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Our Voices

We Had Better Believe Her!

An image of a young black woman, wearing a flowered dress, hands folded in front of her.
Feminist poet, Alexandra Mandewo. Photo Provided.

Not every 18 year old writes feminist poetry and dreams of going to civil engineering school in the fall. Except for Coquitlam, B.C. based Alexandra Mandewo. 

Mandewo won an award at her school for this work. She sent it to us –looking to publish it.  We loved it. Thought you would too.

Here is a little more about Mandewo and her poem. 


LiisBeth: How old are you? What school you go to?

Mandewo: I am 18 years old and go to Pinetree Secondary School in Coquitlam, BC.

LiisBeth: What prompted you to write this poem?

Mandewo: I wrote this poem as part of a social justice poetry assignment for my First Peoples English 12 class. I wanted to write a poem that would inspire and motivate others.

Not every 18 year old writes feminist poetry and dreams of going to civil engineering school in the fall. Except for Coquitlam, B.C. based Alexandra Mandewo.  Mandewo won an award at her school for this work. She sent it to us –looking to publish it.  We loved it. And so we did. 

LiisBeth: Do you write a lot of poems?

Mandewo: I started writing poems this year but I’ve always considered myself a writer. I’ve written many articles ranging from diversity and inclusion to educational disparities. Many of my poems have been about women’s empowerment but also grief.

LiisBeth: Do you consider yourself a feminist? If so tell us about your beliefs as a feminist. 

Mandewo: I do consider a feminist- an intersectional feminist. I use Roxane Gay’s description of the foundation of feminism as my definition of a feminist: I think a feminist is someone who supports the choices of women even if they wouldn’t make those certain choices for themselves.

(Click above to hear Mandewo read the poem. You can also download it here. )

LiisBeth: How have you experienced high school in terms of gender equity?

Mandewo: My high school experience has been very unusual due to being a high performance athlete and the pandemic- doing half of my high school completely virtual. I don’t really think I have experienced gender inequity in my classes or in my school.

However, one distinct moment I remember was my first high school career fair. I decided to go to the room where a male engineer was speaking about his field and when I entered I realized I was the only girl out of at least forty kids. Despite this, I tried to actively participate in the discussion but whenever I put my hand up to answer questions, I was never picked.

The speaker went as far as asking kids who had already answered questions to answer another one instead of calling on me with my hand up.

Luckily, this experience didn’t heavily affect me as I am going into engineering in university- but it was my first of many experiences being the only woman in the room.

LiisBeth: Have you ever felt a “feminist snap”? A moment in time when you wanted to shout “That is not right!” Or fair!

Mandewo: The one thing that always gets me is the gender pay gap. Some people argue that it only exists in certain level jobs but research and testimonies clearly shows that it exists in all levels of the workforce. I struggle to fathom how someone can think a man and woman doing the exact same job should be paid differently.

LiisBeth: What do you want to do when you graduate? Interests? pursuits?

Mandewo: I will be attending George Washington University in Washington, DC. Being in America’s Capitol, I will have access to a plethora of organizations looking to help with the advancement of women’s rights. Within school, I plan on taking courses like Women, Gender and Sexuality studies as well as joining groups like Women in Engineering to help uplift other women.

LiisBeth: Thank you so much Alexandra!  You are an amazing young woman!

Mandewo:  And thank YOU for sharing my work with your readers!

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Our Voices

Gender Equality and Gender Equity–A Far Cry For India?

An picture of an indian woman kneeling before the God Ganesha. Whe is wearing a red skirt and black top.
Women turn to God Ganesha. The diety's upraised hand depicts protection. It means, 'Fear not, I am with you', and his lowered hand, palm facing outwards means endless giving as well as an invitation to bow down.

