Tag Archives: women

When they Go Low, We Say No!

By Guest Blogger Mary Ann, who left Canada to march in Washington

When the American election happened, I was so shocked and so was my sister.  Right afterwashingtonmarch the election there was an overwhelming feeling that we must do something. Because when the American elephant rolls over, the Canadian mouse can get crushed.

On the 17th of November, we booked our hotel room.We looked for buses and people were already booking buses. It was an organic and grassroots movement, no official organizers at that time. There were 7 buses going from Franklin Maryland so that’s where we booked. Everything was moving marywashingtonby the 17th.

I had to do something with women. The election was a slap to my whole sense of being a woman. That the most qualified woman lost to a clown. Women suddenly began to tell their stories. One man on our bus came because for the first time his wife told him her stories, the sexism that had happened to her in her life. We all began to tell our husbands and friends what has happened to us in our lives.

busandmarchBefore Christmas, they were trying to stop the march, I felt, saying women couldn’t get the permits, couldn’t use the Mall. It was a moment of faith, we all went anyway. Women showed up individually not part of the “official” march. They weren’t the leaders, women just came. It wasn’t about the celebrities, most couldn’t hear them. Women came from all over the states.

I was too young to burn my bra. To get to 57 and never been on a march. Most of the women had never been on a march or political ever. A lot were marching for their dead mothers. I felt letdown as a woman and I needed to gather.

We found out we were not alone! A million, yes it was a million, got off their asses and marched in Washington and millions more knitted hats, sat in coffee shops and cheered. Millions more marched in cities around the world.

You didn’t know everyone was going to wear the pussy hats but everyone did and everyone had a handmade sign.

Marchers were stunned and grateful we came from Canada. They were terrified when they found out that Canadians were turned away at the border. They then knew that bad things were happening already.

A Metro staff member started to cry when she found out that we came to support American women. She said, “I’m black, female and gay. I’m the one they hate.”

Women on the bus were amazed that I was once a school trustee. I told them they have to fill  all the positions: council, trustees, sheriff, and then  move on to the higher offices.  That’s what the Republicans have done. Make sure the person is electable. When I told them about our popular Canadian Sikh defense minister, they were shocked that could happen. They all love Justin Trudeau.

This march shows us what’s possible in Waterloo Region, in Canada, in America, all over the world. This is the Women’s uprising, like the Arab Spring. Now I will do something.

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Taxi cab sex assaults

I’m absolutely spitting furious. I am a member of the Region of Waterloo Licensing and Retail Committee and I cannot believe the members had to find out about numerous, not one, but numerous alleged and proved sex assaults in taxi cabs through the Record. Before this, I can only remember one or two times when sex assault came before the committee. Of course the driver lost his license.

I have always told my daughters to carry enough money to take a taxi if a date goes bad or they feel unsafe or they have drunk too much. What am I to tell them now? Taxis are supposed to be a safe place for women.

 

In Waterloo, 70,000 students have just arrived to live away from home for the first time. Half of them are young women who can no longer call home for a ride.

I cannot believe that the Chair of my committee said, “Innocent until proven guilty.” and when I wrote to him upset about the Record article, he added, “We’re not Syria Yet”.

Taxi drivers are like teachers and priests. People who have a responsibility to work at a higher professional standard.  Yes I know it is only a very small percent of the taxi drivers who were convicted of sex assault and are on trial as the staff head of our licensing division said. But do we say this about the handful of murders in our community? About the number of regular assaults? No these are subjects of deep concern.

When I was a school trustee, a teacher was removed from the classroom if they were accused of a sex crime. Yet a taxi driver was still driving around! And my committee wasn’t told.

Then there is the case of the woman who was drunk and the driver was acquitted. I quote from the Record:

“The Crown argued a driver picked up an intoxicated 20-year-old woman at night and took her to a deserted parking lot in October 2012. It was alleged he assaulted her in the back of his cab, where he took off her clothes, fondled her and touched himself. At his jury trial this year, the cabbie argued the woman initiated the contact. He was acquitted.”

