BY CHANTELLE SPICER
The past year has seen thousands of individuals in North America coming forward and sharing their stories of experiencing violence, 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 to creating change. The change being called for cannot come from solely the government or from the legal system, trickling downwards into change within 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 meaningful change 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 that it can happen.
The VIU campus community is committed to creating more opportunities to be a part of conversations, education, and action against gender-based violence. From Nov. 25-Dec. 9, a number of events have been organized 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.
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).
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.
This year the global theme of the 16 days is My Actions Matter – a call to action that asks everyone to take concrete steps to question, call out, and speak up against acts of gender-based violence. 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, My Actions Matter asks the question: what will you do?
Please join us at one of our many events – see how you can get educated and get more involved. Visit http://viusu.ca/latest-news/.
Chantelle Spicer is chairwoman of the VIU Students’ Union.