April 4th marks the day for Refugee Rights! This day is an opportunity for people around the world to recognize war as a major violation of human rights as well as the impact that war has on humanity at large, and refugees in particular. When a war occurs, refugees are uprooted from their countries. They leave their life, dreams, and aspirations to shift into a survival mode that is dark and uncertain. Refugees have the right to live, exist, and thrive wherever they go. They are valuable to the countries that receive them, as both social capital and contributors. Children of these refugees will be part of the future of the host countries. The vulnerability that refugees face motivates their resiliency, which has them continuously adjusting to harsh circumstances, coping with what they have in order to safeguard their families.
A woman and her two children were killed by a former partner. And no, it’s not her fault. Another tragic case of domestic violence in Ontario. A 39-year-old woman and two of her young teenage children were found murdered inside their home. A man who was romantically involved with the woman is now charged with three counts of second degree murder. A community is reeling. A third child had two siblings and her mom brutally ripped from her life. A father is grieving the loss of two of his children and their mother. To most of us it seems unfathomable to even consider blaming on the mother for her own tragic death. Yet, shockingly, victim blaming has reared its ugly head.
Join us in celebrating International Women's Day on March 8th! We've prepared a fun and informative video all about the amazing and inspirational Canadian women who have helped fight for women's rights and against injustice. We hope you take the time to watch it and share with others.
In recent years, there’s been a big movement to move away from gender stereotypes when it comes to career choices. We’re seeing more more women in the fields of science and technology, areas traditionally dominated by men. Encouraging little girls to follow their interests, which often include science, will eventually help us break the career barriers in this field. Let’s start by encouraging a love of all things science from a very early age.
We are all shocked and horrified by the case of child abuse that recently emerged in California, but we can be sure that the signs were there. Consider children who rarely appeared but, when they did, appeared gaunt, extremely pale and abnormally thin; frightened looks on the children’s faces as a parent hovered over them; strange schedules and isolating behaviour, with neighbours noticing the family staying up all night and sleeping all day; witnessing the children marching up and down the stairs for hours in the middle of the night and early hours of the morning; a college student whose mother waited outside his classroom door while he attended classes, never letting him out of her sight. All of these were potential warning signs that something wasn’t right.
2017 started with women, men, and children around the world marching. While the marches initially began as a protest against the US Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, they evolved into much more than that. The marches spread around the world, with people gathering together and protesting for many different reasons. 2017 also became the year that started the #MeToo movement, which has carried on into 2018 and shows no signs of slowing down. Yet, there is still work to be done.
“When you see injustice, in your community, within your family, among your neighbours or friends, stand up. Don’t just sit idly by and let it happen. Stand up.” - Maggie Cywink. This is the message that Maggie Cywink left the audience with at our special bookclub event, where both Maggie DeVries and Maggie Cywink spoke about the murders of their sisters. What preceded both events was a lifetime of hardship and grief that led to the loss of life for both of these young women.
2017 was a big year for us at Neighbours, Friends and Families. We increased the amount of blog content we’ve been adding, responded to many different news stories and political issues, and as always, worked hard for change. We cheered alongside MP Peggy Sattler as she introduced bill to provide domestic violence victims with paid leave and we cheered the Wynne government when they passed a bill with many of the provisions from Peggy Sattler’s initial private members bill. We cried along with the many family members and friends that lost loved ones at the hands of a partner or parent. We talked about the best ways every single one of us can learn how to recognize the signs of domestic violence and help someone in need.
Men, where did you learn how to treat women? I grew up in a locker room culture. Hormonal young men pretending to know who they were and what it was like to be men.One way we tried was through the objectification of women, upholding “normative” examples from culture, that women were something you tried to game, or to win — whether it was for social capital, sex or power. In this culture, I saw and took part in this objectification. To give some context, it was almost always through verbal harassment. Firstly, as a bystander — I dared not speak-up for fear of social suicide. And secondly as a perpetrator — with my share of locker room talk. I find it was all a defense mechanism, to either inflate my sense of self, or to feel valued by my male peers.
From November 25-December 10, we took part in the 16 Days of Action on Violence Against Women remembered all of the women tragically and violently taken from us. We talked about the importance of providing more homeless shelter options and models for women who require a place to live, especially when fleeing an abusive partner. And we shared a powerful memoir detailing the pain and effects that a domestic violence murder trial has on loved ones. While we honour these women and advocate for change every single day, these poignant two weeks highlight the severity of this issue that affects women all around the world, across every socio-economic level and nationality. We cannot forget that we live in a world where women are still killed every single day, just because they are female.