The woman was drunk, therefore not in the capacity to give consent. I know a number of women who have been raped and never reported it.This is why.

I have been told that everything is cleared up now. That it was all because our by-laws didn’t require the police to report to the Region, who give and take away licenses. And soon drivers will have to report charges as well as convictions. Actually we use driving records.  Surprisingly, not everyone reports their convictions. There will be cameras in the taxis. Because, as the head of the taxi association says, “It’s for everybody’s safety — drivers, passengers.”

The head of the taxi association is organizing a training meeting with police and drivers to tell them what is acceptable and not acceptable. Seriously? It’s not obvious? No, sadly, it’s not.  I suggest trained women from the rape crisis center teach this course.

The Licensing committee hates drivers who speed in their taxis and this is a hundred times worse. I am furious.

I have since talked to the Head of Licensing and he is working with the sex assault centre as well as working on the other solutions mentioned. He told me he takes this issue very seriously and the evening we spoke, he was heading out to check out taxis and how things are going on the first weekend of students’ terms.

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Women’s Municipal Campaign School Poster

Women's Municipal Campaign School Poster

Women’s Municipal Campaign School, Waterloo Region

Mayor’s and Nurses’ Breakfast for Haiti

The breakfast for Haiti this morning at RIM park gave the attendees much more than a simple tribute to Yvonne Martin and the raising of almost $10,000. Various speakers inspired with their own experiences in needy areas.

Betsy Wall, from the Foundation for International Development Assistance works with Haitian agriculture and was in the earthquake. She spoke about the historic and current needs of Haiti even before the earthquake and how the people of Haiti are resourceful. When she returned home, the TV pictures of food aid being thrown at people and a foreign military presence patrolling streets of desperate people upset her. The Haitians she works with are hardworking and persevering despite hardships. She told us our help is not always good help or compassionate help. An example, North American volunteers building projects that local people could build and get paid for to support their families.

This lead into a presentation by Sylvia Scott, RN, a Kenyan and Canadian, who dedicates her life to improving the villages near her original home in Kenya. She emphasized that Canadians or “developed world” volunteers should not be discouraged and that nurses and people like Yvonne Martin  make a difference. Sylvia was so impressed with the strangers giving out inoculations that she ended up finishing school and after immigrating to Canada, she returned to help her village. She emphasized that development and change must come from the people being helped themselves. They must decide what they need and they must be in control of their lives, not well meaning strangers.  The people of Sylvia’s village wanted a clinic built. It was built but then they found out they needed electricity and clean water and supplies to run it. Not to mention basic health and irrigation for crops. So they have moved forward with projects for those needs, including micro-businesses.

Diego Marquez-Leon, a male nursing student immigrant from Columbia then spoke. He decided to go somewhere in the world that would be the last place he would want to go. He chose India because he doesn’t like spicy Indian food. That choice led him to work in the slums and in a home for AIDS orphans. He found many rewards and some challenges such as the fact they worked with only the equivilant of a first aid kit.

Jill Gale, RN from Grand River Hospital talked about the hospital pairing with a hospital in Jamaica. Jamaica, where we go as tourists to richly appointed resorts while many of the citizens are mired in poverty and do not have universal health care.  Donors from the States had given the hospital sophisticated equipment but it sat on a balcony rusting because no one knew how to use it or fix it.  The people from Grand River taught “artisans”, basically untrained workers, how to fix the equipment the hospital had and the nurses taught the Jamaican maternity nurses a simple technique for reviving new-born babies that thrilled the people at the Jamaican hospital. Air Canada donated equipment for a birthing room and the artisans were taught how to maintain it. Jamaican nurses came to Canada to learn our techniques for running operating rooms and keeping supplies. A Jamaican doctor came to Canada and taught our doctors and nurses how to do breach births instead of relying on Caesarians.

I am always amazed at the number of people going about quietly changing the world for the better.

The morning gave all of much food for thought or “reflections” as the nurses call it on how to do foreign development and aid well and how to do it badly. A necessity as the world works with Haiti to recover.

