Feminists Deliver by Trish Masniuk

HELLO FROM VANCOUVER. I arrived at Hostelling International Central Vancouver on Granville Street at 5 PM yesterday and am registered for the next three days of FEMINISTS DELIVER. 

Woke up at 5 AM — which is 7 AM Winnipeg time — so I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to roar. 

The journey was challenging, with an extra three hours of stopover in Edmonton, so I missed out on the first afternoon of FEMINISTS DELIVER. But I got to fly on a really super airline I never knew existed, Canadian North, which Flair Airlines arranged to rescue us when their plane had mechanical problems. And met an exchange student from Nigeria who was coming to a social work conference at UBC. 

We shared a very affordable rideshare from the Abbotsford airport — $11 each with poparide.com — and will get a chance to find out about each other’ conference experiences on the trip back to Winnipeg where Felicia is a student at UofM. 

It was a last-minute decision to come to Vancouver — booked my flight Sunday morning — but I don’t regret a minute or a dollar of it for this once-in-my-lifetime experience. It is resources like Flair, Swoop, poparide and hostelling that make participation possible, even at the last possible go-or-no-go.

Felicia doesn’t know it yet, but I plan to recruit her for CWW Council of Women of Winnipeg and IIWR, Institute for International Women’s Rights once we are back in Winnipeg. I have already told her all about my friend Nina Smart the Romanian Sierra Leonian FGM activist from Los Angeles whom I met through my work representing Canada on the Core Group for the Europe North America Caucus for the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. 

I told her of the five years Nina spent as a student in Nigeria before fleeing Sierra Leone to escape the Female Genital Cutting her father had arranged, then becoming an FGM activist in the United States and Sierra Leone. When I get back to Winnipeg I will loan her Nina’s book WILD FLOWERS — THE TRUE STORY OF A ROMANIAN GIRL IN AFRICA.

Out walking last night, I saw a number of the 8,000 delegates to WOMEN DELIVER all up and down Granville Street and chatted with several of them. The energy is so strong and so positive. FEMINISTS DELIVER is much smaller, but with a strong Canadian focus particularly reproductive health and MMIW — two strong passions of mine. 

Some of you may already know that my cousin’s niece Jennifer Catcheway from Portage La Prairie disappeared ten years ago on the morning of her 18th birthday and her parents are still searching for their daughter’s body. The pain of her murder and the pain of no closure.

Yesterday — Monday June 3rd — was special for two major government announcements of key importance to women — the release of the federal report on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, and Manitoba’s announcement that they will finally — after years of unfairness for low-income and rural/northern women — be providing full and free funding for the abortion pill Mifegymesa.

Soon I will head out to FEMINISTS DELIVER. Today there will be panels from the perspectives of the child welfare system, refugees, migrant workers, harm reduction and the criminal justice system. An impossible range of choices –I really have to look into cloning so I can be in many places at once. 

I am looking forward to seeing keynote speakers Maryam Monsef, Minister for Status of Women on Wednesday, and fiercely Independent Jody Raybould-Wilson on Thursday.

The lyrics from an old old folksong keeps running through my head like an earworm

       Oh the liquor was spilled on the bar-room floor and the bar was closed for the night

       When out of his house came a little brown mouse to play in the pale moonlight

       He lapped up the whiskey from the floor and up on his haunches he sat

    And all through the night you could hear him roar ‘Bring on the big bad cat”

Well, up and att’em and ready to roar.

You can tune in to the sessions here by going to the FEMINISTS DELIVER and WOMEN DELIVER websites and follow the links for distance participation wherever you are.

Trish in Vancouver