Watch the Event

Feminist Activism in Newfoundland & Labrador:
Where we’re at, where we’re to

Prominent feminist activists in the province reflect on the past, the present, and the future of feminism, leadership, and power in Newfoundland and Labrador. What are the challenges that still exist today? What are the hard-fought successes? What can we do to make this place better and to make politics work better? All of this…in one hour.

Question One

Youth feminist activists Eleanor Murray, Emily Murray and Tamsin Kennedy ask:

We have experienced a lot of ageism throughout our activism. Do you think ageism is an issue today, especially in the world of activism?

Please note there was a recording glitch and we lost the first answer from Laurabel! Laurabel was wonderful enough to paraphrase her response by text:

When it comes to ageism in the activist world, this is a very real issue. We, as activists and feminist activists, need to continue to create spaces for our descendants to be able to flex their activist muscles. They are currently doing a great job in their spaces, shedding light on issues of concern and are using tools that we might not be as familiar with to continue advocating for those who need them. We as people with some sense of power and volume behind our voices need to hear them out and carry their messages as well because the time will come where we need to step down and someone else will need to carry on the fight. If we have not allowed them to get comfortable in these spaces, we will lose valuable ground in our fight.

Laurabel Mba

Question Two

Judy White from the NL Human Rights Commission asks:

We see the persistence of discriminatory barriers faced by members of equity seeking groups including women, members of racialized minorities, people with disabilities, and Indigenous people. How can we address these issues of critical race and anti-racism while allowing space for all of us to thrive and survive?

Question Three

Raven Khadeja, co-founder of Black Lives Matter NL asks:

In Canada’s history, anti-black racism has always been prominent. But not often named. Indeed, there seems to be discourse about the way it affects our society, however, there seems to be a reluctance to address the ways in which movements have engaged in anti-Black racism–feminism being one of them.

Raven provides three examples:

The Pride movement- where Black people were often ostracized by non-racialized members of the LGBTQ community.

The Natural Hair movement – co-opted by non-racialized and bi-racial women when it was started as a way to finally centre black women with “undesirable” hair textures reclaim their crowns and finally raised their voices.

Body positivity movement – again co-opted from bigger Black Women.

The trend we see here are movements that are closely linked to feminism constantly engaging in misogynoir– Black Women are routinely excluded from discourse in Canada. Long celebrated feminist groups like Daughters of the Empire were key in ensuring Black women didn’t go to university in Canada, and black women are tokenized in the sense that there cannot just be one Black person whose internal politics matches the current rung on the ever present ladder of respectability. This is because we are not monolithic and deserve to be heard, even when we do not meet the unrealistic standards of whiteness.

My question, therefore, is: What is being done to centre and not tokenize the groups marginalized from their own movements? And how do we, engage in active reflection as we intentionally or unintentionally replicate the systems of harm against those who we claim to want to protect and support?”

Question Four

Lea Movelle from the Social Justice Co-operative asks:

Part 1- What do you think the Convoy occupying so-called Ottawa right now says about the status of organizing on the right and the left – do you worry that the right is out-organizing the left?

Part 2- How can we bring more people into the fight against sexism, racism, ableism, anti-queerness, capitalism and settler colonial border imperialism AKA the state?

Concluding Remarks: Lynn Moore

Panelist Lynn Moore speaks about complaints made by members of the public against the police for the way they do their job. When they get it wrong, what avenues are available to us?

Spoiler alert- not many.

Concluding Remarks: Mary Shortall

The rights we have gained over history have never been given to us, especially women, racialized workers and marginalized workers; those rights have been taken through struggle, dedication, courage and perseverance.

Panelist Mary Shortall discusses how unions have been good for women, and how women have been good for unions, but she also discusses the challenges and opportunities that exist in continuing advancing justice and equality for women at all intersections.

Concluding Remarks: Laurabel Mba

Panelist Laurabel Mba discusses intersectionality of the feminist movement, and how it’s mainly been led by white women up to this point, and the need for feminists to understand the interlaced layers of added oppression that come from identifying with more than one equity-seeking group.

Concluding Remarks: Amy Norman

Panelist Amy Norman, reflecting on where feminism in our province in is, and while there are a lot of things to be stressed out about (pandemic, convoy, climate change, police brutality..), there are some interesting and hopeful things happening.

Newfoundland and Labrador is starting to wake up and realize it has diversity, and Amy thinks we are starting to trend in a more positive direction and talks about what some of the next steps could be.