International Women’s Week events planned

ANTIGONISH: Once again this year, events are being planned to mark International Women’s Week in the Antigonish area.

This year’s theme is “Standing Together: Women Organizing for Justice.” Events will highlight examples of collaboration and solidarity that have advanced justice and equality. There will be educational events to promote understanding of Indigenous peoples’ relationship with Canada and Canadians; a public presentation and discussion about women’s activism; and a film about the first female farm workers union organizer in the United States. Celebratory events include the annual Feminist Cabaret; Women’s Breakfast and Silent Auction; and an International Fashion Show. Participating restaurants will serve free coffee to women on International Women’s Day (March 8). Youth-focused events include an IWW-themed Family Sing-along, and activist girls and young women gathering to tackle “period stigma.”

The week began with a KAIROS Blanket Exercise on Monday in the St. James United Church Hall. Deb Eisan and Denise John of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre guided participants through a unique and powerful learning experience that deepened their understanding of the experiences of Indigenous peoples within the colonial context, and their present-day relationship with non-Indigenous people and the Government of Canada.

An evening of information sharing for local women also took place Monday at the Canso Library Resource Centre. Representatives from community organizations talked about the services available to women of all ages as they navigate life transitions and address problems.

On Tuesday, a film will be shown about the life and achievements of Dolores Huerta, a Central American union organizer. Her struggle to form the first farm workers union in the United States became a struggle for gender equality within that same union.

On March 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Immaculata Hall, the StFX Anthropology Department will host Learning Lodge: Honouring Indigenous Women. A panel will speak about traditions of honouring women, and about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Also on Wednesday, girls, young women, and allies are invited to participate in Girls Taking Action to End Period Stigma at the People’s Place Library. This fun and interactive workshop debunking myths and stigma around menstruation will start at 6:30 p.m. and will be hosted by Faye Fraser and her team of Girls Take Action members.

“Joy Worth Fighting For,” a public presentation by Karen B.K. Chan followed by discussion is planned for Thursday, at 7 p.m. at the Coady Institute’s Dennis Hall. Chan, an award-winning sex and emotional literacy educator, will speak about making women’s struggle for gender equality joyful. Chan finds inspiration in the words of Emma Goldman, an early 20th Century anarchist political speaker and writer: “A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.”

“What is the future that social justice seeks, and how do we recognize it when it becomes our present?” Chan asks. “As we fight the good fight, what kind of time, energy, and value do we give to joy, love, pleasure, play, and rest? How might they be part of the revolution, and not just the reward?” Chan uses humour, kindness, and art to teach new ways of thinking about healthy and inclusive human relationships.

The event is co-hosted by the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and the Coady Institute’s International Centre for Women’s Leadership.

Chan’s visit is also part of the regional Advancing Women’s Equality Project and forum, collaboration between the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and three project partners: the Strain regional centre for education, Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, and St. Francis Xavier University. At the forum, Chan will present a workshop on the complexities and nuances of consent to a group of regional change makers in the afternoon on March 7.

Friday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. The Women’s Breakfast and Silent Auction is planned for 7:30-9 a.m. at the Maritime Inn. For tickets, contact the Women’s Centre at 902-863-6221.

Also on Friday, participating restaurants and coffee shops will be offering a free cup of coffee to women.

A major highlight of International Women’s Day is the annual IWD March, which will begin with a rally in front of the Coady Institute at noon and move through town. Following the march, Mayra Jimenez will speak at the People’s Place Library about the collective, “8 Tijax”. Mayra is raising awareness about the quest for justice and reform following a preventable tragedy that killed 41 girls in a dormitory in Guatemala.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, an International Fashion Show will be held in the MacKay Room. A dazzling variety of fashions will be showcased from different cultures and perspectives.

No International Women’s Week would be complete without the annual Feminist Cabaret. Once again, Piper’s Pub will be the venue for this uproariously entertaining and celebratory variety show on March 9 from 8-11 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show will be hosted by Jenn Priddle and CJ MacIntyre. There will be a 50-50 draw, door prizes, and a special drink, “Feminist Fatale” that has been designed for the occasion.

For more details, find them on Facebook at internationalwomensweekantigonish or contact the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association at 902-863-6221.

The idea of International Women’s Day originated in working class women’s struggles for good jobs, a living wage, and political rights. The tradition of celebrating IWD in Nova Scotia goes back to the pre-WWII years when women in Cape Breton and other parts of the province organized events.

Each year on March 8 since the 1980s, Antigonish area women have marked the successes and goals of local and international women’s movements. In 2013, what had been a one-day affair on March 8 grew into a week of women organizing, learning, honouring, and celebrating.