India is a country where tradition and modernity continue to collide and clash. The government, and those who fight for progress  work hard to increase gender equity and equality. However, financial independence is a critical enabler in the advancement of women’s equity and equality in India. Given the grim situation today, financial independence seems miles away from being a possibility for India’s women.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Education is discouraged

Education offers the best opportunity for women to find employment, provided it continues to be encouraged. Since 2010, India has provided free education for every child until 14 However, not being compulsory, children have the right to education but not the obligation. Many girls do not find themselves in classrooms because their parents prefer to educate their sons. Girls are forced to help with housework. Women have persisted against all odds, and are now getting an education, and a way to becoming financially independent.  With this change, the term ‘gender equality’ has grown increasingly popular in recent years. However, there is a significant number of people here who are unable to distinguish between gender equality and gender equity. Gender equality refers to outcomes that are equal for all genders. Gender equity acknowledges that women and persons of different genders do not have the same ‘starting position’ as men.

Cultural barriers to independence

We in India endorse the ‘Educate the Girl, Save the Girl’ campaign. Yet, sadly, a university degree is nothing more than a piece of paper used to entice a suitable groom. Many are educated with the sole purpose of getting husbands, not to join the workforce. In Gujarat, I visited a few marriage bureaus.  It came as no surprise to learn that upper-middle-class families prefer a female who is well-educated, but willing to leave her job (which requires commitment and time) after marriage. Allowances are made if you want to work from home, but it’s usually to create the impression that the ladies are suitably engaged. If a boy comes from a middle-class home, he is receptive to marrying a working lady, but not at the expense of housework. They’re aware that for any woman to perform both duties well without assistance is challenging. It’s best for all if the woman is a full-time housewife.  Thus, many educated women who could be national treasures are staying at home, which leads to dependence on husbands for the rest of their lives.

Cleaning jobs and similar low-paid jobs are considered menial and do not provide women with dignity. It’s a point of contention whether women who are highly paid receive more respect. In 1972, Ela Bhatt started The Self-Employed Women’s Association https://sewabharat.org – SEWA. The name means ‘service’ in numerous Indian languages. It is an Indian trade union founded in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, that advocates for the rights of low-wage, self-employed women. With over 1.6 million participating women, SEWA is the largest organization of  informal workers in the world. SEWA is based on the idea of complete employment, through which a woman can provide food, health care, childcare, and a safe place to live for her family. This stellar organization has transformed innumerable women’s lives. Giving them what women need most – financial freedom.

An image of a woman's face scarred by an acid attack.
Organization founded in 2015 seeks to end acid attacks on women.

Acid attacks – a burning issue

Violence against women continues to be huge problem in India. Acid attacks is the most horrifying. Acid attacks are at an all-time high and increasing every year, with 250–300 reported incidents every year. Although acid attacks occur all over the world, this type of violence is most common in South Asia. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2516606920927247.  In most cases, this crime is linked to a relationship gone sour, marriage, or dowry issues. It’s the worst form of revenge, where acid is used to disfigure women permanently, snatching away their dignity forever. These vicious attacks lead to untold physical, mental and social damage. A few days of news and sympathy are not enough to give women the strength to survive. This is summed up well in the film ‘Chhapaak (Splash) https://www.hotstar.com/ca/movies/chhapaak/1260020620,  directed by Meghna Gulzar. It is a biographical drama, based on the life of an acid assault survivor, in which the survivor says, “He attacked me once, but society attacks me every day.” Stories of violence like this reminds women the world is not safe for them, discouraging many to be out in the world. Just another insidious way to keep them at home and financially dependent.

The Kanoria Foundation https://kanoriafoundation.co.in is an NGO that supports the surgeries of acid victims and collaborates with educational institutions such as universities to help with their education. It also offers financial aid for their children’s education.

Too many ways to discriminate and discredit women

Women HIV carriers find it harder to be employed. I met a woman who married the man her parents had chosen for her. The man had concealed the fact that he was HIV-positive. She discovered this when she was pregnant.  She was unable to deal with this ordeal. In another case, the boy’s family claimed that their son became infected due to the girl’s HIV infection. The truth eventually came out, and the girl was exonerated.  Even though this case caused a furor, Indian society will still never accept the girl if she is infected. HIV-positive women have no way of gaining financial independence.I was therefore surprised to read that a couple of non-governmental organizations in Ahmedabad are selling ‘dry food’ produced by HIV-positive women.

