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Feminist Practices

When the Obstacle Becomes the Way

Hermine Mbondo, founder of B4brand, a bilingual branding and marketing agency in Toronto. Photo provided.

Storytelling transformed Hermine Mbondo’s life and continues to shape her work to this day. 

Born in Cameroon into the Bassa tribe and raised in France, Mbondo now lives in Toronto. She fondly remembers her childhood and all the stories she heard when she visited her grandmother’s village. Back then, every night Mbondo would gather with all of the other kids in the family to listen to stories told by her grandmother and her aunts. 

But these stories were not ordinary fairy tales.

“When you are a child, you don’t realise [right away]. But then slowly, you realise the stories were not just fairy tales,” Mbondo says. “It was really about either warning us about things or teaching us about something.” 

One of the stories Mbondo remembers vividly is a different interpretation of the story of the tortoise and the hare.

In Mbondo’s version, the hare tells the tortoise that both of them should kill their mothers because there was a poor harvest and everyone in the village is going hungry. The hare says they can use their mothers for a feast. The tortoise is tricked by the hare and kills its mother, but the hare does not. 

Mbondo says the moral of this story is to choose your friends wisely and be careful about who you trust. She says the stories she heard as a child, while sometimes scary, were always meaningful and were meant to teach life lessons.

Flash forward many years and Mbondo is now sharing her own meaningful stories through B4brand — a branding and marketing agency she founded in Toronto in 2017. 

An Accidental Marketing Agency 

Like many women entrepreneurs, Mbondo didn’t start out thinking she wanted to be a business owner someday. Within a few months of job hunting after moving to Canada in 2016, she realized that as a newcomer, landing a job and pay cheque that matched her level of experience was going to be impossible. 

“I was still able to do a lot of things but it wasn’t at the level of what I was doing — or earning — in France. I was the head of marketing there,” she says. “[Work I was hired for in Canada] wasn’t challenging enough. There was nothing to justify [staying] — plus I didn’t have the same kind of salary. After a year, I was starting to think, ‘What can I do next?’” 

Around the same time, a company that Mbondo had worked for back in France asked if she would be interested in moving back to lead their marketing department.

But Mbondo didn’t want to move back to France. She knew the job being offered to her would return her to the same position of working for someone else, on their terms, with no room for growth. By this time, she knew she wanted to call the shots and work “with” the company instead of “for” it. Pitching the idea of being an independent contractor led to her landing her first client as a solepreneur. They worked out an arrangement that allowed Mbondo to have more autonomy in her work, and in late 2017, she officially launched B4brand, which now operates as an incorporated marketing agency. 

Marketing with Purpose 

In a competitive industry like brand management, B4brand stands out in three distinct ways: 1) it focuses on people-driven branding, 2) it has the capacity to work seamlessly in both of Canada’s official languages, and 3) it makes innovative use of Bassa storytelling culture. 

Mbondo says that while all three aspects of her enterprise are important, the emphasis on people-driven stories is the foundation that grounds her and her business. Engaging with clients whose values align with her own has led her to work with brands that focus on the needs of people rather than the features or benefits of a given product. 

“I’ve seen different things in marketing — I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Marketing can be used to trick consumers into purchasing products or services. I wanted to do things differently,” she says. 

Mbondo wants consumers to connect with brands that align with their own ethics and principles so that ideally, they make purchasing decisions based on shared values. 

“I talk with the business owners, get to know them, and try to understand not just what they’re doing, but why they are doing it,” she says, “because for me, it’s very important to understand the ‘why.’” The conversations are litmus tests that help her choose brands that, in her words, truly “have a greater purpose.” 

For example, when an opportunity came her way to work with an entrepreneur who was looking to launch a new line of spices from Western Cameroon, Mbondo first researched to find out if they operated in an ethical manner. She sealed the deal after learning the company was paying their employees fair wages and creating a safe working environment for women in western Cameroon.

