2018 has been a year of intense activism for the feminist movement around the globe. From social justice movements like #Metoo and combating the rise of racism and fascism. It was a year of resistance to protect land, bodies and community across Turtle Island (otherwise known as North America).
how we can best move forward on some of society’s most difficult, intractable, and polarising issues[?]
At West Coast LEAF it was also an incredibly active year. We were in court rooms, launching reports and educational tools and making submissions to all levels of government. It has been a year of deepening our commitment to decolonization and building relations with Indigenous communities in BC. It has been a year of learning and reflection to stand in solidarity with women and all people who experience gender-based discrimination such as Two-Spirit people, intersex people, gender non-conforming people, trans people of all genders and people with non-binary gender identities.
As we enter 2019 we asked ourselves what we want to bring forward and commit to. We wanted to share with our community our 2019 Feminist Resolutions! From our staff and volunteers, here are some of resolutions we are making this year.
“When I am offered an opportunity to develop an event, speak on a panel, or provide commentary, I will always consider whose voice, experience, and perspective is (or has been) overlooked and use my influence to advocate for inclusion and representation.”
Raji Mangat, West Coast LEAF, Director of Litigation
“My 2019 Feminist Resolution is to ask more questions. Feminism is about questioning assumptions and exposing inequalities that have been taken for granted. This coming year, I resolve to ask more questions about why things are the way they are and why people’s views are the way they are. In 2019, I also want to question myself and confront my own assumptions about the world that stem from my position and my experiences within it.”
Isabelle Busby, West Coast LEAF Articling Student, September 2018-August 2019
if I have learned anything in this knowledge journey, it is that being afraid to act is no excuse
“After working at West Coast LEAF for the past four months I am now returning to law school for an academic semester. My 2019 feminist resolution is to collaborate with my peers in UVic FemLaw (the feminist student club at UVic Law) to engage in more feminist organizing and advocacy within and beyond our law school.
I commit to applying what I’ve learned at West Coast LEAF to make my social justice organizing and advocacy efforts more meaningful and effective. This includes ongoing collective learning to ensure that our student club operates using an anti-oppression, intersectional, and decolonizing lens.”
Afifa Hashimi, West Coast LEAF Law Co-op Student, September-December 2018
“My new year’s resolution is not to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. I am grateful that I get to spend so much of my day thinking through how we can best move forward on some of society’s most difficult, intractable, and polarising issues. But it can also be immobilizing sometimes – the problems are so big, and engender such passion, that I sometimes feel that my fear of taking a wrong step means that I don’t take any step at all. My resolution in 2019 is to ensure that the fear of imperfection doesn’t result in inaction.”
Kasari Govender, West Coast LEAF Executive Director
I will thoughtfully consider the impacts of the work being asked of me and consciously say yes or no
“My feminist resolution is to make a social media calendar of Indigenous-led events throughout the year, like the Sisters in Spirit Vigils, and post these on West Coast LEAF’s social media. I will also plan to attend at least three during the year and support them with donations of supplies, money, or assistance behind the scenes if needed.”
Alana Prochuk, West Coast LEAF Manager of Public Legal Education
“For some time now, I’ve been trying to figure out what it means to be an ally to people who experience intersecting forms of discrimination different from my own. I’ve spent a lot of time listening, reading, and pondering. In many ways, I have been left with more questions than answers. This has given me pause to act especially in my day-to-day life.
However, if I have learned anything in this knowledge journey, it is that being afraid to act is no excuse. So, for 2019, I am going to make a contested effort to act as an ally in my personal life with all the humility, self-reflection, and accountability that comes with this big task!
If you are also wanting to do the work of learning how to be an ally, here is a guide I’ve found helpful http://www.guidetoallyship.com/ though there are many out there to explore.”
Elba Bendo, West Coast LEAF Director of Law Reform
Photo Credit: Amélie Lamont and Guide to Allyship
“Amidst all the big dreams I have for foundational societal change in the coming year, I have all been pondering the idea of personal, accomplish-able “resolutions” for a new year. Normally I do not put much stock in resolutions (historically they seem doomed to fail). Over the years of working for change, I have pushed my own emotional and physical boundaries in ways that are unsustainable. I have also learned quite a bit about organizational orders of business, mandates, and values. Changing my patterns will require something firmer. What I have come to is a constitution to self for the coming year.
Whereas, I have regularly put aside my own personal well being to take on work that, though important, will continue a vicious cycle of draining my energies;
Whereas, I will often say yes to a request or offer before considering my already full schedule;
Whereas, I cannot properly and whole-heartedly do work in a good way while exhausted, carrying stress, and over-worked;
Whereas, this year I will be undertaking a Masters degree, which I know will be very stressful for myself, my partner;
Be it resolved that I will thoughtfully consider the impacts of the work being asked of me and consciously say yes or no to that offer or request.
Be it further resolved I will only say yes to projects that make me feel enthusiastic about including them in my life.
Whereas, I often take on duties and jobs that allow me to work from home;
Whereas, this means I often sit for hours in front of the computer with no designated end and few breaks;
Whereas, in my work I often fight for the rights of workers who face similar situations;
Be it resolved that I will create work schedules that are kinder to my mind, body, and align with my values of what is right for a worker.
Be it further resolved, I will not spend my breaks scrolling through social media, but rather walking, journaling, spending quality time with my partner and friends, or cooking good, nutritious food for myself.
Whereas, during the past few years, many of the activities I enjoy have been pushed aside due to long hours or exhaustion;
Whereas, taking part in these activities would make me happier and more a complete person in all aspects of my life;
Whereas, social media has been prioritized or habituated during many hours of the day;
Whereas, the inclusion of the activities I love would probably do wonders for my peace of mind and sense of self-worth;
Be it resolved activities such as; art practice, slowly walking in quiet, treed places, and lying in bed reading beautiful books for hours with good, quality coffee will become a regular and prioritized part of my schedule again.
If I were to make one more “normal” New Years resolution…maybe it will be to wear lipstick a little more often.”
Chantelle Spicer, West Coast LEAF Only Yes Means Yes Student Advisor
We will be holding these resolutions close, as we commit to another year of pushing for an equal and just society for all women and people who experience gender-based discrimination.
Happy New Year from all of us at West Coast LEAF. We look forward to another year of working with our community.
Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson is a proud mixed woman raised by a Welsh-immigrant Mum and Metis-Cree father. She is the Manager of Community Outreach at West Coast LEAF.
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