Divorce is yet another significant issue. Recently, it was reported that a woman committed suicide because she was being abused by her husband. She had the means to return to her parents’ house, but she was afraid to even try because she would bring them shame. Society would judge her and her parents. The truth is never revealed in these situations. Only one girl dared to post on social media that she couldn’t find the right man to marry until she was 32, and that her relatives treated her badly when she attended social functions. “Now that I am married, people have begun to invite me. I created a website called ‘Human is around you, you are not alone’ and I’m getting a lot of questions regarding our society, which is a big cause of depression”, she says.

Disabled or divorced women face further discrimination. Not to mention, in Indian society, girls do not have a right to their parents’ property.

With so much stacked against them, financial independence is a crucial part of the feminist agenda in India. Without it, women cannot rise to their full potential.  Without it, women in abusive, unfulfilling marriages can never leave. Without it, they languish on the margins.  Without it, their future is bleak.

Achieving financial independence safely is the Indian woman’s first step towards finding and retaining their dignity.

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Featured Our Voices

The Apprenticeship of a Priestess

A photo of annie matan, a white woman in mauve glasses, wearing red lipstick and wearing short reddish hair.
Kohenet Annie Matan, Jewish Priestess and founder of Matanot Lev (Hebrew for "Gifts of the Heart"). Photo by Trevor Sherwin.

Kohenet Annie Matan appeared on Zoom wearing a red onesie. It was a different look than in a photo on her website. In that photograph, the 42-year-old redhead wore a red hooded robe for the gay interfaith marriage she officiated last Hallowe’en.

But today Matan is sick, so it is a pajama day. Despite being unwell, she insisted on proceeding with the interview for this story. “It’s the Winter Solstice,” she said. “And that feels auspicious.” The Kohenet (Jewish Priestess) had drunk immune boosters, pulled tarot cards and readied her crystals. She was now ready to talk.

Finding the Right Jewish Fit

Matan grew up in a Reform Jewish household in Toronto and felt a strong connection to Judaism early on. “I devoured religious school,” she said. She admired the female rabbis at her synagogue. “They enabled me to see myself as clergy.”

Matan set out to become a rabbi by pursuing Jewish Studies at university and rabbinical school. However, a sense of alienation took root. As a woman she was excluded from participating fully in her religion. She was not permitted, for instance, to sing at her grandmother’s Orthodox funeral service because it was considered inappropriate to hear a woman’s voice in that setting. She found even Reform Jewish services to be patriarchal in their liturgy. Matan once asked a rabbi: “Why are we talking about God as Lord and King and Master?” His answer surprised her: “It’s not written for you,” he said. “You’re a woman.”

Then, Matan found out about the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute. “It was like a thunderclap.” She was in the first cohort of ordained Kohenet in 2500 years. Evidence suggests that priestesses existed before the creation of the Hebrew Bible but references to women’s spiritual leadership were mostly eliminated from the text. Matan embraced the reclamation of this “Feminist earth-based embodied experiential Judaism.”  She said: “That community really helped raise me up as a leader”.

Having once aspired to be a woman rabbi like the ‘fiery powerhouses’ she admired who made change from within conventional institutions, Matan realized: “I’m a build it from the outside-in person”.

The Entrepreneur Priestess

 It wasn’t a straight shot to becoming a Priestess entrepreneur. Matan held a variety of jobs from administrative support to customer service in both corporate and Jewish cultural settings. It was while working as a facilitator at the JCC in downtown Toronto, that people encouraged her to start her own high holiday and Shabbat services.

After running these experiences for several years out of her own pocket, in 2018 she launched Matanot Lev (Hebrew for ‘Gifts of the Heart’) and began to charge her clients. Matanot Lev focuses on Jewish and inter-faith religious practices like high holidays, Shabbat, funerals, and weddings through a Jewish lens. Matan prioritizes meaning over rote practice. A common reaction: “I didn’t know Judaism could be like this. I felt so comfortable to be myself here.”