Through her work, Mbondo wants to challenge the idea that industries like brand marketing can only be made more inclusive by hiring diverse employees. While this is important, she says it limits the possibilities of human resources. What she wants to see instead is an emphasis on the diversity of products and services as well as the diversity of people. The international spices are an example of this because they bring “diversity to the shelves” of mainstream grocery stores. While the spices have not yet been launched officially, another client of Mbondo recently launched. 

“I think for me, the way I see diversity and inclusion is in the everyday things, and food is part of that [when] we go grocery shopping.” 

Passion Projects Helping Build Community

Another passion project of Mbondo’s is the Global Impact Hub — a one-stop learning hub for social entrepreneurs to connect, educate and amplify diverse voices.

Mbondo has partnered with several organizations over the past few years to provide bilingual entrepreneurship training to fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, she found that many such organizations didn’t have the tools, resources, or knowledge to transition online. 

Mbondo explains, “[Entrepreneurs and small business owners] usually wear many hats and they are overwhelmed. Sometimes, all they need is the little push, especially since the road to running a successful business while making a difference can feel difficult and lonely. So, I decided to support them by offering a place to develop supportive relationships with fellow game-changers as well as access marketing tools and resources.”

The Global Impact Hub aims to combat this overwhelm by creating space for entrepreneurs to work it out together. 

“Through this membership-based online platform, social entrepreneurs will be able to sharpen up their marketing skills from anywhere and at any time through valuable content [like] marketing resources, tools, workshops and meaningful ways of connecting.”

B4Brand's Global Impact Hub.
B4Brand's Global Impact Hub.

Finding Community Through Shared Experiences 

As a newcomer and female entrepreneur, Mbondo’s participation in startup business development and accelerator programs played an important role in helping her build B4Brand. 

After starting the enterprise on her own, she learned valuable resource management skills in a program for newcomers to Canada called the Newcomers Entrepreneurship Hub alongside others who were also starting their own businesses. The Fifth Wave feminist accelerator program for women in digital media, operated by the Canadian Film Centre’s MediaLab, showed her how to hire and manage independent contractors whose values aligned with her own on a per project basis. Today, she has the structures in place to contract like-minded freelance graphic designers and copywriters to create campaigns that everyone feels good about. 

Three years into running her own business, Mbondo says that financing growth continues to be a struggle. Growth accelerator programs however, have helped her to connect with other business owners and funders who make her feel less alone and boost her confidence, helping her to keep going even when things are difficult.

“Everybody’s going through the same struggle — on different levels, obviously, but we’re going through the same things so it gives some reassurance to be like, ‘Okay, I’m not the only one,’” Mbondo says. 

Marketing at its core is a form of storytelling. What motivates Mbondo to show up for work every day is the opportunity to combine her love of people-driven stories rooted in culture, history and tradition with the personal values she shares with her clients.  

“I still love stories. I also learned that as an independent business founder, you can be choosy about the clients you work with and I’m supporting causes with my work,” Mbondo says. “I somehow managed to do well by doing what I love and wanted to do as a child.”

Last year, Mbondo was listed as one of Canada’s Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada. 

This year? B4brand is a finalist for the 2021 Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Awards in the Best Advertising/Marketing Agency category. Voting continues until Sept. 19, 2021.


Publishers Note: B4brand is a part of the Fifth Wave, a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to 30% participation by members of underrepresented groups. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth Media partner and ally. Applications are OPEN! Apply here

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Rabble Roundup

Rabble Roundup: The Election Edition

Cover: Collage by pk mutch

We’re back with our Rabble Round up and this month we’re sharing our favourite election coverage from one of our favourite Canadian indie publications. 

On the list: the climate crisis, what unions want and why we might want to consider shifting away from national security and towards human safety. 

Check out our roundup here!

Five reasons to ditch anti-terrorism and national security

In this article Anne Dagenais discusses why we must move away from the conversation about national security and towards human safety.

While the threat to civil liberties has only grown over the last 20 years, recent events have led to renewed concern: the push for the adoption of new domestic terrorism laws in the United States, the expansion of the Terrorist Entities List in Canada, the ever-growing definition of “national security,” and endless increases to the powers and resources of national security agencies,” she says.

