In the Blog

Take it Back

September 28th, 2008     by piKe krpan     Comments

Wow, there were so many women and transwomen at Take Back the Night last night here in Toronto. Women sang a capella of freedom, told their herstories in multiple languages, gave testimony of their rape or experience of genocide, shared success stories of ending violence in their lives, read out their frustrations with feminist movements, talked of creative collaborations on the amazing giant puppet that accompanied us, and kids held lanterns high. My bum was cold. But my spirit was warm.

I haven’t been to Take Back the Night since I moved to Toronto four years ago, and all my experiences of this important event came from a small university town where the local women’s shelter headed up the event mostly by memorializing the women killed by domestic violence. While of course I think it is important to remember our dead, I don’t think that Take Back the Night is that time. It always felt like a seriously muted understatement to quietly do our little memorial in a dark park. None of that in Toronto! Just being a part of a group of women come together in the spirit of resistance and survival - hell, not survival, but to flourish - was mind bending, especially since I’ve been hiding away for many months writing my Masters’ thesis. It was a great way to come back out into my community of allies, and I got to come with a friend who had never been to Take Back the Night before. It was hard to yell that oh-so-quiet word RAPE out loud walking down Queen Street West, but when we started chanting “Hey mister mister keep your hands off my sister!” it felt so good to have words this time when so many other times I didn’t.

If you missed it and you’re craving some serious kick-ass women community, on October 2, there is a march and rally happening to support women without status who flee violence.

Supporters of survivor Isabel Garcia and her children will be meeting at 12 noon at Yonge and Gould at the Immigration and Refugee Board. Isabel is just one of many families whose lives have been put at risk as a result of negative decisions at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Here’s what No One is Illegal says about Isabel’s case:

“Isabel came to Canada with her children 3 years ago seeking protection from her violent ex-husband in Mexico. Ignoring overwhelming evidence pointing to a lack of state protection for women surviving domestic violence in Mexico, the Immigration and Refugee Board heartlessly denied Isabel’s claim for asylum.

By issuing an abrupt and last minute deportation notice, Immigration Enforcement ensured that Isabel and her lawyer did not have time for a fair review at the Federal Court for a stay on her removal. Isabel made the difficult decision to go into hiding rather than face further violence in Mexico.

Canada’s failing Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is allowing huge numbers of women fleeing violence to fall through the cracks. The Federal Court of Canada has begun to question decisions of the Refugee Board and has recently overturned several decisions where women faced gender violence.

These women have been unable to access shelters, crisis centers, professional support, guidance or counseling because of Immigration Enforcement’s targeting of these spaces.”

If you can’t make it to the rally, you can write a letter of support and mail it to the Workers Action Centre. Check out this sample.

The words that ring out still in my mind are those of Jessica Yee at the rally: Your body is sacred. And only YOU get to decide what happens to your body.

Tags: activist report, event listings, race and racism

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