30 Eastern.



“Just four per cent of companies on the benchmark stock index have a female CEO, according to The Globe and Mail’s investigative report called Power Gap, released in January 2021. The same report found women occupy just 13 percent of senior executive roles at Canada’s largest companies. Yet, evidence is growing that organizations with balanced leadership perform better, and are more successful at hiring and retaining talent. This webcast will bring executives and inclusion experts together to share strategies for the C-suite to close the gender gap.”

3. Climate Crisis and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR): Women Deliver (summary)

Did you get a chance to catch this session on Oct 18th? Some heavy hitters globally were involved, and while there was way too much reading off the screen (hate this!) there were some good parts that I thought I would share with you.

The Climate Crisis impacts women and girls disproportionally, especially because the climate crisis has an effect on sexual and reproductive health rights and not enough is being done from the research level to real life solutions to address these issues.

Because of the climate crisis, there are more extreme and unpredictable weather events. People are losing their land, their livelihoods, are being displaced. As people fight for their basic survival, progress in gender equality is being unravelled. The lives of mothers and babies is being threatened (men move on their own, while mothers are always with their children and move as a group and slower), girls are prevented from accessing education, there is increased child marriage, increased early pregnancy, increased gender based violence, and decreased access to health services. Health systems must be made that are resilient to the climate crisis and take the needs of women and girls and SRHR into consideration. Most of the National Action Plans for the Climate Crisis do not take intersectionality into consideration and barely consider gender. Health systems and SRHR must be a pillar of the action plans. One of the panelists suggested that we need to not just focus on Mitigation strategies but also Adaptation strategies, and in order to do so, a levy/tax may need to be considered. Don’t take your sexual and reproductive health rights for granted—speak up ad make sure our leaders include SRHR in their plans for the future.


Fashion: Destroying Millions of Dollars of Perfectly Good Items to Protect the Brand

We have been talking a lot about our role as consumers, and that while the climate crisis must be addressed by government and industry, our most significant action is consuming less and being mindful about what we are consuming. The world of fashion is a significant polluter, with 100 billion items of clothes being made EVERY year, and million items of clothing being dumped in developing countries every week. Anna Sacks made waves on TikTok with her twist on an “unboxing” video. She showed Coach purses that were purposefully slashed so they couldn’t be resold and called Coach out on their sustainability statements. Her video got so much attention that Coach said they would stop destroying unsaleable products. But this isn’t new. When I heard this I remembered an article from Vox written in 2018 about how big brands like Burberry, H&M, Nike, Urban Outfitters destroy millions and millions of dollars worth of items in order to preserve brand exclusivity. Burberry says they did stop burning their products later in 2018. Maybe all these brands need to stop producing so much product in the relentless drive for dollars. What can you do? Buy less. Buy second hand. Write. Call. Sacks says her post is just the start and consumers need to speak up: “It can’t just be social media; it has to be social media paired with emails and calling,” Sacks advised. “Politicians don’t log comments and shares. It might catch their attention, but they don’t log it the way they log the number of calls and emails.” Get writing and make some waves!

Can You Name All 7 Parts of the Vulva?

Are you, like me, irritated when you hear people refer to the vulva as the vagina? In a study published earlier this year, only 9% of patients in the waiting rooms of a UK hospital correctly labelled all seven structures of the vulva. People, including women, just don’t know enough about female anatomy. In another study, 65% of women who answered the survey said they were uncomfortable even using the words vagina and vulva. This points to a significant problem and why people don’t know the difference between vulva and vagina! Knowing our bodies is critical for our health, our sexual health, and when something goes awry. I have chronic pelvic pain, the result giving birth to two large babies, and spent more than a year with a physio working on my pelvic floor and the muscles from the waist down. So many women have the same symptoms as me, don’t get help, don’t know that they can get help, and suffer in silence. But change is happening. Yoan Reed runs a Wombs and Vulvas workshop for pre-teens, and uses art to teach female anatomy:

“Fluorescent pipe-cleaners, pompoms and glitter are arranged to depict labia, clitorises, ovaries, urethral openings, vaginal openings, wombs and fallopian tubes. There are some googly eyes. They are joyful.”


(The seven parts of the vulva are: labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, urethra, perineum, vaginal opening, anus)


Thanks for reading and being a part of Making Waves!

I would love to hear from you! Tell me what you are up to, let us know of opportunities to make waves wherever you are, and resources to 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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