“Governments attempt to justify their actions in the name of “security,” but none actually go to the root causes of the violence they purport to address.

“What we need is to shift away from national security — the preservation of the sovereignty and thus the power of the state — towards human safety — the condition of individuals being empowered and free from want and harm.”

A first-time voter’s guide to the 2021 Canadian Election

“As the country heads into a pandemic election, knowing how to vote, where to cast your ballot, and voting safely are more important than ever for first-time voters,” Stephen Wentzell writes in this article.

“The other battle is deciding who to vote for.” 

Rabble.ca’s first-time voter guide covers everything you need to know, from how to vote, voting strategically, and where your vote fits. 

What Canada’s unions want from this election

The Canadian Labour Congress has a plan for a post-pandemic recovery focused on workers. An interview with the president of the CLC, Bea Bruske, discusses how this election will help with that recovery. Listen to it here. 

Climate change on the campaign trail

In this rabble.ca podcast episode, climate and housing activist, and former NDP candidate herself, Diana Yoon talks about how the issue of climate change is playing out in this election. Listen to the podcast episode here.

Leaders’ debate inadequately addresses climate change

“While the climate crisis was featured among the six debate topics, it continues to be presented politically as an issue on its own, rather than something that is intersectional and crucially informs other issues like the economy and health care,” Stephen Wentzell writes in this article.

“The lack of details and specifics on offer last night on the questions on the increasingly hard-to-ignore climate crisis brings into question how, exactly, party leaders will prioritize climate justice in their platforms.”

To know more about how party leaders addressed the climate crisis in the Leaders’ debate, continue reading the rabble.ca article here.

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Allied Arts & Media

Free to Choose

Sonia Godding Togobo, co-founder of Sunstar Worldwide Studio. Photo from official website for the film Mr. Jane and Finch by OYA Media Group.

Sonia Godding Togobo fell in love with cinema and telling stories when she was around seven years old.

Her parents, immigrants from Guyana in South America in the ‘80s, had taken her to a Black History month event. There, she met one of the organizers who had memorabilia from throughout the Caribbean, the United States and Cuba. He was talking about the different elements of art history when he said something that has stayed with Godding Togobo ever since.

“He said, ‘Most of us want our children to be doctors, lawyers, professionals. But we need more storytellers and filmmakers,’” Godding Togobo recalls. “I didn’t know what that meant, but something about it resonated and never left me.”

Nearly three decades later, Godding Togobo and her husband, Yao “Tuggstar” Togobo, founded Sunstar Worldwide Studio in 2010, a Canadian media company with a mission to illuminate the work of Africa and its diaspora.

Godding Togobo got her start in the industry after earning a diploma in film and television from Humber College. Unlike many other students who were interested in directing or producing, however, Godding Togobo realized she had a knack for editing and focused on post production.

She landed an internship at a post-production house in Toronto then a job working on short films, music videos and documentaries at Nelvana, Canada’s premier animation company and a world-leading producer and distributor of children’s content. She worked her way up to associate editor on CBC’s A Deathly Silence, and edited a variety of programs including an hour special on the crisis in Darfur at MuchMusic, Canada’s pioneering music channel.

Wanting to engage in more serious forms of storytelling, she moved to London, U.K., and produced her first documentary, Adopted ID, about a transracially adopted Canadian who returns to Haiti in search of her biological family.

While doing the festival rounds with that doc, Godding Togobo realized she needed to start her own production company if she wanted to continue making docs – and have control over the stories she wanted to tell. “That was really what attracted me to figure out how to set up a production company.”

From left to right: Filmmakers Alison Duke, Ngardy Conteh George and Sonia Godding Togobo. Photo via the website for the film Mr. Jane and Finch.

