Guest bloggers

Having “the talk” with your child about online safety

Girl looking at a cell phoneRaising children to be active and responsible community members is a hard task for every parent. Part of the challenge is that our parenting style comes from the way we were raised. While we try to prepare our kids (and ourselves) for every possible problem that could arise, sometimes we forget about one little detail making kids' life different from our own: the Internet. We’ve become familiar with the Internet in older age, but many kids today are adept with smartphones and tablets before they even learn to walk. They see the Internet as a tool for finding answers to every question they might have. It’s not a bad way to see the global web, but it is crucial for children to understand that the Internet can be as dangerous as it is useful.

Intimate Justice in the Yukon: A New Approach to Sexualized Violence Prevention

Two women looking directly into cameraAfter many years of organizing sexualized violence prevention in Yukon, sometimes we learn that we need to try something new.

Every year, we talk about the statistics (rates of sexualized violence are nearly 4 times greater in Yukon than the provincial average), we talk about the offenders (more than 85% of offenders of sexualized violence are male), we talk about the unique Yukon realities (women are often sexually assaulted when they are sleeping or passed out), and we talk about how the community needs to step up to end this injustice. Still. Argh.

The Power of Words

Woman sitting in front of fence“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Words hurt badly. Words can be violent. They can entice violence—violent actions, violent thoughts, violent assumptions. Verbal abuse can be a severe form of domestic violence. Words can be violating.

When someone has had violent words hurled at them whether in person or online it’s an instant trauma—whether we know it or not. Although the psychic or physiological impact may not present itself immediately, without a doubt some part of our core instantly absorbs that shock. Sadly, we live in a society where the shock value has seriously eroded - it’s wearing off at speeds faster than light. When too many of us get to, or have been in, a place where we ask ourselves not “if” we will be verbally assaulted today but “when” this highlights the pervasiveness of the issue.

Leaving Abuse: The Importance of a Safety Plan

Woman looking out train windowThis post was originally published on the Interval House blog.

As soon as a woman calls Interval House asking for a space, safety planning begins. Being on the other end of the phone, it’s always heartbreaking to hear the stories. But the best way to help a woman who is fleeing a violent home is to equip her with the tools she needs to get herself and her kids to safety.

How to Put Yourself First (Really!)

Two women in cafeDoes the idea of putting yourself first seem radical? Does your inner voice say: “That’s selfish!”

In my work with women who run community economic development and non-profit organizations, I hear a lot about the struggle to find time for self-care and to set healthy personal/professional boundaries.

There are entrenched social norms that say women should put others first. We’re not always rewarded for being assertive, and we’re not socialized to take leisure time. Self-care is even harder for women in particular situations. For example, single working moms usually can't afford to pay someone to take care of their kids so they can take some personal time.

Learning to Hold Yourself Up

Paper chain of womenWhen I was asked to write this guest column, honestly, my first thought was: “Why me?”
This feeling only got stronger when I heard award-winning journalists Michele Landsberg and Sally Armstrong had also written this column. As I began my “Thanks but no thanks” email reply, I thought of others who would do a better job.
For me, this behaviour isn’t unusual: I consistently undervalue my qualifications and second-guess my skills. Here’s another example. I recently co-facilitated a six-week media workshop for young Muslim women called Outburst! (it’s funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation). As I approached the workshop location, with every step all I could think of was the person I thought was better qualified to lead it. And during the Calgary flood, my senior producer asked me to fly there to cover the emergency for the Current. Inside, I panicked, thinking of all the other producers who were more qualified to go. In the end, I gulped and said: “Sure.”

Advocating for women in the criminal justice system

Katherine AlexanderThis profile was originally published on the Coady International Institute’s website.

For Katherine Alexander, seeking justice for women in the prison system is more than a work obligation.

Alexander, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society in Whitehorse, was one of 24 women chosen for the 2015 Canadian Women’s Foundation Leadership Institute at Coady.

Spending at least one day a week at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and once a month at the Abbotsford Institution, she works to build relationships with the incarcerated women. She advises them of their rights, helping to amplify their voices both inside and outside of the prison. She also works with other women’s services in the territory that help inmates transition back into the community.

Inspire Body Positivity with the Body Confidence Canada Awards

Woman smilingAlmost four years ago our lives changed for the better when we decided to create the Body Confidence Canada Awards (BCCAs) – and we haven’t looked back!

Inspired by outstanding body image awareness initiatives taking place in the United Kingdom, namely their Campaign for Body Confidence (2009) and the inaugural Body Confidence Awards (2012), my partner Aisha Fairclough and I decided it was time to create a likeminded platform in Canada. We created the BCCAs to acknowledge and celebrate people for whom their personal and professional lives embodied and inspired body confidence, body positivity, and body diversity in our communities.

11 Ways Dads Can Help Raise Strong Daughters

Mike Reynolds' daughter playing drumsThis post was originally published on Puzzling Posts.

Six nights out of seven, our oldest daughter, now a very proud “five and three quarters,” will fall asleep with a book on her chest. The book often changes—sometimes it’s about Christmas carollers, sometimes it’s a book about Barbie becoming a doctor. Sometimes she reads the same books about animals that I read when I was growing up and sometimes she reads stories she’s helped write herself.

Her mind, at this point, is incredibly fertile, and it’s an amazing privilege for us to be able to watch the many plants start to grow in that amazing young mind of hers. But it’s also terrifying how easy it is for seeds we didn’t plant to take root.

Gender Inequality? This is Still a Thing? You Bet Your Ass It Is

Woman speaking into megaphoneThis blog post was originally published on the Realfword.

A couple years ago I took 10 young female managers from my company to a leadership session hosted by WXN (Women’s Executive Network) for female leaders. That year, I had the honour of being awarded one of Canada’s top 100 most Powerful Women, and on the day of the gala awards they hosted a symposium for women. I was excited that the team of female managers/leaders I took had the opportunity to listen to successful female leaders on a variety of topics.