Mayor's and Nurses' Breakfast for Haiti

The breakfast for Haiti this morning at RIM park gave the attendees much more than a simple tribute to Yvonne Martin and the raising of almost $10,000. Various speakers inspired with their own experiences in needy areas.

Betsy Wall, from the Foundation for International Development Assistance works with Haitian agriculture and was in the earthquake. She spoke about the historic and current needs of Haiti even before the earthquake and how the people of Haiti are resourceful. When she returned home, the TV pictures of food aid being thrown at people and a foreign military presence patrolling streets of desperate people upset her. The Haitians she works with are hardworking and persevering despite hardships. She told us our help is not always good help or compassionate help. An example, North American volunteers building projects that local people could build and get paid for to support their families.

This lead into a presentation by Sylvia Scott, RN, a Kenyan and Canadian, who dedicates her life to improving the villages near her original home in Kenya. She emphasized that Canadians or “developed world” volunteers should not be discouraged and that nurses and people like Yvonne Martin  make a difference. Sylvia was so impressed with the strangers giving out inoculations that she ended up finishing school and after immigrating to Canada, she returned to help her village. She emphasized that development and change must come from the people being helped themselves. They must decide what they need and they must be in control of their lives, not well meaning strangers.  The people of Sylvia’s village wanted a clinic built. It was built but then they found out they needed electricity and clean water and supplies to run it. Not to mention basic health and irrigation for crops. So they have moved forward with projects for those needs, including micro-businesses.

Diego Marquez-Leon, a male nursing student immigrant from Columbia then spoke. He decided to go somewhere in the world that would be the last place he would want to go. He chose India because he doesn’t like spicy Indian food. That choice led him to work in the slums and in a home for AIDS orphans. He found many rewards and some challenges such as the fact they worked with only the equivilant of a first aid kit.

Jill Gale, RN from Grand River Hospital talked about the hospital pairing with a hospital in Jamaica. Jamaica, where we go as tourists to richly appointed resorts while many of the citizens are mired in poverty and do not have universal health care.  Donors from the States had given the hospital sophisticated equipment but it sat on a balcony rusting because no one knew how to use it or fix it.  The people from Grand River taught “artisans”, basically untrained workers, how to fix the equipment the hospital had and the nurses taught the Jamaican maternity nurses a simple technique for reviving new-born babies that thrilled the people at the Jamaican hospital. Air Canada donated equipment for a birthing room and the artisans were taught how to maintain it. Jamaican nurses came to Canada to learn our techniques for running operating rooms and keeping supplies. A Jamaican doctor came to Canada and taught our doctors and nurses how to do breach births instead of relying on Caesarians.

I am always amazed at the number of people going about quietly changing the world for the better.

The morning gave all of much food for thought or “reflections” as the nurses call it on how to do foreign development and aid well and how to do it badly. A necessity as the world works with Haiti to recover.

Great Women's Municipal Campaign School

Great WMCS! Learned so much about social media, my head felt like it would explode.  The speakers were great and many of the 84 women who attended are either running or thinking of it. Minister Wynne talked about her campaigns, particularly the provincial ones. Catharine Fife reminded her that our last provincial speaker Andrea Howarth became the leader of her party!

Great panel of women politicians, even if I do say so myself, being on it.  Eleanor MacMahon was moving on the legislation she got passsed after her husband was killed riding his bicycle.  Kris Fletcher practical once again about the legal side.  Some of the background materials will be up on www.learnhowtorun.com in the near future.

Great Women's Municipal Campaign School

Great WMCS! Learned so much about social media, my head felt like it would explode.  The speakers were great and many of the 84 women who attended are either running or thinking of it. Minister Wynne talked about her campaigns, particularly the provincial ones. Catharine Fife reminded her that our last provincial speaker Andrea Howarth became the leader of her party!

Great panel of women politicians, even if I do say so myself, being on it.  Eleanor MacMahon was moving on the legislation she got passsed after her husband was killed riding his bicycle.  Kris Fletcher practical once again about the legal side.  Some of the background materials will be up on www.learnhowtorun.com in the near future.