Sunstar Worldwide is predominantly focused on post production. The team consists of two other editors, Godding Togobo, and her husband, Yao, also a spoken word poet and writer. They hire on a contract basis if a project requires more hands. Currently, most of their projects involve editing video projects for other filmmakers and storytellers and producing content for businesses, but they hope to produce their own content for broadcast down the line

When choosing projects, Godding Togobo turns to her husband and business partner to discuss the vision for the work they want to create at Sunstar Worldwide. “We have a process that we go through to figure out if it is a viable project. Is it something that we are passionate about? Is it something the market seems to want? We ask ourselves those questions on a project per project basis. I also think a lot of it is just about capacity — do we have the capacity to really push for this project?”

Godding Togobo says she looks for projects that enable her to share authentic Black experiences, especially through the stories of Black women. This is, in a way, part of navigating her own layered identities. “I have lots of different identities that I sort of touch into: I’m African, I’m Guyanese, I’m Canadian, so what does that really mean? There is a lot of history right there, so often, those are the stories that I am looking at.”

Godding Togobo believes the the time has come to explore the interconnectedness of identities given the racial reckoning the world is experiencing — and may just help address racial injustice and aid in healing. “Even when I started (the company), our stories just weren’t important. Now there seems to be a little bit more openness, and there seems to be folks who are really interested in hearing from people of colour, about their experiences … When it comes to racial injustice, I feel like my part in that is showing authentic Black representation that challenges, enlightens and brings awareness to the things that unify us, and to the Black Canadian experience.”

She was particularly proud to work on a documentary about Winston LaRose, an 80-year-old community activist in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood of Toronto who ran for political office for the first time, inspiring his racialized community with his campaign for city councilor.

Titled “Mr. Jane and Finch,” the documentary (on CBC’s Gem) was directed by Ngardy Conteh George, produced and written by Alison Duke of Oya Media Group, and edited by Godding Togobo.

Godding Togobo recently took part in Fifth Wave’s feminist accelerator program, to sharpen her focus on her work as a storyteller and business owner. “Fifth Wave was a real boost in terms of information, in terms of my network, and in terms of giving me access to best practices and how to run a production company in this particular country.”

It also gave her the space to think about the future of Sunstar Worldwide. “I am thinking a lot about what I want the next five years to look like, and the type of projects that I want to be on. I think along with COVID-19, we have had this racial reckoning that maybe would not have had the impact that it did if it was not for COVID-19.

“I am thinking a lot about the fact that now folks seem to be ready to talk about things in a new way, and I am also thinking a lot about what that means for the stories that I’m going to tell.”


Publishers Note:  Sunstar Worldwide Studio is a participant in Canada’s first feminist accelerator program for womxn in digital media, Fifth Wave Labs. The Fifth Wave is a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to 30% participation by members of underrepresented groups. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth Media partner and ally. Apply here.

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Activism & Action

OECD releases report on entrepreneurship policies through a gender lens

The Global WEP team, 2018. Photo provided.

There are currently 1.2 million women entrepreneurs in Canada and there’s no stopping them.

The Trudeau government is hoping to double the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025, having spent $5 billion working towards this goal already, and announcing a $147 million top up in its 2021 budget.

Indeed, policymakers around the world are eying women entrepreneurs as an untapped economic resource and a key driver of post-pandemic economic recovery and future growth.

The question, however, is if they’re helping or hindering this growth.

Do policymakers “get” women and women-identified entrepreneurs? And are women entrepreneurs politically engaged enough to ensure the gender ball and shackles are smashed once and for all?

A new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is shedding light on the role of policymakers and their policies on economic recovery and growth.

An intergovernmental economic organization with 38 member countries, OECD published a new report that examines how to strengthen the scope and effectiveness of entrepreneurship policies for women.

It examines both dedicated measures for women and ensuring that mainstream policies for all entrepreneurs are appropriate for women. It also highlights the “many long‑standing issues related to the scope and effectiveness of women’s entrepreneurship policies – many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic – and point the way to more effective policy.”

Image via OECD’s website.

Professor Barbara Orser from the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management co-authored and edited this report, along with  Dr. Colette Henry, Dundalk University, Ireland (Founding Chair of Global Women’s Enterprise Policy Research Group – Global WEP) and Dr. Susan Coleman, Professor Emeritus, Hartford University.

