The Kwakiutl District Council’s International Women’s Day Tea started with a group dance to the song Break the Chain by Tena Clark.
“Dancing insists we take up space, and though it has no set direction, we go there together. Dance is dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive, and contagious and it breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere, at anytime, with anyone and everyone, and it’s free. Dance joins us and pushes us to go further,” Eve Ensler, playwright, performer and activist, has said to explain the dance.
The theme for this International Women’s Day, which continues as a campaign throughout the year, is Press for Progress.
International Women’s Day and the fight for gender parity belongs to groups and people everywhere, said Kathleen Power of KDC, host for the event.
“Whether through…community gathering, classroom lesson or dinner table conversation, everyone can play a part in pressing for gender parity,” she said.
Lavern Henderson, sang for the group, and closed the afternoon with another group dance.
Bev Sellars was the guest speaker.
She spoke of residential schools and the healing that needs to happen in First Nations communities but also in society.
“For something like that to be allowed to happen, and some of the things that are still happening in society today, we really have to look at ourselves,” she said. “And I think it is going to be the women that really help change it and make it a better place.”
Sellars continued her with her presentation that rewrites history, outlining what the First Nations people have contributed to the world, including rubber, medicine and root crops.
Jodi Boyd spoke on behalf of the Campbell River Women’s Resource Centre.
“We know it has been a year of pain and progress for women’s equality,” she said. “On the painful side, the #metoo revelations have exposed the prevalence and devastating impact of sexual harassment in the workplace that still takes place today.”
But she reminded the audience that it has also been a year of progress. Iceland became the first country to enforce equal pay and women achieved the right to drive in Saudi Arabia.
In Canada, Dr. Donna May Kimmaliardjuk became the first Inuk heart surgeon in the country and Velérie Plante became the first female mayor of Montreal.
“Meaningful change is afoot,” Boyd said.
Boyd was supposed to announce a winner of the Woman of Inspiration Award, but because she was unable to choose from all of the amazing nominations she asked the crowd to instead honour each other and tell somebody how they have been an inspiration.
“We would like to celebrate and highlight all of us,” she said. “We are all women of inspiration, whether it’s because we are a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a teacher, a politician, a homemaker. We all in our lives inspire someone.”