The VIU campus community is committed to creating more opportunities to be a part of conversations, education, and action against gender-based violence. From November 25 – December 9, a number of events have been organised around the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence to engage with the campus and Nanaimo community in a variety of ways. Partners include the VIU Faculty Association, VIU Students’ Union, CUPE, VIU International Education, and the Sexual Conduct and Response Steering Committee as well as a number of off-campus partners including the Nanaimo Women’s Centre and Haven Society.
The past year has seen thousands of individuals in North American, women and men, coming forward and sharing their stories of experiencing violence. Whether seeking justice through the courts or raising their voices in public spaces for new definitions of justice—even reporting or sharing their stories is significant. The change being called for cannot come from solely the government or the legal system, trickling downwards into our social spheres. It needs to happen within and between us, moving through the undercurrents of how we conduct ourselves in all aspects of our lives until it is the new normal. This kind of progress will not happen overnight—the colonial and patriarchal violence that has built the system we live in now has been embedded over centuries, but I am confident it can happen.
On campus events range from the Clothesline Project, a feminist film series, a workshop on encouraging vulnerability in masculinity, a Stitch ’n’ Bitch, and an evening of poetry reading at the View Gallery. Also featured is the Only Yes Means Yes workshop facilitated by the West Coast LEAF (women’s Legal Education and Action Fund). This workshop provides opportunities to learn and discuss many aspects of consent, the law, and pathways to justice, and is a great resource for all the campus community. Facilitator Alana Prochuck will join fellow guest panellists Jamie Lee Hamilton (a long-time activist for sex workers’ rights and the LGBTQ+ community), and Dawn Clark of the Nanaimo Women’s Centre for a discussion in response to the #WhyIDidntReport movement.
Following events related to the Kavanaugh appointment to the Supreme Court in the states, the increase in reporting following #metoo, and the ongoing work of activists and advocates within organization and across mass movements, there is much discussion about how we shift the culture of violence to one of consent and equity for all. Join for an opportunity to explore and discuss the historical and contemporary barriers to reporting faced by many, the shifting nature of consent with the law and society, and how we can attain and re-imagine justice for survivors of sexualized violence.
It is not only on campus that we need to take time to evaluate violence and its effect on our communities. These 16 days are a part of the global movement supported by the United Nations which seeks to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Through oppressive systems of colonialism and capitalism, impunity, silence, and stigma have allowed violence against women to escalate to pandemic proportions, represented by the fact that one in three women worldwide experience gender-based violence. This disproportionately affects Indigenous women, people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community, and those with disabilities—communities already further marginalised by systemic violence.
This year the global theme of the 16 Days is #MyActionsMatter—a call to action that asks everyone to take concrete steps to question, call out, and speak up against acts of gender-based violence (GBV). Recently, public attention has shone a light on what statistics have long confirmed: women in Canada and around the world continue to face disproportionate levels of violence each and every day. In response to this all-too-familiar reality #MyActionsMatter asks the question: what will you do?
Please join us at one of our many events to see how you can get educated and more involved. The full list of events and descriptions can be found here: genhttp://viusu.ca/latest-news/.