LiisBeth spoke with Orser about the process of creating the report, as well as the highlights and the recommendations made in it.

LiisBeth: Can you start by telling us more about your work in the entrepreneurship space and with the OECD?

Barbara Orser: For the last 30 years, my research portfolio is focused on entrepreneurship with a particular specialisation in women’s entrepreneurship. That includes studies in finance procurement, decision making, access to international trade and public policy.

The OECD report is a product of my role as an executive of the Global Women’s Enterprise Policy Research Group, and this is a key element of the OECD report — it’s a group of senior academic scholars with expertise in women’s entrepreneurship. We’ve worked with the OECD and we’ve worked with the 34 scholars that contributed to the report to try and craft a coherent picture of the state of women’s enterprise policy and entrepreneurship policy from a gender lens around the world.

LiisBeth: What was missing from the conversation on women’s entrepreneurship policy prior to this report and what are the gaps you’re hoping to fill through it?

Orser: It’s about building back better. That’s the mantra not only in Canada, but within the G20.

Governments are looking at measures — both policy and programs — to kickstart economies and drive innovation. Underrepresented groups, women, youth, rural, physically and differently abled people are priority issues for these economies.

When you look at the public policy domain around women’s entrepreneurship, what our report makes very clear is that it’s highly fragmented. So with entrepreneurship, by and large, most interventions are poorly funded, pilot, single efforts. They’re not integrated into a policy strategy. So that’s the first thing — policies without programs, programs without policy support.

Then there are ad hoc initiatives. One of the key observations coming out of this report to inform pandemic recovery is the need for overarching policy frameworks. Canada, in fact, is a model for that. It can always be improved, but there are very, very few economies that have that kind of overarching framework.

A second recommendation … is that when you look at the number of economies we were profiling,  most don’t report using gender disaggregated data. Then move forward to women-identified firms to be inclusive — it’s not even in the vernacular, the vocabulary of public policy.

For the readership LiisBeth … I think this report provides a litmus test of how we’re doing, and I think we’re doing reasonably well, but we can do better.

Dr. Barbara Orser

LiisBeth: What was the process of collecting the information and actually creating and editing the report?

Orser: For this project, we met in 2018, so it was a long haul — three years to get this to publication.

We met with the OECD to talk about the idea of and this is really important — [we applied an] arm’s length critical assessment. The role of the academic is to be critical at arm’s length, so there’s no vested interest per se in the author’s commentary. They’re not a lobby group. They’re not a government group. They’re academics, they’re paid to be as objective as they can.

We invited scholars and the criteria of inclusion was you’re a member of global WEP, which means you’ve been writing in the area of women’s entrepreneurship. These are folks that have established credibility as scholars within their own respective countries as well as the broader peer reviewed academic literature.

We also asked them to write on the topic of their choice. We didn’t prescribe what they had to write, which was great because then we could see what was important to the scholars around the world. From there, we aggregated the findings.

The final research went through peer academic review, an internal OECD review, and then a review by their member economies. Three years later, we finally have the report.

LiisBeth: What do you hope the public takes away from this report?

Orser: So let’s start with the women-identified entrepreneurs. In my book Feminine Capital, the final chapter looks at public policy. In it, I quote Patty green who’s worked both in academia and has run the labour office in the United States. She tells women entrepreneurs to be familiar with public policy or go out of business because public policy has a huge impact on the way we do business. So I’m hoping that entrepreneurs can take a look at this and say, what’s my provincial government doing about it? What’s my municipal government doing? Where do I see myself in this report? [I hope they] begin to pressure governments to be more supportive in terms of programs and policies for women-identified entrepreneurs.

Public policymakers can also look at this report and benchmark their policies. I don’t know to what degree the public stay up at night thinking about this, but it does present a global lens on the importance of measures and also commensurate funding and programming to support women entrepreneurs who historically have been under-supported. We know there are issues about accessibility and relevance of business support measures, so we hope that they could take this report, show it to their member of parliament and say, ‘What are you doing to support my business?’ regardless of the country.