The sole proprietor knows the importance of being comfortable in one’s skin. It has taken years to embrace her whole self: Mama, Queer, psychic superpower, mentor, sacred space and ritual facilitator, and artist. “I’m also poly, which I’ve just started singing out loud more recently,” she said. She loves queer culture because it allows people to be their “Crazy, weird, unique snowflake self.”

The pandemic wasn’t a difficult pivot for Matan’s business. She had already been using Zoom (“A magical portal that defies time and space”) for one-on-one spiritual guidance, mentorship and readings. Many of her clients are busy moms or entrepreneurs who prefer meeting virtually. Matan has noticed increased demand for virtual mentorship during the pandemic as more people awaken to their intuitive gifts and seek support to integrate these gifts into their daily lives. “Because I work with energy, I’m pretty good at invoking the feeling of being in the same room,” Matan said.

Matan’s monthly New Moon Red Tent Circle (An ancient ritual where women gather on the new moon to celebrate the sacredness of women’s space) moved on-line. Matan had been doing these circles for well over a decade under real tents and in person. Now, women close their eyes and imagine being under the tent together, sitting in a circle. “We envision the altar before we bring our offerings,” said Matan.

A new weekly group was launched last year. Living from the Heart is a space where women become courageous and authentic. For example, when a woman says something like, “Ugh, I’m so bad, I did XYZ,” Matan explores where the need to be perfect originated. This group considers how beliefs are shaped by patriarchy, colonialism, and white supremacy. She lights up when a woman shares how they handled a challenging situation by applying what they learned in her group

Matan is still thinking through what her business will look like post-pandemic. While there will be a return to in-person gatherings, she wonders whether a hybrid-model would continue to attract people outside of Toronto as they have for Living from the Heart and the New Moon Red Tent Circles. One thing that won’t change is how people feel transformed by the group experience. They often arrive saying things like “I’m exhausted, I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling frazzled.” And by the end? Matan said she hears: “I feel clear, I feel calm. I feel confident.”

Women Lifting other Women

Matan has a favourite GIF. In it there is a line of women. The woman at the front turns to lift up the one behind her; that woman then turns to lift the next one in line; and on and on. Matan has been lifted by her spiritual community: the strong women rabbis, her Kohenet teachers and cohort, and Rabbi Ruth Gan Kagan who founded a thriving Jewish renewal community in Israel and believed Matan could start her own in Toronto.

Matan’s business mentors have lifted her as high as her spiritual ones. At Shecosystem (a feminist co-working community) Matan became a member of ‘The coven’ (the leadership team) and learned important lessons from its founder, Emily Rose Antflick, like how finding ‘balance’ is less important than ‘integrating’ all aspects of one’s life. “That’s when the full breadth of our vulnerability and our power are fully celebrated in any environment, we’re in,” said Matan. “That’s when we are thriving. And that’s how we transform the world.”R

Small group of people holding candles standing around two men who are cerimoniously being blessed by Annie Matan
Matan blessing grooms Roman and Brandon with herbs. Photo by Studio Kuefner Photography

In 2017, Matan began working with Judith Manriquez, a business and spiritual mentor who convinced Matan to offer one-on-one spiritual guidance. Matan initially balked, questioning whether she was qualified.  Then, she realized how she had always been the go-to person for important decisions. Furthermore, she had been reading cards for over twenty years. “I’ve been using these tools this whole time,” Matan said. “The only difference is now I’m asking to be paid for it.”

Matan is doing her part to lift others behind her up. She is active in the community like speaking to LGBTQ students. “These kids need to see what Jewish clergy can look like, that we can be queer, and we can be feminist, and we can be earth based, Matan said. “And we can be welcoming to the core of our souls, unapologetically.”

She also co-hosts “Tending Lilith’s Fire” on Youtube with Kohenet D’Vorah Grenn, which they started in 2020. They discuss women and spirituality. Recent episodes explored the relationship between patriarchy and trauma, and how women might allow themselves to dream of playful possibilities in their lives.

