In Celebration of Women’s Day, KSA Hold Day-Long Series of Events

One event saw a panel of inspirational women speak at the Surrey campus on March 12

(KSA/Smantha Ranlet)

Ecofeminism was the topic on the table for the six panelists at Women Working Together, a day-long event at KPU Surrey on March 12.

Designed to spark a conversation about the ties between race, gender, and sustainability, was divided into three sections for anyone interested in brushing up on the meaning behind modern women’s issues.

In the morning, an Indigenous Decolonization Workshop led by Sakej Ward of the Mi’kmaq Nation was held to teach students about Canada’s history of decolonization and to let them know how they can contribute to the cause. Poetry readings and presentations were offered in the afternoon before the panel began at 3:00 pm. At the end of the day, a screening of the documentary True Cost, a film about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, played in the KPU Surrey Conference Centre.

During the panel, two representatives from the Vancouver Women’s Library, local writers Claudia Casper and Rita Wong, KPU professor Seema Ahluwalia, and trans rights advocate Kelendria Nation spoke.

For both Ahluwalia and Wong, keeping a tight focus on Indigenous issues and what’s being done with land and water in British Columbia is of the utmost importance.

“We’re in a very crucial time right now in terms of this province making a decision around the Site C Dam,” says Wong. “I came [to KPU] to speak about that and for people to see the connections between violence against the land and the rivers and violence against women and people.”

“People often say that wars of the future will be fought over water the way that they are being fought over oil, but I really believe that water is the path to peace if we can come together and pay attention to it and care for it,” Wong continues. “Kinder Morgan, Site C, fish farms—what connects them all is the sense that water is life and that water is sacred. If we start with that, I hope we can build a better culture.”

Ahluwalia, who is also the Kwantlen Faculty Association Status of Women Representative, says that “any movement that talks about violence against women and doesn’t center the role of the state and state agents is doing a disservice to women of colour and Indigenous women because those issues have to be front and centre.”

“The feminist movement has had a tendency to just focus on interpersonal violence, whereas anti-racist movements have had a tendency to focus on state violence. We’ve got to marry the two,” she adds. “Unless we address the racism that is at the foundation of our society, we can come up with all the slogans we want and it’s not going to help us understand the social factors that are underlying this violence and why it’s systematically directed at women.”

Kelendria Nation, who grew up in Surrey, says that she associates a great deal of trauma with this city. Still, Canada as a whole is privy to systemic, “covert racism” that she feels is a crucial element to consider when discussing feminism in the country.

Nation heavily emphasized her desire to stand by other women and queer folks as part of her advocacy. While she works at QMunity—B.C.’s queer, trans, and two-spirit resource centre—it is her role as an advocate that she holds dearest and makes sure to prioritize as a feminist.

The event was organized by the Kwantlen Student Association and held in celebration of International Women’s Day.

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