LiisBeth: That’s great! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Barbara!

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Allied Arts & Media

Between Worlds, Right at Home

Justine Abigail Yu, founder and editor-in-chief of Living Hyphen. Photo provided. 

Justine Abigail Yu (she/her) is the founder and editor-in-chief of Living Hyphen, a community and magazine that explores what it means to live in between cultures as a hyphenated Canadian – that is, an individual who calls Canada home but also has roots elsewhere.

On Living Hyphen’s website, Abigail writes: “From the Haitian-Quebecois commuting along the Montréal Métro to the South Asian trans man applying for permanent residency, from the young Filipino-Canadian woman texting her immigrant mother to the Plains Cree and Métis man meeting a traditional healer, this magazine reveals the rich inner lives of Canada’s diverse communities.”

Abigail recently launched the Living Hyphen podcast during the pandemic, a collection of “stories from a multitude of different storytellers across what we now know as Canada to explore this concept of “homestuck” – whatever home might be, whatever one’s relationship to their home(s) might be, and whatever being stuck can mean.”

We spoke with Abigail about the new podcast, storytelling during a pandemic, and finding community while living between worlds.

LiisBeth: What is your origin story?

Justine Abigail Yu: I am a Filipina-Canadian. I was born in Manila, Philippines and moved to Toronto, Canada when I was just four years old. I was constantly in this tug of war as I was growing up, always going back and forth between these two identities, places, and cultures I hold so dearly. That all these truths about me could exist at once is something that has always boggled my mind. And it’s something that I tried to hide or quiet when I was younger in an attempt to fit in.

It’s only as I’ve gotten older and more comfortable in my own skin and more unapologetic in exercising the power of my voice that I’ve come to realize, accept, and hold pride in the fact that I am not simply fragments and pieces of these two cultures or places. I am fully and wholly both. I am Filipina-Canadian.

LiisBeth: How did the idea for Living Hyphen come about, and what are you hoping to achieve through it?

Abigail: The seed of this idea was born in the fall of 2015 at Toronto’s Feminist Art Conference when I attended a powerhouse panel about (the lack of) diversity in Canadian literature. The panel was stacked with writers of colour with tons of experience to share about the publishing industry. I listened to these writers talk about the difficulties they faced in getting their work published, simply because their stories did not conform to the “Canadian narrative.” Either that or their stories were not “ethnic” enough.

As a writer and as a woman of colour, this deeply unsettled me. I didn’t want to have my story filtered through the lens of a homogenously white editorial board that actually has no idea what it means to live in between cultures. In that moment, I decided that I had to build my own house – by and for writers of colour. And so, the seed of Living Hyphen sprouted.

Since the launch of the inaugural issue of our print magazine in October 2018, our mission has always been to reshape the mainstream and amplify the voices that often go unheard.

Our inaugural issue featured the stories of more than 50 artists and writers from all across what we now know as Canada and who hail from more than 30+ ethnic backgrounds, religions, and Indigenous nations. We’ve since grown to include cultural programming by way of writing workshops and storytelling nights to cultivate, nurture, and mentor writers and artists who have been told for far too long that their voices don’t matter.

LiisBeth: What made you launch a podcast, and what was the process of creating the episodes like?

Abigail: Last August, I got a random email from Trisha Gregorio pitching me on the idea of turning Living Hyphen into a podcast. I didn’t know who she was. We had never met. It was a straight up cold email. But she wrote to me with such a clear vision of what she wanted to create, a deep understanding of what Living Hyphen is all about, and a confidence of her skillset and qualifications that I knew I had to at least take a meeting with her.

At the time, I had just finished reading through hundreds upon hundreds of submissions for our upcoming second issue and listening to so many incredible storytellers from our writing workshops. It would be impossible for Living Hyphen to publish them all! Print is so expensive and time-intensive. But these stories are so powerful and beautiful and important that it would be such a loss to the world not be shared.