Lilith is a guiding force for Matan. In Jewish mythology, Lilith was Adam’s first wife. Matan said Lilith asked Adam: “How dare you hover over my light. How dare you try to dominate me?” Matan explained how Lilith sprouted wings and flew away, rather than continue to suffer inside the beautiful Garden of Eden. Lilith wanted to create the world in ways that hadn’t been imagined yet. “And, that’s where I want to go,” she said.

A white woman wearing mauve glasses and bright red dress with patter smiling with hands folded in front of her on the table
Kohenet Annie Matan reading cards at the Darling Mansion. Photo by Studio Kuefner Photography.

 

The Meaning of Success

Business is growing mostly by word-of-mouth but people also find her via her Instagram account and substack and advertisements in places like Wedding Wire. She launched a show in 2019 at the Free Times Café called ‘Raising up the Courageous Voice’ as Floxy Blu, her singer-songwriter, raw poet persona. She invited other singers, storytellers and poets to share the stage. The show moved on-line during the pandemic but the plan is to return to live performances this year. Tickets will be on a sliding scale, like Matan’s other offerings.

It’s still early days for Matan’s business but her vision is to facilitate sacred experiences with larger gatherings. “I want big rooms where people are in circles, where they’re seeing each other, connecting with each other,” she said. “Where people are building relationships as humans in the experience.”

While Matanot Lev (the Jewish and inter-faith services) lend themselves to large group settings, Matan believes it would work for spiritual guidance too. For instance, when she read cards at a women’s business conference, many women asked the same thing: “Should I do the practical thing or the thing I really want to do?” Matan thought this question could have been effectively explored in a group setting. What does Matan think about this question?  “Put your energy into what lights you up, and the rest will follow.”

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Featured Our Voices

2022:
A TELESCOPIC VIEW

young girl Looking through telescope
Photo by Raymond Forbes on Stocksy

As we head into 2022, some mainstream media is doing a good job of summarizing what we legitimately need to fear in 2022.

However, here at LiisBeth, unafraid to look up and ready to act, we see  comets, but also the stars, ways to get there, and light that has not yet reached the earth. 

With our lens set to different coordinates, we wanted to share with you five 2022 actionable themes and related articles that might serve as useful prompts to stoke some hope plus inform your intention setting and personal liberation work for the coming year. 

Learning to Live with Climate Crisis

The climate crisis age is here. We still have to work to reduce its severity. But we now also have to learn to live with it. How do you imagine a tomorrow when the present seems, whichever way you look, to be hovering on the brink of another climate driven hurricane, flood or fire? What does solutioning, living, working, building an enterprise in a climate crisis driven society and economy look like? Catherine Bush’s novel, Blaze Island (2020), gives us a glimpse of the near future and raises larger questions about interfering with nature and the harm or good that may result.  Read more, download a free excerpt and watch our interview with Bush and her climate change scientist sister, Elizabeth Bush on YouTube. 

The Re-Emergence of  Real-Life Feminist Spaces

In this ode to in real life feminist spaces and events, we are reminded about the power of 5D, or even 10D, sensorial-powered spaces, events and connections.  Living in Zoom powered 2D for almost two years has shown us what it means to be human.  Multi-dimensional, real life, embodied events open our minds and expands our capacity to imagine new worlds. We dream bigger when we spend hours together, bumping shoulders, in real time. We need to make the effort to both create and attend live, large events again–as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Increased Support for Revolutionaries

The recent passing of bell hooks shook our hearts and souls. Thank fully we have her books to maintain our relationship with her work. But not every feminist revolutionary becomes famous or writes. Those that do often remind us how important it is to nurture and support all kinds of revolutionaries among us–both large and small; Their work is all interlaced-like an underground  mycelium network driving change above.  In this article, we talk with adrienne maree brown about “building the new in the shell of the old.” In “Solutionary Ideas from a Love-Based Revolutionary” we interview Rivera Sun who tells us “Change doesn’t just happen through protest.  It does not just happen – for regular people anyway – through calling politicians or senators. And it doesn’t usually just happen through buying the right goods as individuals. It happens when we organize.”  To learn more on the topic of organizing, check out The Fine Print Episode with Nora Loretto. 

