This Thursday!

Oh, dear Reader, thereginamom‘s been busy!

Regina event details

She’s not only harvesting produce from her garden and preserving it for winter, but also learning a new song.  She hopes you’ll join in on the chorus and belt out “Harperman, it’s time for you to go!” with her on Thursday, September 17 at the Regina edition of the Canada-Wide Harperman Sing-Along.  Similar events are taking place in more than 40 communities nationwide.

Meet at Scarth Street & 12th Avenue, near Victoria Park at 12:30 PM to sing Harperman.  Arrive at the Making Peace Vigil on Scarth Street at 11th Avenue at noon and hop on the Peace Train of Song to the sing-along.

Why do this? For thereginamom, it is about supporting and defending Tony Turner’s right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Tony is a folk singer and songwriter from Ottawa who works as a scientist for the federal government.  He has been suspended from his job pending an investigation into allegedly violating the “departmental code of values and ethics” in his writing and performing the song, Harperman.

The messaging trm hears in this is that writing protest songs about the Prime Minister should be illegal.  Cons-fill-dumpster-with-libraryWell, sorry, Harperman, that attitude is right up there with the dumpstering agricultural research materials and books thing.

So, trm‘s had enough and she’s going singing on Thursday.  Hoping you’ll bring your voice and sing along, your instrument and play along, and/or your own verses to share, if opportunity comes along.

In the meantime, dear Reader, if you haven’t already done so, please do this, too.

And make sure you’re registered to vote!


Changing the tune

Today is the anniversary of Jack Layton’s death. In 2011, I was at the Banff Centre, part of a Carolyn McDade and friends recording project with about a hundred women from different places in Canada and the USA. As I headed to breakfast that morning, one of the women from our group was in tears. When I asked what was the matter, I learned that Jack was dead.

I was shocked, went to tell another woman, and the rest is a blur. I know that we honoured him and his work with a moment of silence in the recording studio. And I remember the women from the USA asking about Jack and listening to our stories about him as well as the history of the NDP, the CCF, and the Farm and Labour parties that preceded them.

On the day of his funeral we recorded “Now You Can Go On”, one of four songs Carolyn wrote based on the words of the poem, You, Standing There Reading This: Stop, by William Stafford. It was such a fitting song for that day.

Later, my USA roommate, Ginny, and I sat in our room in Lloyd Hall, crying, as we listened to Stephen Lewis deliver Jack’s eulogy. Everyone, from both north and south of the border, was deeply moved. That deeply emotional experience made its way into our recording. The CD, Widening Embrace, is more powerful as a result.

Is it an epidemic?

thereginamom has continued to read the Twitter hashtag, , and so much more.  She remains deeply moved by the outpouring of experiences shared and the conversations that are happening within various local communities, in the mainstream media, and online.  Though the number of tweets has decreased, the sharing continues.  Never has trm ever been involved in such a powerful online action — and she’s been involved in many, as some of you dear Readers know.

sex assault stats ywcaThis infographic from YWCA Canada startled trm.  It clearly demonstrates the urgent, immediate need for change.  From what trm has read on Twitter we need to change the way reports of rape are handled by police and the justice system.  In order to do that, we need to change the way our culture looks at rape.  We need to end rape culture.

Rape culture was not a term familiar to trm until her daughter went away to university and shared posts about it on Facebook.  trm has learned how her experience of rape is a result of a culture that not so subtly condones rape.

How do we change this, dear Reader, and quickly?

Demand an Apology from Senator Dagenais

the regina mom is pleased to see that at least the NDP are taking the misogynistic and ageist personal attack by Senator Dagenais against MP Charmaine Borg seriously.  In the House of Commons on Monday, MP Charlie Angus asked if the PMO was involved.  Not surprisingly, the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary, MP Paul Calandra, gave a  non-response. [Beginning at 1:00]

MP Charmaine Borg, who is regarded as a good and hard-working MP, has lodged a formal complaint with the Speaker of the House.

In the letter, which was copied to all MPs, senators and their staff, Dagenais characterized Borg as a whiny, ignorant, useless Quebec MP who was elected by fluke and stands little chance of being re-elected.

Dagenais’ letter was sent in response to a flyer Borg sent out in her riding advocating the NDP’s long-held belief that the Senate should be abolished.

Borg says she was particularly insulted by Dagenais’ suggestion that she should get some books from the parliamentary library to inform herself about the Senate before criticizing the institution.

Borg, who is just 23 years old, says that’s the kind of “old-school mentality” that discourages young women from entering politics.

“The overall tone of this letter suggests that I am simply a little girl who does not take her work seriously,” Borg told the Commons on Monday.

