Last October’s conference was an amazing place of encounter and opportunity to come together in conversation and explore women’s leadership, activism, and creative ideas and practices in response to the pressing gender and social issues of our time. The conference included panel discussions with prominent women in the arts, politics, and Indigenous, social and environmental movements. Through their stories, we learned how they teach, lead and act at times overtly, at other times subversively, but always purposefully and courageously upon the gendered Canadian stage.
Our aim was to showcase women doing radical, exciting and courageous work in and for our communities. The conference engaged participants in discussions and hands-on creations of the arts as processes and tools of social justice and change. The conference also emphasized the work and creativity of Indigenous women in the wake of the critical Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.
The conference opened with a wine and cheese reception and panel on ‘gender justice’. The second day included separate panel discussions: Women’s Cultural and Aesthetic Leadership, Sewing the Fabric of Historical Change: Conversations about Residential Schools, and activist stories from a variety of Women Warriors. The final day’s panel discussion was: Women in Politics: Feminist Perspectives.
The conference also included hands-on workshops to teach us how to use the arts as community education and activist tools. Workshops will included puppetry, theatre, fabric crafts, and métissage/storytelling. Historical tours of St. Ann’s and Emily Carr House were also available to participants. The conference ended in celebration with clog dancing and storytelling at Mungo Martin House at the Royal BC Museum.
The two-day conference was a great success. Speakers and workshop leaders were indigenous and non-indigenous women: active politicians, sisters, film-makers, artists, academics, community leaders, and museum staff.
Participants from students and young people to older men and women were given the opportunity to engage with age-old questions in a different light. All were able to reflect on their own experience as past, present or future leaders, educators, artists and/or activists. The food was good, the wine and cheese allowed people to connect with one another – and all of our stories were interwoven into to a fantastic Thursday evening to Saturday evening event.
The Friends are very excited to be planning a third conference in 2018 as well as a series of panel discussions in 2017.
We will keep you informed of our upcoming plans!