To get a glimpse of grassroots revolutionary work, consider reading A Recipe for Justice and Full Stream Ahead

Coping Effectively with Burnout

We have been writing and publishing more about activist burnout in the past two years.  We can’t afford activist burnout. We need everyone pulling on this side of the rope. Heed Instagram artist @liberaljane’s advice which says “You can’t light yourself on fire to keep someone else warm”. So, if you are still feeling the burn as you enter 2022, this interview with Canadian anti-globalization and anti-racism activist, Annahid Dashtgard provides useful strategies for coping and taking the long view approach to this work. 

Consider Writing as Medicine for the Soul

Mental health is another casualty of the pandemic.  Journaling and writing is often prescribed as part of a healthy coping strategy. If you are thinking of kicking up your journaling work or taking your writing skills to new heights in 2020, you might want to consider joining a writing group–or sign up for a writing school.  If the latter is appealing, check out our profile on Sarah Selecky and her writing school here. 

Re-engage with the Arts

All arts. Yes. But in particular, re-engage with live music events. More than other cultural experiences, live music performances, in pubs or halls, inspires, bridges differences and can bring joy and pleasure to revolutionary work. If you are looking for a new playlist to energize your soul, check out one of LiisBeth’s ten feminist playlists here. It was compiled just before the 2020 US election but it still electric and relevant. If you want more options, you can listen to ten playlists we have published by typing playlist in the search bar. We also encourage you to keep Venusfest, a feminist music festival, on your 2022 radar.

Finally, if you are lining up your reading list for 2022, have a look at our book recommendations; All feminist classics and must reads in our opinion. 

Looking Ahead

Our first story in 2022, written by Sue Nador, will introduce you to Kohenet Annie Matan, a Jewish, feminist, queer, Hebrew Priestess and Mama and her work. 

Over the course of the next few months, you will see more “see it, dream it” stories on feminists driving change through community projects, nonprofit, academic, enterprise work, policy making and organizing. 

We believe that in 2022, the pandemic-driven economy and political climate will make radical venture design and growth an increasingly lonely and difficult endeavor as people turn their attention, time and money to surviving the now versus building the new. 

Now more than ever, radical work will depend on the support of the people–you.-

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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

A Bridge to the Past: Flashes of Activism from rabble.ca

“Everything On (The) Line: 20 Years of Social Movement Stories from rabble.ca." Photo via rabble.ca's website.

I don’t remember 9/11. 

Maybe that’s because I was a Canadian toddler, rather than American, or was just too young — but opening to the first story in Everything On (The) Line: 20 Years of Social Movement Stories from rabble.ca I am transported back by the moving words of Monia Mazigh and Barâa Arar, mother and daughter of Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian who was arrested on September 26, 2002. 

This transportive ability — to travel back in time and to live something you have a different memory of — is the primary accomplishment of rabble.ca’s  compilation of stories from the last twenty years. 

rabble.ca is an independent, nonprofit  award winning left wing media outlet with 1M unique readers annually worldwide, based in Vancouver (original territory of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations). They aim to extend and amplify the work of social movements and front-line activists in Canada.  

Everything On (The) Line is a collection of stories, but also the fossilized voices of journalists and activists during high-intensity moments in Canadian politics. Editors S. Reuss and Christina Turner have unearthed articles from rabble’s archives which capture the concerns and opinions of the activists, feminists, and fighters before us —concerns that still exist today. 

The articles speak from Indigenous rights to climate change; personal accounts of protests and violence; outrage and critique for the government. The collection focuses on the personal lives of Canadian citizens impacted by these threats, while also panning out to inspect the governments of the early 2000’s, tying traumas from the violent injustices occurring around the world together: uniting pain but also hope across two decades. 

