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?

Democracy over Poetry, for today, anyway

the regina mom is currently on retreat at her favourite Catholic monastery in rural Saskatchewan.  Try as she might, she is unable to fully concentrate on the poetry while the current attack to Canadian democracy is underway.

It’s become pretty clear that the Harper regime will stop at no end to promote the greed of the corporations, particularly those into resource extraction.  The environment and environmental groups, science and scientists and scientific libraries — all are game, fair or otherwise, for him.  As are the people of our First Nations, women, veterans, unionized workers and anything else that gets in his way — including the Canada Elections Act.

Last week, his government introduced what they mistakenly called the Fair Elections Act, about which political columnist, Andrew Coyne, says,

It’s a bizarre bill. But the government is plainly proud of it: so proud that it refused to consult with the chief electoral officer on its contents; so proud that it is now being rushed through Parliament with a bare minimum of debate, using the government’s power of time allocation. And what problem was that intended to solve?

trm is not sure she agrees on the pride angle, thinking perhaps it’s more like arrogance, a “nyah-nyah” to the forces of democracy in Canada, the thousands and thousands of activists who have been tireless in their campaigns to raise awareness about the attacks on our freedoms and our long-standing traditions.

Marc Mayrand, Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, expressed deep concern about the new Bill in this interview on CBC Radio’s, The House, which everyone should listen to.

He is right to be concerned.  After Vic Toews’ nasty letter calling out environmentalists as terrorists, trm took a look at Naomi Wolf’s blueprint for how open societies become closed societies.   trm examined Canada in that light and found it frightening then.  That was two years ago!  Much more has happened since, and only some of it referenced in the links above. The window is closing, and closing quickly.

Hold the window open, Canada!  Sign the Council of Canadians petition which will be presented in the House of Commons tomorrow.  Also consider participating in the Hold the Phone: Call for Democracy campaign tomorrow, Monday, February 10.  There are, apparently, some Conservative backbenchers who aren’t strongly supportive of this recent attack on democracy.  The calls may sway them enough to make a difference to our future as a democratic state.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.  –Jack Layton

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.

CONTACT INFO:

Jean-Guy Dagenais
Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A4
Telephone: 613-996-7644
Toll Free: 1-800-267-7362
Fax: 613-996-7649
E-Mail: dagenj@sen.parl.gc.ca

Charmaine Borg, MP
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-947-4788
Fax: 613-947-4879
EMail: Charmaine.Borg@parl.gc.ca
Web Site:*www.charmaineborg.info/ (in French only)
Preferred Language: French

Consider cc’ing your message to
Prime Minister Stephen Harper pm@pm.gc.ca
Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca
Niki Ashton, Opposition Critic on the Status of Women niki.ashton@parl.gc.ca
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Kirsty Duncan, Status of Women Critic, Liberal Party kirsty.duncan@parl.gc.ca
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

 

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Maclean’s Magazine: http://bit.ly/1gNzRfe
Borg’s Member of Parliament Profile Page: http://bit.ly/1hEUD3C
Borg’s NDP-NPD page: http://www.charmaineborg.info/
Borg on Katimavik at rabble.ca:  http://bit.ly/1csI6fT
Wikipedia Page on Charmaine Borg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charmaine_Borg
Michael Geist on Charmaine Borg: http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6794/125/
NDP note on Harper’s Senate Appointments
Dagenais and China: http://www.roc-taiwan.org/MX/ct.asp?xItem=432360&ctNode=2240&mp=1

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:

dec6

Is Harper going down?

the regina mom firmly believes the HarperCons stole the 2011 election to secure their Majority government.  And so, she has been hoping that there would be a way to stop it.  Learning the truth about the Robofraud scandal seemed the most likely, until now.

The past few weeks have shown trm that Tom Mulcair is an amazing Parliamentarian, holding the Prime Minister to account on the Senate-PMO scandal.  The PM’s stumbling response, repeating the same story, has only made the situation worse for the poor PMEven his own people are turning against him!

As if Senator Gerstein, PM Harper and his smear-boy, Paul Calandra, had not received a stern enough chiding from bloggers, tweeters and the mainstream media, in comes CTV’s Don Martin, with the most scathing and convincing takedown to day.  trm believes it’s a must-watch for all Canadians! GO:  When the government speaks, the only consistency is inconsistency itself.

Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 3

Carrying on in the series of Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1 and Part 2, here is Part 3, the final piece from 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.

the regina mom struggles with how to describe Tyler Trafford.  He is not your average writer.  And his story is not your average story. He explained that at a young age he became enthralled with the classic hero’s journey, thanks to his mom’s reading of great literature such as The Old Man and the Sea.  It became his way of understanding the world.

And then he went on to talk about lies.  He said, “Lies help you feel the truth, help you express the truth for other people.”  And he took it further, to show how Kate Braid had used a lie in her book, Journeywoman.  She uses an extended moment, a psychological reality, to detail a fall, taking time to notice all around her as it happened.  He named that as a lie because, in fact, the fall would take only 1/8th of a second — and he provided the math for it, too!  It’s a necessary lie, one that is fundamental to the truth of the story.

In his book, Almost A Great Escape, Trafford tells his mother’s story, a story he had to unravel after her death.

 

He  uncovered her lie  —  what she had kept hidden  —  all her life.  It’s an amazing story and another book on trm‘s To Read list.  And it’s an interesting concept, this lying bit.  Poets and fiction writers are expected to tell lies in their work.  But to suggest that creative nonfiction writers also do so seems to go against the grain of what nonfiction is about.  But his examples — in Braid’s work and in his own — harken back to what Kostash spoke of in her opening remarks to this session, that bit about the anxiety in society about nonfiction.

What lies will the regina mom tell in order to make her nonfiction stories true?  She knows how to do it in poetry and fiction, but to transfer that to nonfiction is an interesting concept, to say the least!  Perhaps they’re already there, lying in wait (pun not intended), for her to discover.  Oh, her editing process is going to be a lot more fun now, that’s for sure!

 

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.

 

Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1

Further to a previous post about the Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff, the regina mom offers the following notes from Myrna Kostash’s opening words to the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford.

Myrna began the session talking about nonfiction and memory.  “What is a memory?” she asked.  There’s been a lot of work done around memory and she suggested that each time you think about a memory, the memory changes.  “How many iterations of it are there?” she asked.  She compared memory to a computer file that is opened, changed and saved back onto the computer hard-drive, making a case for false memories.

This fits entirely with what trm has been thinking as she works on her Wolverine Creek essay.  Each of her visits to St. Peter’s Abbey, where she fell in love with the creek and began the essay, have morphed into one big long hodgepodge of memory.  She has become entirely reliant on other sources, including the memories of others which, she now understands, can be as unreliable as her own!  So, she’s looking forward to The Art of Memory with Seán Virgo taking place at St. Peter’s College this summer.

Kostash went on to speak about the “anxiety” that society has about nonfiction.  That’s a whole new think for trm! This essay helped her get her head around it and was a useful read when trying to understand something else Kostash said, almost in passing.   “Every journalist knows that what he [sic] does is morally indefensible.”  It’s a disputed quote, but it got trm thinking about another essay she’s trying to write, one about the Saskatchewan women’s movement 1985 to the present.  She has much to say, much to work though, but it feels too much like venting, too much of what a good essay should not be.  But now that she thinks about it it might be the route through to completing that first draft!

So that was the first ten minutes of the session. More to come!

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

And the attacks on our rights continue…

the regina mom is getting rather sick and tired of the anti-abortion crowd’s attacks on women’s reproductive rights.  They don’t have a leg to stand on, and they know it, so they come out with backdoor attempts, overloaded with emotion, to restrict our access to a basic medical procedure.

This from MPs Vellacott, Benoit and Lizon, which really digs into the glurge, is the latest attempt. The Sixth Estate takes it down quite handily.  Vellacott’s attack follows a long string of attacks including the recently defeated Motion 312, the oft-introduced, many-named and always-defeated Bill C-537 as well as the also-defeated Bill C-484, to name a few, from the “pro-life” extremists recent years.

And now, the National Post’s Jon Kay propagates on their behalf, spreading misinformation to Canadians, breeding confusion and forgetting entirely that the Canada Health Act exists. Fortunately, bloggers like DAMMITJANET! are ever vigilant, not only calling him on his lies and mistruths but also following publicizing his conniving on Twitter and blogging that, too.

Lest we think bloggers and tweeps are the only ones following this, note that Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett was in on the tweeting and now has a blogpost challenging Kay’s misrepresentations.  And here’s NDP MP Niki Ashton’s statement in the House of Commons from earlier this week.

the regina mom is grateful for these strong women in the House of Commons as well as for those who, like the good folks at DAMMITJANET!, keep her apprised of the situation around women’s reproductive freedom in Canada.

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