At an International Women’s Day event a couple years ago in Tofino, a paper doll display was creating to pay tribute to the women who have been murdered or remain missing in Canada. (Westerly File Photo)

West Coast preps for International Women’s Day

“Everyone can be a feminist. It’s not just women.”

International Women’s Day falls on Friday, March 8.

In support of the global celebration, the Westcoast Community Resources Society (WCCRS) is inviting folks to participate in a free workshop hosted by professor Leah Shumka.

Prof. Shumka currently teaches in the department of Gender Studies at the University of Victoria.

The morning will focus on Indigenous feminism and the afternoon will be more about contemporary issues. Lunch will be catered by Ian Riddick of Heartwood Kitchen.

To register for the day or half day, call the WCCRS at 250-726-5104.

“Men should go to this. We need men to help us along. They are the ones that can call out sexism and they can call out other men when they are doing things that are inappropriate. And we need them to do that because if there is a culture that says it’s okay, unless he is the one to say something, it will often stay the same,” said Vickie Ackerman, the women’s outreach co-ordinator at WCCRS.

Ackerman describes feminism as a movement that is trying to fight for rights for women.

“Everyone can be a feminist. It’s not just women. I think Justin Trudeau helped in a way, he’s been a man that’s said ‘I’m a feminist’.”

The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is forging a more gender-balanced world, notes the official webpage

“You know what? I’m not really a feminist. I’m a humanist. I believe everyone has equal power,” said Ackerman.

“I think feminism is important because we do need to think about equality based on a women’s perspective, but I try to look at humans as all needing that equal power and to not always compare ourselves to men.”

READ: Gender equity closer on Vancouver Island councils (Oct. 30, 2018)

PHOTOS: Women’s Marches take to the streets across B.C. and beyond (Jan. 19, 2019)

Ucluelet small business owner Jess Arthurs is a single mom to almost 10-year old William. She told the Westerly she’s raising a feminist, and a gentleman.

“Raising Will has been the most empowering experience of my whole life,” said Arthurs. “For me, it’s about instilling rightness and teaching him to be moral. I believe that happens by leading by example. He has watched me overcome a lot of things in his almost 10 years I think just by him paying attention to how I interact or live my life is teaching him respect and kindness for girls and women.”

Ackerman notes that honouring International Women’s Day can be as simple as having a discussion at the dinner table.

“Even having an acknowledgement and being grateful for the women in our lives that have taught us so much. Those little things, they all make a difference,” said Ackerman.

From Oct. 2017 to Sept. 2018, the WCCRS provided safe emergency shelter to 141 women who have experienced or were at risk of violence, according to their annual board report. The primary reason for staying at the Westcoast Transition House is abuse, reads the WCCRS board report, although they are seeing an increasing trend of homelessness.

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