Ms Borg also spoke out to reporters today:

“I think if I was an old, white man, he would not have attacked me,” Ms. Borg, 23, told reporters. “We’re not doing any favours to young women who want to run in the future by having this type of behaviour in Parliament.”

Ms. Borg said the letter was “condescending,” pointing out that she took political science classes at McGill University and is well-versed in constitutional matters.

“If his letter contained real facts, had a real debate about ideas, then I wouldn’t be here having a question of privilege in the House,” Ms. Borg said.

She added it’s “very ironic” that the attack originates from an unelected senator.

“He was a failed candidate, and then a year later, was named by the Prime Minister as a senator,” Ms. Borg said. “I don’t think he has any place to challenge my legitimacy.”

And, Ms Borg appeared on CBC’s Power and Politics.

trm was very happy to see that; it takes a lot of courage to stand up to a bully!  trm particularly loves that Ms Borg challenged Dagenais to step down from his Senate seat to run against her in 2015!  Oh, that young woman has spunk! trm looks forward to more from Ms Borg!

Demand an apology from Senator Dagenais!

How the Old Boyz Work

Several years ago, the regina mom wrote a letter to the editor of the local daily newspaper, accusing the Premier of the day of misogyny.  trm received supreme shit from an older male family member for doing so because it forced him to look up the definition in the dictionary and because she dared to call a man a “woman-hater.”  Well, there are some very subtle ways of expressing hatred toward women and trm wishes a few more people, particularly those  in the Senate and the House of Commons would do some digging and come to an understanding of how misogyny works.

Take, for example the attack Senator Dagenais delivered to NDP MP Charmaine Borg and cc’d to all Senators, several media outlets and all Members of Parliament because Ms Borg sent a flyer critical of the Senate to her constituents. Perhaps people in Quebec are not aware that the NDP has a long-standing policy to abolish the Senate and reading about that set the Senator off.  Perhaps Dagenais was reminded that he lost an election next door to Borg in the 2011 election and he still feels bitter about that.  Perhaps he spent too much time as a police officer.  Who knows?  But here is Dagenais’ letter to Borg, from Nathan Cullen’s Facebook page:

Charmaine Borg
Member for Terrebonne-Blainville
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OA6

By email

Dear Member,

What a rag!

That is the only word I can think of to describe the pamphlet that you sent to citizens in the riding at the expense of all Canadian taxpayers.

As an NDP MP, who would likely never have been elected without Quebecers’ spontaneous sympathy for Jack Layton, who appointed a bunch of puppets to fill the holes in several of the province’s ridings, did you know that the abolition of the Senate that you’re talking about isn’t even part of the NDP’s platform? And you certainly don’t know enough about constitutional matters to be making such claims. There is a well-stocked library on the subject, available to you in Parliament, and I suggest you use it.

Under the circumstances, I understand that you are blindly parroting your leader Thomas Mulcair to denigrate the Senate and its senators. Can you remind him that he has wasted enough time in the House of Commons, where other priorities like the economy, jobs and security could have been discussed in recent months for the good of the country? However, with a program as weak as yours, I understand that he may not have anything else to talk about.

I hope that the results of the recent by-elections will make him reflect on your chances of returning to Parliament in the next general elections.

Because you believe that senators are useless, allow me to inform you that since the election of NDP MPs in Quebec, I have been asked on numerous occasions by citizens and organizations in your riding to intervene in government matters. When I suggested that they first go and talk to their MP, they all responded that you were useless and powerless to do anything. Make a note of that and tell your colleagues. You can even tell them that it gave me some pleasure to hear that.

Parliamentary life, Ms. Borg, is not just about whining, although you’ve become very good at it and the media certainly takes delight in it. Canadians and a large majority of Quebecers recognize that we have a healthy economy thanks to the Conservatives and they continue and certainly will continue to reject your socialist ideas.

Jean-Guy Dagenais
Conservative senator and citizen of Blainville

According to trm‘s friends at DAMMITJANET! the MSM has been glossing over the misogyny of the attack, taking the lead from Harper harpie Stephen Taylor who suggests the unsuggestable, that naming it as sexist weakens the definition of sexist. How he purports to know anything about that makes trm want to bash her head against a wall.  Remember, these are the boys and girls who took the word “equality” out of the mandate of Status of Women Canada! And this Senator was appointed by the Prime Minister.

The letter is a demeaning, dismissive and shaming personal attack and has no place in Canadian politics. trm invites you to demonstrate support for Ms Borg by demanding the Senator apologize to her.  Regardless how you feel about the Senate, surely we can all agree that this kind of behavior is exactly what drives people — especially women — away from politics.  Borg has been an excellent, hard-working MP and should be encouraged, not abused, for her good work.  Getting a rise out of a Conservative Senator, though possibly a badge of honour, can negatively impact a person.  trm wants to make sure the impact of positive support from the grassroots is stronger.  Please take a moment to demand an apology.  And cc it far and wide. Email addresses and additional information are below.