And so Trisha’s email came at the right moment. I had been looking for new ways to share the stories that people entrust us with, and podcasting felt like a natural progression.

It’s been an interesting process working on this podcast in the time of COVID. I’ve never met Trisha (in person), but we’ve been working so closely together over the last few months – brainstorming audio formats, developing a concept for this season, curating stories, recording remotely with artists and writers all across the country and with each other, and then meticulously editing everything together! Trisha is really the mastermind behind this podcast as both co-host and producer. She has managed to capture the essence and the heart of the Living Hyphen brand and community and I am just so humbled to have her on our team.

LiisBeth: What role does podcasting play as a medium when it comes to storytelling and building community?

Abigail: For those of us in the diaspora or who have been displaced in some way – whether voluntary or forced, abroad or right here on this land – we have not always had the luxury or privilege of having our stories or histories captured across time through written texts. We are largely a people of oral traditions, and it feels so natural and authentic to tell our stories through this podcast.

As my co-host Trisha Gregorio says, “With the audio format we’re able to dial in on a different kind of intimacy. Living Hyphen has always been about the closeness and warmth of having a storytelling community to belong to, especially for those of us from underrepresented communities. So, there’s something so special about getting to hear all these stories in the podcast directly from the voices behind them, and to be able to bring these, in this form, to listeners.”

LiisBeth: What’s next for Living Hyphen?

Abigail: We’re launching our second issue this July called, “Across Generations,” which we are so excited about! It’s full of intergenerational stories of resistance and healing. We’ve also been working with Canadian Stage to develop an adaptation of some of the stories that can be found in our magazine. It’s called nowhen and it’s set to be on stage at the High Park Ampitheatre from August 5-12. Fingers crossed that lockdown restrictions will lift by then to allow for outdoor performances! We’ll also continue to deliver our many writing workshops for emerging writers.

It’s hard to believe how much we’ve already accomplished in just 2.5 years. We’ve grown and expanded in ways I never expected, and I’m just hoping to continue in this trajectory and doing what we do best – amplifying the voices of those who have all too often gone unheard.

LiisBeth: Thank you for sharing your story and your work with us.

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Rabble Roundup

Rabble Roundup: 04.29.21

In our roundup this month, we’re sharing content from Rabble that looks at different themes, ideas, and conversations that feminists are engaging in right now. As a feminist, womxn’s entrepreneurship publication, we’re interested in what the feminist movement—and the action resulting from it—looks like at the moment. Here are our top picks for Rabble content that dive into this.

The many burdens of women’s work 

In this interview, Chelsea Nash writes: “Do women benefit in the workplace from assimilating into the male-dominated culture, or from resisting it? Put another way, is it better to focus on the similarities between men and women workers, or to point out gendered differences and vocalize the ways women don’t fit — literally and figuratively — into many non-traditional workplaces?”

These are the questions that biologist and ergonomist Karen Messing tries to answer in her new book, Bent Out of Shape: Shame, Solidarity, and Women’s Bodies at Work, coming out April 5 from Between the Lines.

Investing in a feminist economic recovery

So what is a feminist recovery? 

Through a deep dive into the work of Anjum Sultana, the national director of public policy and strategic communications for YWCA, Maya Bhullar writes about how a feminist recovery plan that is multifaceted and intersectional, focusing on the diverse needs of women, two-spirit, and gender-diverse people, is the starting point of the change the needed to address those who are often marginalized, especially during the global pandemic.

Trudeau is all words and no action on male violence against women

“April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and while there has been plenty of awareness this year, there remains precious little government action on ending the scourge of male violence against women and children, both at home and globally,” Matthew Behrens writes.

Since 1961, over 10,000 women have been victims of femicide in Canada. At the same time, spokespersons for male-dominated institutions like the military and the police are increasingly using the “Trudeau-esque language of acknowledging the failures to end violence against women as the standard response for failing to do anything about it.”

Behrens says it’s easy for men to be applauded for declaring that something must be done to end male violence, but such words ring hollow amidst the dearth of accountability mechanisms and system change required to ensure transformational change.

 

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