The aim of the collection is not only to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Rabble, but to allow the past and present to converse; articles from 2001 in tandem with essays from 2020. 

It is an opportunity for readers to “reflect on the social movements that challenged capitalism, racism, settler colonialism, and patriarchy over the past two decades.” (5)

Readers hear the personal stories from Monia Mazigh and Barâa Arar, to personal accounts of when Black Lives Matter Toronto turned the Pride Parade into a protest. Words from protestors of the G8 Summit burn with anger still, 19 years later. 

In her piece “What Do We Want and Where Are We Headed?” Pamela Palmater expresses how “ultimately, we want to be free to govern ourselves as we choose; free to enjoy our identities, cultures, languages, and traditions; free to live the good life as we see fit.” (129) This desire for freedom and respect echoes throughout the twenty-four pieces in the book. 

Anger and fear and distrust bubble up within these essays. 

Amber Dean writes about attending Robert Pickton’s trial in 2007 for the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe, and Georgina Papin — asking how colonization can be over when the violence persists?

Michael Stewart picks apart the Harper government’s inability to “cope with the tender, patient, ironclad solidarity of Indigenous people in Canada.” 

Murray Dobbin asked in 2009 how the government would face their denial and complacency in the face of crisis. 

All are systemic issues still present today; the final section with pieces from 2015-2020 carry ghostly echoes of the first section from 2001-2005. This disturbing parallel calls for transformative justice, addressed by Walters and Zellars in their 2020 essay on abolishing the police and collective care. They call this turbulent time an “[opportunity] for reflection and growth [which] must be central to our abolitionist imaginings” and to “have the courage to dream, try, fail, try again, and fail better.” (173) 

The collection also contains new essays from esteemed writers such as Nora Loreto. In her piece “Real Change Meets Radical Tactics” Loreto traces the resurgence of feminist action in recent years, raising the point that “for what remains of the mainstream feminist movement, the dominant frame is still firmly white. Whiteness obscures the fact that women do not experience systemic violence in the same way. It creates a tent so large that feminism becomes a matter of self-identity […] feminism has become slippery and toothless.” (145) This comment spoke to me as a reader, as a feminist, and as a member of LiisBeth, because whiteness is a barrier in the feminist organizations I see and participate in. 

LiisBeth’s masthead is primarily (some queer) white women; “Everything On (The) Line” was compiled by two white women; LiisBeth partners with rabble.ca’s, putting together a monthly roundup. A white, queer woman is writing this review, the last in a funnel of white voices. 

That being said, 35 per cent of LiisBeth’s contributors are women of colour and over 50 per cent of the articles written in the last year featured enterprises and projects founded or operated by women of colour, queer women and trans folk.  

When rabble.ca was founded, a UNECE study found 40 per cent of journalists in Canada were women, and 97 per cent of journalists across all media were white, according to a study done by Laval University in 2000. This statistic from Laval University, as well as the point that there was (and still is) no current study to compare this data to, was mentioned in a rabble.ca piece in 2016 by Joanna Chu titled “The face of Canadian Journalism is still white — and it’s time to push back.” 

The collection spurs questions and invites reflection not just on the state of our world, but also journalism — those who wrote before us and how future writers will curate, cultivate and uplift all voices. 

It’s an opportunity to see how far we have come, but also look at where we still need to go. 

Everything On (The) Line is not perfect, because history is not perfect. What we glean from these reverberations of rallying voices is that the next twenty years should be equally as action-packed, as fueled by the desire for change. We should read about and reach for change, as the voices of rabble.ca have. 

The fifth section of the collection is titled “Activism and Indie Media: Pasts and Futures”, where publisher Kim Elliot and Mathew Adams call rabble.ca a bridge for the social movement, and reflect on how the launch of rabble.ca in 2001 gave them the focus of “[amplifying] the voices of resistance struggles and movement-focused news.” 

Hopefully, Everything On (The) Line can be the bridge to the past that lays the foundation for the next twenty years of rabble.ca.

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