Jean-Guy Dagenais
Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A4
Telephone: 613-996-7644
Toll Free: 1-800-267-7362
Fax: 613-996-7649

Charmaine Borg, MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-947-4788
Fax: 613-947-4879
Web Site:* (in French only)
Preferred Language: French

Consider cc’ing your message to
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition
Niki Ashton, Opposition Critic on the Status of Women
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
Kirsty Duncan, Status of Women Critic, Liberal Party
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada



Maclean’s Magazine:
Borg’s Member of Parliament Profile Page:
Borg’s NDP-NPD page:
Borg on Katimavik at
Wikipedia Page on Charmaine Borg:
Michael Geist on Charmaine Borg:
NDP note on Harper’s Senate Appointments
Dagenais and China:

December 6

Today is the 24th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, that day in 1989 when 14 women were gunned down because they were women. Today, we make a point of remembering:


SWG’s Funding From #YQR Almost All Restored

the regina mom has been on retreat with a bunch of writers at her favourite monastery.  Yes, she knows it’s rather odd for a feminist to be hanging out with Catholic monks, but she finds their worship of the Virgin Mother to be very interesting…


Anywho, she has learned that the Saskatchewan Writers Guild has been granted special ‘transition funding’ amounting to 90 percent of what the City of Regina had provided before.  (Apparently, there are some readers on Council.)  Regardless what happens in the next go-round of grants, according to trm‘s source, the City of Regina Writing Award will be funded and may even be increased.   It’s been separated out from the ginormous pool of money being shared around amongst a bajillion cultural and social justice groups.


Well done, writers!  We can breathe a sigh of relief.  For now.



#YQR axes funding to Literary orgs

It appears to the regina mom that the City of Regina would rather fill that new pie in the sky, outrageously overpriced, not yet built football stadium with ticket-buyers than fund events for writers in the Queen City.  The Vertigo Series, Coteau Books and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild will receive nothing, as it stands. From the member newsletter, eBriefs:


City of Regina Slashes Literary Funding

For many years the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild has successfully applied to the City of Regina for about $24,000 annually to assist with literary programming in Regina. This year, our funding request was denied in its entirety.

SWG is one of at least three literary organizations denied funding by the City of Regina grant program. Coteau Books and the Vertigo Reading Series have also been cut. The rationale provided for the cuts is that the SWG application “scored low in the area of community need.” We have been advised that SWG also scored low in the area of “financial need.”

Meanwhile, performance, film and music organizations that run festivals generating ticket sales have received more funding than in previous years.

The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild has a rich history of literary programming in Regina, some of which we have provided for over thirty years. We offer a wide array of free programming to writers and the public, raise literary awareness, raise writers’ profiles, and enrich the lives of hundreds of people, including key identified targets of youth and Aboriginal constituents.

A new application process that groups all disciplines and former community grants into one is partly responsible for the cuts. The literary arts and the community will suffer heavily in Regina this coming year.

As a result of these cuts, beginning August 1st or earlier, the following Guild programs will be affected and/or suspended:

·         City of Regina Writing Award (sponsored by the City for 32 years)

·         Words in the Park (3 years)

·         Writer-in-Residence at a Regina school (10+ years)

·         First Nations Reading series (5+ years)

·         Signature Reading series (15+ years in various editions)

·         Aboriginal Storytelling Month (2 years)

·         Aboriginal History Day/Month (4 Years)

·         Talking Fresh (11 years)

·         Regina Workshops (25+ years)

·         Apprentice Readings (15+ years)

·         Windscript Launch (4 years)

·         Playwrights Reading series (5+ years)

·         Historic Walking Tours (4 years)

Guild staff will be meeting with the City Community Consultant responsible for the grant programs on Tuesday next week to see if there are any options for alternate funding. We will inform you of the results shortly thereafter.

We encourage you to contact Regina City Council to voice your concerns about literary arts being cut from cultural funding, and to raise their awareness that the literary community is strong and viable, and this programming serves an important community need. You may email Regina City Councillors and/or Mayor Michael Fougere at the following link:

trm has already let her Councillor, Shawn Fraser, know about this abomination.  He’s a good guy and has not heard about it but is looking into it.  However, it would be very useful for people “from away” to chime in and let Mayor Fougere know how they feel about the big #YQR #fail!

Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 2

Further to the regina mom‘s Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1 here is part 2, detailing the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford, moderated by Myrna Kostash at the 2013 Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff.


trm knew of Kate Braid’s work as a poet, having been introduced to her Georgia O’Keefe poems at the Sage Hill Writing Experience more than a decade ago.  She did not know that Kate Braid was also a nonfiction writer and so listened intently during the presentation about her latest nonfiction work, Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s Worldtrm knows women who work in trades and technologies.  In fact, when she first became active in the women’s movement, she met many women involved in Saskatchewan Women In Trades and Technologies (SaskWITT), women who, like her, were part of the women’s coalition that came about during the end of the Devine years.


But back to Braid, who said that memoir writing is not the same as autobiography.  Rather, it tells part of a life.  She said she struggled with finding the stories that mattered and added to it as she went along.  Wisely, she had kept a detailed journal and was able to reference her notes.  Her first draft took more than 25 years to write and was over 1,200 pages!  Eventually, it was carved to a book, thanks to her editor who was able to see the narrative.


She said her intent was to be emotionally honest about her experience in the construction trade, about that time in her life, and found that the tense she chose to use, present tense, afforded her the best means of doing so.  The past tense tended to pull her away from the story.  She also said that a memoir’s success depends on the author showing what s/he has learned and referenced Myrna’s opening remarks about memory being like a computer.  “Memory is a backseat driver who wants control,” she said.  Truthtellers, of both emotional and literal truth, she added, are essential to credibility.


Her advice, which comes from Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, is what the regina mom tries to do, that is to “write as though no one is ever going to read this.”  Easier said than done, but doable.  Still, Braid knew people would read her book and so she changed some people’s names to protect them.  She asked herself if names were essential to the story and, in instances where they were, she sent out chapters to those named and sought their feedback.  trm is thinking she may well have to do that with her Sask women’s movement essay, presuming it ever gets written, that is.


Braid spoke about her fear and how it stopped her from writing over and over again.  At one point she was paralyzed for years and it got even worse after she submitted the manuscript to her publisher!  But once she was able to figure out who she was writing the book for, the tradeswomen who went through what she went through, it was easier.  She decided she was providing a baseline of what it was like to be a woman working in the trades.  She knew the book wanted to be written, knew it had to be written.  She wrote various versions of it — scholarly, lighthearted, for example — and finally got it written.


trm can’t help but wonder about the women who, when she worked at the YWCA, were apprenticing in the trades and remodeling various locations in the building.  How many of them faced ridicule and insult once they completed their training?  How many even completed the training?  Certainly, working as part of an all-women crew would be very different from working as the only woman on a construction crew!  And trm bets they’d love to hear Braid read from her book, so she’s going to do what she can to get Kate Braid to Saskatchewan for a reading in the near future.


A brief overview of CNFC 2013

the regina mom lives in interesting times.  Sometimes she feels very blessed by that.  At other times, not so much! This is her feel-good post.  She’s finished an amazing residency at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, is working in her new role as Co-chair to bring forth the 2013 version of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival  and is busy with more than a couple writing projects.

And, trm had the great pleasure of attending the Creative NonFiction Collective’s Annual Conference at the amazing Banff Centre this past weekend. *  Not knowing many people in the organization, she’s been a bit nervous about going.  But the confidence the residency delivered and knowing  that writer-friends, Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail and Myrna Kostash, would be there helped her decide to go.  What a great decision!

At the Meet’n’Greet, she met the aforementioned friends as well as another, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, whom she’d befriended at the Sage Hill Writing Experience more than a decade ago, and laid the foundation to build others over the weekend.  She was very moved by the Member Readings that evening and wished she hadn’t been so tired from her early morning travels to enjoy them more, as well as to participate, herself.

Then, on Saturday morning, the regina mom felt her cylinders beginning to charge first, when Myrna spoke about memory.  “How many iterations of it are there?” she asked and then compared it to a computer file that is opened, altered and closed again, creating a possible false memories.  And then, while Kate Braid spoke about her book,  Journeywoman: Swinging A Hammer In A Man’s World, the energies really hit hard!

It was only the beginning because still to come was Tyler Trafford talking about lies in nonfiction and how they serve to deliver Truth, the plenary on the current status of digital publishing with former Saskatchewanian, Steven Ross Smith, literary agent, Don Sedgwick, and web editor, Allison McNeely, and the Master Class on organizing research, with Lynne Bowen followed by Karen Connelly‘s inspiring keynote address.  the regina mom had not anticipated that address as being one that would get her political attention but when the word “totalitarianism” was followed by an explanation of the Harper government’s attack on Library and Archives Canada, she pulled out her notebook and started paying close attention.

Saturday night’s celebration of the Reader’s Choice Award featured readings from nominated works by the nominators and not the nominees, so that was particularly interesting.  And Sunday morning saw CNFC members gather for their Annual General Meeting to talk about the business of the organization, including a probable website re-do and next year’s 10th Anniversary conference, to be held in Calgary.  the regina mom will see you there!


* more to come


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